a system used to set prices for online advertisements on a search engine or other website, by which the advertiser pays a small fee to the website publisher each time a user clicks on the advertisement.
Not to be confused with Paramount Pictures Corporation or Portland Pozzolana Cement, pay-per-click (PPC) is shorthand for search advertising. As a must for most digital marketers, pay-per-click campaigns almost always represent paid search campaigns, where the advertiser pays a fee each time someone clicks on an ad, rather than paying per-impression or per-acquisition. Even knowing that, you might still be asking yourself, what is pay-per-click, really?
Simply put: Pay-per-click (PPC) is a type of search engine advertising where the advertiser pays an amount per-click.
So is paid search and pay-per-click the same thing?
For simplicity’s sake: Yes! Although if you researched that exact question, you’d get more vague results. Pay-per-click, keyword advertising, paid search advertising—they’re all pretty much the same thing with the exception of a few tactics that don’t fit within each other (and that aren’t used as often).
It’s also easy to get pay-per-click confused with Google Ads—formerly known as Google AdWords—since it’s the most popular platform to run PPC campaign on, but keep in mind that this strategy applies to all search engine advertising, not just Google.
As mentioned, Google Ads is the most widely-used platform for PPC campaigns, but advertisers should also keep it in mind to consider other search engines and platforms like Bing or Amazon, (AKA, sponsored posts).
I always get PPC and CPC confused. What’s the difference?
PPC describes the pay-per-click buying method. CPC, or cost-per-click, is a performance metric that describes the cost of a PPC campaign. Although they go hand-in-hand, the two are not mutually exclusive.
The only payment metric for PPC is CPC, but CPC can apply to other types of digital advertising campaigns outside of PPC. For example, CPC is a common performance metric to look at for a display or social campaign.