What is Pay Per Click

What is Pay Per Click?5 min read

What is Pay Per Click?

When business owners typically think of pay per click, they usually visualize ads that appear at the top of Google. This is, of course, how Google got its start and what propelled Google to become a 700 billion-dollar company. In recent years, Pay Per Click has evolved tremendously and encompasses Google Display Ads, YouTube, Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo. Each of these mediums falls within the Pay Per Click category. Understanding exactly what is Pay Per Click (a.k.a. PPC) is important for any business which wants to grow. This article answers the question, “What is Pay Per Click?”

Google Search Network

The Google Search Network is responsible for some 3.5 billion daily searches (Smart Insights, Search Engine Statistics 2018). People search for pretty much anything they can think of on Google. From, “sushi restaurant near me”, to “what car should I buy”, to “hotels in Boston.” The Google Search Network basically works as follows. When someone goes to Google and searches for a keyword such as “Fenway Sushi Restaurant”, Google will display up to four paid advertisements at the top, three map listings, ten organic search results, and then up to four paid advertisements at the bottom of the page. These paid advertisements at the top and the bottom of the page are pay per click advertisements.

Given their prominence at the very top of the page (though some are on the bottom as well) the Google Search Network can help businesses acquire leads quickly. This is especially true given the fact that it can take a business many months to reach the first page of Google organically. And, given the limited number of businesses that can appear on the first page it remains an elusive pipe dream for many.

Statistics show that 92 % of people searching on Google do not navigate past the first page (Search Engine Watch, No 1 Position in Google Gets 33% of Search Traffic). In contrast, Pay Per Click (as the name implies) displays businesses who are willing to pay whenever someone clicks on their ad. The Google Search Network determines the cost per click based on the relevance of the keyword, the Pay Per Click ad, the underlying website, and more.

Google Display Network 

The Google Display Network complements the Search Network but works much differently. About two million websites, including websites such as CNN, ESPN, Boston Globe, and Flyertalk display Google advertisements. These ads show up as a banner and target people based on demographics (i.e. age and gender), location, and interests. The advertising business only pays when someone clicks on the ad (hence the term Pay Per Click). In contrast to the Search Network where someone is actually searching for a product or service, the Display Network targets people far more broadly.

The Google Display Network is great for building brand awareness. It gives advertisers the ability to display colorful ads, and usually has a far cheaper cost per click than the Google Search Network. Additionally, the Google Display Network allows businesses the opportunity to “retarget” those who previously visited the businesses’ website. Due to its wide reach, and its lower cost per click, the Google Display Ad Network can be a valuable addition to any Pay Per Click strategy.

YouTube Advertising

YouTube is another search engine operated by Google. It has over one billion users, almost one-third of businesses on the internet. These users watch billions of hours of content each day (YouTube by the numbers). YouTube advertising usually falls under the Pay Per Click category, even though it does not operate on a Pay Per Click basis. Like the Google Display Network, YouTube allows advertisers to target users based on demographics, location, and interests. There are two types of advertisements on YouTube: TrueView and Bumpers.

TrueView ads are ads that play before or in between another video. Viewers watch five seconds of your video and then can decide whether to continue watching or whether to skip it. The advertiser only pays when the viewer watches for at least 30 seconds. There is a second type of TrueView video called TrueView video discovery. These ads appear in search results and advertisers only pay when the viewer chooses to watch the ad.

Pre-roll ads are six seconds of ads that a viewer must watch. They cannot be skipped. The advertiser only pays when someone watches the ad.

Facebook Advertising

No discussion of “what is pay per click” would be complete without a discussion of Facebook Advertising. Facebook presents great opportunities for businesses. Like the Google Display Network and YouTube, advertisers can use Facebook to target very broadly. Facebook can be used to build brand awareness. It can also be used to advertise a product or service to a specific demographic, in specific locations, and with specific interests.

Facebook ads appear on a user’s Facebook timeline, on Instagram, and/or on Facebook Messenger. Facebook has more than 2 Billion Daily Active users (Sprout Social, 28 Powerful Facebook Stats Your Brand Can’t Ignore in 2018). Americans are estimated to spend an average of 35 minutes per day on Facebook (Mediakix, How much time is spent on social media?)


Bing is a search engine operated by Microsoft. It has approximately 10% market share and accounts for some 5 billion searches worldwide. Bing ads function very similar to Google Search ads. They only appear when someone conducts a search on the Bing search engine. Ads on Bing are usually cheaper (sometimes drastically cheaper) than the ones on Google. Notably, some computers come with Bing set as the default browser.

Yahoo Gemini

Yahoo is the third major search engine. The Yahoo search engine has approximately an 11% market share, and functions similarly to Google Search and Bing Ads. Paid advertisements on Yahoo blend in more with organic results than the ones on Google or Bing. Similar to Bing, Yahoo ads are usually cheaper than the ones on Google. Some computers also some with Yahoo set as the default search engine.

What is Pay Per Click?

The term pay per click encompasses Google Ads,  YouTube, Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo. Pay Per Click is a quick and effective way for businesses to acquire new leads or increase their revenue through digital advertising by paying per click.

Whether your business is already using pay per click and just needs some advice, or your business is looking to get started for the very first-time contact Pepper Gang’s team of marketing experts. 


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