For those in the business and marketing world, “PPC is dying” is a statement being made ad nauseum by every blogger out there.

Those who aren’t marketing aficionados may not even be aware of what “PPC” means - and probably aren’t sure why they should care.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also known as cost-per-click advertising, is a model of online advertising that has been used since 2002. The PPC model allows businesses to pay for ad space online based on how many users click on the ads. The reasoning? The more people click on your ads, the more revenue you will gain. Right?


That misconception is one of the many reasons why an overwhelming number of people say that PPC ads are dying.

Many business have complained that PPC loses them money. According to Workbooks’ September 2011 issue, 72 per cent of users on Google AdWords (the most popular online ad agency) report not earning back what they spend on the ads. That’s because even if it’s a successful endeavor, the more successful it is, the more expensive it becomes - there’s never a peak in price.

And with advertisements littering the most popular websites, smartphone apps and videos, people surfing the web have grown immune to ads - they no longer command as much attention, and users are less quick to fall for their tempting gimmick. Instead, they've learned to ignore them.

Most importantly, the number of users accessing a site doesn't translate directly into revenue. While it's always a feather in one's cap to boast a high number of people curious about their business, just because they're checking something out doesn't mean they'll ultimately be impressed, or spend money on it.

But despite all there is to criticize about PPC ads, general consensus is that they aren’t a waste of money if they’re not the only method of promotion.

Search Engine Watch recommends a few different strategies, including sponsored social media advertisement. Businesses have bought sponsorships on Twitter which pushes their Tweets or their trends to the front page. Facebook, on the other hand, is a platform that some are wary of. The standard ads on the sidebar have been criticized by high-profile companies like General Motors, but Facebook has been trying to get back into the good graces of investors by revamping its ads. Experts from sources such as Business Insider have recommended that businesses simply approach Facebook with caution and strategy. News feed ads are being lauded as more effective than the side bar ads, since they are not only more visible but appear on mobile platforms as well.

The other strong accompaniment to PPC advertising is to tailor and target ads to specific audiences, which focuses on quality over quantity in fans.

But as always, search engine optimization (SEO) is still the preferred way to go for many. Unlike PPC, SEO is a free avenue that allows businesses to test results immediately rather than waiting for revenue to generate. Though paid ads yield a guaranteed spot at the top of every relevant Google search, a well-optimized site will climb close to the top, and several researchers show that high-ranking organic ads are seen as more trustworthy than sponsored links, which are blatently identified as sponsored. They also boast better quality traffic and more long-term results. It may require a bit more work - perhaps hiring a dedicated community manager or even outsourcing to a different company. But it also helps one come off as less tacky and more genuine.

So why should you care if you’re not a marketing pro? It’s important as a consumer to know how advertisers are trying to play you, and why they are placed where they are. And if you are a marketing pro, it’s important to look deep into the reasoning of why PPC ads are criticized, and what you can do to make up for any advertising sins you may have already committed.


Bree Rody-Mantha