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What is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?


If you are starting a new business or looking into new marketing channels, you may have heard the term “PPC advertising” floating around. PPC advertising is a form of advertising that is a foundational aspect of digital marketing because of the reach, flexibility, and short timeframe in which you can receive results. So what exactly is pay-per-click advertising?

PPC, or “pay-per-click” advertising, is a form of digital advertising that allows you to target specific users online and pay for actions taken by these users. The pay-per-click model can be found on multiple channels such as social sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, search engines like Google or Bing, display networks, and more. You can choose to use other types of paid advertising models as well, such as CPM (cost per mil), paying for impressions or views instead of clicks. PPC advertising is a pillar of digital marketing and can be associated with a large ROI when managed effectively, as well as increased brand awareness and site traffic.

Why Should I Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

PPC advertising can have a major impact on your business, especially when combined with other marketing channels. Pay-per-click ads can draw in users that may have never found you otherwise and give you more control than other marketing channels. Here are some reasons why you should be implementing PPC advertising into your marketing strategy:

1. Easily Track and Measure Results

One of the greatest aspects of pay-per-click advertising is that you can easily track and measure results. Most PPC platforms allow you to easily view your clicks, impressions, click-through-rate, and conversions for your campaigns. You can also use Google Analytics to measure combined metrics from pay-per-click campaigns across different platforms. This gives you insights into what campaigns are working, where you can improve, and your ROI (return on investment). These metrics may not be as clear when compared to other forms of marketing- especially traditional forms of advertising.

Man looking at graphs and tracking results of pay-per-click advertising

2. See Results Quickly

Another great thing about PPC advertising is that once you set up and implement a campaign, you can start driving traffic to your site immediately, which allows you to see results very quickly. For instance, optimizing your website is super important (and you should be doing it), however, it may take months after changes are made to see any results. Once pay-per-click campaigns are set up, ads can start showing up for users instantly. The faster you can track and measure ads, the faster you are able to optimize them. Continually testing and optimizing ads based on analytics and data will lead to higher returns. You can’t do this with a billboard or magazine ad.

3. Start with a Small Budget

With pay-per-click advertising, you don’t have to invest a large sum of money in order to see results. You can start your budget small and choose each bid amount for your campaigns. If you see results from a campaign, you can easily and quickly increase your budget to ramp up the campaign. Not many other marketing channels allow you to do this.

4. Segment and Target Specific Audiences

Out of all the marketing channels available to you, PPC advertising arguably allows you the most control over who you are targeting and when. Based on the type of campaign you are running, you can segment audiences by demographics, locations, interests, and more. You can also set ads to display only during certain days, months, or hours, allowing you to base your ad schedule on when your customers are most likely to be online. Also, pay-per-click with paid search puts your ad in front of customers when they are actually searching for your product or service, drawing in customers when they are further down the buyer’s funnel. You can even retarget customers with PPC advertising.

How Does Pay-Per-Click Advertising Work?

PPC advertising may look slightly different depending on which platform you are using, but most platforms are based on a bidding system. For paid search, you would be bidding on specific keywords. For other platforms, you may be bidding on audiences, locations, or even demographics. The higher your bid, the better chance of your ad being placed in a higher position. However, most pay-per-click platforms also take into account relevance when calculating ad positions. This means that even if you have the highest bid, you may not receive the best ad placement.

For example, Google Ads, possibly the most popular PPC advertising platform, uses what they call Ad Rank to determine ad positions and eligibility. Some factors that Ad Rank takes into consideration when determining ad position are:

  • Your bid
  • The quality of your ads and landing page
  • The context of a person’s search

Using these factors, along with some others, Google will determine which ads get placed in which positions. Google will also assign you a quality score. This quality score is based on click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page quality. Your quality score is reported on a 1-10 scale and does impact cost per click and position. Facebook ads (which allows you to advertise on both Facebook and Instagram) does something similar, taking bid amount, relevance, and ad engagement into consideration.

Hands holding out bid signs for pay-per-click advertising

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Platforms

There are many platforms for PPC advertising available for your business. Each one works slightly differently and will provide you with different options for your ads. Most marketers utilize multiple platforms to reach various audiences, build brand awareness, and drive traffic. Here are a few of the most popular pay-per-click platforms:

1. Google Ads

Google Ads has the largest share of the market and is therefore extremely popular. For paid search, your ads will appear on the search engine results page for Google searches. Also, you can utilize Google’s Display Network and Google Shopping to serve your ads on different websites across the internet. Google also uses YouTube (which it owns) for PPC advertising.

2. Bing Ads

For paid search, Bing ads is fairly similar to Google Ads, just with less traffic. However, because of the lower traffic, Bing Ads can be less expensive than Google Ads. The network serves ads on sites owned and operated by,, and

3. Facebook Ads

With Facebook Ads, instead of bidding on keywords you will be bidding on certain audience segments. Based on demographics, interests, and profile information, you can place your ads in front of those who would be most interested in your product or service. The difference with Facebook ads (or just social ads in general), is that users are not actively searching for your product like they are on search engines.

4.Linked In Ads

LinkedIn Ads is another great platform for PPC advertising, especially for B2B companies. Similarly to Facebook Ads, you will be segmenting and targeting by audience segments. For LinkedIn, this can include demographics, industry, and job title. LinkedIn Ads is growing in popularity for pay-per-click ads amongst certain industries. 

Final Thoughts

So, pay-per-click advertising is a great investment for your business. You can easily advertise your product or service on a small budget, target specific users, and see quick and accurate results. We highly recommend implementing PPC advertising into your overall marketing strategy. Here at Firetoss, we create, implement, and track multiple pay-per-click campaigns. We will even audit your current marketing campaign and determine where improvements can be made.