For brands leveraging digital advertising campaigns for the first time, undertanding PPC vs PPM ad formats can be challenging. A google search for “PPC vs PPM” pulls up more than 100,000 results, many of which offer inaccurate or outdated advice. Using today’s digital advertising tools, both PPC and PPM are viable formats. Choosing the right one for your campaigns comes down to one thing- purpose.

ppc vs ppm search results

PPC vs PPM: Action vs Exposure

When you create a digital advertising campaign, you should always clearly define the campaign’s purpose from the outset. When our digital advertising services team creates campaigns for clients, these are the most common campaign goals:

  • Promote immediate sale of a product or service
  • Make audiences aware of a product or service
  • Promote content to drive traffic & boost SEO
  • Draw past site visitors or customers back to the website to make a purchase


Before you consider whether to choose PPC vs PPM for a campaign, have a clearly defined goal in mind.

PPC Drives Immediate Action

PPC stands for pay-per-click. In PPC campaigns, your ads are displayed for “free”, and you pay when someone clicks your ads. When operating a PPC campaign, you’ll need to relentlessly measure, test, and improve every aspect of the campaign to drive your per-click costs as low as possible.

PPC campaigns are best used in campaigns where the target audience is well-defined and the campaign’s purpose is to drive immediate action. If your goal is to drive product or service sales through a digital advertising campaign, PPC is often the best choice.

PPM Exposes Your Brand For Less

PPM stands for pay-per-thousand impressions. In PPM campaigns, you pay a flat fee when your ad is shown, typically stated as a per-thousand rate. With PPM campaigns, your campaign spend is easier to manage, as you’ll know exactly how many times an ad will be shown based on your campaign budget.

PPM campaigns are preferred when your campaign isn’t driving your target audience to take immediate action. Many new brands use PPM campaigns to get their name in front of target audiences for cheap. If you’ve recently built your website or are trying to increase site traffic to boost SEO, PPM campaigns are often the best choice.

PPM campaigns are also a great way to validate your audience. If you’re not 100% sure how to define your target audience, a PPC campaign will leave you paying for the wrong people to click on your ads. In most cases, these people won’t become customers, which is a major problem if you’re on a limited budget. PPM campaigns allow you to test your target audience criteria, and gather data on the demographics for those who are most likely to engage with your brand and purchase from you. You can use this data when planning a subsequent PPC campaign to ensure that you’re targeting the right people.

PPC vs PPM Depends On Your Needs & Experience

When you decide between PPC vs PPM for a campaign, keep the campaign’s purpose in mind. Use PPC if you know exactly who you’re targeting, and an immediate action is desired, such as a signup or sale. If you’re still refining your audience criteria, or are just trying to expose your brand or drive website traffic, PPM is usually the best option.

For many companies, outsourcing your digital advertising needs to an experienced team may be the best option. Our marketing team can help you choose the right campaign format and create an ad that’s optimized based on your budget and goals. To get started with our digital advertising services, click the button below.


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