SWOT Analysis of the Pay Per Click Industry

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with a great discussion going over a SWOT Analysis of the Pay Per Click Industry. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What do you believe to be the strengths of the PPC industry? Why?

  • Ability to pinpoint ROI. Ability to test and optimize quickly and easily. – David Szetela (@Szetela)
  • More immediate results and data. Ability to quickly adjust and test strategies. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Data-driven. ROI-focused. High-performance. Specific targeting – people tell you what they want. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • PPC is where consumers are actively looking for a product. – Alma Smith (@Alma_Smith)
  • Adaptability and flexibility due to contstant releases, changes and roll-outs. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • As an advertiser? New acquisition. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Big picture thinking. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Perfect pull marketing – people are asking questions, we just spend a little to give the best answers. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Responsive campaigns with great control and targeting. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • More quantifiable results than other media (e.g. print, tv, radio, etc). – Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
  • Ability to execute many different strategies with measured results. – Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
  • Measurability and nimble campaigns (aka quick changes). – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Quick implementation. It might not take 5 min., but you can get up and running quickly. – Jeremy Brown
  • I’d say constant innovation is a huge strength. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • It’s Google’s money maker so we’ll continue to see innovation in the space which is good for advertisers and PPC consultants. – Nefer Lopez (@Nefer_L)
  • Analysis leads to actionable tasks. (as compared to to other channels) Always room for continued improvement. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • Flexibility and response time. Nothing like being able to add new terms or change promotional messaging in minutes. – Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
  • Great control and actionable data which makes ROI easily provable. Connecting businesses with customers that are looking. – Jason Manion (@JasonManion)
  • It is straight forward compared to SEO and it has a fast ROI not 6 months. – Derek Ostler (@DerekOstler)
  • Best way of bringing new and unique traffic to your site. Numbers to back it up. – Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
  • For the most part it is an OCD paradise, with more actionable control than other mediums. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • I’d also say a strength is that most companies can run PPC accounts and see results. – Matt Umbro
  • It’s one of the few forms of advertising that lends itself and is easily available to pretty much all businesses/advertisers. – Cassie Allinger (@CassieAllinger)
  • You can go as deep as you want. Want to test traffic from 70 year old, rich women, who live in a certain zip? You can. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Another big strength – allows little companies to compete with the big guys (select keywords, geos, etc.) – Jeremy Brown
  • Measurable, quick, have a supportive base (Google), better targeted, further reaching, can unearth useful insights. – Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
  • Reminds me of Chemistry class, can make changes, test and see almost instantaneous results to then make more changes/test. – Bryant Garvin
  • The ability to quickly fix mistakes is also a plus. – Jeff Loquist
  • PPC forced all other channels to report ROI or stop. – John Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
  • PPC industry all about optimization in real-time, which raises the bar for other channels! – Emily Las (@emlas)
  • A super-collaborative culture in an industry that’s competitive by nature. – PPC Associates (@PPCAssociates)
  • Also, fast results. And in most non-niche industries, a very scalable marketing tool. – Jason Manion
  • Meeting search intent across different devices is huge & control of spend of channel. – Nefer Lopez
  • Working with Google instead of against them (SEO). I like receiving the support and insights you don’t get with other channels. – Niki Grant
  • One more quick thing. Google is actually (usually) on your team. When you succeed, they succeed. – Jason Manion
  • More innovative in terms of how to maximize reach. Text ads, PLA’s, Image Display, Remarketing and eventually SocMe. – Brian Gaspar

Q2: What do you believe to be the weaknesses within the PPC industry? Why?

  • Operate at the mercy of search engines *cough* adwords *cough*. They say “Jump,” we say, “How high?” – Nicole Mintiens
    • I would say this is more of a threat to PPC, but we’ll get into that later. – Matt Umbro
  • The engine’s business plans aren’t always aligned with mine. – Heather Cooan
  • Increasing complexity. – David Szetela
  • Escalating costs for advertisers. Some already have thin margins. Goes against Google’s efforts to continually increase CPC. – Neil Sorenson
  • It’s Google’s world. Also, there is still a lack of supply in terms of skilled labor. – Jeremy Brown
  • Tough to get good results unless you have experience. For example, SMBs who try it on their own. – Mark Kennedy
  • Everyone has the same tools – can’t think outside the box too much. Quality score dictating everything. – Niki Grant
  • Increased competition makes it harder for new entrants, especially small businesses. – David Szetela
  • Having PPC blinders on – often don’t see the big picture when it comes to the overall business. – Rick Galan (@RickGalan)
  • Perceived lack of knowledge of Reps. I should not know more than my rep…or they are hiding info. – Jeff Loquist
  • The temptation of a “Set it and forget it” lifestyle, and the reality of that idea for businesses without PPC dedication. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • Definitely the competition and increasing CPC, which make PPC out of question for some companies. – Jason Manion
  • Competition is brutal. Google is pretty much a monopoly. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • As innovative as they are with changes, negative impact associated with changes. ie. disable even ad rotations. – Brian Gaspar
  • If you don’t double check your settings or make a typo in your budget… consequences can be dire. – Gil Hong
  • Chicken little-ing. We as an industry freak out at every change, when most are just slight mods to what’s worked for years. – Aaron Levy
  • PPC weakness = only 24 hours in a day. – Emily Las
  • Learning curve for SMB advertisers can be overwhelming and they jump ship before seeing how effective PPC can be. – Nefer Lopez
  • The Ad Platforms grow revenue for themselves by increasing competition, which hurts advertisers with the decisions they make. – James Svoboda
  • When you pay more, you get better results. Unfair advantages for bigger advertisers. Google doesn’t care about your ROI. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Also, silo-ing. We often forget that we’re a tactic, not a strategy. Part of the marketing mix, not the whole thing. – Aaron Levy
  • PPC is measured much more stringently than other media channels like “tv." – Bryant Garvin
  • Change is a constant. – Stephanie Cockerl (@nextSTEPH)
  • The playing field is getting more even, making it harder and harder to earn ROI. – Alma Smith
  • This is where Threats can be mistaken for Weaknesses, but a feel of disconnect between adwords and their users. – Brian Gaspar
  • Battling the poor reputation due to the lack of skilled labor can be tough. Business get burned. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
  • The ppcers get down in the weeds of their own program, and often make decisions that are great for ppc, not for the biz. – Rick Galan
  • PPC is a constant education process. It’s not spam or scams. Advertising is not bad. Only “bad” advertising is bad. – John Ellis
  • Attrition is huge in this space. Hire fast, but fire fast as well. – Brian Gaspar
  • Dare I say … Sometimes this industry is too focused on ROI, and less focused on goals. ROI is not the bottom line for all advertisers, esp w/in a larger marketing strategy. Focus on goals = success. – Cassie Allinger
  • PPC landscape is dynamic and we are control freaks (or “hyper detail oriented” if you take offense)! – Emily Las
  • We do not have parallel goals and a mutually beneficial relationship with the ad platforms. – James Svoboda
  • Understanding (or lack thereof) of seasonality shifts as it impacts month over month performance. – Brian Gaspar
  • Also a little too easy to piggyback on a competing brand’s name/hard work. – PPC Associates
  • Lack of transparency with the ever elusive & highly sought after “10” Quality Score. – Nefer Lopez
    • QS is a strength and weakness. Many advertisers get frustrated with lack of transparency. – Jeremy Brown
      • QS understanding is a strength but lack of those who understand is a major weekness. – Heather Cooan
  • Lack of understanding about LTV and how that affects bidding. At least for some of my accounts. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Thousands can be spent on SEO, but spend $500 on PPC and the ROI is questioned within hours. – John Ellis
    • I do believe SEO is becoming more revenue focused with clients wanting to see the bottom line. – Matt Umbro
  • A large number of spammers and MFA site creators still gaming the system. – Leslie Drechsler
  • No guarantee of where ad will place on page.. “Why aren’t we in the yellow box?” – Stephanie Cockerl

Q3: What do you believe to be the opportunities within the PPC industry? Why?

  • Hopefully a stronger competitor to Google. – Mark Kennedy
  • Expansion into SocMe with increased exposure on Google SERP’s coupled with new extensions. – Brian Gaspar
  • Continued advancement from Google and Bing. Facebook and other channels will get more mature. New channels too. – Jeremy Brown
  • Increasing complexity = job security for practitioners. – David Szetela
  • Continued growth of online video advertising as businesses shift from traditional TV/cable buys. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • It’s constantly changing, which constantly opens new opportunities for learning & improvement. – Cassie Allinger
  • The opportunities to be a trend setter among your competitors with new google features and strategies. – Gil Hong
  • More and more marketing budget going to online. – Robert Brady
  • BingAds growth in traffic. Facebook & LinkedIn platform inovations. – James Svoboda
  • Much better call tracking provided by Google and Bing – if advertisers could see revenue associated with phone calls. – Matt Umbro
  • Learning. PPC has come a log way with #ppcchat and other resources, but can still be improved upon. – Jeff Loquist
  • Applying CPC model to other stuff besides just search. Display networks are starting to catch on, so much more fun than IO’s. – Aaron Levy
  • Using other avenues besides AdWords. We have had great success with FB and others like criteo etc. – Derek Ostler
  • More insights with Google Analytics integeration into AdWords. – Brian Gaspar
  • Also, cross device tracking/cheap attribution modeling. Lets SMB’s see the landscape rather than the last click. – Aaron Levy
  • Services that offer real solutions to Google’s push to increase CPC. Negative keyword crowd sourcing and accurate call tracking. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Competitors to YouTube and cleaner ties to video marketing. The AdWords/YouTube UI is still too limited. – PPC Associates
  • Multi-channel attribution and integrated behavioral retargeting on the CPC model. This stuff is so cool! – Heather Cooan
  • Broadening definition of PPC – retargeting, feeds, etc. – Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin)
  • Increasing mastery of other areas (rather than traditional SERP text ad). Display, mobile, video, product ads, remarketing, etc. – Jason Manion
  • Always more opportunity in offering more transparency. (attn: Google). – Emily Las
  • Greater cooperation with SEO. Strictly PPC shops that don’t do Organic search are missing a great symbiotic relationship. – Michael Wiegand (@mwiegand
  • Better understanding of relationship between PPC and other marketing sources. – Jeff Loquist
    • I was going to say: better understanding of the buyer cycle & customer lifetime values. Key is “better understanding” – Cassie Allinger
      • Agreed. buyer cycles, attribution modeling from devices..we could spend a day listing them, methinks. – Jeff Loquist
  • I see mobile being bigger and bigger every minute too! – Derek Ostler
  • Major opportunity lies in applying PPC tactics, real-time optimization power to other channels. Why should any message be static? – Emily Las
  • Better and less creepy personalization of ads across channels. – Julie Bacchini
  • A great opportunity lies within education – creating college courses/internships around PPC. – Matt Umbro
    • That would be huge. Pushing to get an intern. Knowledge is power, true value is sharing it with others. – Brian Gaspar
  • Major opp in using PPC data to inform larger decisions. The focus group concept makes PPC vital to overall mktg efforts. – Emily Las
  • Google connecting the dots between devices and closing the gap in tracking consumer behavior. Kinda scary, tho. – Nefer Lopez
  • While #HeroConf is great, the ability to create more regionally based PPC specific conferences and trade shows. – Brian Gaspar
  • As G continues to take away insights into search trends (not-provided), PPC becomes a critical gateway to that information. – Cassie Allinger
  • I’d love to see how Google integrates Wallet, w/ G+ and AdWords gel’ing together. – Nefer Lopez

Q4: What do you believe to be the threats within the PPC industry? Why?

  • PPC is ultimately ruled by Google’s domination & ability to make any changes they want to AdWords. – Timothy Jensen
  • Google offering PPC management (service or tools). – Robert Brady
  • Attribution, again! Once we get more data, may find that traditional paid search has less value than we believe. – Aaron Levy
  • Privacy laws, paranoia could easily spill into eliminating tools we rely on to target users. – Alma Smith
  • Automation threatening to commoditize the industry and devalue intuition/innovative human thought. – PPC Associates
  • For industry strength– did anyone mention PPC by definition. We pay for clicks 🙂 Lower risk, higher returns, etc. – Emily Las
  • Loss of control. Without beating a dead horse 🙂 (cough* #enhanced campaigns *couch). – Jeff Loquist
  • Ever increasing CPC pushing all but the largest advertisers out. Should be place to level field a bit ideally. – Julie Bacchini
  • The growing complexity of PPC makes it that much harder/necessary to explain it well to the client. – Gil Hong
  • Google entering their own services in some PPC niches. – Mark Kennedy
  • Google killing their Golden Goose on accident. New technologies/services that work completely differently. – Jeremy Brown
  • Google’s inability to police it’s own ads can ruin it for valid advertisers. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Increased CPC for Search Keywords & Long-Tail shrinking is making PPC not viable for some. Social & SEO can be more attractive. – James Svoboda
  • Algorithms taking all the jobs. – Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
    • I’m not overly concerned with algos. They don’t replace humans…they just make it easier for smart humans to scale. – Jeremy Brown
  • The assumption by G that advertisers want everything automated, or shall I say enhanced? – Cassie Allinger
  • How Google perceives themselves in this space. Changing Ad Review policies can impact revenue from these ads. – Brian Gaspar
  • More of a granular threat, but not being able to exclude specific search partners. – Matt Umbro
  • Such a high % of market share in the hands of one company… Always a threat. – Emily Las
  • As shown by ECs, we’re at the behest of a monopoly. If they change something, we have to change tact entirely (perhaps). – Peter Hughes
  • The prices could go up a lot and hurt the small business owner and make it harder for them to have Success at it. – Derek Ostler
  • Automation to PPC accounts by Google and their comparison products showing in search results are big threats. – Laura McDonald (@lauramcdonald0)
  • We should be able to exclude search partners at some point. Legacy contracts will eventually expire. – Jeremy Brown
  • People who value automation over human insight are a bigger threat than the algorithms themselves. – Emily Las
    • Agree completely. The people that believe in a magic ‘easy’ button really don’t have a clue. – Jeremy Brown
  • Last vs. first click, OK. PPC plays a part in first click, there’s value. No Partial Attribution that’s a threat. – Brian Gaspar
  • If @BingAds copies everything that Google does instead of trying to innovate in the advertising side of things. – Bryant Garvin
    • Given how Bing has been outperforming Google for me lately, may not be such a bad thing. – Brian Gaspar
  • Another threat is people/clients who take Google’s advice as gospel. You know they make $ off these insights…right? – Emily Las
  • Continued dumbing down of Adwords. – Julie Bacchini
  • Bing being the largest threat to Google. – Nefer Lopez
    • But not a threat to the industry. Would simply shift inventory. – Luke Alley
  • Google complacency in thinking they know what’s best for my clients. – Leslie Drechsler
  • How PPC revenue is tracked & measured. AdWords Conv Code, Analytics, ERP/Revenue platform. Could be hard to get 1:1 numbers. – Brian Gaspar

Q5: After conducting this SWOT analysis, what is your number one takeaway (can come from any aspect of the analysis)?

  • Be ready and willing for change. – Luke Alley
  • Diversity your PPC Advertising if budget allows. AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn. – James Svoboda
  • Education is key. Understanding what is available & sharing will be our biggest asset. – Jeff Loquist
  • That no matter the size of the biz, you really need a PPC manager if your going to use this channel. It’s getting more complex. – Mark Kennedy
    • And you need to determine if you want an in-house resource for it or outsource it to a 3rd party agency. Or combat by making it another part of someone’s job. Needs dedicated prioritization. – Brian Gaspar
  • PPC is still a vibrant industry that hasn’t fully-matured yet. Will it look different in the future? Yes. – Jeremy Brown
  • Same thing from performing any SWOT. Industry is ever changing. Have to make Weaknesses Strengths and Threats Opportunities. – Brian Gaspar
  • Provide organizational value outside the PPC silo. – Robert Brady
  • Stay on your toes, diversify your traffic and budgets, make sure PPC goals align with company goals. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Because of measurement tools, fast data flow, targeting abilities etc., PPC still rules the ROI roost. – David Szetela
  • Keep thinking “beyond the click” – that is a big part of what makes us valuable. – Julie Bacchini
  • Keep the strengths & opportunities top-of-mind when the weaknesses/threats are getting you down! – Emily Las
  • Keep moving and stay alert. Opportunities and threats are everywhere. – George Gilmer (@GeorgeGilmer)
  • As Google increases CPC, smaller businesses need to find their niche keyword groups in order to compete. Win by being an expert. – Jesse Semchuck
  • We’re all gonna have jobs for a very, very long time. – Aaron Levy
  • Combine automation w/ human insight. Algorithms augment and amplify the real pros, not replace them. Give benefit beyond bidding. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Alma Smith (@Alma_Smith)
• Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Cassie Allinger (@CassieAllinger)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• David Szetela (@Szetela)
• Derek Ostler (@DerekOstler)
• Emily Las (@emlas)
• George Gilmer (@GeorgeGilmer)
• Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
• Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• Jason Manion (@JasonManion)
• Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• John Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Laura McDonald (@lauramcdonald0)
• Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Michael Wiegand (@mwiegand)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Nefer Lopez (@Nefer_L)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
• PPC Associates (@PPCAssociates)
• Rick Galan (@RickGalan)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@nextSTEPH)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Gathering the Strenghs of PPC in the Streamcap

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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3 Responses to SWOT Analysis of the Pay Per Click Industry

  1. Rick says:

    Missed this round but thanks for the recap. Very interesting POV’s around threats.

  2. Ranjan Jena says:

    Thanks Paul for first sharing all these PPC leader’s connection details to follow up them in Twitter and learn more day by day.

    My point would be; Be present @ No. 1 with your ads in the Search Engine results of Google

  3. Ranjan Jena says:

    Strenght is; Be @ No. 1 in Search Results. Weakness according to me; Lack of learning the right way of executing ppc. The opportunity would be to learn it quickly and be able to show at No. 1. The threats for me; PPC getting more complicated with time as competition & cpc increases & Google introducing new features every alternate days, and making the stuff more complicated. Atlast SWOT for me is; be clear with what you want & then work around the best channel to achieve the max

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