The History of PPC and Google Ads

| Jackson Phipps

PPC has become one of the most universally utilized digital marketing services, but it wasn’t always this popular. Read on to learn how PPC has become the digital juggernaut that it is today. Read time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

When you consider the nearly ubiquitous nature of online advertising in our daily lives, it can be difficult to recall a time when being exposed to an ad every time you open a browser or a web page wasn’t the norm. With the launch of Google AdWords in 2000, advertisers had unprecedented capabilities to reach their desired audiences in places they were already spending time. While today we may lament the fact that ads can feel intrusive, it’s important to keep in mind that those little blocks of texts and images keep costs down for internet users. With all that being said, how did we get here?

Before we dive into the history of PPC, let’s look at some numbers. In Q4 of 2018, Google’s ad sales topped $32.6 billion. That sounds like a huge number, but the companies contributing to that figure can rest-assured that those advertising dollars have been well spent. It’s estimated that for every $1 spent on Google AdWords, the average business generates $2 in revenue. This isn’t surprising, given that Google owns 71% of the search market share. Let’s take a look back in time at the milestones that led to these staggering numbers.

In 2000, Google rolled out the first version of AdWords, with only 350 advertisers utilizing the service. The next major development came in 2002 with the introduction of cost-per-click (CPC) – which is an important metric today for digital advertisers across the world. This would later work in tandem with PPC (pay-per-click), which is the foundation of Google’s advertising platform. While Google was not the first to utilize PPC, (PPC advertising spaces were launched on a web directory called Planet Oasis – a desktop application) it has since taken control of the market.

There are several advantages to PPC marketing that aren’t available through other advertising mediums. For example, since you only pay when a user reaches your website, it gives you much more control over how much you want to spend to see results. Similarly, PPC is measurable. Determining ROI in advertising will never be as black and white as some may wish, but knowing exactly how much money you’re paying for exactly how many clicks to your website can give you a good indication of what you’re getting, and allow you to adjust strategies accordingly. Speaking of adjustments, Google’s PPC platform allows for very customizable targeting options, which means your ads are showing to an audience you’ve selected, rather than random users.

If we’ve learned anything throughout the evolution of PPC over the last 20 years, it’s that getting the best results is both an art and a science. It takes a dedicated team or individual keeping up with current campaigns and learning the latest practices to get the most for your money. The good news is that if executed properly, these campaigns can provide an unparalleled return on investment.