PPC Mysteries Revealed: 7 Answers to your pressing PPC questions


Pay-per-click advertising is a mysterious subject. A lot goes on behind the scenes at Google that they simply won’t let us in on.

Because of that, marketers often struggle to get their PPC questions answered.

In our most recent Web clinic, “Online Advertising Forensics: We investigate how and why a text-based PPC ad produced 47% more conversions,” we had several great questions from our audience. But we didn’t have time to answer them in the clinic. So, to help them (and you), we wrote this post with answers to the most pressing questions.

Hopefully you can find questions similar to the ones you have so you can apply it to your own PPC campaigns …


When you’re in an environment where you’re paying for impressions instead of clicks (e.g., banner ads on a network, not PPC), how do you balance the tradeoffs between optimizing for clicks vs. conversions? I.e., if you’re paying for a limited number of impressions, it seems like you need to maximize clicks, but the same techniques that help accomplish that can hurt the conversion rate. So do studies show it is still better to optimize for conversions, or volume? (The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, I know.)

— Jeff Wood


Answer: Jeff, this is an excellent question. In general, it is better not to optimize for conversions or volume. Instead, it is always better to optimize for profit.

If you are paying for impressions instead of clicks, it may be more profitable if the volume of clicks is a bit higher than a regular PPC campaign. But this is only incidental. It might just as easily be the other way around.

When profit is your main KPI, the details regarding whether you are paying for impressions or clicks fade into the background and become non-issues.

We recently held a Web clinic on a similar tension between optimizing for search engine rankings (traffic volume) and conversion. There’s an interesting discussion around slide 21 on the issue that you might find enlightening.



What drove the formulation of Treatment 1 and 2’s word choice? One a positive pull, and the other avoiding a negative outcome?

— Sarah Hersack


Answer: Sarah, quite simply, we wanted to learn which held more sway with the ideal customer. Discovering things like this is what we love about our jobs. And, while we can’t truly say that avoiding a negative outcome will be more motivating than a positive pull in every instance, the implications for any field of study into human behavior are mind boggling.



Isn’t the goal of an ad to get CTR and the goal of the landing page to get CVR? Shouldn’t they have optimized the landing page to the Treatment #1?

— Vannessa Goolsby


Answer: Vanessa, yes and no. Yes, we should have optimized the landing page for this test. Unfortunately, because of technology restrictions, we couldn’t run a test on the landing page (from feedback we’ve had from our audience, this probably sounds familiar to many of you). Usually, we like to optimize the entire path as quickly as possible.

No, we shouldn’t have optimized the landing page to Treatment #1. We don’t optimize for traffic, we optimize for profit. The leads coming from Treatment #2 were a much higher quality than those coming from Treatment #1. And, the volume of leads from #2 was enough to make it much more profitable. If we were going to optimize the landing page to a PPC ad, we would have optimized it for Treatment #2.

Also, while we usually teach that “the goal of an ad is to get a click” for the sake of clarity and brevity, the truth is, “the goal of any ad is to get the most profitable click.”



Any concerns with lower QS due to so much lower CTR and thus increase CPC costs?

— Paul Rakovich


Answer: Paul, we did see a slight increase in CPC costs due to Quality Score issues. But (to beat a dead horse further J), we don’t optimize for Quality Score, we optimize for profit. To protect our Research Partner, I can’t really share the CPC costs, but the slight increase in CPC was negligible compared to the overall increase in high-quality leads.



Is there a resource that examines using questions in headlines?

— Richard Sneed


Answer: Richard, we don’t have anything specifically about using questions in headlines, but I can get you started with a few resources on headlines in general from our blog and research library:



Is there ever a good time, place or occasion to use video on a landing page?

— Gavin Head


Answer: Gavin, yes, it is highly likely that there is a good time, place or occasion to use video on a landing page. We could certainly do with more experimentation with video, but so far, we’ve never seen video out-perform text when it comes to grabbing a visitor’s attention. It tends to work much better as a supporting element somewhere further into the thought-sequence of the page. On page 91 of the MarketingExperiments Quarterly Research Journal Volume I, Issue 4, there is an experiment that one of our audience members ran for his homepage with and without video.

Also, in one of our more recent clinics, we saw an overall increase in conversion when we changed the positioning and surrounding text of a video on a landing page. But it’s hard to say how much that affected the conversion rate on the page, as it was one change among many in what we call a radical redesign. You can view that clinic here:



How do they know that the leads were coming from #2 instead of #1?

— Amber Hanneken


Answer: Amber, Adwords has a pretty good help section on it here:


Related Resources:

Optimizing PPC Ads: How to leverage the full potential of 130 characters by clarifying the value proposition – Web clinic replay

The Ultimate Click: How to get what you pay for with pay-per-click advertising

Online Advertising: How your peers optimize PPC ads

PPC Marketing: A look at analytic and monitoring tools

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1 Comment
  1. Martin says

    Ive used video to compliment text on some landing pages and it works well, IE people seem to watch the video in full and complete the desired action. Ive never completely replaced text with a video though.

    Great article!

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