I was scrolling through my discovery feed and saw yet another “Is SEO Dead” blog post and got to thinking, do people search that for PPC too? If they do, what do they want to know? Who reads these blog posts? Small business owners? Corporate CEOs? Startup founders or investors? College kids?
Did I search for this kind of crap once upon a time? No offense if you did — you probably don’t know yet that these types of articles are usually sensationalistic garbage. By writing yet another one, I guess I’m tossing another “Is [replace this word] Dead?” trash bag onto the already overflowing dumpster. But maybe I can write something useful instead of the typical “Gotcha! The industry isn’t dead, it’s only evolving!” I’ll try.
When non-techy people use the word “PPC” or “Pay-Per-Click”, they usually mean Google Ads — specifically search ads on Google. These things (below). The PPC online advertising bidding strategy where you literally pay for ads on a click-basis — if that is what you actually want to know — isn’t dead or dying. I have no data to back that up and nothing else to say about it because I doubt that’s what most people mean. Asking if PPC is dying is like asking how to learn code. Code what? Why? Which language? What you’re asking and what you mean are likely two different things.
Let me talk directly to the college kids, or anyone interested in becoming a PPC specialist. It’s a sweet job. I started in digital marketing as an SEO Specialist and later switched to the PPC team, partly because I knew they made more money and worked less. Google sent them swag. They worked from home. I wanted swag and to work from home.
So I get it. Is PPC Specialist still going to be a job title in 10 years? I don’t know. Maybe not, but that’s not a bad thing. PPC Specialists are niche media buyers. Google is hot right now, but won’t be forever.
Which brings me to the stuff I think most people want to know: Google Ads is no longer fiscally viable for some businesses.
In this way, “PPC” (Google Ads) is dying, and for some already dead. The cost per click goes up every year. Some businesses can’t afford to compete and are forced to look at alternative advertising platforms. To maintain the same reach as Google, that means looking at social media, which is further up the marketing funnel. That means it’s harder to sell — you’re disrupting people looking at memes and cat videos instead of giving them what they’re searching for. It’s cheaper as a result.
But even Facebook isn’t cheap anymore. Now what? YouTube? Reddit? TikTok? LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora? Sure, any or all of the above, as long as they make sense for the business.
For ecommerce companies, the logical move is Amazon. Sponsored Products (i.e. Amazon PPC campaigns) function like primitive Google Shopping campaigns. The big difference, in my experience, is that their automatic campaigns are actually decent; I can’t say the same for Google’s.
Automation. That’s the main word you hear when talking about the future of online advertising. Google is pushing their automated bidding strategies hard. Is it because they work, or because they can eat more of our money? I mostly see the latter.
A paradoxical way to think about it is that PPC is dying because PPC is growing. More and more companies are shifting advertising budgets away from traditional media like newspapers and direct mail and shoving it into digital. The more it grows, the more inaccessible it becomes to the little guys. Big businesses like Walmart can outbid mom-and-pop shops every time. They don’t care about ROI. They care about dominating the market.
The best thing anyone can do is find up-and-coming advertising platforms before they go mainstream (are you watching Byte?) Once that happens, the clock starts ticking, and profit margins for advertisers gradually shrink until there’s more going out than coming back in.
Does that mean PPC is dying? Dead? That depends what you mean — what is PPC to you? The bidding model? Not a chance. The job? It will change to include more than Google, but the concept of online media buying will stay the same. Google Ads? Maybe, but you need to try it to find out.