Once you have decided to try PPC advertising, Google AdWords is the best starting point. After you’ve had some success with this, then consider Bing Ad Center, which displays ads at both the Bing and Yahoo websites. There are also many other advertising platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and a range of lesser-known shopping comparison websites, such as Shopzilla or Shopping.com. The CPC costs are much lower, and testing will help you decide very quickly if these second-tier options are worthwhile. Google AdWords offers a wider range of ad formats than many of the other PPC networks, which have only a single option. Many of these other PPC networks provide import tools from Google formats to make campaign creation very simple.
The most basic and commonly used ad format is the search text ad displayed when a person searches at the Google website, but you expand your reach with thecontent network and all types of interactive screens such as TVs, desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones. This broad approach means your strategy also needs to address the various devices and locations people will use as part of the shopping process. First, research how people typically would find your products or offerings. Would they be on a mobile phone, while watching TV? Or at work during a lunch break looking to quickly order a replacement coffee supply? A simple technique is to ask your coworkers, sales personnel, and business partners to play the role of a prospect.
Would your prospects go first to a search website to discover more details, or do they prefer to watch a product commercial or demo video instead? Do they search out trusted information sources from bloggers who provide tips or news articles? Is obtaining referral information through social media a strong influencer? It could be a combination of all of these attributes, and you will need to deploy a mix of tactics. The chart below highlights these advertising formats and suggests ways to map them to your own marketing objectives.
|Search Text Ads – Search phrases trigger ads at the search websites.||Works across a broad range of market segments and applications. Has good positive ROI & conversion potential.||CPC costs are increasing as competition builds. Requires more management to reduce cost and some search knowledge or experience.|
|Display Ads – Banner or text ads displayed on content-rich websites such as blogs or information resources, directories, or forums. Ads are triggered by the content of the page via a matching keyword set.||Excellent reach beyond the search websites to hundreds of thousands of websites. Low conversion rate potential and more ideal for building brand.||Generates many curiosity visits (tire-kicking) that don’t convert to sales or leads. Pay per individual clicks or by ad impressions. Monitor closely for quality sales or leads.|
|Video Ads – Promote a video shared on YouTube or your brand message via a video pre-roll ad app.||Ideal for developing a brand message or educating potential customers about a product or service.||Offers low-cost views with only a modest conversion to website visits or sales. Weak calls to action make it difficult to measure positive ROI.|
|Remarketing – After visitors leave your website and navigate to another website that is part of the content network, a banner or text ad with your message is displayed. The idea is to remarket your message to those visitors even after they have left your website.||Called chasing after the sale, this has great conversion potential because you can track the actual pages visitors have already viewed at your website and tailor a re-offer message based on what they’ve already seen.||Testing follow-up offers is important for finding the right message that will convert. Requires you to set up some specialized tracking of web pages.|
|Mobile Ads – Ads formatted for mobile phones that are triggered by a search performed by the user.||Growing number of mobile users shops initially both on the go and at home. Often the first touch point in shopping research process. Setup as a separate campaign to help understand how mobile will influence the buying process.||Prospects may want to call you right away, so provide phone support. Many applications for shopping comparisons are available on smartphones and could create a price-sensitive interest only. Possible low conversion rate from the early stage in the buying cycle.|
|Shopping Comparison – Product images or specialized selection of mini applications appear in search results to help users select products or services. Often called PLA or product listing ads.||Ideal for common e-commerce products, selecting hotel rooms, and ready-to-buy scenarios. Customers are influenced by price and availability.||Be prepared for price wars.High conversion rate potential. Visitors have limited interest in being “up sold” and just want to buy the desired item/service and leave the site.|