The PPC Snobs Blog

Startup Guide

How PPC Works: 1. User browses platform (Google, Facebook, etc..), 2. User sees ad, 3. User clicks ad, 4. Advertiser pays platform, 5. User visits advertiser’s website, 6. User buys product/service.

Table of Contents

Part A - 2 Most Common Internet Business Models

1. Lead Generation

I usually work with businesses that sell services or software, so they’re looking for leads. The usual website customer funnel: Person clicks ad > person gives information in return for something valuable (quote, case study, guide, etc…) > person becomes a lead > lead becomes an opportunity (once a value has been assigned) > opportunity becomes a customer, which very much depends on an organization’s sales cycle.

This also covers businesses that acquire users or repeat customers (think subscription models like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple Music or YouTube Premium), as well as cloud software companies, social networks, content websites, and mobile applications. The focus here is cost per acquisition(CPA) against average revenue per user (ARPU), lifetime value (LTV), and churn. These are metric ‘acronyms’ that come up quite often in PPC advertising, so it’s worthwhile to start memorizing them now.

6 Crucial Skills of a Lead Generation Specialist

  1. A focus on lead-to-sale KPIs as they relate to revenue business outcomes: cost per lead (CPL), conversion and close rates (CVR), cost per acquisition (CPA), life time value (LTV) and return on investment (ROI).
  2. A deep understanding of how to target and influence stages of the marketing funnel.
  3. Knowledge of how to create and capture demand through various marketing channels and creative assets.
  4. At least a basic technical understanding of the marketing software and tracking solutions that enable lead generation specific processes.
  5. The ability to translate data from various sources into actionable insights. 
  6. The skill to effectively target and convert high value customers.



2. Ecommerce

I also come across ecommerce businesses that sell products (and sometimes virtual products).  The best kinds of PPC ads for ecommerce are shopping driven, which means they generally feature the product image, title and price. PPC for ecommerce is also focus on cost per acquisition (CPA) and life time value (LTV), but also average order value (AOV), cost of goods sold (COGS) and return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Ecommerce PPC requires a  very different set of tactics and skills than lead gen. There needs to be a deeper understanding of the technical systems and processes that support eCommerce PPC, such as setting up merchant feeds and integrating shopping engines with the rest of your tech stack.

Ecommerce success is also heavily driven by positive reviews, user experience, shopping experience, payment friction, order fulfillment, and customer support. Think of what it takes to run a brick and mortar store (cash register, shelves, furniture). Think about the last time you has a poor physical shopping experience, long wait, bad service, confusing layout, etc… Now translate that to the online manifestation that your ecommerce store should be prepared to offer if you want it to do well.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the impact that great content and free shipping has on the customer experience.


Part B - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is PPC advertising. What is it used for?

Pay-per-click (PPC) is an advertising model where websites and apps show ads on behalf of advertisers. The website/app gets paid whenever their user clicks on an ad. The user is generally routed to the advertiser’s website or profile page, where they are prompted to make a purchase of a service or product. PPC is the ad system used by many of the major search engines, social media channels, apps stores and content websites. PPC generates billions in annual revenue for internet giants Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Amazon.

2. How does PPC work?

How PPC works in 3 simple steps: 

  1. User sees a PPC ad on their favorite network (Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc…). 
  2. User clicks on the PPC ad and is routed to the advertiser’s website. 
  3. PPC Network gets paid by the advertiser.

3. What's the difference between PPC and SEO?

Pay per click often refers to the paid listings that you see on the search engine rankings page (SERP). Search engine optimization (SEO) generally refers to the free listings or featured snippets that also appear on the SERPs. PPC and SEO require completely different strategies and tactics in order to work. 

PPC and SEO each have their own separate advantages. SEO listings are free and receive the majority of clicks, but it usually takes longer to see results. PPC listings are quick to launch, highly measurable and super precise, but you can’t really argue with free.

4. What are the advantages to PPC? How effective is PPC?

PPC ads can be launched relatively quickly and enable even the tiniest startups to compete against global enterprises in selling service and product. Results are highly measurable and the entry costs are low compared to other marketing channels. PPC also offers an environment for organizations to A/B test messaging with new audiences, as well as enter new markets easily. Arguably, the best thing about PPC is that you can turn ads on and off as you need to.

Google earns over +$250B in PPC revenue every year. Facebook +80B, Amazon +10B (and rapidly growing). Does this type of revenue suggest ineffectiveness? Companies globally are using PPC to generate leads, drive sales, recruit staff, find volunteers, attract fundraising and donors, and expand their brands globally.

5. Is PPC Expensive? How much does PPC Cost?

The average cost per click (CPC) for PPC ads can range from just a few cents to +$150 per click. If you sell a high ticket product/service worth thousands or millions, then expect to pay a higher CPC. Often, you can get a feeling for the average ticket price of a product/service depending on the CPC, as well as its competitiveness.

6. How do I make money from PPC ads?

  1. Offer a service/product through your website. 
  2. Drive traffic to your website using PPC advertising. 
  3. Turn your traffic into customers by offering them a great online shopping experience.

7. Does PPC work for SMBs and nonprofits? What about musicians and other artists?

Small businesses can benefit greatly from PPC marketing. PPC has relatively low startup costs, the results are easy to measure, and campaigns can be activated/deactivated almost immediately, offering a great solution to SMBs looking to stretch every penny. Nonprofits can even apply for up to $10,000/month in free Google Ad Spend. 

Musicians and artists can especially benefit from PPC advertising. There are billions of people to reach via paid search, social and video promotion. YouTube has become massive for showcasing and monetizing creator talent. 

8. What is a Google Ads Certification?

The Google Ads Certification exists to show platform competency across Google’s ad properties: search, shopping, display, video, app, and measurement. There are also other certifications such as Microsoft Ads, Meta Blueprint, Hubspot, SEM Rush. The big PPC platforms and softwares usually offer some type of certification to show competency on their platform as well. Please remember one thing, just because someone has a driver’s license doesn’t make them a professional driver, or even a good one for that matter.

9. How long does it take to set up a PPC campaign?

Technically, a PPC campaign can be launched in as little as a few hours. The real time investment (if you want to do PPC the right way) goes into conducting research, developing content, and setting up infrastructure.

10. How can I learn more about PPC advertising?

I developed 3 module approach to PPC: discover, setup and optimize. Have a look at my training guide to see the skills that regularly comes up in the PPC profession. Also, sign up for my free email newsletter.

Part C - The Most Popular PPC Platforms

I found that the easiest way to approach PPC is run ads on the platforms that my audience is most likely to use. Some PPC platforms are also better at penetrating certain stages of the funnel. Search is a great bottom funnel channel, while Display and Video traditionally perform better as upper funnel mediums. Facebook is great for top and mid-funnel engagement, but for certain sectors (i.e. events, concerts, parties) can be a lot more effective than search. Review sites are also great for driving middle-funnel action, and are a critical for branding and trust building, especially in ecommerce.

I believe in multi-channel PPC strategies that penetrate the shopping funnel and so usually take a 360 approach.

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

1. Search

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) — also known as Search Engine Advertising (SEA) and Paid Search  — is extremely easy to spot. This is where I usually start any PPC strategy. If you’re not familiar with Paid Search Ads, 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 a little “ad” “sponsored” or “promoted” 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 a small % 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)

  1. FREE
  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 the major of clicks. The remainder of searches are paid or don’t result in a click.
  5. Organic search rankings are related to content, intent, website quality, page speed, and backlinks.

2. Social

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. Most social media platforms have some form of PPC advertising going. Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, you name it. Matter of fact, many of the top trafficked websites in the world offer some form of PPC.

  1. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest – The most popular of the social ad platforms, this includes Facebook properties:  WhatsApp, Instagram and Messengers which reach into the billions of users.
  2. LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora – These are some of the most effective B2B platforms available. The average salary of a LinkedIn user is much higher than the other popular social platforms. LinkedIn’s platform is built around professional development, so users are much more open to hearing about new offers.
  3. TikTok, Snapchat, YouTubeAn effective channel for top of the funnel video branding. TikTok and Snapchat are particularly popular platforms with millennials and Gen Z.

3. Display

Display ads show up on content websites, such as online magazines and blogs. You can setup display ads through the Google Ads platform, which reaches 90% of internet users worldwideDisplay ads (retargeting) is usually the next channel I open up after search.

Display ads are great for brand awareness, but a well designed campaign can also be highly effective at driving middle and low-funnel traffic. With the addition of video and HTML5 ads, you can offer an extremely interactive experience through display channels. 

I like to experiment with different kinds of visuals for the ads (animated, pop-art, nature scenes). I also drive traffic to different types of web content (blogs, webinars, widgets, videos, etc..). 

Free Tools:

4. Video

Of all the video platforms, YouTube has the most reach. There are still other great platforms for promoting your video content: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Vimeo, Snapchat. If you have the bandwidth, publish to all of them. If not, YouTube is king.

Video offers advertisers the possibility to explain the value of a service/product in ways that just isn’t possible via text or audio. The way to approach storytelling will also evolve as users consume content in shorter segments. It’s now much more valuable to cut a 30s video into 5x6s videos, or have several variations of smaller video segments (6s-15s-20s-30s) that can quickly position your brand, show off your unique selling point, and explain your product/service.


5. Shopping

Shopping Ads are specifically related to e-commerce. They usually show the product image, price, review and a quick description or unique offer (like free shipping). They are extremely effective for scaling product advertising, even into the thousands or millions of SKUs. They are also effective at generating sales at a targeted return on ad spend. As of the last time I checked, shopping ads make up 63% of click share for retailers spending on Google search. 

The beautiful thing is that you can list your products on Google Shopping for free.

  1. Amazon Ads – The undisputed leader of ecommerce. You’ll need to have an Amazon store setup to leverage the ads, but there’s plenty of opportunity since ,ore product searches start on Amazon than any other place on the internet.
  2. Google Shopping – The 2nd place winner is Google Shopping. Like I mentioned before, businesses can now list their products on Google Shopping for free. The benefits of Google Shopping is that visitors are sent directly to your website.
  3. Pinterest Ads – An emerging contender for ecommerce PPC. I’ve seen Pinterest work for certain home retail sectors, like cooking appliances and garden. Pinterest surpassed $1B in ad revenue in 2019. Definitely worth pay attention to.

6. 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 App Campaigns (UAC) and Apple Search Ads (screenshot above). 

There are 3 ways to think about ppc and mobile apps:

  1. PPC that’s focused on driving mobile application downloads. These are usually measured by cost per install (CPI) or cost per download).
  2. PPC ads focused on driving mobile app engagement (for example, sign up, purchase, subscribe, etc…)
  3. PPC ads within mobile apps as placements for other advertisers (for example, product placements, game downloads, etc..)

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. Some of the most underrated PPC channels 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.


Module 1: Discover

Module 2: Setup

Module 3: Optimize