What comes to mind when you hear PPC (pay-per-click) advertising?
Most people would think of the text ads in Google search results or Facebook ads that appear on the right-hand column of their news feeds. If that’s you, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of engaging ad formats that will help you reach more potential customers.
No doubt, if you’re advertising online, you can’t ignore Google and Facebook. They have a broad reach, granular segmentation and sophisticated analytics to help optimize your results.
But did you know that these platforms offer a wide variety of ad formats that can deliver a more engaging experience, boost brand awareness, drive high-quality traffic and increase conversion? In addition, have you explored other online advertising platforms and formats that could work like gangbusters for your market – without the high price tag?
In this article, we’ll look at the “usual” and “not-so-usual” suspects to help you identify the PPC ad formats you should be using for your business.
Google AdWords is the most common platform for PPC advertising and offers a variety of ad formats to support your marketing objectives. Some of these ads are displayed on SERPs (#1 to #4) while others are shown to visitors on websites in the Google Display Network (#5 to #7).
1. Text-Only Ads
This word-only format may seem basic, but it’s highly effective for reaching a targeted audience on Google search.
Google text ads are quick to set up, easy to maintain and work well for sellers of basic goods and services that consumers buy on a regular basis. Even though the cost-per-click may be higher than other formats, these ads work well to attract visitors with high purchase intent.
2. Ad Extensions
You can “beef up” your text ads by using ad extensions to add a link to a particular product/category page, star review, physical address or phone number.
Ad extensions increase the “real estate” that your ads occupy on search engine result pages (SERPs) and help capture users’ attention.
The additional information often attracts more clicks, which in turn lowers the cost-per-click. It also provides more details about your products or services to help drive high-quality traffic that’s more likely to convert.
3. Google Shopping Ads
Google shopping ads allow you to effectively target searchers with high purchase intent. Thanks to the additional product details, these ads tend to get clicks with a higher conversion rate.
Product shopping ads are displayed at the top of SERPs, above the text ads and organic search results. They capture searchers’ attention by displaying a product image, a short description, rating and price.
Showcase shopping ads expand to display related products and information about your business. They help merchants target shoppers who are researching a retailer rather than looking to buy a specific item.
4. Call-Only Ads
Did you know that 78 percent of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase? In addition, 70 percent of mobile searchers will call a business directly from their mobile search results.
If you have a local business, a phone call is one of the core methods for customers to connect with you, and this ad format can help you get in front of more qualified leads. Keep in mind that a call-only ad is shown only on devices that can make phone calls and some fields may get hidden to fit smaller screens.
5. Responsive Ads
More people are conducting searches on mobile devices, so it’s essential that your ads adjust their sizes, appearances and formats to fit the screen. Google Display Network (GDN) ads contain both text and images and are automatically scaled to fit the ad space available.
To make sure the ads are displayed correctly in different proportions, you need to upload images of various sizes, provide copy with different character counts and check all the previews carefully.
The images on the responsive ads help draw attention and get more clicks. However, the text and images can be combined in unpredictable ways so this format may not work for businesses in highly regulated industries, especially when the disclosure of legal information is mandatory.
6. Image Ads
These ads are displayed on websites that partner with Google, and you can leverage their audiences to expand your reach. By combining Google’s website partners with its own properties, these ads can reach as much as 90 percent of all Internet users.
Since image ads tend to get more impressions but fewer clicks, they help build brand awareness but are less effective in driving sales. They’re also great for service providers who want to build trust by “putting a face to a name.”
7. Video Ads
Video ads offer a great opportunity to make an impression on an audience and increase brand awareness by attracting attention and delivering an engaging experience. You can place video ads on Google’s partner websites or you can make the ad part of a streaming video.
There are additional formats and features you can use for YouTube video ads, such as campaign targeting options, video remarketing and interactive elements to drive action.
Facebook has more than 2.2 billion monthly active users, and it’s a powerful marketing platform.
It has been adding a number of ad formats and features to help marketers create more engaging ads, use sophisticated targeting to increase ROI and improve results with detailed tracking.
8. Video and Image Ads
Besides using a single video or image, you can create ads with multiple images to showcase your products and increase engagement:
- Collection: Display items from your product catalog customized for each individual user to drive them through the sales funnel
- Carousel: Show up to ten images or videos within a single ad, each of which is tethered to a unique link.
- Slideshow: Tell your brand story using motion, sound and/or text.
- Canvas: Deliver a full-screen experience when a user clicks on your ad to drive engagement and nurture buying intent.
9. Lead Generation Ads
When users engage with the image, video or carousel on these ads, a lead form is displayed to capture the users’ information. Facebook will auto-fill part of the form using the users’ profile data, which helps reduce drop off and improve conversion rates.
These lead forms can be integrated with your CRM system, so you can easily segment your subscriber list and nurture the leads effectively.
10. Offers Ads
You can create offers ads with image, video or carousel. They help you reach new prospects, capture their attention and boost sales. Use high-quality, engaging images to make these ads more enticing. The discount should be substantial to incentivize action and don’t forget to promote it on your business page (e.g., pin the post on the top).
It’s also important to set a realistic expiration date. You should add a sense of urgency to motivate prospects to take action while ensuring that they have enough time to claim the offer.
11. Event Response Ads
Use event response ads, which can be set up with an image or a video, to promote your Facebook events. Besides getting an event in front of a targeted audience, these ads allow you to keep track of how many people responded to the invite, so you can analyze your metrics and improve your results.
Other PPC Ad Formats
Google AdWords and Facebook ads are no doubt the staple for most online advertisers. However, the costs of these “usual suspects” are increasing, thanks to high competition and bringing down ROI even when the ads are highly optimized.
You can explore other ad formats on platforms specific to your audience or industry. These ads generally cost less and could help improve your ROI:
12. Other Social Media Ads
Most social media platforms offer PPC ads to help advertisers reach their audiences. These include Twitter paid boosts, LinkedIn sponsored posts, Pinterest ads, Tumblr ads and Reddit ads.
13. Gmail Ads
These are contextual ads served using an automated process that scans a user’s emails to determine topics and products that are likely to be relevant and useful to the individual.
These ads offer different targeting options, such as using keywords, uploading an email list or creating a similar audience.
14. Banner Ads
These image-based ads are often placed at the top, side or bottom of a website. They can be contextual ads that relate to the content of the webpages on which they’re shown. These ads are effective for targeting an audience of a specific website and increasing brand awareness.
15. Mobile Ads
Many social media platforms, websites and apps offer an option to show an ad to mobile users only. That way, you can tailor specific formats, messaging or call-to-action (CTA) just for mobile users.
16. In-Game Ads
Video games ads can help build awareness by placing your brand name on billboards or your products in-game (e.g., cars, clothing) to serve as “gaming status symbols.”
Selecting the most effective PPC ad format can seem overwhelming. To get the most out of your marketing budget, always consider your business objectives when choosing ad formats.
For example, use ads with a visual component for showcasing products if you want to reach an audience with high purchase intent and drive sales. The only way to know whether an ad format really works for your business is to track the metrics, traffic source and conversion rates.
Don’t skimp on your analytics! Understanding what works for your market is the key to maximizing the ROI of your online ads, so you can increase your profits and boost your bottom line.