The PPC Snobs Playbook

Module 1.3: Platforms

My approach to PPC is to run ads on the platforms that my audience is more likely to use. Just like with learning styles, people prefer to engage with the world through their favorite mediums (visual, audio, tactile). 

Table of Contents

Certain channels and platforms resonate with certain audiences better than others. 

The best PPC strategies are full-funnel, meaning that there’s a presence on at least the most popular platforms. This is the digital equivalent of speaking multiple languages.

Search is a great channel for targeting direct purchase intent, while Display and Video traditionally perform better as branding and education channels. Facebook is great for push engagement, especially in certain sectors (i.e. events, concerts, parties, gaming). 

Review sites can be critical for branding and trust building, especially when evaluating services and produce.

I believe in multi-channel PPC strategies that penetrate the shopping funnel from top-to-bottom, and left-to-right. 

My advice is to create a profile on several of the most popular PPC platforms (your favorite search engine, social media network, online publication or video platform is likely a PPC ad network). 

Next time, pay attention to that platform’s features. What links are in the navigation menu? What kind of mediums/channels are featured on those platforms? How often are you served a PPC ad?

1. Paid Search Ads

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 or Bing 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.

Search is the king when it comes to PPC advertising. In fact, search ads account for the majority of Google’s +$200B in revenue

This channel is highly effective because shopping intent is so clearly defined by the user. People are literally typing into a little box what they want! For example, the user who searches “basketballs for sale, next day delivery” has clearly signaled what they need. 

Search marketing is much more reactive in this case. You just need to place your brand in front of that query (and offer a great website/trust experience…more on this later).

PPC vs. SEO

Paid Search (PPC)

  1. NOT FREE
  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. 
  4. Ads don’t always appear on the search engine rankings page (SERPs). Generally, you can tell if a keyword has commercial intent if there are ads.
  5. Paid search ads receive a small % of all clicks. The majority go to SEO links.
  6. Paid search rankings are related to how much an advertiser is willing to pay per click `(PPC) 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.
 
Resources:
 

2. Social Media Ads

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 are social networks and offer some form of PPC.

Social PPC is primarily audience driven. If search is defined by what users are looking for, social is defined by what users are interested in. Given this distinction, social is an extremely effective awareness, consideration, and brand building medium. 

For example, a user who’s profile suggests an affinity for sports (likes, follows and engagement on major sport profiles) could make an effective target for a brand selling sports memorabilia.

Social media is also community driven. Think of how much groups, threads and comments influence platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Quora or LinkedIn. 

I believe that it’s this element that adds most to a network’s credibility and trustworthiness (we can get to data protection later). 

Users often look towards these groups for advice on service and product recommendations.

  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.
 
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3. Display & Affiliate Ads

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 worldwide

Display 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..).

Display also extends to affiliates, which is a network or website that sells products/services on behalf of a business (or drives traffic directly to an advertiser’s website). 

In the PPC space, an affiliate PPC network makes it easier for merchants to connect with specialized audiences. 

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.

Resources:

4. Video (YouTube) Ads

In my opinion, video is the most powerful outreach tool available to a business. As a medium, it has the capacity to educate, influence and connect with audiences in a way that few other mediums can offer. 

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.

Like I said, video offers advertisers the possibility to explain the value of a service/product in ways that just isn’t possible via text or audio. 

Online video ads have changed the way that businesses can leverage storytelling, especially since users consume content in much 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.

Resources:

5. Shopping Ads

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. 

You can get started by listing your products on Google Merchant Center or Microsoft Merchant Center 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. App Campaigns

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..)

The PPC Snobs Playbook

Module 1: Startup

The building blocks of PPC advertising

1.1 Models

1.2 FAQs

1.4 Training

1.5 Hiring