Your browser is out of date. The site might not be displayed correctly. Please update your browser.

Semrush academy logo

FREE online PPC course: PPC Fundamentals Course with Joel Bondorowsky 

Overview of PPC Platforms and Channels

36 lessons


Overview of PPC Platforms and Channels

In this lesson, we will be exploring the main Pay Per Click, or PPC, platforms and channels.

Before we jump in, however, it's important to understand how to target the correct platform or channel to achieve your advertising goals.

We can learn how to identify the most appropriate platform or channel once we have considered that the user's state of mind can differ fundamentally at different times. How the user behaves or responds to an ad relies on what state of mind they're in when they see the ad, and this is dependent on whether they are responding to an ad after conducting a search, browsing a website, watching a video, or viewing an ad on social media. Context and understanding your customer's needs and expectations is important.

Now, let's explore the two main forms of PPC advertising:

Search Advertising

First, I will begin with search advertising, which, to me, is more like sales than actual advertising.

What is Search Advertising?

Search advertising is when an advertiser shows a user an ad on a search results page based on the results of a particular search term the user is looking for. The ad that most effectively addresses the desired search is the ad most likely to get clicked on by the user. It is because search advertising is directly responding to someone's need with a pitch for a product or service that it is more like sales than advertising.

How does Search Advertising work

When the buyer's intent is strongest, the value of the traffic those search results bring increases, and thereby the price of the click that brought them there. Search traffic is both valuable and expensive. As a result, you will pay the highest amount per click with search advertising. So, if your online offer can be described in a word or phrase that gets searched for online, then search advertising is a viable channel for marketing your business.

Limitations of Search Advertising

One problem with search advertising is that the number of users actively searching for your offer is limited. This is an even bigger problem if you're selling something that people don't know to look for.

Search Advertising Channels

Over 90% of search engine searches happen on Google and its partner sites. You can reach those users through Google Ads. Bing and Yahoo joined forces and created Bing Ads, a platform which lets you advertise on both search engines. Combined, they represent a little over 5% of all searches on search engines.

Display Advertising

Display advertising brings a whole new range of complexities and possibilities. It's less targeted in nature, but this can work to your benefit if you know what you're doing.

What is Display Advertising?

While search advertising limits the number of people who see your ads to people who are actually searching for your particular product or service, display advertising lets you display your ads to people who aren't actively searching for your product or service. Think of it like running a set of TV ads – but for the internet.

How does Display Advertising work?

Due to the fact that your target audience is not limited to the number of people looking for you, display traffic is both cheaper and more plentiful, but you're also more likely to get lower-quality traffic.

That's not to say that you don't target your ads at all. It just means that user targeting is more complex with display advertising.

With the Google Display Network, or GDN, ads can be placed on websites in countless ways, for example, by targeting the site itself or by targeting the user as well as with various combinations of these.

Limitations of Display Advertising

Since these users aren't actively looking for your product, they are probably not interested in your offer. However, they might be compelled to consider your offer after clicking on your ad and reading your amazing website sales copy.

We'll go into more detail on display advertising in section 4 of this course.

Overview of PPC Platforms and Channels: Lesson Summary

To recap, in this lesson we explain why it's important to understand the state of mind your target user is in when they view your ad as this will determine what platform or channel is best. We also talked about search advertising and display advertising, and what platforms and channels are available to you.