Pay Per Click – Bid-based And Flat-rate PPC
The advertiser signs a contract that allows them to compete against other advertisers in a private auction hosted by a publisher or, more commonly, an advertising network. Each advertiser informs the host of the maximum amount that he or she is willing to pay for a given ad spot (often based on a keyword), usually using online tools to do so. The auction plays out in an automated fashion every time a visitor triggers the ad spot. When the ad spot is part of a search engine results page (SERP), the automated auction takes place whenever a search for the keyword that is being bid upon occurs. All bids for the keyword that target the searcher’s Geo-location, the day and time of the search, etc. are then compared and the winner determined. In situations where there are multiple ad spots, a common occurrence on SERPs, there can be multiple winners whose positions on the page are influenced by the amount each has bid. The bid and Quality Score are used to give each advertiser’s advert an ad rank. The ad with the highest ad rank shows up first. The predominant three match types for both Google and Bing are broad, exact and phrase match. Google also offers the broad modifier match type which differs from broad match in that the keyword must contain the actual keyword terms in any order and doesn’t include relevant variations of the terms. In addition to ad spots on SERPs, the major advertising networks allow for contextual ads to be placed on the properties of 3rd-parties with whom they have partnered. These publishers sign up to host ads on behalf of the network. In return, they receive a portion of the ad revenue that the network generates, which can be anywhere from 50% to over 80% of the gross revenue paid by advertisers. These properties are often referred to as a content network and the ads on them as contextual ads because the ad spots are associated with keywords based on the context of the page on which they are found. In general, ads on content networks have a much lower click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CR) than ads found on SERPs and consequently are less highly valued. Content network properties can include websites, newsletters, and e-mails. Advertisers pay for each click they receive, with the actual amount paid based on the amount bid. It is common practice amongst auction hosts to charge a winning bidder just slightly more (e.g. one penny) than the next highest bidder or the actual amount bid, whichever is lower. This avoids situations where bidders are constantly adjusting their bids by very small amounts to see if they can still win the auction while paying just a little bit less per click. To maximize success and achieve scale, automated bid management systems can be deployed. These systems can be used directly by the advertiser, though they are more commonly used by advertising agencies that offer PPC bid management as a service. These tools generally allow for bid management at scale, with thousands or even millions of PPC bids controlled by a highly automated system. The system generally sets each bid based on the goal that has been set for it, such as maximize profit, maximize traffic at breakeven, and so forth. The system is usually tied into the advertiser’s website and fed the results of each click, which then allows it to set bids. The effectiveness of these systems is directly related to the quality and quantity of the performance data that they have to work with – low-traffic ads can lead to a scarcity of data problem that renders many bid management tools useless at worst, or inefficient at best.
There are several sites that claim to be the first PPC model on the web., with many appearing in the mid-1990s. For example, in 1996, the first known and documented version of a PPC was included in a web directory called Planet Oasis. This was a desktop application featuring links to informational and commercial web sites, and it was developed by Ark Interface II, a division of Packard Bell NEC Computers. The initial reactions from commercial companies to Ark Interface II’s “pay-per-visit” model were skeptical, however. By the end of 1997, over 400 major brands were paying between $.005 to $.25 per click plus a placement fee. In February 1998 Jeffrey Brewer of Goto.com, a 25-employee startup company (later Overture, now part of Yahoo!), presented a pay per click search engine proof-of-concept to the TED conference in California. This presentation and the events that followed created the PPC advertising system. Credit for the concept of the PPC model is generally given to Idealab and Goto.com founder Bill Gross. Google started search engine advertising in December 1999. It was not until October 2000 that the AdWords system was introduced, allowing advertisers to create text ads for placement on the Google search engine. However, PPC was only introduced in 2002; until then, advertisements were charged at cost-per-thousand impressions or Cost per mille (CPM). Overture has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google, saying the rival search service overstepped its bounds with its ad-placement tools. Although GoTo.com started PPC in 1998, Yahoo! did not start syndicating GoTo.com (later Overture) advertisers until November 2001. Prior to this, Yahoo’s primary source of SERPS advertising included contextual IAB advertising units (mainly 468×60 display ads). When the syndication contract with Yahoo! was up for renewal in July 2003, Yahoo! announced intent to acquire Overture for $1.63 billion. Today, companies such as adMarketplace, ValueClick and adknowledge offer PPC services, as an alternative to AdWords and AdCenter. Among PPC providers, Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter and Yahoo! Search Marketing had been the three largest network operators, all three operating under a bid-based model. For example, in the year 2014, PPC(Adwords) or online advertising attributed approximately $45 billion USD of the total $66 billion USD of Google’s annual revenue In 2010, Yahoo and Microsoft launched their comb ined effort against Google, and Microsoft’s Bing began to be the search engine that Yahoo used to provide its search results. Since they joined forces, their PPC platform was renamed AdCenter. Their combined network of third party sites that allow AdCenter ads to populate banner and text ads on their site is called BingAds.