Why are impressions free in Google AdWords advertising?

Why impressions are free in Google AdWords-StratoServe


As Google AdWords or pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers know, the advertiser pays only for clicks on the Ad that gets you a visitor on your website. The number of times the Ad is shown is called “impressions” and is separately reported in the AdWords platform. Thus, you can see how many times a particular Ad was shown (impressions- free) and how many clicks (paid by keyword that triggered the Ad)  each ad received.

Contrast the PPC model to all other traditional advertising  models like TV,Radio,Newspaper, Billboard or even Direct Mail. You pay for impressions (or potential views called Cost per Mille – CPM ) without really knowing if your prospect actually saw your ad.

The question asked to us was ” why are impressions free in PPC ” when it is not, in traditional advertising media?  The short  answer is that traditional media does not allow direct measurement of customer action  for eg. Did the customer actually open the direct mail piece? or  Did the customer just record the TV show and skipped our Ad later? On the other hand the digital world allows analytics and measurement of clicks on ads, arrival on your website, time spent on website etc.

Here are some more thoughts:

  1. Keyword-Ad- and search Intent is not known: Search engines  are not able to entirely predict search intent when someone searches online and is shown a particular ad. So Ads are shown on a rotating basis against keywords so that gradually some link between a particular keywork and click on an ad is determined.
  2. The “unknown” search intent is the main driver of free Ad impressions: Because Google wants to make the searcher happy, Ads are shown that might be relevant. Relevance is also calculated at the advertiser end by checking the quality of the landing page. So if your ad is not relevant to the searcher’s intent then the Ad will shown less. Quality score is an important metric that allows your Ad to be shown more.
  3. Quality Score of keywords: The quality score for keywords is a number from 1 to 10 at the level of AdGroups that trigger ads in that group. Ads upon clicking take the searcher to a particular page or landing page . For the searcher to be happy, the landing page must answer the search intent embodied in the search keywords. For example, you have a bunch of gloves on sale. For the keyword “rubber gloves” you have an ad that talks about “rubber gloves” but lands the visitor on the website home page that is not very clear about “rubber gloves” or worse on the “woolen gloves” page. The visitor leaves immediately in disgust and that is counted against your quality score for the keyword “rubber gloves.” In contrast if you make sure that Ads take the searcher to the right page that is relevant to the searcher’s query everyone is happy. Your quality score goes up, advertising costs go down, the searcher spends time on your page since there is something useful there.
  4. Impressions/Clicks ratio: While impressions will always be more than clicks. It is a good idea to investigate why people are not clicking on your ad? Possible issues might be a low bid for the keyword, the target market you have chosen ( eg. only top 10% income around 100 miles) and other settings.

All in all getting free impressions is a good thing because people are seeing your ad and brand name and that helps brand awareness. About StratoServe.

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