Before the days of search engine marketing (SEM), advertising your business to potential customers was a lot like throwing darts while blindfolded.

Assuming you faced the dartboard when the blindfold went on, you had a pretty good idea of where to toss your darts—but you had no real way to know whether you hit the mark.

For example, during the holiday season, you might have asked yourself the following questions about your advertising efforts:

  • How many people saw your quarter-page ad in the Yellow Pages, the one for which you paid extra to add festive red and green colors for the holiday season?
  • How many people heard that 15-second radio spot of your conversation with Santa? (Or how many people changed the channel as soon as they realized the music had stopped?)
  • Of the people who saw your print ad or listened all the way through to the end of your radio spot, how many were interested enough to call or stop by your business?
  • How many of the people who called or stopped by your business converted to a sale?

Saying that it's difficult to measure advertising ROI with any real degree of accuracy via print and broadcast media would be an understatement.

You might be able to get a little closer to the bull's-eye if you included a coupon or offered a discount to customers who told you that they heard about you on the radio. Still... not everyone would clip the coupon or remember to mention the radio ad.

Fast Forward to the Present

More and more people are opting out of having a phone book delivered. They haven't opened one in years now that they can find anything they need by entering a few keywords into their favorite search engine.

Moreover, with the advent of customizable streaming radio services and MP3 players, which let people take their entire music collection anywhere, fewer people are tuning in to the traditional stations that constantly interrupt the music with ads and public service announcements.

Though both print and broadcast media can still be viable options for advertising, neither can hold a candle to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising is like ripping off that aforementioned blindfold, taking aim at the exact target audience you want, and hitting that bull's eye.

The Benefits of Using PPC Advertising

One of the reasons why PPC advertising has become such a huge industry over the past decade is that it offers an incredibly valuable return on investment metrics that are lacking in other types of advertising.

Not only can you designate specific criteria, such as location, day of the week, time of day, and in some cases, gender and age to reach your target audience, you can also...

  • Get data on impressions that you don't on print ads
  • Get data on clicks that you don't when a new customer walks through your door
  • Get data on how many of those clicks converted into a money-in-your-pocket sale

Because the data is there, you can review it all via customizable reports and figure out how much you're spending on your PPC ads vs. how much money you're making from them. You receive a true and accurate picture of your ROI.

The saying goes that there's no time like the present. If you'd like to find out how to get started with PPC advertising in the months leading up to the holiday season, check out this presentation.

Sign up for free to read the full article. Enter your email address to keep reading ...


image of Tina Kelleher

Tina Kelleher is community manager for Bing Ads, a service that provides pay-per-click advertising on both the Bing and Yahoo! search engines.

Twitter: @Tina_Kelleher