PPC advertising is one of the most popular marketing strategies utilized by all kinds of businesses. You probably already know that, and you need more information before allocating part of your budget to pay-per-click ads.

If I'm correct, you've landed on the right page.

This isn't a PPC campaign management guide...It's a list of the most common questions I've been asked over the last 20 years.

My name is Evan. I'm the founder of Ernst Media, and here is what you'll learn from this article:

  • A simple explanation of how pay-per-click works.
  • The most popular PPC platforms and ad formats.
  • The effectiveness of PPC ads for your business.
  • The disadvantages of this online advertising model.
  • The cost of PPC ads and management services.

By the end, you'll have a better understanding of PPC marketing and what it takes to run pay-per-click campaigns. Let's start with the main question.

What is PPC Advertising?

PPC is a type of online advertising in which you, as an advertiser, pay a fee each time someone clicks on one of your ads. That's why it's called pay-per-click. You're not paying for ad placements or impressions but only for actual visits to your website.

While the PPC model is also available for display advertising and social media ads, it's more commonly used in search engine marketing.

It provides you with the opportunity to drive traffic from search engines without investing in SEO. But if you do...I can tell you with certainty that organic and paid traffic work great together.

How Does Pay Per Click Work?

Pay-per-click (PPC) for search ads (Microsoft and Google Ads) works like a mini-auction. You bid on keywords relevant to your business. When someone types those keywords, there is an ad auction. If your bid is among the top, your ad appears on the search engine results page.

Social media PPC ads work in a similar way, but you target specific groups of people (audiences). The goal is to describe your ideal customers using criterias like demographics and interests.

Now, let me show you the most popular platforms we use and the different types of PPC ads.

What Are the Popular PPC Platforms?

According to Statista, $190 billion will be spent on paid search advertising worldwide in 2024. As you can imagine, with so much money being allocated to this digital marketing strategy, the number of platforms also grows.

For the sake of this article, I'll show you the 5 most popular ones and the reasons we use each advertising platform.

popular ppc platforms and types of ppc ads

Google: The king of search engines, with extensive reach through its networks. 99% of the paid search strategies we create for clients include Google ads.

Microsoft: The former Bing Ads is the second major player in the PPC advertising field. The key benefit we see here is the lower cost per click (CPC).

Facebook (Meta Ads): Still the dominant social media advertising platform. Plus, it allows us to display ads across Instagram and WhatsApp.

LinkedIn: Ideal for B2B advertising and reaching professionals based on job titles and industries. Definitely not the cheapest option, but the lead quality is worth it.

Pinterest: Great for reaching an audience with strong commercial intent. When it comes to creative and lifestyle categories, it is our first choice.

What Types of PPC Ads Are There?

Let's take a quick look at the ad formats you can utilize with your pay-per-click advertising campaigns.

Search Ads

These appear on top of search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal is to capture users' attention when they express a buying intent with relevant keywords to your business. I'm sure you've seen these when searching for specific products or services.

Display Ads

The banners you see when visiting different websites (unless you have an ad blocker). These ads consist of text, images, and animations. Their main purpose is to increase brand awareness rather than drive sales.

Remarketing Ads

As the name suggests, these ads target people who have already interacted with a website or app but didn't convert. For example, when you click on something in your social media feed, you're later shown an advert to remind you about that product or service.

Video Ads

These are the annoying ones you see before, during, or after watching a YouTube video or visiting a website that hosts video content. Still, video ads can be very effective when you target the right audience and catch their attention within the first few seconds.

Shopping Ads

If you run an e-commerce business, a well-structured Google Shopping Campaign can do miracles for you. These Google ads are triggered by searches of people ready to buy. Your job is to show them catchy images and titles, and info regarding pricing, shipping, etc.

Amazon Ads

These PPC ads are offered in three formats. Sponsored Products to boost visibility in search results,  Sponsored Brands to promote a collection of products, and Sponsored Display Ads to retarget customers both on and off Amazon based on their shopping behaviors.

Social Ads

Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin ads...I'm sure you've seen plenty of these on the social platforms you use. When you know who you're targeting, these ad formats are very useful for interactions leading to brand loyalty and even sales.

Gmail Ads

If you use Gmail, you see these ads every day at the top of your inbox. Something you may not know is that these expand into a full email-sized ad when clicked. We use Gmail ads mainly for lead generation when doing pay-per-click marketing for clients.

Local Service Ads

I'd say the highest-converting Google ads for service-based businesses due to the star ratings and verification. While this ad format was open to fewer markets in the past, Local service ads are now available to 70+ types of businesses.

Apple Search Ads

Not many marketers are advertising there yet. In my opinion, they're missing out. With $90 billion in Apple App Store consumer spending in 2023 and well over 2 million apps, there is a lot of untapped potential there.

How Much Pay-Per-Click Advertising Cost?

The cost per click on pay-per-click ads is determined by different factors, including:

  • Platform and keyword competition
  • Quality score, relevance, and ad rank
  • Expected click-through rate (CTR)
  • Bidding strategy and targeting
  • Industry and seasonal trends

As you probably figured, I can't give you the average cost of a PPC ad without knowing anything about your business and goals. What I can do is give you a few examples from different industries based on the PPC campaigns we manage.

The lowest pay-per-click cost for search ads is for e-commerce and travel, around $1.00.

The most expensive PPC ads are for consumer and legal services, between $6 and 7$.

B2B, finance, health, real estate, and home goods are in the mid-price range of around $3.00.

As for display advertising, the cost is rarely above $1.00, but the conversion rate is low.

How Effective is PPC Advertising?

PPC advertising is highly effective when executed well. With an average CTR above 3% for paid search Google ads, you get an immediate traffic boost. When combined with the precise targeting options, the traffic you're paying for leads to increased conversions and sales.

On top of that, you have a quick entry, control over the cost, and measurable results.

And don't think it's just for big companies with deep pockets. In fact, it's the primary method used by around 70% of small and mid-size businesses to appear in search engines. At Ernst Media, we even work with non-profit organizations.

Not convinced yet...see what our clients say about the effectiveness of PPC ads.

Are There Any Disadvantages of PPC Advertising?

Despite the many benefits of pay-per-click advertising, there are a few disadvantages. These are the challenges related to campaign management.

challenges and disadvantages of ppc advertising


The numerous settings and features require expertise to navigate. Without a deep understanding, it's easy to miss out on optimization opportunities or make costly mistakes.


Running a successful PPC campaign requires constant monitoring, analysis, and tweaking. This can be a time sink when you're busy with your business's day-to-day operations.

Click Fraud

Competitors or bots may click on ads to deplete your budget. I'm serious about this. You need vigilance and professional tools to detect and resolve such issues.

Can You Manage Your PPC Campaigns?

Yes, you can manage your own PPC campaigns. The key to getting a good ROI for your ad spend is the proper campaign structure and bidding strategy.

First, you have to find the right keywords, organize those in ad groups, and create landing pages that convert. Then, you need to play with manual bidding to optimize your cost per click (CPC). From that point, it's all about analyzing data and adjusting.

Of course, there are many automated strategies, especially for Google ads. I don't want this to sound like a sales pitch, but...

If businesses were achieving good ROI with an auto-pilot pay-per-click advertisement, there wouldn't be PPC management services.

What is the PPC Management Cost?

The PPC management cost depends on the complexity of the campaigns and the location and expertise of the agency. Apart from that, there are a few common pricing models:

Percentage of monthly ad spend, where the management fee ranges from 10% to 20%.

Flat fees that are more predictable for budgeting are between $500 and $5,000+ monthly.

Performance-based, where agencies take commissions based on the generated sales or leads.

Hourly rates aren't common, but some agencies offer this model with a range of $50 to $200.

At Ernst Media, we give our clients a choice. We offer flexible pricing with no setup fees.

Ready to Scale Your Business?

If you want to get the best possible return on investment, leave us a message or book a call. Let's discuss your project and goals.

If you don't have the budget and want to try handling your pay-per-click campaigns, check out my PPC Tips for Small Businesses article.