Pay-per-click channels are a great way to reach new shoppers and drive sales on your web store. Marketplaces allow you to leverage built-in audiences and marketing programs to sell within their platforms.

Each strategy has its own unique benefits. Each has its own unique complexities too. What strategies you choose will depend on your business' needs and your team’s bandwidth.

Will you use the pay-per-click advertising method to drive shoppers to your store from channels like Google, Facebook, and Bing? Or will you set up shop on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart? If your business has the capacity, a hybrid model will maximize your reach.

Read on to learn more about implementing a PPC and marketplace strategy for your business. 

Pay per click

pay per click ads for ecommerce

As the name implies, the PPC model relies on the traditional cost-per-click advertising structure. You pay when the channel's user clicks on your ad. 

Channels like Google Shopping and Facebook Dynamic Product Ads use this method. Here’s how it works.

You submit your store’s product catalog to the channel. This is usually done via feed management platform, API, or spreadsheet. The channel uses your “feed” to surface your products’ information to users who search for products like yours or to users whom the channel identifies as a potential shopper. 

Shoppers see the title, image, description, and price of your product in the product listing ad (PLA) and, if they click on it, they are sent to your store to complete the purchase.

Winning on PPC channels depends on three factors:

  1. Budget
  2. Bid
  3. Data 

There’s no getting around it. Businesses with bigger advertising budgets will get more reach on PPC channels than those with smaller budgets. Some channels use an algorithm to calculate how many times they can show your ads within budget. The channel measures your “clickability” based on metrics history (click-through rate, impression share, etc.) and product data completeness. 

Your bid strategy will vary per channel. Some channels allow you to set a maximum threshold for clicks and impressions. Some channels have automated strategies designed to maximize conversions, clicks, or return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Then of course there’s the question of how much you’re willing to pay for each click. PPC channels have sophisticated algorithms that compare your bid and your competitors’ bids to determine what ads to show. 

A common misconception is that the highest bidder will always be chosen to appear. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Google, for example, uses a quality score metric to determine ad rank. Quality score looks at your bid in conjunction with your product data quality. That’s why product feed optimization is so important.

PPC channels reference the data in your feed – product title, description, GTIN, category, etc. – when trying to return search results. It matches the information in your feed to the user’s search query. Product feed optimization doesn’t just make your ads better. It also improves your chances of matching up to qualified searches.

Popular PPC channels for ecommerce

  • Google Shopping
  • Facebook Dynamic Product Ads
  • Microsoft Shopping Campaigns
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat


marketplace marketing

Marketplaces are closed ecosystems. Shoppers search, browse, research, compare, and purchase inside the marketplace’s website or mobile app. Shoppers never visit your store. 

Instead of charging you when a shopper clicks on your product listing, marketplaces charge a fee on the sale. No sale, no fee. 

Fees vary by marketplace and category but they are usually between 5% and 15%.

For years, the third-party seller marketplace space was dominated by Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. But new rollouts from Google (Buy on Google) and Facebook (Facebook Shops, Shops on Instagram) are changing that.

On marketplaces, user experience is key. Here’s what you can do to improve your chances of winning on marketplaces:

Optimize product listings

The first step in making the sale is getting your listing to show up when a shopper searches for your product or products like it. The higher on the first page, the better.

No duh, right? But how?

Optimize your product listings to give shoppers a virtual showroom experience. The benefit here is twofold:

  1. Optimized listings leave fewer questions unanswered, reducing objections to purchase
  2. Listings with more information give the marketplace's algorithm more data points to reference

To optimize your marketplace listings, use quality relevant keywords whenever possible, especially in core fields, product description fields, and search-related fields. These will vary depending on the marketplace and the categories you sell, but here are some Amazon attribute examples:

  • Product Description
  • Key Product Features
  • Search Terms
  • Intended Use
  • Intended Use
  • Target Audience
  • Other Attributes

Even if your products appear on the first page (but especially if they don’t), you can still get in front of shoppers who are actively looking for products like yours.

Marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay all show a “similar products” section below the main product listing. This is important real estate. To get into the compare box, be sure to provide as much product detail as possible. Doing so will help the marketplace index your products alongside others like it. These attributes will vary depending on the marketplace and the categories you sell, but here are some Amazon attribute examples:

  • ASIN
  • Product ID/GCID/UPC/EAN
  • Brand Name
  • Manufacturer
  • Flavor
  • Scent Name

Leverage fulfillment 

Sure, you can pack, ship, and track marketplace orders on your own. But why would you when programs like Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) and Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS) come with so many benefits?

Fast shipping. Built-in order tracking. Access to additional listing information and features. Customer service handled by the marketplace. The list goes on. But maybe the most important benefit of all – as it relates to winning the sale, at least – is the trust factor that comes with a badge like Prime on Amazon and 2-Day Shipping on Walmart.

Popular marketplaces

  • Amazon
  • Buy on Google
  • Facebook Shops
  • Walmart
  • eBay