Tom Holgate – Senior Digital Executive

Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, does what it says on the digital tin. It’s a form of online advertising where you pay if someone clicks on one of your ads.

You can set your spending limits on a daily level, so you don’t have to commit to a large advertising budget. And there’s no minimum or maximum, so you only pay for what you need.

PPC has a few variations, but our resident expert, Senior Digital Executive Tom, is going to be focussing on two of the most common methods, Search and Display – explaining what they do, and exactly why you need them.


Search PPC campaigns are formed around text-based ads that reach people searching for specific things online. You’ll come across these ads on most search results pages, much like the one below ?

Search ads are triggered by a list of ‘keywords’ of your choice, and these are usually related to your brand’s proposition. The keywords can be made as specific or broad as you want, meaning your ads will only ever appear in front of who you want them to.

So, if you’re a retailer in the FMCG landscape, you can make sure the ads only appear to consumers looking for your specific products. Alternatively, if you’re part of a B2B business and would only like to receive enquiries for large-scale projects, you can target that too.

PPC office snacks advert

(I had food on my mind).


Display ads come in the form of images, rich media and video ads. They appear on websites that can be specifically targeted based on URLs or through related topics, audiences or people who have already interacted with your website.

Display ads are great for brand awareness and engagement, and in some cases, they can help to boost the performance of search ads.

PPC search engine journal example

That all sounds great, but why do I need PPC?

The average web user won’t go past the first five listings on the search results page, with 70% clicking only on those first five results. Then, the remaining first-page listings tend to take most of the rest of the clicks, with only 5% of users clicking past the first page. Essentially, it’s getting more and more important to make sure you’re appearing as high up those search results as possible.

This is where PPC comes in. It’s your key to online visibility *opens up large debate*

At this point, I should mention PPC is certainly not the only way to improve your online visibility – there are also key tools such as SEO (which doesn’t require a paid budget for clicks) that are important to getting your website in front of your online audience. That being said, SEO is a long game. It takes time to gain real results, and it takes man hours too. PPC, on the other hand, is quick – you see results instantly. Done properly, it can ensure your site is at the very top of search result right from launch.

I’m a fan of PPC, however, variety is the spice of life – there’s a lot of sense in making the most of the mix. Always consider the use of multiple channels to gain as much visibility and traffic as possible. The overall best option is investing in SEO for long term organic benefits; contrary to some beliefs, PPC and SEO can work in harmony.

But, if you need results fast, PPC is the way to go.

What type of PPC is best for me?

More often than not, a combination of different types of PPC advertising works best. However, the best way to find the right combination is to test it.

Here’s a breakdown of when to use search and display…


Search is great for potential customers with intent. This is because it places the ads in front of customers actively searching for your brand or your propositions. So, if there is a relevant search volume for your proposition, and you want to appear in front of people online, search is for you.

Search can also be adapted through keyword strategy. You can target people at the start of their search journey with shorter, more general keywords (such as ‘snacks’), and you can target people later on in the journey with more specific ‘long tail’ keywords *Googles ‘healthy snacks to eat at work*.


Display is a really useful tool for visually representing your brand and products. You can target people based on their interests, or target users by website topic, so potential customers that may not necessarily be actively searching for your product or brand see your ads.

This is a great brand awareness exercise and can significantly support the performance of your search campaign – as users start to initiate their search, they have already had a touchpoint with your brand through display, which increases the likelihood of engagement with your search ads.

Display can also be used in a similar way to search in that customers with intent can be targeted. This is done through “in-market audiences”, where display ads are placed in front of potential customers who are actively searching for a specific product or service. There are a lot of options available to target, so chances are there is a relevant in-market audience for your brand.


PPC is an extensive digital channel. I’ve only scratched the surface with its capability, but hopefully, I’ve answered some of your burning questions.

If you think PPC sounds like a channel your brand could benefit from and would like to discuss it in more depth, get in touch by emailing

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