The Common Terms in PPC Advertising - and What They Mean

Whether you've enjoyed the fruits of a successful pay per click ad campaign before or you're just getting started in PPC, it can be overwhelming to get to grips with the number of terms and acronyms you'll come across.

To get the most out of your advertising campaign and perhaps your Pay Per Click agency, it's essential to make sure you understand what the most common pay per click terms mean and when you might need them.

Let's take a look at some of the most commonly used acronyms and terms in the world of PPC management.


Impressions, sometimes abbreviated to 'impr', refer to how many times your ad is shown. Each time your PPC ad shows up on Google, this counts as one impression. Google defines impressions here.


When someone clicks your ad, that counts as one click. Read more about what clicks can tell you here.


CTR is an abbreviation of click-through-rate, a ratio which shows how many people that see your ads actually click on it. A higher CTR means your ad is doing what it's supposed to. More about CTRs here.


Short for cost-per-click, CPC bidding is when you pay for each click on your ad. You'll set a maximum CPC - the maximum amount you're willing to pay for a click on your ad. More about CPC here.


CPA, or cost-per-action or acquisition, refers to the average amount you've spent per conversion on your ad. This could be the cost per sale, or cost per contact, or whatever it is you want users to do when they click through to your ad.


Your bid is the most you're willing to pay per click on your ad.


This is short for Return on Ad Spend, and it's one of the most important paid advertising metrics to pay attention to. You can calculate your ad spend by comparing the revenue generated by your ad campaign to the cost of the campaign.

Search Impr. Share

This is short for 'search impression share'. Your ad's impression share is the number of impressions your ad has received divided by the total number of impressions your ads was eligible for, while search impression share means the impression share generated only via the Search Network. Read more on impression share here.

Search Top IS

Referring to search top impression share, this is the impressions your ad has received in the top locations - above organic search results - compared to the impressions it was eligible to receive in the top locations.

Search Abs. top IS

Short for search absolute top impression share, this is the number of impressions you've received in the absolute top location - the very first ad on the page - compared to those your ad could have received in the absolute top location. You can learn more about top and absolute top metrics here.

Bid strategy

When you start a PPC ad campaign, you can choose a bid strategy for your campaign. Different bid strategies are tailored to other goals, whether it's increasing clicks, impressions, or conversions.

If you've read this far, congratulations: you're now on your way to becoming a budding PPC expert. There's a lot still to learn, but once you know your CPCs from your CPAs, you're halfway there.

Stacey Pledge

About Stacey Pledge

I'm a PPC Specialist helping clients across the UK, Europe and the US get the best from their pay-per-click campaigns and reach their business goals.

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