Is PPC Marketing Dead?

If you ask a hundred people when they think the world is going to end, you’ll get a hundred different answers. Nobody could possibly know, right? And, as the old saying goes “Opinions are like (insert expletive).”

Is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising dead? For some people, it definitely is. That’s because it’s no longer the set-and-forget marketing method that it was in the mid-to-late 2000s.

PPC marketing

In order to get online campaigns converting in 2018 and beyond, marketers need to be smart about how and what they choose to market on pay-per-click advertising platforms like AdWords, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, and the other numerous lesser-known ad networks out there like One by AOL.

PPC isn’t dead, it’s just not as easy as it once was

I remember reading an answer in a Quora discussion a couple of years ago that was made by an AdWords employee. The question he was answering was “Is Google Adwords dead?” Seriously, this question has been popular ever since the first major Google algo change in 2011 (Ie., the infamous Panda update that shook the online marketing world to its core!)

The answer to the question was “The only thing about AdWords that’s dying is the hype around it.” The hype in this case, is the idea among marketers that you can throw up a campaign with little optimization (compared to that required in organic SEO), and start banking ROI from your landing pages, ecommerce stores, and blogs essentially overnight.

Panda was pivotal in changing the landscape, because it made marketing difficult — expensive and highly competitive — just as it should be. AdWords would no longer work if you were trying to drive clicks to pages that didn’t satisfy a user’s search engine needs:

  • Low quality content.
  • Thin websites.
  • Duplicate pages.
  • Misleading ads.
  • Content that doesn’t match the keywords chosen in a campaign.
  • Lack of industry authority.
  • Compliance issues (Ie., payment processing).
  • Many other changes made it more difficult to get eyes on PPC ads.

Many updates since have further leveled the playing field, making it possible for smaller brands to have an impact simply by minding their Ps and Qs better than the competition. Most other relevant, trusted platforms have all since followed suit and adopted Google’s approach when it comes to their PPC rules.

You’ll notice I’ve been focusing the discussion of Google AdWords on this page. That’s simply because it is, and likely will always be the most popular, since it’s tied directly to the world’s biggest search engine. And, most humans on planet Earth know that nobody’s going to take over Google’s market share in the next seven to eight billion years!

Why marketers constantly talk about PPC being dead

One word. Laziness! If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

A lot of marketers are claiming PPC marketing across the web is dead or dying, simply because they’re not having success with the same old campaigns and tactics they’ve always used.

If you turn the key on your car like you always do, and the car doesn’t turn over, there’s a good chance something on the car is in fact dead. However, once you fix what’s wrong, that car will run again. The marketers claiming that AdWords or Facebook’s advertising platform is dead are the type to turn the key once or twice, then call a tow truck to take their dead car to the junkyard.

Imagine if emergency room doctors pronounced every accident or heart attack victim dead, after only trying one or two simple tricks to save a life. “Let’s call it guys, we hit this guy with the defibrillator twice now. He’s a goner!”

Get where I’m going here?

The problem is, they just don’t want to take the extra mile for finding the solution – or at least finding someone who has the solution. They could just hire the right pay per click advertising agency if they couldn’t get the results they wanted, but they simply won’t do it. Why? Because it’s easier to stay in their comfort zone claiming that PPC is dead than thinking outside the box and find the solutions.

PPC management

You can’t listen to the rhetoric surrounding the death of PPC

If PPC is dead, then Google and others are the biggest criminals on the planet. Google made a cool $35-billion in revenue from AdWords in 2017 — just in the United States! Facebook generated $39-billion in worldwide advertising revenues in that same year, making them a clear second in the PPC profit-race.

Google has several revenue streams, including G Suite, but PPC ads are the cornerstone of their business model. Facebook also rakes in revenue from several areas, but they would never have gone public in 2012 had they not created their ad platform in 2007, which gave them insane growth over that five-year window.

What of Bing Ads? The platform has long been thought to be on death’s door for years now. In fact, Bing’s PPC game is very strong, and growing. After partnering with Yahoo and AOL, they’ve breathed fresh new life into the platform, generating nearly $30-billion in 2017.

Don’t even get me started on Instagram’s paid ads. They’ve practically doubled their ad revenue every year since 2016, and have only been serving ads to users since 2015. With the launch of “Stories” and the ability to run ads in this trending feature, the sky’s the limit.

“When you stop growing, you start dying.”

This quote from William S. Burroughs has a lot of merit in several areas of life and business. It’s true in biology and it’s true in industry. We all know this.

So, how then could PPC possibly be dead if all the big players are generating billions of dollars in revenue?

If you’re a marketer that thinks PPC is long since died, perhaps you need to rethink how your campaigns are put together. Per-click advertising isn’t dead, times have just changed is all.


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