Is PPC Dead or Dying? Get me some AdRank STAT!

Marketing Road MapAfter 10 years as a digital marketing practitioner I have developed a number of pet peeves. One of these involves the occasional declaration of a particular traffic channel as dead or dying. This topic came up today during an informal group huddle amongst strategists here at Bridgeline. We all agreed that PPC was in fact not dead and was still an important part of the digital strategy mix.

Where and how do these narratives of impending doom get started? Usually, they take the form of articles or blog posts much like this one—intended to influence your point of view. These posts are usually accompanies by a scary headline “PPC is dead! Don’t fall behind!!” The writer then cites an incomplete trend to confirm the death of a traffic channel and follows up in subsequent paragraphs with descriptions of other traffic channels in which the author recommends you focus your efforts instead (usually an alternative the author claims expertise in). This begs the question: what is the real goal of those who claims that PPC or SEO is dead?

A quick Google search for “PPC is dead” unearths a variety of articles purporting PPC to be dead. Some of these articles date back to 2010. They will point to studies and analysis which seem to cement their claim. However, here we are in 2014 and paid search is alive and well; so much so that 72% of marketers intend to spend more on PPC in 2014 than in 2013. So who has it right…the yeas, or the nays? The simple truth is that both assertions are correct. Strategies change over time for PPC and SEO alike. So yes, digital strategies as you knew them in 2006 are dead. Business goals, click habits, budget allocations change all the time. However, traffic channels are perpetual.


The answer to this riddle is simple. Create a holistic digital strategy that provides the traffic your business needs to meet your business goals. We call this your “share of voice.” Whether it be PPC to take advantage of an opportunity, SEO to build content and lower your CPA (Cost per Acquisition), Social Media, Remarketing—it is all part of the overall puzzle. In building such a program ask yourself four simple questions.

  1. What are my goals?
  2. Where is my audience?
  3. When do I need to reach them?
  4. How do I measure success?

Stories that claim PPC, or SEO, or anything else is dead may make for great click bait, but you should note they aren’t relevant to your business goals. Instead you should give the game what it needs: constant measurement and modulation of traffic channels will increase your share of voice and allow you to reach customers where and when they are interested in your product by the most appropriate channel at that time.




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