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Pay by the click, not the impression

My last post raised the argument that given just one media to choose for travel/tourism marketing, I would choose sponsored listings or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. That post further discussed how PPC ads tend to give the lowest cost per inquiry as compared to other media.

The second part of my argument is about as simple as it gets: it is better to pay by the click rather than paying by the impression.

Nearly all media is priced based on a cost per impression. The more people that will see your ad, the more expensive that ad will be. Just look at the cost of advertising on the Super Bowl. Whether one person actually buys your product, calls your business or visits your site as a result of seeing your ad is irrelevant. In the case of niche publications, the number of impressions may be low, but the cost per impression is raised to a premium because the audience is that much more likely (in theory) to buy your product assuming you’re picking the right publications. Basically you are asked to pay a premium for being relevant to the publication’s audience.

Now look at google adwords. Millions of people may see your ad, but you only pay for those people who actually click on your ad and visit your site. In a very real way, this represents a certain level of guaranteed success. Of course, getting a visitor to your site is not the same as getting that visitor to book a room or schedule a vacation, but what other media is going to guarantee you a specific number of inquiries? The answer is not many.

And, what about paying a premium rate for being relevant to the audience? Not with adwords (or Bing or Yahoo!). You actually pay less per click the more relevant your content is to the keyword(s) being searched. What other media gives you a discount for providing ads that are highly relevant for their readers or viewers? The answer is none – at least not that I am aware of.

So, while PPC may not have the sex appeal of TV or the creative splash of a good full-page magazine ad, when you need every marketing nickel to count, my money would be on PPC.

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