The Paid Trifecta: How PPC, Display Ads and Paid Social Work Together

Kim Velten
How PPC, Display Ads and Paid Social Work Together

They say good things come in threes. That things in threes are inherently better, more effective, and more satisfying than all other number of things. We could go on about the lore of threes found throughout history; the Trinity, the Triad, the Illuminati. But we’re really only here to talk about one particularly powerful trio: the Paid Trifecta.

The Parts of the Paid Trifecta

On the surface, it’s a simple recipe. Pay-per-click (PPC), display advertising and paid social. But take pause for a minute and first think about how you use each of these digital marketing tactics individually.


The avenues in which you can utilize PPC capabilities are varied, but let’s narrow it down to paid search. Someone opens up their browser, e.g. Google, fires off a search and in less than a blink there’s a gazillion results. From an SEO standpoint, it’s great if you can reach the top few organic results. But for various reasons, not all of us are natural competitors for every important keyword so we pay to play with Google AdWords. There’s all sorts of complicated strategies that make a good PPC strategy but the end goal is to get conversions through a subsequent landing page.

Display Ads

Where don’t you see display banners these days? They’re on every web page you visit. They can surprise and delight in the form of JPEGs or GIFs or even flash – but we’re in the year 2017 with over half of web use on mobile so we just like them as HTML5. They’re overused and abused and because of that they get a bad rap for poor effectiveness. But display ads can perform beautifully if you know how to use them. Individually, they’re good for retargeting website visitors, audience prospecting and contextual targeting.

Paid Social

Everything’s an ad now and we love it. Promoted pins, tweets and snaps. Forms and banners and overlay ads. Even Live Video, for the most confident companies. If you’re not already using paid social in your digital marketing strategy, start that. A majority of the time spent online by users is through some social platform, so in this case, your FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is real. It’s also a great way to complete the demographic picture of your target. You can actually get to know them better than you do your sister-in-law – and they can get to know you in a more relaxed atmosphere.

The Power of the Paid Trifecta

Now we get how PPC, display ads and paid social work alone. But what makes them such a great team? It’s storytime! Disclaimer: gross stereotyping of millennials ahead, by a millennial.

On a dark, stormy Tuesday night, an unemployed millennial man named Brett is cocooned in a blanket on the couch in his parent’s basement, avoiding real social contact and day dreaming about how to become a zillionaire without doing a hard day’s work. Twirling the pen in his hands that his mom bought him to fill out job applications, Brett has an ephiphany: He needs to buy a camera and make YouTube videos and become an overnight internet sensation.

But what camera? Naturally, he turns to Google for help. He grabs his Macbook, types in the keywords ‘professional camera for youtube videos’ and at the top of the page he sees a Google ad that says ‘Professional Quality Camera Perfect for the Internet Star.’  Wow, he thinks, why can’t people get me the way Google does? No one will, Brett. No one ever will.

He clicks the ad. He’s taken to a page that offers solid information about the camera, a bunch of images that showcase capabilities, reviews from previous buyers, and a form that lets him request a free e-brochure with all the camera’s specs. A few tippity-taps on the keyboard and he’s done his research for the night. Spent, it’s time for bed.

The next day Brett gets his e-brochure and is even more impressed by the camera. But it’s pricey and those Starbucks latte’s don’t pay for themselves. He needs to do some more research on less expensive options.

Two days pass when Brett finds himself staring at that first camera again. There it is, on, where he was Googling synonyms for ‘misunderstood.’ The banner ad is telling him to show the world who he really is and he now knows it’s time to get serious about his future stardom.

So he starts doing some research on other YouTube stars. He watches videos for days. While he is watching one particular video series of a girl who takes requests to “do fun things” – she has a mass following – he sees an ad at the bottom of the video that catches his eye. It’s an offer for his camera – 20% off and free shipping! This is a sign, he believes. It’s time. So he gets out the credit card, clicks the banner, and boom. Only 7 – 14 days away from going viral.

See how the three came together to create an effective sale? Let’s break it down:

  1. Brett first saw the camera through a PPC ad based on a keyword search. The user intent was already there, i.e., Brett wanted a camera. He converted through the form, giving the camera company vital information on him.
  1. When nothing happened after the first conversion, the camera company properly used display advertising to retarget. Notice how he didn’t click on the banner, but it still made an important impression.
  1. The final place they reached him was when he was engaged with social media relevant to the product. This time, they came with an offer – and Brett bit.

Ultimately, it takes a lot of different experts to bring a campaign like this together. And we’re just the kind of experts to do that. Your people, our people, your target market people. It’s another perfect trifecta.

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