A Digital Marketer’s Master Guide to Paid Search, Display, and PPC Ads

Last Updated July 6, 2021

After spending millions on paid advertising channels, we’ve perfected our secret process for converting traffic into sales. Spoiler alert: it’s not a secret (gotcha!).

We have deep expertise across a variety of advertising platforms and want to share our knowledge with you. This is our tribe’s collective brain dump of insights on paid search, display, and PPC channels. You can use this guide to determine if a specific channel is a good pick for your advertising needs. Check it out 👇

Paid Traffic That Pays

It’s no secret that the nerds at EmberTribe love paid traffic. It’s our main squeeze, our reason for being. If EmberTribe were a car, paid traffic would be our engine. Who says poetry is dead? 😍

But seriously, we love paid traffic because it works. Using paid traffic at the outset of your marketing plan gives you:

  • A clear indication of what will work to reach your company’s audience.
  • Measurable results and feedback on a very short time table.
  • An understanding of what kinds of content converts best.

We like to call running paid traffic a “rent-to-own” approach. You’re investing money and time in getting your growth system set up (kind of like sweat equity, right?) and getting the information you need to make informed decisions. 

So here’s some helpful information about some of the top display, search, and PPC advertising channels to help you make those informed decisions. We’ll cover what each platform provides, where it falls in the sales funnel, pricing, restrictions, and specific strategies for each channel.

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Master Guide to Paid Search, Display, and PPC [PDF]

FEATURED RESOURCE: Everything you need to know about paid traffic platforms for your advertising efforts. 

Amazon Advertising - Sponsored Products

amazon advertising

Who it’s for: Primarily benefits eCommerce brands hoping to promote individual product listings on Amazon. 

How advanced is the platform?: Basic

Features/products: CPC (cost-per-click) ad solutions to help you attract Amazon users seeking specific products. 

Funnel Position: All levels

Pricing (out of five $): $$ 

Restrictions: Sponsored Products are available for professional sellers, vendors, book vendors, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, and agencies. Products must be in one or more eligible categories and be eligible for the Featured Offer in order to advertise.

Strategy Recommendations: Do your keyword research carefully. You will decide which keywords or products to target (or select automatic targeting) in order to let Amazon match your ads to relevant search terms and products. The better you are at targeting keywords, the better your ads will do.  

Amazon Advertising - Sponsored Brands

amazon advertising

Who it’s for: Primarily benefits eCommerce brands hoping to increase brand awareness and connect with customers by targeting Amazon users.

How advanced is the platform?: Basic

Features/products: CPC (cost-per-click) ad solutions, custom headlines to share your brand message, and the ability to optimize your bid strategy for best ad placements for your performance goals.

Funnel Position: All levels

Pricing (out of five $): $$ 

Restrictions: Sponsored Brands are available for professional sellers enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry, vendors, book vendors, and agencies.

Strategy Recommendations: Define your unique value proposition in your headline. If you’re a new brand, this will help convince customers to check you out. For an established brand, it’s a reminder for why return customers chose your brand in the first place. 

Amazon Advertising - Sponsored Display

amazon advertising

Who it’s for: Primarily benefits eCommerce brands wanting to engage Amazon shoppers throughout their purchase journey, both on and off Amazon.

How advanced is the platform?: Basic

Features/products: Retail aware CPC ads - these sponsored Display ads only show when your products are in stock and marked as the Featured Offer. These ads find relevant audiences as they are browsing, discovering, or purchasing products on or off Amazon. Your ads may appear on Amazon’s home page, product detail pages, or shopping results pages, as well as third-party websites and apps.

Funnel Position: ToFu, MoFu

Pricing (out of five $): $$ 

Restrictions: Sponsored Display is available for professional sellers enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry, vendors, and agencies with clients who sell products on Amazon.

Strategy Recommendations: Use alongside product targeting to reach new customers and retarget missed conversion opportunities. 

Apple Search Ads

apple search ads

Who it’s for: Apple Search Ads Basic primarily benefits SaaS brands wanting to promote their app in the App Store results.

How advanced is the platform?: Limited

Features/products: AI matches your ad to interested users based on your campaign specifications and charges on a cost-per-install basis. 

Funnel Position: MoFu

Pricing (out of five $): $$$

Restrictions: Must already have, or create, an App Store Connect account. Must be assigned as the App Store Connect Legal Account Holder, App Manager, Admin, or Marketer to link accounts to Apple Search Ads.

Strategy Recommendations: Run two campaigns; one with known successful terms set as an exact match (with higher bids), and another that allows the algorithm to automatically show ads to potentially interested prospects (but with low bids).

Google Ads - Google Display Network

Google Ads - Wikipedia

Who it’s for: The Google Ads display network is for any brand/business wanting to build a marketing presence on and off the Google search engine. 

How advanced is the platform?: Very advanced

Features/products: Display ads can help you promote your business when people are browsing online, watching YouTube videos, checking Gmail, or using mobile devices and apps.

Funnel Position: All levels

Pricing (out of five $): $$

Restrictions: Same as most advertising platforms (i.e. no adult-related content, no illegal content, etc.).

Strategy Recommendations: Use display ads for ToFu campaigns, and remarketing display ads for BoFu campaigns. Utilize Gmail ads to reach audiences in all levels of the sales funnel.

Google Ads - Google Search

Google Ads - Wikipedia

Who it’s for: This search engine advertising platform is for any brand/business wanting to build a marketing presence among Google users through paid search. 

How advanced is the platform?: Very advanced

Features/products: Paid ads that appear above organic search results based on targeted keywords. With billions of searches per day on Google, you can use search ads to make sure potential customers notice your brand, consider your offerings, and take action.

Funnel Position: All levels

Pricing (out of five $): $$$$

Restrictions: Same as most advertising platforms (i.e. no adult-related content, no illegal content, etc.).

Strategy Recommendations: Use branded search campaigns for BoFu and non-branded search for ToFu and MoFu. Use Shopping ads for MoFu and BoFu.

Google Ads - YouTube Advertising

Google Ads - Wikipedia

Who it’s for: YouTube ads are effective for all business types that are interested in raising awareness for their brand.

How advanced is the platform?: Very advanced

Features/products: 

  • Display ads
  • Overlay ads
  • Skippable video ads
  • Non-skippable video ads
  • Bumper ads
  • Sponsored cards

Funnel Position: ToFu

Pricing (out of five $): $$

Restrictions: Same as most advertising platforms (i.e. no adult-related content, no illegal content, etc.). All video ad content must be hosted on YouTube.

Strategy Recommendations: Use in-stream or video discovery ads to create brand awareness. Pair your YouTube ads with video ads from other channels to keep the same messaging in front of users. 

Microsoft Advertising - Microsoft Search Network (Bing, MSN, Yahoo)

microsoft logoWho it’s for: This PPC advertising system is for any brand/business wanting to build a marketing presence through paid search. 

How advanced is the platform?: Very advanced

Features/products: Ads can appear on the top or to the right of Bing, Yahoo and MSN search results, and can be targeted to geographic regions, search times, and demographics. Option to import ad campaigns from Google Ads to Microsoft Advertising.

Funnel Position: All levels

Pricing (out of five $): $$$

Restrictions: Same as most advertising platforms (i.e. no adult-related content, no illegal content, etc.).

Strategy Recommendations: Target older demographics and corporate businesses that often use Microsoft search engines as a default.

Taboola

taboola logo-blue

Who it’s for: Taboola helps promote all types of brands via engaging content through native advertising. The idea behind native ads is that you can reach your audience when they are most receptive to new messages, products, and services.

How advanced is the platform?: Very advanced

Features/products: Native ads centered around content marketing and non-disruptive advertising. This platform serves personalized content recommendations and in-feed native ads across popular publisher websites.

Funnel Position: ToFu

Pricing (out of five $): $

Restrictions: Your campaign items will only have the chance to appear on publishers that accept your specific type of content.

Strategy Recommendations: Use these ads to get new, low budget traffic with images and catchy headlines, then retarget for MoFu and BoFu traffic on other channels (like Facebook). 

Jump on a call with one of our growth experts. We'll talk about your goals and create a strategy to get results. 

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