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Paid search marketing service

What is paid search marketing?
Paid search marketing is known in the marketing and advertising industry by many different names (and abbreviations).

Search engine marketing (SEM, which can include SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), search engine advertising, sponsored listings… the list goes on. And that’s before you start to involve the names of specific advertising programmes and ad types, such as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), Google Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping Ads, and Bing Ads.

But never fear: Geuor Technologies is here to demystify everything. In this article, we’ll give you a basic overview of what paid search consists of and what it looks like, explain the different abbreviations and ad types you’ll come across, and examine the benefits and drawbacks of investing in paid search.

"Paid search marketing affords businesses the opportunity to advertise within the sponsored listings of a search engine or a partner site by paying either each time their ad is clicked (pay per click) or less commonly, when their ad is displayed (CPM or cost per thousand) or when a phone contact is generated, which is ‘pay per call’.”

Paid search and pay-per-click – PPC – are not directly interchangeable terms, as paid search marketing can also encompass other types of payment model, including CPM (which stands for cost per mille, or cost per thousand impressions) or CPA (cost per action / acquisition).

However, PPC (the cost-per-click model) is still the most widely-used form of paid search, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. For this reason, we’ll be focusing primarily on pay-per-click paid search in this guide, while also noting where other types of paid search ad differ from it.

So, what do paid search results look like when you encounter them in the wild?

If a user searches for “chocolate fountain” on Google, the search engine results page (SERP) returns the following:

chocolate-fountain-google-search

As you can see from the screen grab, the paid search results are in the carousel at the top, marked with the term “Sponsored”. These are Product Listing Ads (PLAs), more commonly called Google Shopping ads (though other comparison services do appear in these spots, too) – they are a type of PPC ad that is displayed when a user searches for a product on Google.

Nisbets has the highest Ad Rank in the example shown for the search term ‘chocolate fountain’ and therefore Nisbets appears at the beginning of this results box. It will likely cost Nisbets more than the other listed companies if the user clicks on the first product and heads to their website, but it’s not just bid price that determines Ad Rank. Read more on Google – factors that affect Ad Rank include the quality of your ad, any ad extensions you have used, and the context of the user search.

What do paid search ads look like for a non-product search? Here’s a search for “paid search expert” (which, as you can imagine, is a term in high demand):

paid-search-expert-PPC-results

Instead of the carousel of product images, we’re presented with a list of regular text ads that resemble search listings – only distinguished by a subtle “Ad” label to the left of the web address.

Moving over to Bing, we’re greeted (see below) with a very similar-looking experience on both counts: a visual carousel for Bing Product Ads (which are part of Bing Shopping), and text-based ads for a non-product search.

bing-product-ads

As you can see below, Bing also has an additional text ad space below the product carousel, in place of Google’s local map ads.

bing-paid-search-expert-ads

Interestingly, Bing only has one paid search result for “paid search expert”, compared with Google’s four. Perhaps all the paid search experts are advertising with Google?

A glossary of abbreviations
We’ve already covered a few of the three-letter abbreviations that pop up in relation to paid search, but here is a comprehensive list of what each refers to.

CPC
Cost Per Click, or CPC, means that you as an advertiser appearing on a SERP pay the search engine for each user’s individual click on your ad. It’s effectively the same as PPC (pay-per-click), though some use Cost Per Click to refer specifically to the metric that measures cost per click, and PPC to refer to the strategy as a whole.

CPM
Cost Per Mille, CPM, means cost per thousand impressions. Unlike CPC, this is an advertising model based on the number of people who see the ad (known as “impressions”) regardless of how many actually click on it. This model works best for companies aiming to improve brand awareness rather than generate direct sales.

PLA
Product Listing Ads. Also referred to as Google Shopping Ads.

PPC
Pay per click, or PPC, is the most widespread paid search model and is often used to refer to paid search in general. As mentioned above, it is effectively the same as Cost Per Click (CPC): the advertiser pays the search engine for every click on their ad.

SEM
Search Engine Marketing, also known as Search Marketing, is a nebulous term. It is often used to refer purely to paid search advertising, but can also encompass SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

Google Ads
Google Ads (known as Google AdWords prior to July 2018) is Google’s own advertising network. It offers PPC/CPC and CPM advertising as well as site targeted banner, text and rich media ads.

By using Google Ads, you can show your ads on one or both of Google’s advertising networks:

Google Search Network, which encompasses any ads that appear on Google search results pages, including Google Search, Google Shopping, Maps and its various search partners.

Google Display Network, which covers any website that partners with Google, and other Google sites such as Gmail and YouTube.

With Google Ads, if you choose CPC, you can set your bid (the amount you’re willing to pay for each click) to manual or automatic. With manual you choose your bid amounts, with automatic Google chooses the bid amount for you within your budget. With CPC and CPM you can set your maximum bid amount.
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