Join us as we take a trip back in time, to an era before PPC. When the World Wide Web was without form, and advertisers roamed the SERPs aimlessly...
It may be hard to imagine today, but there was a time before the Internet and before digital marketing. In fact, the practice of online marketing is just a few decades old. The first ever bulk commercial marketing message was an e-mail sent to 600 ARPANET users back in 1978. The message advertised DEC computers, and the use of ARPANET resources to send such a bulk mail was not appreciated! It was many years before digital marketing became mainstream.
Today, reputable website owners use other, less intrusive techniques such as PPC marketing to get their messages across. Such 'paid-on results' marketing techniques are now ingrained in the culture of digital marketing, but that hasn't always been the case. Before Google AdWords took off, advertisers paid per impression, thinking that a view of an advertisement on a website was worth the same as a view of a magazine page or a physical billboard. It didn't take long for companies to notice the phenomenon of 'ad blindness'. It's not so hard to generate tens of thousands of impressions on your ads, but it's much more difficult to turn those impressions into clicks.
The Early Days of PPC Marketing
The first company to try PPC on a large scale was Planet Oasis, a web directory. Planet Oasis launched a pay-per-click system for listings in its directory back in 1996. However, it wasn't until search giant Google decided to implement paid search in 1999 that the concept started to take off. In the year 2000, the company launched the system that we now know as AdWords.
Google AdWords revolutionised online marketing and the companion system, AdSense, allowed webmasters of all kinds - from hobbyists to full-time marketers - to monetise their sites.
The AdWords service has come a long way since those early days. The first incarnations of AdWords had little in the way of anti-spam regulations and did not use the Quality Score system. It took several years for the search giant to add features that paid search professionals take for granted today, such as conversion tracking and the keyword tool.
Over the years, there have been some hiccups. Last year, Google made tweaks to the AdWords algorithm. The changes led to some marketer's campaigns getting disabled because of low click-through rates, even though those campaigns were highly targeted and usually converted well. Some marketers accused the company of trying to be too clever for its own good. Despite those problems, however, AdWords continued to grow as a platform.
Modern Digital Marketing
Today, Google AdWords is a powerful force in the world of online marketing, being worth more than $38 billion. Features such as ad extensions and site links allow marketers to make more eye-catching (and useful) ads with extra links and contact details included. The analytics feature offered alongside other tools for webmasters is second to none and the sheer number of people who can be reached by AdWords makes it perhaps the most important advertising platform on the internet.
That's not to say that platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Bing should be ignored. If you know your demographics well, the targeting options on those sites can be invaluable. However, we should not forget the company that started the pay-per-click revolution.