3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Turn Off Paid Search

A start stop switchWhat I like most about digital marketing, and PPC specifically, is the constant evolution of the product and the amount of studies that are completed on the topic.

This week the office was buzzing about eBay’s study on the effectiveness of PPC for their business. The story in the Harvard Business Review was titled, “Did eBay Just Prove That Paid Search Ads Don’t Work?

This sparked a lot of debate, and inbound questions from our clients. Our summary, much like a weight loss ad: “Not typical results, your results may differ.”

Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t stop running a paid search campaign.

1. Brand Awareness

Do you know another site, or business, like eBay? Almost everyone knows eBay and what they do. Can you say that for your business? Unless you can, paid search still has a place for you.

Also, think about this quote from Avinash Kaushik’s blog from 2012:

Recently I saw a TV ad by eBay for designer jeans. I typed designer jeans into Google (for that is what people do when they watch TV). The first ad was for Amazon. No eBay PPC ad or SEO listing showed up. Clever Amazon tying its online advertising with a competitor’s offline advertising. Now I search for “amazon designer jeans.” 🙂

This is becoming more and more important with the convergence of second screen, or even local advertising, as people shop on the go. You need your ad to be discovered at the time of the consumers need whenever and wherever the context might be.

2. Execution

EBay sells a million different things – from shoes to concert tickets ¬ and their inventory is constantly changing. This leads to an incredibly complex paid search campaign that has historically led to some pretty poor paid search ads. Their use of dynamic keyword insertion has given us classics such as:


These experiences can make it tough to make a positive return on investment if for no other reason than a poor quality score. You must run effective and scalable campaigns in order to truly feel value from a paid search campaign.

3. Promotion Messaging

There aren’t a lot of sales, or messages that eBay needs to communicate in a timely fashion. Many retail or CPG businesses need to be able to constantly update their ad copy to reflect promotions, launches, or even the appropriate landing page for the given ad. There is no better source for real-time testing and optimization than paid search.


These are just a few of the reasons to consider before you turn off your paid search campaign. It isn’t as simple as following eBay here.

There could very well be quality reasons why you don’t need PPC for everything your business does. It isn’t the silver bullet for all business problems, but there is value in many cases.

I’m curious to see how long eBay lasts with this strategy. I, for one, will be on the lookout for one of their ads in the wild.

Related reading

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Making the case for more non-brand funding in paid search
Five things to do on a small digital marketing budget
The fall of ad copy, long live ad copy