If you are new to Paid Search Marketing, navigating the world of Google Ads, Bing and PPC for the first time, you may feel overwhelmed with the acronyms that are thrown around in meetings with your PPC Agency or in your digital marketing team discussions.
Our comprehensive guide lists some of the most common acronyms, with a short explainer of what they are and why they are important.
We cut through the jargon, and delve into the meaning of some common marketing metrics and business language around paid search marketing.
A useful reference for CEO's and those new to paid search and digital marketing alike. We hope you find it a useful resource.
Dictionary of PPC Acronyms
Lets dive in, this is not an exhaustive list but should cover many of the commonly used acronyms and buzz words used in paid search.
- A/B Testing
A/B Testing (or Split Testing). A common methodology for testing two different versions of an Ad in parallel, to see which performs best - Variant A, or B.
In paid search, you might test different Ad copies, headlines, calls to action or landing pages to see which engages the audience best, and leads to more conversions.
Cost per Acquisition. This is the cost of making a sale, i.e. how much Ad Spend have you deployed to gain one converted sale.
For example, if you spend 10p per click and get 100 clicks you would have spent £10 in total. If you were to receive one sale from those 100 clicks (a 1% conversion rate), then your cost per acquisition would be £10. If you received two sales, your cost per acquisition would be £5.
Cost per Click. Paid search in Google Ads or Bing works on a per click pricing model. You don't pay for your Ad to be shown in the search results (called Impressions), but you do pay a certain cost for every click on the Ad that potential customers make.
The 'Cost per Click' is that charge, it can range between a few pence and several pounds depending on the sector, and the competitiveness of the bidding in the auction.
Cost per Mille (or Cost per Thousand Impressions). A common pricing model for advertising on display networks, the Advertiser is charged for every 1,000 impressions of their advert.
Typically more expensive than pay per click search, and with fewer clicks and conversions it can be an expensive way to advertise. It is used to reach a large audience of prospects, and promote brand awareness.
Conversion Rate. The ratio of click throughs to conversions, a conversion being either an online purchase or another goal completion such as an enquiry form completion or a download.
For example, if you had 100 unique clicks and 2 purchases then your conversion rate would be 2%. Related: CRO.
Conversion Rate Optimisation. Converting the traffic that you get to your website underpins paid search performance. Sending a lot of relevant visitors to your website is only useful if they convert (buy something for example) when they get there.
Conversion Rate Optimisation is the work carried out to improve website conversion rates, by identifying and removing friction points from the user journey and ensuring that the website experience is as good as it can be.
Call to Action. Strong and compelling calls to action are important for nudging users to take a specific action and engage with your Advert.
Examples of calls to action are: 'Buy Now', 'Learn More' and 'Sign up Today'. You should pick calls to action that align with the messaging of your advert, and with your campaign goals which might be to drive sales, generate leads or traffic to your website.
Click Through Rate. This is a metric that describes the ratio of clicks to impressions of a paid search Ad.
For example, if your Ad appears in search results 100 times (that is, 100 impressions) and you receive 5 clicks from the Ad to your website then your Click Through Rate would be 5%
For more on Click Through Rate, see our article about how to increase your Click through Rate to 10%
Dynamic Keyword Insertion. This is a feature of Google Ads that allows advertisers to dynamically insert the keywords from a user's search query into the Ad copy.
This technique results in Ads that appear directly relevant to the search intent of the user, and can improve click through rates if executed well. If not used cleverly, it can lead to Ad copy that is incoherent and clumsy, having the opposite effect.
Dynamic Search Ads. This refers to a campaign type in Google that generates Ad copies directly from the content of your website. Google crawls and indexes your web pages content, and matches it with relevant search queries building the Ad dynamically.
If you have good SEO and on-page content, it will help your dynamic search ads campaign to be more effective, and direct the most relevant visitors towards your website.
Enhanced Cost per Click. This is an automated bidding strategy in Google Ads that will automatically adjust your bids if it thinks that a certain click will lead to a conversion.
Equally, it might lower your cost per click if it thinks that a prospect is less likely to convert. You start by setting your bids manually, then Google's algorithm acts on top of that to adjust the bids using it's Machine Learning capabilities, to adjust bidding based on a user's device, location or browsing history for example in an attempt to improve campaign performance.
This type of campaign should be monitored carefully by your PPC Specialists, to ensure that it is delivering against campaign goals.
Google Display Network. This is an extensive network of millions of websites, native App's and videos whose publishers permit Google to serve Ads on them, and reaches a broad audience across the internet.
Advertisers can choose from a wide variety of Ad formats, such as text, image and video to sell their products or services. The network enables advertisers to target specific audience segments that match their target demographic.
Impressions, or Target Impression Strategy. Impressions are 'servings' of your Advert in response to search queries. You don't pay for impressions, only clicks, but they are an important metric in paid search nonetheless. 'Impression Share' is the share of total search impressions that your adverts get, when compared to the competition.
Target Impression Strategy is something different, it's a bidding strategy in Google Ads where you set a specific goal for the number of impression you would like to achieve for your Ads within a given timeframe.
The Target Impression Strategy is often used when brand awareness and visibility are desired, above outright clicks and conversion performance.
Machine Learning. A form of Artificial Intelligence where the algorithms are designed to test and learn, in the case of Google Ads automatically enhancing the performance of Ads.
This might be testing which types of Ads work best, on which parts of the Google Network, or at what time of day to serve them for maximum return for example.
Performance Max (or PMax) is an example of a Google Ads Campaign type that uses Machine Learning to improve a campaign automatically to achieve an advertiser's objectives or goals.
Performance Max. Often shortened to just 'PMax', this is a type of campaign within Google Ads that is designed to automate and maximise your Ad performance across the full suite of Google's Ad networks, such as Search, Display and YouTube.
Performance Max uses 'Machine Learning', to learn which adverts and bidding strategies deliver the best results for advertisers. It is sometimes criticised for not giving advertisers enough control over their Ads, and for spending more money overall. However, there are techniques to counter those pitfalls, and when used correctly PMax can be an efficient and powerful campaign tool.
Pay per Click. Paid search advertising using Google Ads or Bing works on a small payment for every click that a potential customer makes on your adverts.
The amount you need to pay for each click depends on a number of factors, such as how many other businesses are bidding for clicks on the same keyphrase and the market value of the sector you are bidding within. Related: CPC.
For example, if you are competing for clicks on an Ad for a high value product in a competitive sector, you will pay more for each click.
Quality Score. An internal metric that Google Ads uses to score how relevant your Ad is, to the landing page on your website. The more relevant your page content is to the advert, the higher your quality score will be.
Higher quality scores can result in lower costs per click, and your Ad being returned higher positions in the results rankings.
Return on Ad Spend. This is the return in revenue that you will get from a given spend on Google Ads in paid search, and is often expressed as a multiple.
For example, if you spend £100 and that advertising spend generates £500 of revenue for your e-commerce business, then your Return on Ad Spend would be 5x.
Return on Investent. This is the return in profit that you make from your paid advertising spend. Whereas ROAS tends to be your revenue return, ROI is your return in profit terms.
For example, say you spent £100 on paid search Ads and generated £500 of sales revenue. You run at a 50% profit margin, generating a gross profit of £250. In simple terms, your ROI would be a 2.5x multiple of Ad Spend.
Search Engine Marketing. A catch all term for digital marketing campaigns that utilise search engines. That could be organic search (SEO) or Paid Search (PPC).
Search Engine Results Positions. Again, this acronym is more related to SEO and less applicable to paid search, although it may occasionally be used to describe where your Ad is ranking in the order of results.
Search Engine Optimisation. This relates to techniques for making your website optimal for Google's organic (or natural) search results, so that it will rank you highly.
Whilst not directly related to paid search, it does help to have good SEO because the same techniques will give your page a higher 'Quality Score' for paid search in Google's eyes.
The higher your Quality Score, the higher your paid Ads will rank in the bidding auctions, and/or the less you will pay per click.
To compare SEO to PPC, see our article on SEO verses PPC.
Single Keyword Ad Groups. Adverts in Google Ads campaigns are organised into Ad Groups. Single Keyword Ad Groups is a strategy whereby each Ad Group contains just one keyword.
This approach allows advertisers to create highly targeted and relevant Ad copy for a given search term, leading to higher performance.
Single Theme Ad Groups. A similar concept to SKAG, but this time the Ad groups are organised by theme or topic area rather than a single keyword.
This approach seeks to closely align each Ad Group with a particular theme of products or services, and serve Ads that are relavant to the theme so as to enhance relevance and quality scores, and ultimately improve campaign performance.
Unique Selling Points. These are the key benefits of your product or service, which differentiate it from competitors.
They are important for Google Ads as they are typically communicated through Ad copy, Ad extensions and overall messaging to call out the key benefits of your product or service to users. This attracts attention to your Ad and encourages engagement.
Unique Selling Points are often included in 'Site Link Extensions' or 'Callout Extensions', allowing you to showcase the unique advantages of your products.
by E-commerce Director Peter Howarth
Peter is an E-commerce Director with over 20 years of experience in business, online retail and digital marketing.
Managing development and digital marketing teams and Agencies, Peter is well versed in the key success factors in E-commerce.
Peter co-founded and grew a global e-commerce business from start-up to £25M revenue.
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