Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising generates massive amounts of trackable data that can be analyzed to find areas of weakness, strength, loss and growth opportunities for online marketing campaigns. Being able to translate this data into strategic PPC management decisions that improve account performance is what fuels search engine marketing. The diversity of this data is one of the major luxuries of advertising in a digital world. It allows you to prove the value of your PPC with concrete numbers, but it can also cause you to lose focus on the big picture; pay-per-click advertising is still advertising.
Pay-per-click Advertising, like the majority of advertising avenues, cannot always be quantified to determine its effectiveness. It can appear that the reach of a PPC accounts is tracked, but the data doesn’t always portray true value. In one of my past blog posts I evaluated the validity of view-through conversions and the impact an un-clicked image ad has on end sales. It was interesting to find that although the image ad wasn’t clicked, it did positively influence end sales, meaning that the ads contribute to more than just the number of clicks it receives. Ads have an emotional impact on our customers, and that’s incredibly hard to quantify. TV commercials have been trying to find a trackable solution to this problem since the first commercial aired in 1941.
Cross-device tracking is another area that doesn’t accurately represent what PPC brings to the table. I myself have seven different devices in which I can access the internet. I also have an unknown number of different email addresses and logins I use (I think there’s still a MySpace page floating around from my awkward teen years.) It would be really hard to determine my path to purchase based on all the different routes I can take to get there. I know that there’s a large effort to help improve cross-device reporting, but for now, it doesn’t come close to representing what’s actually occurring.
Why is it that TV commercials, radio advertising and highway billboards are not dissected by hard-nosed reporting? Why are there not reports determining the cost effectiveness of these ads and the exact number of sales each platform is responsible for? It is universally understood that these forms of advertising provide additional value beyond the few customers who might mention the ad for a discount. PPC is viewed exactly the opposite. The worth of an account is often weighted too heavily on the numbers that a PPC campaign reports. It’s often denied the opulence of acknowledgement for the additional persuasion it delivers. We need to understand that PPC is more than the by-the-numbers stigma it is often granted. It’s a form of advertising, which by definition, is to “draw attention to (a product, service, or event).” PPC advertising is not a cold, unemotional math equation that always has a right or wrong answer; it’s still just advertising.