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PPC & Display Network Advertising

Search Engine Marketing (SEM, sometimes also called PPC) has become an integral part of a solid Internet marketing strategy. The basic idea behind SEM is to purchase good positioning on search engines like Google or Bing for targeted search terms. The challenge is that your competitors are doing the same thing. Getting top position requires a skillfully executed SEM strategy.

As a digital marketing agency, Imagine That offers a variety of SEM services – everything from simple plans starting at $199 per month* to complex plans involving multiple landing pages and A/B testing. Give us a call and we’ll show you just how SEM can provide Return On Investment (ROI) for your Internet marketing efforts.

What is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)?

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is an Internet marketing strategy that involves buying placement in search results on Google or Bing. When a user types in a search on Google, let’s say for some new Nike tennis shoes, they will see sponsored ads at the top of the results page. There are usually ads within the right column of the page as well. The businesses featured in these places will have paid to be there.

The businesses you see at the top of the search results have entered into a kind of bidding war over the best position for their targeted search terms. Because there are often numerous businesses bidding on the same search terms, Google considers a number of factors before deciding which ads to serve up to specific users. These factors are crunched through a mathematical formula Google uses to determine a “quality score” for each ad.

Some of the factors Google uses to determine an ad’s quality score include:

  • Ad copy. How related is the ad to the intent of the user's search?
  • Keyword relevance. How relevant is the ad to the user’s query?
  • Landing page quality. How likely are users to find what they wants if they click through the ad?
  • Cost-Per-Click. How much is the business willing to pay for the click?

There are literally hundreds of other ingredients that go into the recipe for good SEM and digital marketing strategy. If you don’t know how to set up and run an effective SEM campaign, it is easy to spend a lot of money, very quickly, with little to no results.

How does SEM work?

Here’s how search engine marketing really works: You have an ad promoting one of your products or services. A user searches Google or Bing with a term you have targeted in your SEM campaign. Your ad is presented to the user. At this point, your campaign costs you nothing – there is no charge when your ad is presented. Now, if the user clicks on your ad, Google will charge you a previously agreed upon amount for the click.

If your cost-per-click is $2.50, that’s what each click will cost. You set a daily SEM budget to ensure you don’t overspend. You might tell Google you don’t want to spend more than $50/day on your campaign. At $2.50 per click, that means your ads would be done after 20 clicks. Once your budget is used up, your ads will no longer be displayed.

Before we go too much further, we need to talk about the bigger picture when it comes to this type of digital marketing. Bidding for top position on search engines is only one aspect of a good SEM strategy. There are a couple other elements that should be mentioned: display marketing and remarketing.

Display Marketing

The Google display network is made up of millions of websites that have “rented” space to Google for the purpose of displaying ads. Display marketing can feature images, animation, and video marketing media, as opposed to just text. Businesses can advertise by paying to place their ads via the network. They can target specific types of websites for their ads. For example, if you own a ski equipment rental shop, you may want to consider advertising on websites that offer ski lodging in your market area.

When you advertise on the display network, Google levies two charges: 1) a cost-per-click (CPC) charge and 2) a cost-per-mille (CPM) charge. The CPC charge works exactly as outlined above – you pay for the user’s click. However, when you advertise on the display network, you are also charged for your ad impressions. The CPM charge is a small charge (usually only pennies) Google makes for every 1,000 impressions on your ads. It’s the CPM charge Google uses to pay “rent” to the websites selling ad space.


Another useful digital marketing tactic is remarketing. Basically, remarketing is stalking, yes stalking, your customers online. Have you ever visited a website, say a website selling paintball supplies? You probably looked for a while at a new marker gun, then clicked out of the site and went to another. To your amazement, on the new site, there was an ad for the very paintball marker you were just looking at, and at a discounted price!

Google followed you from one site to another, and since the next site happened to be part of the Google display network, Google served up another ad from the previous site you visited. That’s remarketing. Spooky, huh?

Some Benefits of SEM

There are a number of reasons your business may want to consider SEM:

  • When the competition is tough for important search terms and you’re not gaining any traction in organic search, SEM provides a way to get good exposure for your business, and fast.
  • If you just launched your new website and it’s taking its time to build credibility with search engines and earn better position in organic search, a simple PPC plan can get you the exposure you need now.
  • If your business offers seasonal specials, you can use SEM to market season-specific products and services.
  • When your competitors are fierce, SEM can help you beat out the competition’s brand and offerings.

SEM and Digital Marketing

There are a lot of good reasons to make SEM a part of your Internet marketing strategy. SEM provides you with marketing opportunities on search engines across networks, all for a very reasonable price. And since you can measure the results, you know what kind of ROI your SEM campaign is generating. Connect with Imagine That today. With plans starting at $199 per month*, even the most modest marketing budget can benefit from SEM.

*Cost does not include Google or Bing CPC charges.