Ultimate Guide to the Best PPC Ad Formats


Have you ever liked a post on Facebook, double-tapped a photo on Instagram, or clicked on a Google search result that so happens to be an ad? This only goes to show how far online marketing and online ads have gone—they’re becoming more and more targeted, timely, and, most importantly, relevant.

Gone are the days when ads are simply intrusive because businesses, both big and small, can now run ads with context as they’re now considered useful content.

With the online marketing landscape indeed changing for the better, marketers and business owners are constantly challenged to keep up with all the new ad platforms, algorithms, formats, dimensions, and targeting variations.

Take PPC as an example—there are multiple things you have to consider, even for this specific ad format, including which PPC format is the best for your business. But before we dive deeper into that, let’s first define PPC.

What is PPC?

PPC, also known as Pay-Per-Click, is an online advertising model that allows marketers to serve specific ads in search engine results depending on the keywords inputted by the user. As the name suggests, marketers only pay for placements for their target keywords when users click on their ads.

PPC operates via a bidding system. If you’re wondering how that works, it’s similar to going to an actual auction where you find a particular item you want to purchase and try to outbid other buyers, with the highest bidder taking home the auctioned item.

The same goes for PPC advertising, except you’re bidding for keywords instead of actual, tangible items. If your bid is the highest or at least one of the highest, your ads will be shown on top of organic search results. Every time a user clicks on your ad, that’s the only time you’ll be shelling out money and paying your bid amount.

Why and When to Opt for PPC?

If you’re a marketer or business owner who wants to ensure that your ads are being shown to the right people at the right time, PPC is your best bet, as this type of ad format not only depends on how much you bid but how relevant your keywords are to the users.

For this, PPC is used for different types of online marketing campaign objectives such as promoting brand awareness, boosting brand recognition, increasing sales, and getting more website visits.

Where to run PPC ads and what are the formats available?

The most popular platform to run PPC ads is Google, as it offers accurate audience targeting and a variety of ad formats in different shapes and sizes.

1. Plain Text Ads

Plain text ads are the most basic, straightforward type, only consisting of three headlines or titles, a specific display URL, and up to two descriptions. As plain text ads are cost-effective and easy to create, it’s the go-to format for beginners and marketers with budget constraints.

Apart from that, it is also a good option for advertisers targeting an audience with high buying intent as text ads ensure high clickthrough rates.

  • Advantages of Text Ads
    • Anyone can create text ads as they are very easy to set up, manage, and optimize.
    • Text ads are also the most affordable ad format available for marketers today.
    • They are not intrusive, which is why most people don’t mind seeing and clicking on them.
    • They’re relevant to the audience and easily consumed.
  • Disadvantages of Text Ads
    • Character limits can make it difficult for marketers to provide a lot of information upfront to potential customers:
      • Headlines 1. 2, and 3 – maximum of 30 characters each
      • Descriptions 1 and 2 – maximum of 90 characters each
      • Paths 1 and 2 – maximum of 15 characters each
    • It’s less appealing to the target audience than other ad formats as it doesn’t use images or other visual elements.
    • As practically anyone can easily set up this ad format, there is a lot of competition.

2. Image Ads

Image ads, as the name suggests, use images to catch the attention of the intended audience. It comes in a range of shapes and sizes and allows marketers to apply their branding to make it visually appealing—optimizing content to a specific audience to boost brand awareness and eventually entice them to take action.

Image ads are a great option when the goal is to increase brand awareness and recognition. According to PPCexpo, the top banner ad sizes used by marketers for their image ads include medium rectangle (300×250), large rectangle (336×280), leaderboard (728×90), mobile leaderboard (320×50), and half-page or large skyscraper (300×600).

  • Advantages of Image Ads
    • The full range of size options gives marketers the freedom to optimize their ads according to their needs and budget.
    • It is visually appealing, thereby leading the eyes of viewers to the ad.
    • Even when the audience doesn’t take immediate action and click on the ad, subconsciously, they become more aware of the brand, stimulating brand trust and recognition.
  • Disadvantages of Image Ads
    • With the dawn of ad-blocking tools, image ads can sometimes be filtered out.
    • Marketers are required to have a bit of technical knowledge to resize banners accordingly.
    • Image ads can be a bit more hard-sell and intrusive compared to text ads.
    • Clickthrough rates of image ads are relatively low.

3. Video Ads

When watching a video on YouTube, you’ve probably come across an ad pre-, mid-, or post-video—these are either skippable or non-skippable. This type takes image ads to a whole other level as it ultimately gets the audience’s attention.

There are other types of video ads, including video discovery ads, which appear above organic results. Video ads are best when you have the luxury of time and deep pockets, as you’ll need to invest in producing the video itself before running your ad.

  • Advantages of Video Ads
    • Video ads are a powerful way to grab attention and convey your brand’s story.
    • It demands attention from the audience.
    • Video content makes it easy for the audience to grasp the essence of your product or service.
    • Reach billions of people with just your video content.
  • Disadvantages of Video Ads
    • You have to squeeze meaningful content into a 5–15-second clip.
    • Video ad optimization can be limited compared to other formats.
    • They can be intrusive.
    • Google has strict quality requirements and only serves the top ads.

Key Takeaway

PPC is a proven way to rise above the digital noise and overcrowded market and reach your target audience. Although, apart from understanding the available ad formats, it’s essential to know the key display advertising statistics to shape your PPC campaign.

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