In conventional advertising, you pay for the reach of the medium, not the results. It’s a system which is completely loaded in favour of the media owner, but it’s something the publishing and broadcast industry has got away with forever. So if you have 1000 prospects, you need to find a medium which reaches those 1000 people with minimal wastage. You wouldn’t target them with a prime-time TV advert, because you’d be paying for 10 million irrelevant viewers too.
Pay-per-click advertising is completely different. You pay for the results. The media owner (such as a search engine) has the task of getting you as many relevant responses as they can using the minimum amount of their inventory. From your point of view, the more often your adverts show, the higher the probability that you’ll reach all 1000 prospects. Getting your message seen by irrelevant people shouldn’t cost you anything.
A radical change like this is a really hard concept to explain. But I know many of you have to do just that at management meetings. So here’s where to start.
When it comes to pay-per-click search advertising, people who come with a traditional advertising outlook usually approach things the wrong way round. To them, you choose the searches where your advert will show, you write the advertising message, and you choose the page on your website where you’ll send responders. (Google doesn’t help, in this respect. It walks you through setting up an AdWords campaign in that order.)
What you should be doing is this. Choose the page on your website where you’ll send responders. Write the message which will attract the right people to that page. Then consider the searches that those people will be making.
It doesn’t sound that different, but it is. You can tell those people that don’t really understand. Their idea of a report on the advertising campaign will start with looking at the list of search terms used. They’ll try to trim down the list of search terms (“that’s not exactly what we sell”) rather than try to expand the list to get the advert seen more. They’ll think that getting a better clickthrough rate is important, forgetting that 2 clicks from 100 views at a 2% clickthrough rate is better than 1 click from 10 views at a 10% clickthrough rate.
People who do understand pay-per-click search advertising will be more concerned with the number of people who clicked through to the page, and what they did when they got there. Explaining this to people more used to traditional advertising is hard.