In the latest of a series looking at search marketing, The Drum speaks to a cross-section of the industry, exploring perceptions of PPC compared to those of SEO. Is the former viewed as less innovative and creative than the latter? If so, how can this view be changed?
Does PPC get an unfair reputation as SEO’s ‘poor relation’ when it comes to innovation and creativity? How would you dispel this notion?
Jonny Scott, CEO, Caliber
I’m going to be controversial here and say that PPC is SEO’s poor relation and does have a reputation for lacking creativity and innovation as it’s inherently limited by the platform.
However, I’ve also seen some very creative uses of paid search within industries such as recruitment, data collection and affiliate marketing, not to mention your own personal brand paid search tool LinkedIn! In truth both paid media and earned media are as creative and innovative as the brand, the agency and their combined efforts. Please all my PPC friends and colleagues don’t bash me – deep down I wish I was born into paid search!
Dan Robins, head of search, Carat
I think this often comes as a result of commentators viewing PPC as being driven by Google’s agenda rather than agencies’ innovation, but I would say that the steady stream of new paid-for products emanating from Google (and Yahoo/Bing) provides continuous fresh impetus for PPC creativity – something which is missing from the SEO chocolate box.
I only need to look at the number of award winning studies that have come out of my PPC team which had impacts far beyond the search engine results pages – eg. Vodafone’s study showing the impact of search on in-store sales – to see the creativity in the industry.
Adrian Durow, head of SEO and CRO, Thinking Juice
I simply don’t view PPC as any more or any less innovative than SEO. After all, both disciplines are restricted by the limitations of what SERPs [search engine results pages] can actually show. Granted, SEOs would create a fantastic piece of video content for their campaigns in order to attract popularity and links, but that doesn’t mean to say that PPCs couldn’t be innovative with landing page content.
I believe that the scale of innovation and creativity is not what’s important here; it’s the approach to it. As long as PPCs and SEOs are constantly striving to be innovative and creative in what they do, and they work in a culture which promotes it, then their campaigns and sites will benefit.
Ben Hatton, managing director, Rippleffect
PPC has pushed the cold image of spreadsheets, formulas and analysis by trying to be more science than art, but elements of creativity are still required. Those elements need to be brought to the fore or there’s no way to differentiate a campaign (or agency, for that matter).
Well-written copy and tailored landing pages are fundamental to a campaign, but new elements such as site links, product listings and, soon, video listing can all add an extra creative spark to a campaign to give it a vital edge.
Duncan Parry, COO, STEAK
The rate of change at PPC engines and third party software platforms like Marin and IgnitionOne, as well as the number of betas that Google launch every year, mean there is great scope for innovation in PPC. Through AdWords you can run campaigns in search results, target consumers by interest across the web with the GDN, re-target them to boost conversions or cross sell, and reach them on YouTube – all across mobiles, tablets and normal computers, taking into account time of day, type of creative, the range of options ad extensions bring, targeting by type of mobile connection. There’s more scope that ever for innovation and creativity in PPC, budget and willingness of the budget holder allowing.
A few years ago, the roles were reversed – PPC was the marketer’s new best friend and pre-recession SEO was characterised as slow to yield results and overly technical. The image of the SEO expert was of a monotone programmer who was best left alone in the corner to get on with their ‘dark art’.
Chris Rowett, head of PPC, Epiphany
It really depends on how you see innovation and creativity. This reputation is unfair, but it’s easy to understand, as we see a lot of visually appealing ideas as part of SEO strategy to raise a brand’s profile. However, some of the complex probability models we apply to PPC bidding algorithms are hugely innovative in technical deployment and creative in the way they are executed. They allow you to bid based not only on the ROI you see historically, but also the ever changing probability of seeing good ROI. It is unfortunate that it often requires an appreciation for complex mathematics to understand how creative and innovative PPC bidding alone can be!
TV advertising is a traditional marketing medium which is now online in the form of YouTube, amongst others. Imagine being able to see whether someone watched your TV advert or instead went to make a cup of tea. Online, we can measure this through YouTube and test different video creative in a way traditional TV never could. Now is the time to be creative in PPC!
Matt Isaacs, CEO & founding partner, Essence
The real issue is being selective over which opportunity provides the most value to your brand. PPC can be so much more reactive than SEO, and that is a quality that should be more widely appreciated. Both PPC and SEO have their role to play in a digital campaign but tactical timing and strategic messaging offer many opportunities with paid search which SEO cannot offer.
This feature was published in The Drum's search marketing supplement.
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