Is PPC Just Gambling In The Digital Format?

For the uninitiated the world of PPC marketing can seem like a daunting place to enter. The spend, budgets, bidding and strategic thinking can overwhelm many.

In PPC, unlike other channels in digital you are paying for every click, meaning each time a user clicks your ad, (You Pay Google).

For those starting out, unsure how much to spend or how to calculate a reasonable ROI, PPC can seem like a bottom less pit where you effectively just hand over all your cash to Google without seeing a return. Much like a Friday night out where you vaguely remember what you spent but can’t quite remember what the return was.

  • Ever walked into a casino and played big without knowing the rules?
  • Gone into a bookie and betted on just whatever the guy next to you is betting?
  • Played poker without looking at your cards or knowing what your hand meant?

For most of us, you’d want some reassurance you knew the rules, the probability of a return or how much you would need to spend to get a clear picture. The same rules apply for PPC as you are putting cash up front waiting for the payoff.

The House/Dealer Google
The Players Your competitors
The Punters Your prospects
The Cheats Bots/Spam

The House

The role is to get you to spend and to invest more. Ever speak with Google and its always the upsell, to go big and play another round. The more you play the bigger return for the house.

The Punters

In a casino you have your first-time users (just browsing), your serial gamblers (those hunting for the best deals), the pros (your VIP customers) and those without a clue (most people). A smart dealer will help direct your VIPs to the exclusive zones to get them to play big. To help educate and navigate users without having a one-sized-fits all game. Use audiences to tailor your ads to match the right behaviour.

The Cheats

Unfortunately, there will always be those trying to cheat the system. It’s estimated that up to 25% of traffic is potentially bots/spam. In your campaigns review your traffic sources, looks for spikes and unusually patterns and look to bar them from coming back in. If you get unstuck there are a host of 3rd party providers to help blocks PPC traffic such as ClickCease | ClickGuardian | PPC Protect and more to help you out.

One of main appeals of Google PPC is the ability to pick what terms you want to show for. Unlike SEO, where it’s a constant fight with Google to get visibility where the search engine is holding all the cards, in PPC you dictate what you want to play on and how.

Smart (Search) Red or Black | Odd or Even
Broad (Generic) 1st | 2nd | 3rd – 12
Phrase Corner Bets
Exact Specific Numbers

Smart (Search)

Growing more in popularity due to advances in machine learning or for those looking for a streamlined campaign. Smart offers you the chance to bid on Keyword themes and to negativize themes. Aside from that, you have a luck of the draw as to what will fire you ad. Good for reach but opens the probability of lots of unwanted traffic.

Broad (Generic)

Google moved away from modified broad match to just broad terms for 2021. Here any combination of keyword terms (in any order) will fire for an ad. Best practice to have mid to long tail keywords in the mix. A short broad match term will be liking running Smart (big reach with little control)


More control over your terms without going too specific. Here you can cover multiple relevant options on your bets without spreading out too thinly


If you know what winner will be, go exact. Here you will get the best chances for that term and will have control over your bids. Go too exact and you might miss the mark as more often a player lands on another number next to your instead.


Pro tips: We use the analogy of starting with a fishing net to cover all your bases in the early days. Then as you retrieve data you incrementally move towards a harpoon approach focusing on specific terms to convert whilst letting other players go head-to-head in the market to burn each other out.

The google algorithm on CPC costs is determined by several factors. Search volume, competitiveness, value of a keyword term and relevancy of your ad. When you start bidding an easy recommendation to focus on is your keyword score (relevancy) – the higher the score the greater the reduction in your CPC costs.

When getting into bidding, imagine a game of Poker.

Small Blind Enough to get some impressions
Big Blind 1st Page on Google
All In Absolute Top Of Page Results

Small Blind

Each keyword you want to bid on, Google will recommend a minimum CPC spend needed to enter the game.

Big Blind

Its estimated that 80/90% of searches in Google don’t go past page one. Much like a game of poker to take part you need to be on page one and put in a big blind to start seeing some action. On ultra-competitive terms this is quick way of burning our cash – so make sure you are prepared to invest or know when to fold before things get too heavy.

All In

Some of your fellow players like to be the dominant player in a game. You know the type that bet aggressively.  In Google bidding you can bid on impression share, absolute top of page to always have the top spot. This comes with a big warning that unless you know what you are doing you will just burn through your budget right away.


  • Consider your market (know your fellow players)
  • Look at your targeting (whether you want to go big or go precise)
  • Learn the rules of the game (i.e. the match types, the bid strategies etc) so you know what you need to put up.
  • Have accurate tracking in place (so when you do convert you can work out your ROAS / ROI) on activity
  • Play by the house rules (Google) but don’t blindly follow all their recommendations as remember: They want you to always keep spending more.

 If you need a hand getting to grips with Google PPC or are looking to scale up your current PPC activities, get in touch on 0800 088 6000 today to find out how we can get you ahead of your fellow player, beat the house and get you the payoff from digital!


For more information or to discuss your own digital marketing requirements, call one of our expert team today on 0800 088 6000.

Stephen McAllister
Stephen McAllister
Head Of Business Intelligence

Stephen has recently been promoted to the agencies Head Of Business Intelligence, working across all departments to review and optimise business processes. Within his role, Stephen’s aim is to leverage read more.

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