Top Paid Media & PPC (Pay Per Click) Marketing Companies

Paid media and pay-per-click marketing companies determine top advertising opportunities through traditional and digital platforms, create content, and manage performance to ensure success.
Last Updated:
Category

Top Types Of Paid Media

What Is Paid Media?

Paid media is the act of paying for physical and digital advertisements that promote your brand, a product, a service, or a piece of associated content. It is typically used to capture new potential consumers through strategic targeting and partnerships.

In marketing and advertising, there are three types of media: owned, earned and paid. Owned media are the channels you control, such as your website. Earned media is likened to organic impressions based on value, such as blog post shares or social media engagement. And, of course, paid media is the act of paying a third party to promote your message.

Traditional Advertising

Although a large focus is placed on digital initiatives, traditional advertising is also a form of paid media. This includes things like billboards, print advertisements in magazine and newspapers, radio spots, video commercials, and more.

However, online advertisements arguably perform better than traditional paid media advertising. For example, Facebook ad revenue in the United States is expected to surpass total print advertisement spending by 2019.

Branded Content

Branded or sponsored content refers to the act of paying for a piece of content marketing that generally appears to be native. This reinforces a trustworthy and authentic presentation of a brand without completely deceiving consumers because all branded content is labeled as such.

There are many types of branded content campaigns that top agencies can facilitate, including social media influencers (we’re sure you’ve seen #spon or #ad posts on your Instagram timeline) and sponsored articles in a magazine. However, a key point about branded content is that it doesn’t shove a product, service or brand at consumers blindly. Instead, it is framed as just one aspect of a more natural piece of content.

Display Ads

Display ads are website, mobile and app advertisements comprised of multimedia and text to promote a brand, product or service to a group of Internet users. Think of display ads like the digital billboard. Advertisers scout out the best location that their demographic may travel to in hopes of them catching a glimpse of the ad and becoming interested.  

Display ads can include sponsored videos, pop-ups, overlays, website banner ads, sponsored sites and more. Depending on the type of display advertisement, there can be some overlap with retargeting campaigns, branded content, and even native advertising.

Social Media

Of course, social media is one of the most effective paid media strategies. Facebook alone has seen a consumption increase of 57 percent in the past two years. What’s better? Compared with other forms of paid media, social media has a relatively low cost and strong ROI.

Most social media platforms offer paid options. The most common paid networks include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Most social media ads work on a pay-per-click model, which we will describe below.

What Is Pay-Per-Click Marketing?

Pay-Per-Click Marketing, Defined

Pay-per-click advertising enables brands to create and display ads online. However, instead of playing lump sum for an ad, brands only pay for the traffic they receive from the advertisement, potentially saving money while maximizing results.

Pay-per-click marketing and advertising is a form of paid media but is much more dynamic in pricing structure. Depending on your ad, target demographic, and competition, the cost per click for an online advertisement can vary greatly.

Flat-Rate vs. Bid-Based

In PPC marketing, the cost per click can be a fixed price (flat rate). This means that the advertiser (you) and publisher (search engine) simply determined the amount one click will cost, regardless of keyword competition.

However, cost per clicks can also be rooted in a bidding war. With bid-based PPC, advertisers determine a maximum price that they are willing to pay for a click. Then, publishers essentially host an automated digital auction for a search result for relevant keywords, which could then result in site traffic. This is particularly popular with high-value keywords that generate a lot of useful traffic for brands.

Retargeting

Retargeting ad campaigns are great for turning new visitors into repeat customers. As a user browses your website, your site will place cookies on their browser. As they navigate away from your website and to other digital destinations, they will be shown ads for your brand imploring them to revisit the site through various calls to action.

Retargeting also has a similar cousin called remarketing. This tactic also drops cookies on your browser as you peruse the site, but instead of serving you ads on websites, those ads are delivered in email campaigns, making it slightly more invasive.

Paid Search

Paid search advertising capitalizes on users searching for specific keywords online. Brands can create a pay-per-click campaign with a search engine’s ad platform, which will then push that content to the top of search results. However, these listings do not appear organic -- instead, they are distinguished by small text reading “ad.”

Although many search engines have their own forms of search advertising (such as Bing Ads), Google AdWords is the most common advertising outlet. After all, Google facilitates over 3.5 billion Internet searches every day.   

Top PPC Services

Depending on the pay-per-click marketing and advertising services your brand needs, there are various services that can help. Most social media campaigns can be created directly through the network, while retargeting, remarketing and paid search ads can be created through Google AdWords or another search engine.

However, it’s often best to enlist a great pay-per-click marketing agency’s assistance. They have the tools and top professionals on hand to determine the best form of PPC advertising that will grow your brand, then streamline the process and maximize results.

Questions To Ask Top Paid Media And Pay Per Click Marketing Companies

Brand

Paid media and pay-per-click marketing companies will be both representing your company and attempting to captivate potential valuable consumers, so it is imperative that they have a strong understanding of your brand, core values, and business objectives.

Describe our brand.
Do you think we are communicating our identity to consumers?
What marketing initiatives are we executing well?
Which marketing initiatives could we improve on?
How will you adjust your strategies to fit our brand identity?

Experts

Top paid media and pay-per-click marketing agencies have access to the best digital marketers and advertisers -- which is key, considering these employees will be the individuals actively growing your business. Learn about each person who will be working with your business and don’t be afraid to request certain experts who you feel confident can improve your brand.  

  • Who will be working on our paid media or PPC campaigns?
  • What is their expertise?
  • What prior campaigns have they worked on? What was the result?
  • Will they be dedicated to our brand, or will they also be working on other paid media and PPC projects?
  • Have they ever worked with a similar business, industry, or business growth project?
  • Who will our point of contact be?

Strategy

The best paid media and pay-per-click companies have the skills, resources, and expertise to analyze a business’s current online performance, define objectives, and create a specific strategy designed to achieve them. In addition, they have a streamlined workflow and communication process to ensure deadlines are met and clients are in-the-loop regarding campaign performance.

  • What tools, resources, programs, etc. do you use to formulate strategies or track results?
  • How will you create a specific strategy to solve our business problems?
  • How do you plan to ensure deadlines are met?
  • How often will you track results and provide reports?
  • How do you plan to adjust strategies in relation to the data you collect throughout the project?
  • Will you require any information, designs or work from our internal team?

Past Work

An agency’s prior experience speaks volumes about the results they may (or may not…) be able to secure for you. As any potential paid media and PPC company about their clients, past projects, successes, and failures to determine if they are a flexible company that can create successful campaigns.  

  • What clients does your agency work with?
  • Are they returning clients?
  • What successful campaigns has your agency worked on? Why were they so fruitful?
  • Tell us about some unsuccessful projects. What did you learn from them and how will that influence how you approach our project?
  • Would any past or present clients be willing to speak to us about their experience working with you?

Cost

Because the cost of paid media and pay-per-click marketing campaigns can vastly differ, so can the pricing structure of the agencies. Therefore, determine exactly how an agency prices its services, how often you will be billed, and the results that are able to guarantee.

  • How much will you charge for your services?
  • Does your pricing correlate to the cost of campaigns, specifically the dynamic click-based fees?
  • Will we need to pay for any additional services or programs?
  • What results can you guarantee?
  • How often will we be billed?
  • Do you require us to commit to a specific length of time for this partnership?  

Top Value Propositions and Differentiating Factors of the Best Paid Media and Pay-Per-Click Companies

Overview

When it comes to driving traffic quickly and reaching customers who have already expressed a level of interest or need in a product or service your company sells, nothing beats paid search. Paid search (also referred to as search engine marketing and Pay-Per-Click, or PPC) is the process of showing ads in search engine results pages for relevant and desirable keywords.

Paid search management is a highly skilled field -- deep understanding of the inner workings of ad platforms is essential to success in the channel. Though some companies choose to manage paid search in-house, many simply don’t have the infrastructure to appropriately support such a position. They rely instead on media agencies who specialize in paid search and display. These agencies have the skills necessary to effectively manage PPC campaigns. By working in teams as opposed to in isolation, agencies are also able to take a more thorough and comprehensive approach to campaigns.

As with all digital marketing channels, there are many different varieties of paid media companies in operation. Some are highly skilled, efficient, and trustworthy. Others may talk a big game, but ultimately can’t generate results. Identifying the best PPC company to partner with your brand is a matter of understanding how your values and theirs align. Taking stock of each agency’s key differentiators will help your company pinpoint which ones will be strong partners, and which will not.

Top paid media companies are powered by people

There’s a lot of technical talk that goes into any paid media pitch. Comprehensive understanding of the technology required to run paid media campaigns on different ad networks is absolutely essential, but it’s the people that engage that technology that really matter. Don’t get sucked in by all that technical jargon -- at the end of the day, the best PPC companies live and die by the quality and skill of the people who work there. Look for a partner who has the bases covered when it comes to technology and automation, but ultimately positions themselves based on talent. The people working at the agency are the ones who are going to be responsible for managing and optimizing your account, after all. Their insight and abilities are what your pay-per-click campaign success is riding on.

Leading paid media companies value transparency

When paid media is being run on your behalf, you’re entitled to a full and comprehensive overview of the approach, tactics, and creative. Top paid media companies are open and transparent when it comes to briefing clients on their campaigns. They’ll offer to walk you through their approach to campaign setup, including keyword targeting and ad messaging. They’ll sell themselves based on regular reporting on key metrics (click-through rate, conversion rates, cost-per-click, quality score, and return on ad spend [ROAS]) and open lines of communication. Steer clear of agencies that are vague or guarded about how your campaign will be managed.

Effective paid media companies are strong collaborators

In order to be effective in advertising on a client’s behalf, the media agency has to have a strong understand of their business. Collaboration is key to success. The best paid media companies position themselves on their ability to partner closely with your internal internet marketing teams. This is important to ensuring good outcomes from your paid media campaigns, but it also helps guarantee that all marketing disciplines are working in tandem towards a unified goal. Media companies that are not able to effectively collaborate end up operating in silos, which can result in communication breakdowns, missed opportunities, and outright marketing disasters.

Trustworthy paid media companies won’t hold you hostage

Obviously staying with a single PPC partner long term is the ideal outcome of any engagement. Long term partnership ensure consistency and more efficient optimization, plus it avoids the cost and time associated with switching agencies. Still, it’s wise to keep your options open in case you do need to make a change at some point, whether that means bringing account management in-house or switching to a different vendor. If that time comes, you want to be sure that your data belongs to you, and not to your agency. Top paid media companies will never hold your campaigns hostage -- they’ll turn the reins over to you if and when you ask them to. The best pay per click agencies will also provide hand-off documentation for all managed ad networks and even training for in-house teams to ensure the smoothest possible transition.

Serious paid media companies are credentialed

PPC management requires skill, experience, and technical ability. If an agency is serious about offering a high level of expertise and service to their clients, they will take the time to become credentialed. For example, Google Partner and Premier Partner status indicate that an agency has met certain requirements set forth by Google to certify Adwords proficiency. According to Google: “Achieving Partner status means that your company has demonstrated AdWords skill and expertise, met Google ad spend requirements, delivered company agency and client revenue growth, and sustained and grown its client base.” This is a good indication to potential clients that their paid media company has a proven track record of success.

Reliable paid media companies are adaptable

Digital technologies change and evolve at a rapid pace. You need an agency partner that stays on top of changes in the online marketing world so your campaigns never fall out of date. Google and other search engines roll out improvements and new features constantly, and top paid media agencies position themselves on their ability to integrate changes into their client campaigns quickly. In a field as competitive as paid search and display, it’s critical that your brand is able to take advantage of every opportunity.

Service offerings of top paid media companies

Top paid media companies can handle the pay-per-click advertising needs of companies of all sizes. Regardless of whether you’re a small local business, an enterprise B2B company, or an ecommerce retailer, there are plenty of agencies that can meet your needs.

The core services of paid media agencies include:

●     Paid Media Audit - A comprehensive review of the client’s paid media efforts and PPC management to date. The audit will identify where the client’s campaigns have been successful and where they have failed to deliver, setting up a clear path for future improvements. The audit will also often include assessment of other media channels, like paid social media.

●     Paid Media Strategy - There’s no small amount of research that goes into setting up a new pay per click campaign or rebuilding an existing one. During the strategy phase the agency will identify sets of target keywords and assess the competition for those terms. They’ll also devise a messaging strategy and determine landing page needs to appeal to the client’s target audience.

●     Campaign Build - With the research in place, the team can start building the campaign. The build process is where the ads are created: copy is written, bids are set, banners are designed, and all the pieces are put in place. It’s a big job, so expect it to take a few weeks minimum, depending on complexity. Graphic design services may be included, or advertisers may wish to provide their own creative.

●     Pay Per Click Campaign Management - The ongoing day-to-day management of campaigns. The campaign manager should be checking campaigns daily to ensure everything is running smoothly. Optimizations will happen on an ongoing basis, but especially during the first few months when the initial results are coming in and data is being accumulated.

How the best paid media companies market themselves

Paid media companies know a thing or two about paid search and display, and often rely heavily on these channels to promote their own services. In tandem with pay per click marketing, they’re likely to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to boost their ability to rank for top terms organically.

Content marketing and thought leadership are other common tactics for paid media companies that have rich experience to draw on in order to create thoughtful and engaging content pieces. These are shared through social media marketing channels, another top marketing channel for media agencies.

Takeaways:

Paid search and display is an essential component of many digital marketing campaigns as it  can quickly drive qualified traffic within a relatively short time frame. However, high levels of skill are required to properly manage paid media campaigns and most companies do not have the requisite expertise in-house.

Paid media companies can help manage paid search and display campaigns from concepting straight through to optimization and analysis. Key differentiators of the best paid media companies include:

●     Powered by people - What kinds of people does the agency employ? Are campaign managers and strategists strategic thinkers committed to a process of testing and analysis?

●     Transparent - How much will the agency share about their approach to your campaign? Will you have full oversight over campaign concepts, copy, and keyword targeting? How and when will reporting take place?

●     Collaborative - Is the agency open and committed to collaboration? What will their relationship with you (the client) look like? Can they liaise with third parties if necessary?

●     Fair - Who will own your campaigns if ever your company decides to part ways with the agency? What is the process that dictates how accounts will be turned back over to you?

●     Credentialed - Has the agency made the investment in getting credentialed by leading search engine ad platforms? Will a credentialed employee be leading your campaign?

●     Adaptable - How does the agency stay on top of changes in the industry? How quick are they to incorporate new technologies or features into client campaigns? Do they demonstrate a commitment to ongoing employee training and development?

Top Qualities of the Best Paid Media & Pay Per Click Companies

Strategy

Before paid media and PPC campaigns can be created, a strategy must be in place that will guide campaign creation and optimization. Top paid media companies will always take the time at the beginning of the project to do discovery that informs their understanding of the client’s industry and aligns the entire team to the client’s business objectives. During the strategy phase, the agency will investigate the competitive landscape to determine optimal budgets in order to obtain visibility and clicks. They will do keyword research and come back to the client with recommendations on what the keyword strategy should be. The strategy will outline which channels the agency recommends, and detail asset requirements such as landing pages, and ad creative and copy. If an existing paid media campaign is in place, the agency will likely want to do an audit to identify any issues and make sure that tactics that are working are carried over to subsequent initiatives.

Campaign Setup

The campaign setup phase is where the agency begins to put the strategy to work. Top paid media agencies are transparent about how campaigns are constructed and upfront about how long the client can expect the setup process to take. During this time the agency should work closely with the client to develop any new landing pages that must be created, or to tailor existing content and website creative to match the campaigns that are being created. Look for an agency whose approach to campaign setup is a holistic one. They should consider the campaign from start to finish and make sure that the customer’s experience is a positive one, with the website fulfilling the promise laid out by the paid media campaigns.

Analysis and Optimization

Paid media campaigns need constant care and attention. If they’re left to run on their own without tending, there’s a very real risk of throwing away ad spend on efforts that generate little or no return. Top paid media companies assign dedicated paid media specialists to monitor and optimize client campaigns on an ongoing basis. It’s important to have a team assigned to your campaign because over time they’ll learn what works best for your business, and they can use the knowledge they accrue to meet your goals more quickly and efficiently. The more efficient your team is, the more judiciously your budget can be spent. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about who will be assigned to your account, and how often you can expect them to be monitoring and optimizing your campaigns. High quality agencies will expect and welcome these types of questions.

Reporting and Communication

When your company’s marketing budget is being spent on paid media initiatives, it’s imperative to have a clear understanding of whether that money is generating solid returns. Top paid media companies set regular check-in meetings where they share results and analyze both campaign successes and areas for improvement. Communication should be predictable, and clients should never be unsure of the status of their campaigns. Look for an agency that values transparency and commits to regular reporting.