In pay per click marketing, clicks are king, because clicks are what ultimately lead to conversions.  Often times, impressions are seen as a means of gaining a click – which they are.  Beyond that, however, not much thought has been given to the positive value that impressions may have in the search realm.  When creating and reviewing client’s PPC campaigns, I try to take into consideration both the positive and negative value that impressions can have on an account, and make adjustments accordingly.  Below are two of the main benefits that search impressions can bring to a PPC campaign:

1.  Branding – Although the branding benefit has usually been reserved for display/ content network impressions, there is also a branding benefit from search impressions.  I have heard the comparison of search impressions to driving by a billboard on the freeway – a person might see an ad (or many ads), but the messaging rarely sticks once they pass by.  The main difference, however, is that someone who sees your ad on a search results page is actively looking for something that you offer.  A person who sees a billboard on a freeway may or may not be interested in what is being offered.  The benefit here is that as your ads continue to show for relevant search queries, you business name, product, service, URL, etc. all gain valuable mind share with potential customers.
 

2.  Competitive Edge – If you are in a competitive market, then it is highly likely that most of your main competitors are utilizing PPC as part of their online marketing strategy.  Each time your ad shows for a search query, you are effectively "pushing" a potential competitor off of the first SERP, regardless of whether or not you get a click.  If you are fortunate enough to hold an organic placement, as well as a paid ad position for a specific search query, then you are pushing two competitors to the next page.  This can be an effective defensive strategy, particularly if you are in a cut-throat industry (I’m talking to you, lemon lawyers), or if you have an established brand name that may be tempting for competitors to bid on.

It should be said that there all also negative values associated with impressions.  If you get too many impressions without enough clicks, the resulting poor CTR can eventually lead to lower quality scores and increased CPCs.  As long as you stay on top of your campaigns, and monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs) on a regular basis so that your impressions don’t hurt you, you can expect to see some benefits from the increased visibility.

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