A Beginner's Guide to PPC Advertising

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising in its simplest form: 

1. User sees ad > user clicks ads > advertiser pays for click. 

Understanding PPC starts with understanding what PPC looks like. Pretty much any platform (social media, website, search engine, or app) that shows an advertisement that a user can click on, is using pay-per-click-marketing.

Table of Contents

Part A - There are 3 digital business models that are most commonly found on the internet

1. E-commerce

Businesses that sell products. 

PPC platforms focused on e-commerce usually feature the product image, titles, price and a unique selling point. 

PPC for e-commerce should be focused on cost per acquisition, life time value, and return on ad spend (ROAS).

2. Lead Generation

Business that sell services. 

User clicks ad > user gives information in return for something (quote, case study, guide, etc…) > user becomes a lead. Boom. Lead generation explained.

PPC for lead generation should focus on cost per lead, close rates, cost per acquisition, life time value and return on investment.

3. User Acquisition

Businesses that acquire users. 

PPC for user acquisition involves SaaS companies, social networks, content websites, and mobile applications. 

The focus should be cost per acquisition, average revenue per user, lifetime value, and churn.

Part B - Here are 7 of the most popular PPC advertising mediums

The most strategic way to use PPC is to deliver content best suited to where users sit in the funnel. 

Certain PPC platforms are better at addressing specific stages of the funnel than others. Google Ads is a great bottom funnel channel. Facebook is great for top and mid-funnel engagement. Review sites are also great for driving middle-funnel action.

A full-fledged PPC strategy should aim to penetrate the entire funnel, top-to-bottom, but remember this: branding starts at the top, sales are driven by the middle and revenue starts at the bottom. Choose your funnels wisely.

Your favorite search engine, social media network, online publication or video platform is likely a PPC ad network. 

Once you recognize the what these ads look like, they become hard to avoid.

And if you’ve largely been ignoring these ads before, it’ll feel like you took the blue pill (Matrix reference).

1. Search Engines

Everything You Need to Know About PPC Advertising

Search Engine Marketing — also known as SEM or Search Engine Advertising  — is extremely easy to spot. Look for the little “ad” label the next time you use Google, Bing, or Yahoo to search for something.

Anything that says “ad” is PPC/SEM. Not to be confused with Search Engine Optimization (SEO),which requires a completely different approach to content and website development.


Paid Search (PPC)


2. Look for little “ad” label

3. There are 7 ad positions, 4 at the top and 3 at the bottom. Ads don’t always show up on the search engine rankings page (SERPs).

4. Paid search ads receive about 4% of all clicks.

5. Paid search rankings are related to how much an advertising is willing to pay per click for a keyword.

Organic Search (SEO)


2. No “ad” label

3. There USED to be 10 organic results. Now there are several variations for how organic results appear, videos, FAQs, featured snippets, etc…

4. Organic search links receive about 45% of clicks. The remainder of searches don’t result in a click.

5. Organic search rankings are related to content, website quality, page speed, and backlinks.

2. Social Media

Just like with search engines, if you look for the little “ad”, “promoted” or “sponsored” label, then you’re likely to spot the PPC ad.

All the top social media platforms have some form of PPC advertising going. Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, you name it. Matter of fact, most of the top trafficked websites in the world are running PPC.

1. Facebook

The most popular of the ad platforms, this includes Facebook properties:  WhatsApp, Instagram and Messengers which reach into the billions of users.


2. LinkedIn

One of the most effective B2B tools available for marketing teams. The average salary of a LinkedIn user is much higher than the other popular social platforms.

3. Instagram

An effective channel for top of the funnel branding. Instagram is heavily driven by influencers and particularly popular among millennials.

3. Display

Display ads show up as you browse content websites. (See example above). You can setup display ads through the Google Ads platform, which reaches 90% of internet users worldwide.

Display ads are great for brand awareness and a well designed campaign can be highly effective at guiding customers through the shopping journey. 

4. Video

Video Ads can be ran via the Google Ads platform. You’ll pretty much either see your videos on content websites (similar to the display ads, but video) or on YouTube.

There are very different processes for running video ads via the Google Ads Display Network and running video ads via YouTube Ads.

YouTube has a reach of over 1B users. YouTube is quickly becoming popular as a B2B marketing and podcasting tool, on top of the typically video stuff that we associate with the platform.

Which is why we have an entire guide dedicated to YouTube Ads coming soon.

5. Shopping

Shopping Ads are specifically related to e-commerce. They often show the product image, price, review and a quick description

They are also extremely effective for scaling product advertising, even into the thousands of SKUs.

And they are extremely effective at drive sales and really targeted return on ad spend KPIs. It likely explains why shopping ads make up 63% of click share for retailers spending on Google search. 

In fact, you can list on products on Google Shopping for free.

Recipe for a Google Shopping Campaign:


1. E-commerce Website (Paid)

2. Google Analytics Account (Free)

3. Merchant Center Account (Free)

4. Google Ads Account (Paid)


1. Build a website to sell your products. I recommend Shopify. 

2. Add Google Analytics to your website. Setup e-commerce tracking.

3. Create a free account at merchants.google.com. Add your products.

4. Request a free session and we’ll teach you how to setup the Google Ads part.

1. Amazon Ads

The undisputed leader of ecommerce. More product searches start on Amazon than any other place on the internet.

2. Google Shopping

The 2nd place winner is Google Shopping. In fact, businesses can now list their products on Google Shopping for free.

3. Pinterest Ads

An emerging contender for e- commerce PPC. Pinterest surpassed $1B in ad revenue in 2019. Something to pay attention to.

7. Apps

App campaigns are typically mobile driven (there are desktop websites that will point users to finish the download on mobile).

The two major players are Google Ads Universal App Campaigns (UAC) and Apple Search Ads (screenshot above).

There are 2 ways to think about ppc for mobile apps.

1. PPC that’s focused on driving mobile application downloads. Google’s UAC and Apple Search Ads. These are usually measured by CPA/LTV.

2. PPC ads that appear while you’re using a mobile app. Could be used towards increasing monetization as well as engagement. 

7. Affiliates

Affiliates sell products/services on behalf of a business. In the PPC space, an affiliate PPC network makes it easier for merchants to link with partners. 

The extension of this are review and directory websites, such as Capterra, G2, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. These platforms are lead generation/affiliate networks at heart. They exist to capture, filter and sell leads for target niches.

Affiliates and directories are extremely effective PPC channels for SaaS and E-commerce startups.

Understanding the primary mediums is a great place to start for aligning your PPC strategy.

But the heart of your performance will depend on how you’re able to leverage the power of the dominant (and emerging) PPC networks for your preferred medium.

You’ll likely start your strategy with one of these top 6 platforms because of the bulk of PPC spend that they control. 

Part C - Pay Attention to the 4 Most Powerful PPC Platforms.

1. Google Ads

The best platform for lead generation by a distance. There’s a reason why Google makes more ad revenue than most of the other platforms combined. Users are telling you what they want, you just have to search.


2. Facebook Ads

Facebook’s reach is deep. With 2B+ users, Facebook is the most successful anything in history. This also includes driving new users to your platform or network. Also includes Instagram and Whatsapp.

3. Amazon Ads

The undisputed champion of eCommerce. Amazon PPC is focused on boosting your shop profile and driving direct sales. how off your best product features and customer testimonials.

4. LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn’s platform is built around professional development, so users are much more open to hearing about new offers. What’s great is that users have their company and job title listed, also making LinkedIn a great tool for ABM.

Module 1: Discovery

Module 2: Setup

Module 3: Optimize