To oversimplify a bit, there are two attitudes when it comes to running PPC ads: folks who want to get the most out of effective traffic streams like AdWords and adCenter, and those who ask the question, “PPC ads…does anyone click those things?”. Well, we can tell the doubters that, yes, 1 – 5% of Google users do click the ads. Our question to search engine users is: if you use PPC ads on a regular basis, what makes them useful to you and what are your preferences?
One subtle change Google made a while back was the method they use for highlighting ads on smaller screens. Anyone who has searched on a laptop, tablet or even phone might noticed that in dim light, or at the wrong angle, it can sometimes be tough to see the (peach? tan?) colored box which denotes ads above organic search listings. So now if you are on an iPad for example, you’ll see a little ‘Ad’ icon below listings from the PPC index showing above organic listings.
Google has shown that they want to draw a clear line between sponsored content like PPC ads and organic content. If you fall in the majority of users who don’t use sponsored content much, here are three common sense use cases for using sponsored content like PPC ads.
1. There are great options in there. In some industries there are monster companies dominating the rankings. For example, search for a ‘boulder real estate’ and you’re going to see: Zillow, Realtor and Trulia claiming the top three positions. Maybe you’re looking for a real estate agent or a specific type of property being crowded out. In this case, the Colorado companies can use PPC ads to level the playing field a bit, and they might be what the user is really looking for.
2. Prices up front. When searching for a physical product like, ‘mens tennis shoes’ the shopping listings (which are sponsored content) offer images, prices and other stats up front. Sometimes a sponsored shopping ad is more helpful than clicking through a dozen sites found in the organic results.
3. PPC ads provide a shortcut. If you’re looking for something that requires a small amount of input, like say, choosing a flight date, Google is incorporating that functionality right into their sponsored sections. While this isn’t PPC in the strictest definition, it is ‘sponsored content’, and could be a useful shortcut.
So whether you always look at the sponsored ads, or never use them…there may be more than you’re expecting. Let us know what you use sponsored content for!