What Does PPC Stand For? Learn Pay-Per-Click Marketing Basics

what does ppc stand for

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is a popular way to promote a business online. In its simplest form, PPC is a type of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) that involves an advertiser paying each time someone clicks on one of their ads. This can be a great way to obtain visitors and new customers who are looking for exactly what you offer. 

The first step in learning how to effectively use PPC is understanding how it works. The basic idea behind PPC is simple: You create ads and bid on keywords that are related to your product or service offering. 

When someone searches for those keywords, your ads will show up based on your budget and bid amount for those specific terms. The actual final cost of each click is determined by a few factors, including your Quality Score (a proprietary rating system used by Google) how much your competitors are willing to pay for each click, and the relevancy of your ad for the keywords you’re bidding on (here’s a good guide from Google themselves on how it works). 

By strategically bidding on relevant terms, you can capture new customers who are ‘in-market’ and ready to buy. Through analytics in the Google Ads interface, you can also determine which terms work best so you can adjust bids accordingly and increase ROI when it comes to driving overall performance.

What Does PPC Stand For in Marketing?

PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, and it is a popular form of digital marketing. In a PPC campaign, advertisers bid on keywords that are relevant to their products or services. When someone searches for those keywords, the advertiser’s ad appears in the search results. When the ad is clicked, the advertiser pays a fee to the search engine. 

PPC campaigns can be a great way to reach potential customers quickly and efficiently, as long as the advertiser is willing to pay for each click. They can also be used to test out new products or services and to measure the effectiveness of different types of ads.

How Does PPC Advertising Work?

The way PPC advertising works is simple. Advertisers create ads and then bid on keyword phrases related to the products or services they offer. When someone searches for one of the keywords associated with the ad, the ad will appear in the search results. 

The advertiser will then pay the search engine for each click on the ad, regardless of whether or not the person clicked on the ad makes a purchase. 

The difference between a good and bad PPC campaign is whether your visitors are converting, and there are a ton of different levers you can pull to optimize your campaign to increase sales or leads generated.

Why Use PPC Advertising?

The goal of PPC advertising is to generate more leads and sales for the business. The greatest benefit is that PPC allows you to only show ads to people who are actively searching for your product or service. 

With a billboard or out-of-home (OOH) campaign, you might reach thousands of eyeballs, but there’s no way of knowing whether the people who see your ad are a relevant audience for your business. It’s also tricky to attribute sales to out-of-home advertising, but not impossible.

Unlike traditional advertising methods, such as print or television ads, PPC advertising only requires payment when someone clicks on an ad. This allows advertisers to dip their toes in the water before making bigger investments. 

Another advantage of PPC is that it gives advertisers granular data on what search terms, ads and landing pages are leading to sales. 

Since PPC campaigns allow for quick learnings – advertisers can validate assumptions around what the market wants, testing different service offerings, product types and value propositions before rolling these learnings out to other marketing channels or scaling up investments in winning strategies.

How to Build a Successful PPC Campaign

Step 1: Identify Your Goals

Deciding on specific goals for a Google Ads campaign is an important step to ensure that your campaign is successful.

Start by considering what your ultimate objective is. Do you want to generate leads? Increase sales? Drive more traffic to your website? Once you have identified your main goal, you should create specific, measurable objectives, such as increasing product sales in ‘X’ region, growing brand awareness around a new service-line or improving website conversions. 

You should also set a budget, timeline, and find benchmark metrics that you can use to measure your progress. Finally, it is important to track and analyze your campaign results to make sure that you are meeting your goals.  This can be as simple as a spreadsheet where you record your results, just remember Peter Drucker’s famous line – “what can be measured can be managed”.

Step 2: Build a Strategy and Plan

Start by deciding what conversion action do you want searchers to complete? This is the ‘goal’ of your campaign, and how you’ll measure success. If you’re using smart bidding strategies it will also be what Google’s algorithm optimizes for – so choose events carefully!

At the start of any PPC project – make sure you have rock solid tracking and attribution in place. Without robust conversion tracking and attribution, you’ll miss out on one of the greatest benefits of PPC ads – the data on what types of messaging your target audience engages with.

There’s two levels to any PPC campaign – the pre-click and post-click experience.

Pre-click refers to what your audience sees before they click on an ad, and is composed of keyword selection and keyword match types, negative keywords, campaign setup + targeting and ad copy. Think about what keywords are the most relevant for your business, and what ad copy you are going to test.

Post-click is what happens after a searcher clicks on an ad – this is where you think about the  landing page experience – messaging, layout, and points of conversion.

We’ll cover how to build an effective PPC strategy and plan in another post, as it’s an exhaustive topic, but the above should give you enough ideas to get kick-started.

Step 3: Launch and Learn

The heavy lifting is done, and now comes the fun part – upload your campaigns and press the big red button.

At this point we recommend running through a pre-launch checklist; double-check location targeting, daily budgets, keyword targets and ad URLs in particular. You don’t want your new campaigns to flop on day 1 due to minor campaign misconfigurations.

Step 4: Optimize Based on Data

Ok – you’ve diligently planned, researched and strategized to build a killer PPC account structure. But now that your campaigns are live, the work has only begun! A “set-and-forget” approach will doom most PPC campaigns to failure.

Google Ads isn’t a one-and-done affair, you need to regularly review data and push optimizations on at least a weekly schedule to make sure that you’re spending budget efficiently and continually improving conversion rates. Remember that your competitors are doing the same, and in an increasingly saturated ad market, small consistent optimizations yield massive results over time.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an online advertising platform created by Google that allows businesses to display their ads on the Google search engine, YouTube, websites, and other apps. 

It is one of the most popular and effective forms of PPC advertising and can be used to reach potential customers in both local and international markets. It’s such a popular channel that the term PPC campaign is often used interchangeably for a Google Ads campaign.

A Brief History of Google Ads

Google Ads, formerly known as AdWords, has been around since 2000, and it’s how Google generates the majority of its revenue. Initially, Google Ads was used by businesses to create text-based ads that appeared in the Google search engine results pages. Over time, the platform expanded to include more sophisticated options such as display ads, video ads via YouTube, and even interactive ads.

Google Ads is an incredibly powerful tool, and it has revolutionized how businesses advertise online. It is estimated that, in 2022, Google Ads accounted for over $224 billion in digital ad revenue worldwide.

The Different Types of Google Ads

There are many different types of Google Ads to choose from, depending on your business goals. 

  • Search Ads are targeted ads that appear on Google’s search engine results pages based on a user’s search query. 
  • Display Ads are image and video ads that appear on websites across the web. 
  • Shopping Ads are product listings that appear when users search for products on Google, as of 2023, most Shopping campaigns have been upgraded to Performance Max. 
  • Performance Max is the latest addition to Google Ads and was launched in 2021. It is an update to Google Shopping campaigns, allowing businesses to get the best of both worlds – the machine learning technology of automated campaigns, and the control and flexibility of manual bidding.
  • Video Ads allow businesses to reach potential customers through YouTube, Google’s video hosting platform. Finally, App Ads enable businesses to promote their apps to potential customers.

Are PPC Ads Worth It?

PPC ads can be an incredible way to reach a large audience quickly and cost-effectively. 

However – the success of a PPC campaign hinges on many factors. It depends on how well the ads are targeted, how much the business is willing to invest, and how well the ads are optimized for conversions. With careful planning and optimization, PPC can be an invaluable part of any marketing strategy.

That being said, PPC is more effective for some industries than others, and whether it makes sense as a marketing investment is highly dependent on your sales cycle, target audience and company stage. 

For example – if you’re an early stage company with undeveloped sales processes, you could launch PPC campaigns and see leads rolling in within days. However, if you don’t have the sales systems or team in place to service these leads, you’re not going to see a great ROI.

Getting Started with PPC

Getting started with PPC (pay-per-click) ads can be overwhelming at first, with many acronyms, technical terms and metrics to learn. There are two main options for managing PPC campaigns: in-house or through an agency

When managing in-house, you’ll need to become familiar with the features and tools of the various platforms, such as Google, Microsoft, and Meta Ads. Alternatively, you can work with a marketing agency that specializes in PPC consulting. They will help you develop an effective strategy and manage campaigns on your behalf.

One important thing to note when it comes to Google Ads is that their Smart Campaigns are usually not as effective as traditional Search campaigns. Standard Search campaigns can be carefully targeted and managed, while Smart Campaigns offer limited targeting and optimization, and you won’t get as much data on what elements of your campaign are effective.

Smart Campaigns may be suitable for getting started but they don’t have the same level of flexibility and control that manual campaigns do. They can be a good tool to test the waters, but it’s usually best to avoid relying heavily on Smart Campaigns if you’re serious about your PPC efforts.

What Is Pay Per Click Management?

Pay Per Click (PPC) management is the process of managing an advertising campaign on a pay-per-click search engine platform such as Google Ads. 

The goal of PPC management is to increase website traffic, conversions, and ultimately, sales. It involves setting up campaigns, managing bids and budgets, and optimizing ads for maximum performance. There are many levers to optimize PPC campaigns – including keyword selection, bid strategy and ad copy/messaging tests.

There are several different types of PPC management models. The most common are the flat fee model, where an agency charges a single fee for managing the entire account; the percentage of ad spend model, where agencies charge a percentage of the ad spend, or a combination of ad spend and flat management fee as their fee. 

There are also performance-based models, where an agency charges based on the number of leads or sales generated by the campaign; similar is the revenue-sharing model, where an agency charges a percentage of revenue generated from campaigns. Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose one that best fits your needs.

What Are the Most Effective and Popular PPC Channels?

most popular ppc channels

There are a lot of PPC channels out there, but when people refer to PPC, they’re most often referring to Google, Bing or Meta. Different PPC channels offer different advantages and disadvantages, so let’s have a look at some of the most popular and effective below:

Google Ads

Google Ads is the most well-known and widely used PPC platform, with a large variety of targeting options and an extensive selection of ad formats. Accounting for 27.5% of all digital ad spend in 2022, it’s a sure-fire way to reach in-market customers at scale.


Microsoft/Bing Ads is the second largest search engine and its PPC offering can be useful for reaching older demographics. However it’s rarely a core acquisition channel, as it only accounts for 8.95% of search engine market share compared to Google’s whopping 84%.

Meta (Facebook/Instagram)

Meta, which includes platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, is quickly becoming one of the most effective channels for PPC advertising. This is partly due to the sheer amount of data that these platforms have about their users, which allows for highly targeted and personalized ads. 

Meta’s algorithms are incredibly efficient at finding new customers, and it’s one of the best channels available for demand creation. 


LinkedIn Ads can be very effective for B2B products and professional services companies. On LinkedIn you can target users based on their job title, location, company size, and more. 

This gives businesses the ability to dial in detailed demographic and firmographic targeting for their products/services, making sure your ads are seen by the right audiences. 


Finally, Amazon Ads is an up-and-coming PPC channel that offers a cost-effective way to reach shoppers on Amazon.com. 

It is quickly becoming a popular choice for advertisers looking to target audiences in the e-commerce space. With 7.3% of the online ad market and 19% growth in 2022 alone, this is one channel to watch for e-commerce companies.


In conclusion, PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click and is a form of search engine advertising that allows advertisers to pay for each individual click on their ads. 

It can be an incredibly effective way for both large and small businesses to drive targeted traffic to their business and increase sales. When done correctly, it can be a great tool for any business looking to grow quickly and launch in new markets, whether they are enterprise giants or small mom-and-pop shops.

However, as discussed in this article, it is important to understand how PPC marketing works, the different channels available, and the ingredients that go into creating successful PPC marketing campaigns. With the right elements in place, businesses can get the most out of their PPC advertising efforts and see great results.