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25 PPC Terms Every Marketing Leader Should Know

PPC advertising, like most Internet marketing specialties, has a language all its own. The definitions below will give business leaders a better understanding of the very important ideas behind key PPC terms, and help them evaluate PPC agencies and campaigns more confidently.

  1. Account Level. The highest level of a PPC campaign. The account level controls billing and coordinates communication with Google or Bing; otherwise it has no control over campaign execution.
  2. Ad Group Level. The level of a PPC program below the campaign level, the ad group level is a segment of campaign level keywords grouped together based on budgetary considerations and product/service categorization. For example, in a “credit card processing” campaign, “mobile processing” could be an ad group and be comprised of hundreds of keywords relating to mobile processing.
  3. Ad Position. Ad position is where (how highly) a PPC ad displays on a SERP.  Ad position is primarily determined by the bids and relevance of the ad. Note: Number one position is not necessarily better than two or three – lower placements are less expensive and may not reduce CTR.
  4. Bid. How much money a PPC advertiser is willing to spend on a given keyword. Generally, the higher the bid, the more impressions the ad will receive when search engine users input the given keyword in a query.
  5. Bing Ads. This is the second leading -- but not to be ignored -- PPC advertising platform. To see how Bing stacks up against the top dog, Google AdWords, click here.
  6. Branded Campaign. A PPC campaign in which branded search terms (e.g., “Acme Corp anvils”) are targeted. Branded campaigns are well worth considering, as they are relatively inexpensive and produce very high conversion rates.
  7. Broad Match. A broad match keyword is one in which the order of terms in a search query can change and still produce a match to the targeted keyword. For instance, designating “mobile credit card processing” a broad match term means it will match search queries such as “credit card processing mobile” and “processing credit card mobile”.  (See Exact Match and Phrase Match.”)
  8. Budget. The amount of money a PPC advertiser is willing to spend per day on a campaign. Once the budget is consumed (determined by the number of ad impressions), no further ads will be displayed during the day.
  9. Campaign Level. Campaign level is the second-highest level of a campaign, after the account level, and encompasses the totality of keywords to be targeted. At the campaign level, advertisers control budget and geo-targeting. More granular controls, such as the time of day to bid, can also be controlled at the group level. 
  10. Click Fraud. The most well known type of click fraud is competitors clicking on an advertiser’s PPC ads to chew up its budget and prevent users from reaching its website. Click fraud can and should be monitored and reported.
  11. Competitor Campaign. A PPC campaign in which competitive branded search terms are targeted – e.g., Acme Corp. targeting “Vandelay Industries anvils”. Competitor campaigns are not effective, because they sharply lower the advertiser’s Quality Score: ads are not relevant because searchers are looking for that competitor, not the advertiser.
  12. Conversion Rate. A critical PPC metric, conversion rate is the percentage of users that take action on the landing page they have clicked through to from the PPC ad – for instance, the percentage of users that place an order or call for a quotation.
  13. CPC. Cost per click (CPC) is a critical PPC metric. Advertisers can lower CPC by improving their Quality Score – i.e., making their ads and landing pages more relevant.
  14. CPL. Cost per lead (CPC) is a critical PPC metric, which tells advertisers how much they have invested in each PPC-generated sales lead. In order for CPL to be calculated accurately, the advertiser must track and validate leads properly.
  15. CTR. Click-through rate (CTR), a critical PPC metric measures the percentage of users who click on an ad per the number of impressions the ad receives. For instance, if 10 users click on an ad that has displayed 400 times, the CTR is .025. Higher CTRs improve the Quality Score.
  16. Exact Match. An exact match keyword is one that exactly matches the search query.  For instance, designating “mobile credit card processing” an exact match term means it can only be displayed for search queries of “mobile credit card processing”. (See Broad Match and Phrase Match.)
  17. Google AdWords. The world’s leading PPC platform, Google AdWords reaches more than one billion search engine users per month and has a 67.5% share of the U.S. search market, among other things. Learn more.
  18. Keyword. A keyword is a search term to be targeted in a PPC campaign. Keywords are selected during the initial, keyword research, phase of a campaign, and chosen based on a variety of factors including search volume, relevance and budget (highly competitive terms are expensive to bid on).
  19. Landing Page. A landing page is a Web page users land on when they click on a PPC ad. Landing pages are designed to be as relevant as possible to the ad, and encourage users to take action (i.e., convert) by completing a webform or making a phone call. PPC campaigns that send traffic to, for instance, the advertiser’s website home page, rather than a specially designed landing page, are grossly ineffective.
  20. Location Targeting. PPC advertisers can limit bidding to search engine users within a designated geographic area. This is highly valuable to regional companies, where leads outside their service area would be useless.
  21. Negative Match. Designating a keyword as a negative match means that it will not trigger an ad in a given campaign or ad group where the negative is included. For example, an advertiser can tell Google to ignore searches where the words “free” and/or “low cost” are included. 
  22. Phrase Match. A phrase match keyword is included in a longer search term. For instance, if “credit card processing” is designated as a phrase match keyword, it can display for queries such as “solutions for credit card processing in retail”.  (See Broad Match and Exact Match.
  23. Quality Score. Quality Score is Google’s 1-10 rating of ad quality. It is based on the relevance of ad text and landing page to the search query. The higher an advertiser’s quality score, the higher position its ads will receive and the lower its CPC will be. Learn more.
  24. SERP. A search engine results page (SERP) displays after a user has entered a search query. PPC ads display in various areas of the SERP depending on Quality Score and other factors.
  25. Split Testing. Split testing is a crucial, ongoing PPC campaign task in which variables are tested in the campaign, ad text and on the landing page, in order to improve CTR and conversion rates. Important items to test include the time of day or days of week on which to bid, the offer, and the placement of the call to action form on the landing page.

For many companies, PPC is an excellent option for generating sales leads and e-commerce revenue. Executives don’t have to be subject matter experts, but without an understanding of PPC fundamentals, they will just be guessing when evaluating their campaigns.

Author Bio:

Brad Shorr is the B2B marketing director of Straight North LLC, an internet marketing agency near Chicago helping companies run paid search campaigns. His articles have appeared on Yahoo Small Business, Moz, and Forbes.