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What is a CPC? What is a keyword? Advertising 101

This week, I want to explore some basic phrases for advertising online. Whether you decide to take on the task of advertising your goods to gatekeepers yourself or hire another company to manage it for you, you should get familiar with the lingo.
January 29, 2014

This week, I want to explore some basic phrases for advertising online. Whether you decide to take on the task of advertising your goods to gatekeepers yourself or hire another company to manage it for you, you should get familiar with the lingo.

First, please oh please get familiar with COPPA so you can ensure your ads are compliant.

Keywords: These are the words and phrases that are purchased by you to trigger your ad on a search engine like Google or Bing.  Keywords can vary in price but if your keywords are more relevant to your potential customer’s search, you may experience more bang for your buck. For example, if you’re marketing a fun reading mobile app, avoid the generic “games” keyword, and instead consider “learn to read apps.” Also when you’re choosing keywords, use words and phrases that your target audience would use during a search.  There are a number of places online that will help you choose the right keywords. For example, Google provides Keyword Planner to help should you plan to purchase through AdWords.

CPC: This is a pricing model called “Cost Per Click” – so you’re paying the advertising service (Adwords or Facebook, for example) a fee every time someone clicks on your advertisement.  This can also be called Pay Per Click (PPC). This is the most popular pricing model because you’re paying to drive people to your website, and you can manage how many clicks you get per day to ensure you’re keeping within your budget. Keep in mind that you’ll pay even if someone accidentally clicks on your ad, but there are measures in place to ensure you’re not charged for any “click fraud’ on your ad (for example, if someone creates a program that will produce thousands of clicks every second on your ad).

Conversion: This helps determine the success of your campaign. Let’s say you’re using your ads to get parents to sign up for a newsletter on your website. Using the CPC method (above), you can use analytics to determine how many people came to your website from your ad and then went on to sign-up. Review your conversion data often, but don’t pull the plug on your ad too quickly if you don’t see a high conversion rate. Let it simmer for a while. Sometimes people need to see your ad a few times before deciding to follow through. To help calculate this, some search engines offer a Cost Per Acquisition model, but it’s typically reserved for experienced advertisers.

CPM: This is Cost Per Thousand Impressions, and is used if you’re looking to get your brand out there and you’re not too concerned about people clicking on your ad.  This is a less popular option, but has its place if you don’t need your potential customer to do something on your website in order to track conversion.

These are just a handful of terms to keep in mind. If you decide to advertise, the social or search engines you choose will want you to succeed and they each have very helpful websites to walk you through their processes. But if it’s all too much, be sure to hire a professional to manage your ads.

Lianne Stewart is a freelance digital strategist. Connect with her on Twitter @liannestewart or on LinkedIn at ca.linkedin.com/in/liannestewart/

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