If Paid Search Isn’t Working Then You’re Doing Something Wrong

The Nielsen Company recently completed a survey asking consumers their opinions on advertising, including offline and online. When asked “To What Extent Do You Trust the Following Forms of Advertising?”, paid search ads were ranked near the bottom compared to other forms of advertising. This should not come to a surprise to any paid search marketer, but it’s also not bad news, either. Paid search marketing, when done correctly, fills consumer needs.

And if your ads aren’t attracting clicks and conversions, you’re simply not recognizing or filling those needs. Here are a few things to consider if your paid search campaign isn’t delivering the kinds of results you’d like.

Do not make marketing decisions based on consumer surveys

The poor showing of paid search advertising in the Nielsen survey shouldn’t come as a surprise—and the findings are worth very little when it comes to making any major business decisions for search marketers. It is not that I do not believe the numbers—I do. I also believe The Nielsen Company is a very reputable company, and I have no reason to question their numbers.

But there’s a simple unspoken truth that this survey doesn’t address: We all dislike advertising when we do not want advertising.

When someone is asked if he or she trusts advertising, saying “no” seems like a logical choice. We know what consumers think about advertising. I am just as guilty. I change the channel constantly just to avoid commercials. I am also not shopping. This is the very reason mass marketing is dying. Consumers are bombarded with messages that are unrelated to the task they are performing, such as watching TV or driving.

It is true that most users will not click on paid ads. However, as any expert in paid search marketing will tell you, we do not want “most” users—we want buyers. If your paid search ads are targeted with specific keywords and well placed on the search result page, then some buyers will click on your ads.

Advertising works when it’s not advertising

The simple fact is, if done well, advertising works. Not only does advertising work, but paid search marketing provides the best return on advertising spend available. Again, it is important to state: “when done correctly.”

Consumers need advertising. The catch is not to make adverting seem like a nuisance. If a consumer is in the market for “widget A” and an ad for that product is shown to them, then the ad is not a nuisance. In fact, the ad is filling a need to the consumer.

That is what paid search marketing is at its core. Pay-per-click marketing provides a service. It makes it easy for shoppers to find what they want more quickly. Thanks to quality ad scores, consumers today are even getting more of what they want. Paid “spam” ads are not as prevalent as they use to be. This means that consumers are finding useful ads.

I am often told, “Oh, you place those ads. I always ignore those.” It’s a habitual response, just like:

  • “I don’t like television commercials.”
  • “I never read billboard ads.”
  • “I don’t listen to radio commercials.”

Well, for many people those statements are simply not true. Of course you do. We all do. How else would you know what products to buy? It’s not coming to you in a dream. You know because you saw the advertising. The catch was you didn’t even realize it was a “commercial.”

As the title states, if paid search is not working, then you are doing something wrong. Advertising does not get more targeted than paid search marketing. If you can not convert a user to purchase “Widget A” when he is in fact looking to purchase “Widget A,” then clearly you must be doing something wrong. The customer should be seeing your pay-per-click ad as filling a need, not another “commercial.”

I realize there are price constraints that do not allow certain keywords to be purchased and still return a profit. However, there is still a list of niche keywords that can be purchased. There is always an angle that can return a strong profit with pay-per-click. It takes research to find those keywords.

I would love to hear your story. Is paid search not working for you? If it’s not working, share your frustrations over on Sphinn and let the community help you get your campaign on track.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Search Ads: General


About The Author: is a frequent search industry speaker and blogger, although he has spent most of his career as an in-house Online Marketing Manager. Working from this perspective has provided John with an understanding of high demand and budget concerns as it relates to marketing. He can also be found at www.JohnWEllis.com and on Twitter @JohnWEllis

Connect with the author via: Email | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide