Reverse PPC: The Case for Avoiding Clicks

With the onset of the Panda algorithm update and the negative consequences Google is placing on sites for bending the rules, there’s been a firestorm of questions, concerns and ultimately, new tactics and strategies for combating negative SEO.  This includes removing bad inbound links, outbound links, content … the list goes on.  This got me thinking, What about negative PPC?  Please keep in mind that I’m only being slightly serious.  This could work, or could not.  Either way, it could be a fun experiment to test out.

Say, for example, you are Stride gum.  A primary marketing goal is branding.  You want to keep your brand at the top of consumers’ minds, so when they walk into their local 7-Eleven, they purchase your product and not another bubble gum like Juicy Fruit.  (This happens to still be my favorite, by the way!)

As part of my digital marketing campaign, I’m running PPC and display advertising campaigns.  What is the advantage to having someone click on my ad?

  • Engagement – getting customers to engage with a site in a unique way can create brand loyalty.
  • Coupons – Using coupons or special promotions to encourage the purchase of your brand over the competition.
  • Name recognition – Getting the visitor to hit your site and stay on it, creates name recognition or brand equity, which again, will help the consumer purchase your product in store over your competitors.

The problem is display advertising and PPC is expensive.  What if I told you there was a free billboard on the 405N in the middle of L.A.? Well, I’m telling you there might just be … display, PPC, AdWords.  What if we optimized the brand campaigns to get as few clicks as possible with as many impressions as possible?  Each impression would basically be a car passing by.  Each display or text ad could have a unique URL that could also track the traffic (limited, of course) but in a similar way you would track billboards.  The cost savings would be major.  Let’s think about it another way: Why wouldn’t Stride position itself on PPC searches for keywords like “marketing automation software” or “digital marketing agency?” It could place an ad like:

Hey Marketing People – FYI
Stride Bubble Gum is Awesome
Copy the URL = Free Gift. No Clicks

The ad would theoretically get very few clicks, but a wide range for impressions for very little advertising cost.  There are a few concerns, none of which are insurmountable.  After discussing the idea with Courtney Demko, one of Fathom’s senior PPC experts, we identified a few potential problems:

Quality score – If the ads were run against keyword phrases that are not bubble gum-related, a landing page would have to be created to reflect the alternative bidding terms.  The page could contain the word “marketing” or other related phrases to meet the criterion for language consistency between ad and page.  Perhaps the advantages of chewing bubble gum for marketers could be outlined (mask bad breath or improve multi-tasking).

Giveaways – If the giveaway URL were copied/pasted rather than clicked on, tracking visitors would be difficult.  This by itself is not an issue, but affiliates or other networks could pick up the URL and use it for their own advantage.

Google – Eventually, Google or other outlets could penalize you for low clicks.  This could have a negative impact on other campaigns which are created to actually drive clicks.  AdWords may not even allow this, but if they did, it could be a fun experiment to try.

Just a thought on a new way to create high-visibility branded advertising impressions at a low cost  … would love to hear your feedback.


Photo courtesy of Omar Omar via Flickr.

About Fathom Team Member

One Comment

  • Kyle Jones says:

    Probably the biggest mistake people make when doing their own PPC advertising is choosing the wrong keywords just because they want to get traffic. A couple of things to know are 1) General keywords get lots of searches and traffic but are less qualified and less likely to buy. When you’re paying for visitors, you want results, not just traffic. 2) The keywords that are being bid on must be extremely relevant to the product/services you are offering. If it was a retail store, would you want to pay for male motor bikers to walk into Victoria’s secret? Nothing against bikers, it’s just not the target market – and that’s what happens when you bid on general, broad keywords. You get lots of untargeted visitors so your ROI doesn’t work. If anybody wants help with this, call my buddy Simon here: 302-401-4478.

Leave a Reply