Pay and Display

Pay and Display 

Acronyms, acronyms everywhere. Admittedly, when I first began researching Digital Marketing concepts, it may appear to be a different language initially. For example

You can use PPC, in your SEM plan in order to improve your SEO. Pardon?


For those less familiar with these similar abbreviations, please allow me to explain, what they are, what they do and how businesses (and you) can utilise them.
Paid search is a digital marketing technique which involves businesses paying for their website to be displayed on a search engine results page. For example, when someone types in a specific keyword or phrase such as “Holiday”. The results at the top of the page (where the audience will be guaranteed to be looking at) will be displayed for all to see.

The top 3 are Google Ads (with the logo displayed) Meaning Thomas Cook for example would have had to pay in order to be displayed at the top of the list.






Organic has reached the Internet

Similar to its correct definition, Organic search refers to unpaid, ‘natural’ rankings determined by search engine algorithms. Of course, this is in complete contrast to using paid search initiatives that push your webpage to the forefront, forcing users to see it. While they still appear on the same search results page, they are displayed in a different location the majority of the time. They are of course, the cheaper option for any new or small business hoping to be stumbled upon. The bottom two ads (and below) are organic search item results.


Rutz and Bucklin (2011) had pros for using either method of promotion:

Firstly, for paid searches, they stated it is an easy way to get noticed if you are not ranking well organically, this would be true of a new or small business. They also believed it ‘guaranteed to enhance your company’s online presence’.

However they also believed that People are less intimidated by organic search links, meaning most people are savvy to know that the top links are in fact the adverts. Moreover, It’s the cheaper option, which is quite a considerable pro for any business.

Nonetheless, it is extremely difficult for a business to achieve an organic results that will be easily noticed, they would have to develop some serious traffic in order to achieve a top organic search result.. for example eBay is synonymous with online auctions, and so does not need to pay to be displayed at the top of a page, due to the number of pages and visitors, it automatically appears there.


Google AdWords is by many measures the most popular paid search platform used by search marketers, followed by Bing Ads, which also serves a significant portion of ads on Yahoo.

Beyond that, there are a number of “2nd tier PPC platforms” as well as PPC advertising options on the major social networks.

In addition to covering general paid search trends, you can find the most recent news about SEM and helpful tips to get started with PPC ads on the three major search-engine marketing platforms below:

Each platform offers helpful tutorials, to help users get started.



In 2014, Google AdWords released a new video about how AdWords PPC auctions work. Although the daunting duration of 8 minutes may deter some people from watching, I highly recommend it. Varian (2014) does an excellent job to simplify a complex process, while keeping it interesting (who would have thought).


Zeckman (2014), reported that Google holds the majority of the search engine market with 68%, making Google Adwords both the most popular choice for paid search initiatives as well as the most accessible.


Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Keywords are… well key

these are specified words that the business would like to be linked to the page. Eg. Auction will be keywords of online site eBay.

Designing the ads to be displayed most optimal position, will help to bring it to the attention to the audience more. As Varian (2014) explains, the main goal is to make ads as relevant as possible to the search in order to entice viewers to click and keep them using the service, benefiting all parties including the user, the business and search engine.


Once viewers are drawn to the ad, they will be relocated to a landing page. This is the gateway to the businesses offering, weather it be product, service or offer. The aim is to transition from the search engine to the business, hoping to ‘close the deal’.


Benefits To Your Business:
Thomas (2012) identifies certain aspects of paid search that are very beneficial, of which two stood out:

A Sniper’s Precision:
Paid search enables businesses to target groups that match their exact target market, This makes this method of marketing far more efficient than other initiatives.

Instantaneous and continuous: 
As with one of the many advantages of ecommerce, there are no designated operation hours (Molla & Heeks, 2007). Therefore, the speed at which you can attract new visitors to your website is extremely advantageous.




Possible Disadvantages To Your Business:
As with most marketing campaigns, there are downsides to paid search marketing including;

How Much?
Yes, paid search does give you the opportunity to compete with rivals, but it comes at a price, and a large one at that. Pay-per-Click (PPC) refers to the cost that a business incurs if their link is clicked upon, in a sense it is a tax for the privilege of having the link displayed with the search results. However, bare in mind, this does not guarantee a purchase. Generally the more generic the term of keyword is. Cheap Holiday For example would not come at a low cost to the company hoping to display their results.

Skip this ad;
Undeniably, the majority of people out there posses some level of marketing knowledge. The majority of the time this is a con for businesses, especially when customers knowingly and actively avoid their adverts. To support this claim, MacGregor (2012) used Google to identify 85% of people said they ignored or skipped sponsored ads. Yes, I too am guilty of this, I will ignore the ‘sponsored ads’ or skip adverts given half a chance, when they are forced it seems only human nature to fight them.

Circle of Life; It is important to take note of successful past or rival campaigns. Once a business can learn from its mistakes, it can only benefit moving forward.


The screen above depicts both organic and paid search results of searching “Apple”.


Satariano (2016) revealed that due to how lucrative and successful paid search has been to both businesses but more specifically Google, Apple have began to try and implement their own paid search initiative with their app store, aiming to rank Apps based on developers contribution.




Graph from Statista (2015) confirms that from July 2008 to June 2015 100 billion apps had been downloaded from Apples App Store.


– Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

– Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
– Cost-Per-Impression (CPM)
– User Experience (UX)


Final Thoughts

In essence they can all be relatively cheap tools, knowing how to use them… there in lies the challenge. Upon inspection, the concepts are much simpler in reality than previously imagined, and the sheer number of sources of information are staggering. Of course companies such as Google and Yahoo! Want you to use their services, and so have extensive guides and walkthroughs easing the experience. However, there have also been clear disadvantages highlighted above.


But do the pros outweigh the cons? I personally feel that business giants with substantial marketing clout such as Apple, Amazon and Coca-Cola, it is an effective method to encourage user engagement leveraging their brand loyalty. The news that Apple are seeking to leverage a similar scheme to Google will be interesting to see its future practicality. If implemented correctly, it may propel them to levels of profit previous inconceivable.. or rather fail stupendously as developers move away from the platform. Meanwhile, I believe it may be too costly for smaller businesses, especially choosing popular terms, mainly because ads can easily be overlooked and ignored, moreover just because results are displayed, does not mean they will lead to a purchase, as I myself am a testament to this. I mean who doesn’t love ‘window shopping’ online?





MacGregor, C. (2012). 5 Disadvantages Of PPC Advertising. Available:
[Accessed 15 April 2016].

Molla , A. & Heeks, R. (2007) Exploring E-Commerce Benefits for Businesses in a Developing Country The Information Society 
Vol. 23, Iss. 2, 2007

Rutz, O. J., & Bucklin, R. E. (2011). From generic to branded: A model of spillover in paid search advertising. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(1), 87-102.
[Accessed 15 April 2016].

Satariano, A (2016) Apple set to pursue new search features for crowded app store. Bloomberg [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 April 2016].

Steimle, J (2013) SEO Tips for Small Businesses [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 April 2016].

Statista (2015) Apples App downloads [ONLINE] Available at:
[Accessed 15th April 2016)
Thomas, N. (2012). 5 Reasons Why Paid Search Advertising Can Benefit Your Business. Available:

Zeckman, A. (2014). Google Search Engine Market Share Nears 68%. Available: [Accessed 15 April 2016].

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