With traditional mass media advertising, the entire production/results cycle is quite lengthy. You typically have to prepare and present the ad to the publisher well in advance, i.e. days, weeks or even months before the ad runs. Then, when the ad does run, depending upon the medium, there is often a significant delay in seeing a response (if you are able to attribute any response to the ad at all). And if you are able to measure a response to the ad, and decide to make a change, the lengthy cycle begins again.
With search engine advertising, you can launch a new campaign within days (or even hours), and can change the ads based upon readily available performance data within minutes. That means new concepts can be tested quickly and easily. Which leads me to a critical distinctive, i.e. measurement.
Arguably the most powerful benefit is that it provides extremely detailed statistics related to the performance of the ad. The statistics include the following:
- number of impressions (how many times the ad was displayed)
- number of clicks (how many times the ad was clicked on)
- click-thru rate (average number of impressions it takes to get a click)
- number of conversions (the number of times the visitor did what you hoped they'd do, e.g. buy)
- conversion rate (average number of clicks it takes to get a conversion)
- overall cost
- cost-per-click (CPC)
The above list represents but a small portion of the statistics search engines gather within their advertising management tools. The power this information gives the advertiser is extraordinary. Never before have we had this kind of data so readily available by which we can seek to perfect an ad campaign.
While not every product or service lends itself to the productive use of search engine advertising, for many it can be an amazing way to surge above the crowded field of competitors in search engine results. And when it works, it can be extremely lucrative.