The Case Against PPC and how to make it work for your business

Pay Per Click (PPC) sounds like the perfect advertising solution, you get high-quality click-throughs (CTR), but is the effort really worth it.

You’ll be guided through the pitfalls and how simple changes can help you make more bang for your buck.

From the consumers perspective

A recent purchase of mine a simple 1940’s styled dress, purchased via one of the major online retailers *hint, features a smile in the logo* and a heavy user of PPC advertising on every major platform available, think Adsense, Facebook adverts and Bing Ads.

Faster than a blink of an eye every web page you visit are now filled with adverts for you guessed it the same dress I just purchased from that same online retailer.

The whole idea of the pay per click is to preempt purchasing decisions, it’s not supposed to be reactive, it’s supposed to make an intelligent decision.

Forgotten carts

Our online purchasing decisions have around 70% (anywhere from 60 – 80% depending on studies) cart abandonment. We could go into a whole article as to why but that’s another highly important and valuable discussion.

Now Pay Per Click has its advantages. It’s great for retargeting to those who are in the throngs of perusing the internet, and there are other methods which can be used to increase the chances of a return visit and completion of the transaction.

For retargeting to work the internet powers need some information, for that they rely on cookies.

Cookies *not the yummy baked gooey kind with chocolate chips*

Cookies are small files downloaded to a computer to track where we’ve been and it’s the powerhouse behind targeted adverts.

Said cookie explains why that dress I purchased has now become a commonly visible advert. After all, you see it three times (sales page, basket and checkout) before you make the purchase and more than likely check up to see the progress of your delivery.

To the web browser (chrome, safari, internet explorer etc) these cookies just make it look like I’m really interested in this product and I’m a surefire buyer. Of course, I am I just bought it, they have my money and I’m now playing the waiting game. (Patience isn’t one of my virtues).

Even after all the cookies are deleted there’s still traces left enough for the browser to know which sites you’ve visited and purchased from in the past and does promote these companies months after a purchase.

Temporary internet files and browser history

In these cases, your browser will use other data captured by your computer and stored within your history and the temporary files all which make browsing the internet a tad bit faster for us users. Not to mention the data held on you by the websites you’ve logged into and remain logged into.

For a business, these small leftover details are handy and help tremendously with advertising.

Shopping profiles

Our shopping habits aren’t just tracked through cookies alone, social profiles, search engines are connected to online retailers and use this data to create a shopping profile more in-depth than many of us realise.

A whole heap of information goes into finding the ideal consumer from age range, where you live, your rough income and your interests.

For instance, I can tell you that a former version of my personal website had more gamers visiting my site than those interested in art. I could tell you which country most lived in, which device (mobile, tablet, desktop) they used and which browser they used.

User profiles are so powerful that in 2014 a digital marketer tested a theory to the limits to see how much he could target adverts to his own friend in which only one person saw them. Ultimately resulting in some paranoid behaviour and the digital marketer coming clean to his friend.

Through these methods, it would be easy to acquire new customers so long as you know the right way to niche it down to just enough to be targeted and not infuriate a customer who has already purchased from you before and is now reading the news on one of their favourite sites.

I only pay when the adverts clicked right?

For the advert placement yes, however, if you’re not getting clicks google, bing, facebook and numerous other sites aren’t getting paid either. As a result, an algorithm will either increase the costs to you for being shown or simply not display them at all.

By retargeting to those who have already purchased from you, your future adverts are also being harmed, ultimately leaving money on the table by not making a sale and by increasing the costs of future advertising.

Retargeting adverts became an annoyance to many that year on year there’s a 17% increase in ad block users on desktop alone.

These adverts have become the online version of the pushy salesperson at the car showroom you walk by every day trying to sell you another Ford Focus in blue that tried selling you yesterday because you bought that exact same car four weeks ago. (Sorry to the car salespeople, and blue Ford Focus drivers)

In the real world of mundane life and physically seeing things we would change our route, we’d opt for a different path completely bypassing the car showroom. Ultimately that’s what these ad blockers and private mode settings do.

We use them every day when we plan on purchasing a gift for a loved one and we want to surprise them because instinctively we know we will get an advert for that product potentially convincing the lucky person you’ve bought that perfect gift for to buy it themselves or worse ruining the surprise altogether.

So whilst your reactive advert isn’t being clicked it is, however, making it more challenging to promote to an audience who have already purchased from you.

A better way

Perhaps instead of promoting the same product as read by the cookie. What if you promoted say shoes which would perfectly match the dress purchased, yes I’m saying use the pay per click to cross-promote rather than promote the same item.

Sell me the matching hat, shoes and handbag, that’s fine just don’t try and convince me I need another blue dress in the exact same style as the one I just bought, yes you can include the dress I just purchased, you’re demonstrating that it truly matches and would make a great outfit choice.

It’s not you, it’s the algorithm

Google / Bing / Facebook, etc need to completely reconfigure their algorithms so rather than the adverts showing products you’ve already bought…..

If you’re an advertiser your money is dead because you’ve already got the customer, they’ve already been to your website, they’ve already bought the product, they don’t need an advert to show them how good your dress is because they’re already wearing it as they look at your advert!

PPC solutions

Facebook is making gradual gains with their algorithm, possibly in thanks to a small cookie they’ve named pixel, it allows Facebook to track the actions of a user interacting with the advert through a snippet of information placed onto the retailers’ website.

Instead of seeing the same advert even after interacting, a new type of advert crops up with something related or improved.

Alternatively, use an advertising style which favours demonstrating your store as a whole or a range of related products which may include that already purchased item.

PPC isn’t going anywhere

PPC is by far the best method for increasing sales far surpassing other advertising methods when compared like for like.

It’s still an evolving method and like everything relies upon the behaviour of people and companies.

As more companies ask the search engines and social media platforms to refocus their advertising strategy to be better performing and better-targeted things will improve.

Voting by not clicking

Social media sites such as Facebook and also the struggling Snapchat have had to rework their advertising strategy.

Snapchat has already evolved to be more focused on making your friends a priority over the adverts as more and more people stepped away from their service.

Facebook has found users becoming irritated with the sheer number of adverts in the news feed, over time they’ve reduced the organic reach of pages.

Now turning their eyes to reducing the numbers of adverts seen on the site leading to an increase in advertising costs and a decrease in the stock price and making the network less addictive.

Final thoughts

If anything we’ve demonstrated where PPC can work wonders when used correctly and where PPC lets down both the businesses and consumers.

Your advert needs to be engaging and give the customer something to encourage interaction.

It needs to stand out without being distracting, and have a strong call to action for the viewer to know what to do next. More importantly, your advert has to be relevant to the people who see your advert.

Shamelessly biased call-to-action

Another great form of advertising which is under-utilised – and free – is word of mouth. You can grow your audience, clients or customers organically through the good word of friends. Give it a try today by sharing this article with your friends.