The search engine giant hasn’t been given that name for nothing. It holds 88.14% of the market’s share, handles 5.8 billion searchers a day and expands business reach across the search, display and shopping networks, using Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, websites and mobile apps to do so.
It makes perfect sense why Google advertising forms a vital part of digital marketing strategies and is allocated significant amounts of budget.
The power and prominence of Google is indisputable. It’s the platform that attracts the largest and widest audience, posing great opportunities for businesses to expand their reach and raise their online presence.
But the issue is, this is common knowledge. Today, most businesses recognise these opportunities, which is why Google is often the first point of call when it comes to online advertising.
This perception is what’s driving up the cost of advertising on the platform. It’s one of the basic rules of PPC; the more advertisers there are bidding for a keyword, the more expensive its cost per click (CPC) will be.
Google is a highly competitive PPC platform as is, but this is only set to increase as more and more businesses go through their digital transformation.
So, what’s needed to help businesses improve their digital advertising performance is a shift in perception. Google isn’t the only search engine or PPC platform out there, and it certainly isn’t the only place to reach your target audience online. Rather, there is potential to do what you do on Google better and for a lower cost on these other platforms.
Microsoft should be the first alternative platform to consider if you are looking to target customers via a search engine. Ads created through the PPC platform can appear at the top or to the right of search results on Bing, Yahoo and MSN.
While the platform’s market share and search volume don’t quite measure up to the likes of Google, with Bing’s market share at 6.1% and Yahoo!’s at 2.51%, handling a combined total of 395 million searches every month, there is still opportunity to get your brand in front of customers that will prove valuable to your business via the Microsoft network.
Much like Google, PPC adverting on Microsoft works by advertisers bidding on keywords based on the amount they are willing to pay for each click of their ad. The ad set up process is also similar, with even an option to duplicate Google ads on your Microsoft account, in order to help save time and resource.
But where Microsoft comes out on top is in the competitiveness of the bidding process. Ultimately, there are fewer businesses utilising the PPC platform compared to Google, meaning CPCs for high quality keywords are often less expensive.
This allows your budget to go further and increases the chances of your ad being presented to your target audience.
Similarly, with fewer people using the search engines in the Microsoft network, there is also opportunity to increase click through rates (CTR). All this works in your favour by maximising your ROI.
Marketplaces are another PPC platform to consider, particularly for ecommerce businesses. The events of 2020 have inevitably caused a rise in ecommerce, but what’s interesting, marketplaces are accounting for 50% of all online sales, globally.
So, while a presence on a marketplace is likely to be beneficial enough, advertising on the platform really helps to raise brand awareness and presents your products above the competition on what can often be, saturated shopping channels.
For example, Amazon is the largest marketplace outside of Asia. It has a gross merchandise value of $339bn, so you can only imagine the number of products it offers. In fact, you only need to perform a search yourself to see this.
However, through a PPC strategy on Amazon, you can have your products appear as sponsored results. This not only helps with visibility, but also builds a perception of trust, which is incredibly important when consumers have a vast amount of choice, including options form unfamiliar sellers.
While search engines offer an opportunity to target consumers in the research and discovery phase of the customer journey, marketplaces are growing in popularity among consumers for this very function too.
Interestingly, research has found that when searching for a product, 45% will go to Amazon first, while only 30% will go to Google and just 19% to the brand’s own channel.
But with an average conversion rate for PPC ads on the platform at 9.55%, there is clear evidence that Amazon isn’t just a research tool for these customers, and there is real opportunity for brands to grow their sales, perhaps more so than Google.
Social media networks
Social media strategies have typically focused on raising brand awareness and increasing customer engagement. However, in more recent times, an increasing number of businesses are realising the sales benefit of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Thanks to some recent developments to these platforms, social media networks can now be used as direct sales channels, through the use of shopping features and increased advertising functionality.
Again, an organic presence on these platforms is a great starting point for businesses. But what PPC offers is a way to raise awareness of your product or service among your target demographic, and then create a seamless journey to conversion through ad calls to action and easy click throughs, whereby customers don’t even need to leave the platform to complete a purchase.
Often, this can be more convenient and natural for customers as ads are based on interest and activity and appear while they are consuming other content, rather than after they’ve initiated a search.
PPC has advanced in more ways than one over the years. Although Google still holds its reign, and improvements to its functionality and use are forever being updated through AI, machine learning and automation technology, it certainly isn’t the only platform that is enabling success in today’s market.
Nate Burke is CEO Diginius