Be Neutral
A Publication of the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution


This is one in a series of marketing articles that will explain e-marketing in layman’s terms.  This information is provided to help you modify your online presence to get your practice noticed.

Marketing Tip: PPC Advertising – a Marketing Idea Worth Considering

Do you remember the days when your advertising options were limited to a very expensive print ad in a Bar publication or the daily court reporter ?  The adventurous would venture into places like the back of the weekly TV guide from the newspaper or even onto a billboard.  Well those days have passed, and reaching your target market has become very efficient and cost effective due to a phenomenon known as Pay-Per-Click of Cost-Per-Click advertising.

If you’ve ever done a Google search, you’ve actually seen examples of PPC / CPC ads every time.  Those ads that run down the right hand side of the screen (see below) are the original PPC / CPC ads.


Businesses bid with Google to be listed in this space based on search keywords.  For example, I did a Google search on the word “lawyers” and the ads above popped up.  If I were to click on any one of the ads listed the advertiser would incur a charge equal to what they have bid.  In some cases these ads can get very expensive if you are trying to use one that is very popular.  For example, realtors have been known to pay as much as $9 per click to bring buyers to their site !  You can mitigate the cost by using phrases like “realtors in Canton, GA,” which would probably cost something like 50 cents per click. 

PPC / CPC ads were revolutionary in their day.  They were dramatically less expensive than Google’s sponsored ads, which run at the top of the page above the search results (see below).


While advertisers could easily spend thousands running sponsored ads like this, they could limit their spending on PPC / CPC ads for little to nothing.  In the case of sponsored ads, advertisers pay whether or not they get clicks, whereas for PPC / CPC ads they only pay when the ads are clicked.  Better yet, the PPC / CPC ad program lets them set a daily budget and turn the ad on or off at will.

While Google had a great idea with sponsored ads and PPC /CPC ads, there are some real limitations.  First of all, there are no images in the Google ads.  A good graphic often makes all the difference in catching a reader’s eye.  Secondly, the success of the ads depends entirely on readers using the appropriate keywords in their searches.  If someone wanted a lawyer to help settle mom’s estate in Savannah, but he searched using the keyword “lawyers,” the results that popped up wouldn’t necessarily be productive matches for searcher or advertisers.

But then Social Media showed up and changed the game       
Ever since Facebook showed up, people have struggled to understand how the company was going to make any money.  The answer is simple – advertising.  Think for a moment; when you set up your personal page, you gave Facebook a lot of information about yourself – name, location, employer, schools you attended, and more.  As you use the system, you provide Facebook even more information when you “friend” people and “like” pages.  Suddenly the company has a pretty good information about who you are !

What can Facebook do with that information ?  Simple – it can offer advertisers access to their targeted audiences.  For example, if I want to advertise to vegetarians, in Georgia, with a college degree, and an income above $100K, Facebook can tell me how many people in their database match those statistics.  Then it can sell me ad space by ensuring me that my ad would only display for those people who met my criteria.  In the case of Facebook, it can either charge me when someone clicks on my ad (typically $.75 - $1.50 per click) or it can charge me just based on the number of people who see my ad (CPI / CPM – charge per thousand viewed).  While the rates may seem expensive, consider for a minute that unlike Google, services like Facebook (and LinkedIn) are giving you access to your narrowly focused target market, and that is well worth the extra charges !

Then Facebook took it a step further and allowed us to include 2 images in our ads: first our profile picture and second an ad picture.  You can direct the ad click to send the viewer anywhere you want.  It can go to your Facebook page for your practice, your Facebook page for yourself, or even to the website for your practice !

Not to be outdone, LinkedIn has also entered the PPC / CPC environment, but it has added a new demographic.  On LinkedIn, you can target just small businesses if you want (information that Facebook does not collect in its database), and LinkedIn has millions of them listed in their database !  Like Facebook, LinkedIn also lets you include an image in your ad and charges on a per click or per thousand impressions. 

What are the pitfalls ? 
First of all, you need to understand that for Facebook and LinkedIn, the real estate where they place these ads (on the right hand side of the page just like Google) is very valuable – it is one of just two revenue-generation opportunities that they have.  Therefore, if you buy an ad and it doesn’t get any clicks, they’re going to run it a lot less frequently.

For example, I have a client who publishes a journal for epidemiologists (boring !).  The client has published in print for 33 years, and about a year ago it moved online.  Together we were trying to reach out to potential readers and ran some Facebook ads.  We targeted our audience to people in North America who listed epidemiology, public health, and biomedical engineering as their interests in their Facebook profile.  Based on our criteria, Facebook found 115,000 people in its database who matched, and we promptly went off and created an ad.  The first failed miserably, and Facebook stopped showing it within 24 hours.  The second and third attempts did marginally better.  However, our fourth attempt went gold.  Within the first 24 hours 28,100 of our target audience had seen our ad and we had 161 new subscribers !  The cost to us was under $75 – well worth it considering that it had generated $4,000 in subscription revenue.

Obviously Facebook wanted us to keep running that ad, so it gave the ad prominent placement and showed it regularly.  Many of our target audience saw it 8-10 times – a dramatically different result from our first three attempts !

Second, you need to understand that some of the people who click on your ad won’t buy your services.  If the ad is well written and your business page is well crafted, the hope is that clickers will remember you and refer their friends who need your services.  The good news is that like your ads with Google, you can set a daily budget and you can turn these ads on and off at will.  If you find that clicks don’t generate business, then turn the ad off and try again.

On LinkedIn, your challenges are a little bit different.  Unlike Facebook, you aren’t posting comments and news.  Instead you are posting your professional profile and participating in discussion groups.  Thus the content you use to create an ad is different.  You’re highlighting yourself or your business and making sure you look professional when you do.

Is it really worth it ?    
PPC / CPC style advertising can be very effective and cost efficient.  It is a process that needs to be monitored closely to ensure that the costs don’t overwhelm you and to ensure that the leads you are getting are really generating revenue for you.  You shouldn’t be using these ads just to get more “likes” for your page.  You need to remember that your real aim is to generate business for your practice.  Therefore you need to learn to ask this question of every new prospective client:  “Where did you find us?”  If, once you have started advertising, the answer is Facebook or LinkedIn, then keep advertising.  If not, step back and reevaluate.


Michele Gibson is a Georgia-registered neutral and a certified emerging media consultant.  She is the president of Digital Smart Tool, LLC – an e-marketing firm offering website design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), electronic newsletters, social media coaching, and marketing training seminars.


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