Pay Per Click (PPC)

Understanding the Basics of PPC and How to Start Your First PPC Campaign

Kurt GraverBusiness Development, Marketing & Sales

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one of the most versatile and effective forms of online marketing for driving targeted website traffic and increasing brand awareness. This comprehensive guide will examine what PPC is and its major benefits and provide actionable steps for planning and launching your first PPC campaign in the UK.

What is PPC Marketing, and How Do The Ads Work?

PPC stands for pay-per-click, a popular online advertising model offered across major search engines like Google, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and ecommerce sites like Amazon.  

With PPC ads, advertisers pay a small fee every time a user clicks on their ad. The amount paid is determined through a real-time bidding auction where advertisers set the maximum bid amount they are willing to pay per click. The highest bidding advertisers win the ad placement. 

On Google search, PPC ads typically show at the top and bottom of results pages above organic listings. The paid ads are marked with labels like “Ad” so users can differentiate between paid and organic results.

When searchers click on a PPC ad, they are redirected to a landing page on the advertiser’s website that is relevant to the product, service or message promoted in the ad. This allows brands to attract visitors actively looking for related information.

Major PPC Advertising Platforms in the UK

Some major PPC advertising platforms and networks popular in the UK include:

Google Ads – This includes advertising across Google search, YouTube, Gmail, Display Network and more. Over 90% of searches happen on Google, so it should be a priority platform.

Microsoft Advertising – Great for reaching audiences on sites within the Bing Network, Yahoo, MSN and other Microsoft partners. 

Meta Facebook/Instagram Ads – Enables targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network sites. Perfect for brands focused on social media marketing.

Amazon Marketing Services – Amazon is the largest e-commerce site, so their platform allows sponsored product ads to people already shopping online.

Twitter Ads – Effective for running campaigns to engage audiences on Twitter feeds and beyond.

Pinterest Ads – Drive traffic from users looking for related images and visual content.

Key Benefits of PPC Advertising

There are many unique advantages to using PPC advertising to promote your products, services or brand online, such as:

Precise Targeting – PPC platforms allow advertisers to define their target audience narrowly using demographics, interests, behaviours, search queries, remarketing lists, and more. This level of precision ensures ads are only shown to likely customers.

Immediate Exposure – Once PPC ads are approved, they can start serving immediately across the search engine results, social feeds or ecommerce sites. This allows for reaching customers faster compared to waiting for organic rankings.  

Full Control Over Costs – Advertisers have complete control over their spending by setting daily budgets, max CPC bids, run times, and other constraints. You only pay when people engage with your ads, so there is little risk.

Measurable Results – Robust analytics and reporting provide insight into impressions, clicks, CTR, conversions, return on ad spend, and other key performance indicators. This data can inform optimisation efforts.

How to Start Your First PPC Advertising Campaign 

If you want to leverage the unique advantages of PPC marketing for your UK small business or ecommerce store, follow these steps:

Set Campaign Goals and Target Audience

First, clearly define what you want to achieve from PPC ads, like increasing website traffic, generating more leads/sales, improving brand visibility across the UK, etc. Outline success metrics tied to those goals.

Conduct thorough audience research to create one or more detailed buyer personas that represent your ideal customers. Analyse their demographics, interests, behaviours, intent signals, locations, and more using tools like Google Analytics. This will inform ad targeting.

Select Your PPC Platform(s)  

Research major PPC platforms like Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads to decide which aligns best with your goals and target customer profiles. Most advertisers start with Google Ads due to its extensive reach and advanced tools. 

Set Up Accounts, Budgets and Bids

Once you’ve chosen your platform(s), establish accounts with billing set up and allocated budgets. Use the suggested strategies or set manual bids for what you’re willing to pay per click. Remember – lower bids generally mean fewer impressions but also lower costs. Spread initial budgets across multiple tightly themed ad groups.  

Create Compelling Ads 

Develop relevant ad copy and eye-catching creatives tailored to each customer segment. Test texts, headlines, displays, and call-to-action formats across the platforms. Ensure all ads link to custom landing pages on your website that align with the messaging in each unique ad. 

Monitor and Optimise Campaigns

Use the robust analytics within each PPC platform to regularly track performance. Closely analyse metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, cost per acquisition, ROI, etc. Refine keywords, ad copy, landing pages and bids to improve results over time. 

Apply Negative Keywords 

Add negative keywords to exclude searches irrelevant to your offerings. This further refines your targeting to align with ideal buyer intents.  

Adjust Bids and Budgets  

Actively manage bids and daily budgets across campaigns, ad groups and keywords to balance traffic volume with conversion rates and costs. Pause low-performing areas until addressed.

Expand PPC Efforts Over Time 

As you gain experience, create additional tightly themed ad groups organised by product line, service category, location served, etc. Experiment with different match types, formats and advanced targeting methods. Expand your reach by adding placements across search sites, YouTube and content networks. 

Leverage Supporting Platforms

Consider integrating your core PPC accounts with platforms like Mailchimp for email marketing and Facebook Pixel for expanded remarketing. Include UTMs in ads to track performance across online and offline channels.


When executed properly following an iterative approach, PPC marketing enables brands to effectively expose their products and services to relevant new audiences across major search, social and ecommerce platforms. However, achieving and sustaining success requires dedicated management, constant testing, and optimisation to maximise return on ad spend over the long term.