Do you know about SEM and paid channels?

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Natalia De la Peña Frade

Tiempo de lectura

5 minutes


December 23, 2021


    Every day there are more digital marketing options available which utilize strategic messaging to gain more views and reach advertising goals. 

    You can run into problems when trying out your first ad campaign. The most important thing to remember is to set clear and attainable objectives, (reach a specific sales goal, get leads, increase retention rates, improve sales, etc.) and then select the marketing strategy with the capacity to get you to those expectations. 

    Paid channels are those in which we can invest a sum of money (whose amount varies based on bid strategy and channel selection) to allow us to reach our target audience through advertising campaigns (for our products and services).

    This post is going to discuss the most important tools and strategies needed to successfully start your first ad campaign using paid channels. 

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    SEM is the acronym for Search Engine Marketing, and unlike SEO (Search Engine Optimization) it encompasses every publicity campaign available through search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)

    The truth is that SEM (also known as PPC) attracts the most favorable user traffic and is therefore one of the most frequently used and important amongst all available marketing campaigns. It’s efficacy comes from the simplicity of setting up a new campaign and the quality of the views each campaign receives.

    When utilizing search engine marketing, there are two possible formats for results on the SERP  (Search Engine Result Page):

    • Organic Results: That is to say, these results appear naturally and not as a result of a direct payment. 
    • Sponsored Results: These are results that appear as a result of a contract with search engine platforms like Google Ads, Bing, etc.

    These search engine ads are commonly referred to as SEM 

    Diferencia entre SEO y SEM

    Differences between SEO and SEM

    Immediacy: SEM is great for receiving almost immediate results and can be set up in a matter of hours. In contrast, SEO requires a higher time commitment for return and constant analysis/revision, so it is better for medium to long-term campaigns.

    Cost: The SEM model works on the CPC (cost per click) plan so you only have to pay when a user interacts with the link in the published ad. Usually the SEO method does not calculate the cost based on the number of ad interactions. That doesn’t mean the SEO format is free, given that we will need to count on qualified manpower in order to reach the top of search result pages.  

    This type of paid channel specifically covers relevancy and “keywords”. Google defines these as “words or phrases which one uses to link ads to search results for users”. It is therefore extremely important to select relevant and effective keywords at the start of a new campaign. Using the right terms will allow us to reach the right audience at the best time to reach our goal (whether that be downloading an ebook, collecting user data, increasing purchases, etc.)

    When choosing keywords, remember that they need to match the words users select when searching for a relevant result. If you stop and think about it, very few people actually type a url into the search bar and instead use a couple of “keywords” to find the desired page.

    Where can these be utilized?

    This type of publicizing can be done within any search campaign (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex etc.), however, Google will surpass the others in efficacy because so many people use it (88% of users in the US). 

    Principales buscadores web

    What are the key advantages of SEM?

    First off, this method returns higher quality traffic for advertisers since it factors the users search intent into deciding the target audience. These aren’t announcements which negatively impact searches with annoying videos or banners. They rely on the user’s search/query to provide publicity.

    Secondly this strategy usually is paid for entirely with CPC. This means companies assume very little risk because they only have to pay for results (clicks on their ad). This strategy also allows for the creation and adjusting of a daily budget which controls the total spent on each campaign. 

    The Disadvantages:

    • Search Volume: The campaign will not reach the target audience if the selected keywords are not used in a large volume of searches. 
    • Competition: Due to large amounts of competition in most ad sectors, keyword prices are often high.
    • Tracking: If you want to optimize your campaign, it will require continued monitoring and adjustments. To do this, you’ll need to assign people with mid-to-high technical knowledge to the project of analyzing and executing the actions necessary for the campaign to be most successful.


    This is a public online format where announcements (normally banners with a combination of images and texts) appear throughout the pages a user navigates when using a search engine.

    This is an effective strategy to use when a company is trying to increase brand awareness amongst a broad set of users. Therefore, the company needs to remember it is appealing to prospective new clientele who will respond better to brand values than to a push for purchase. 

    A very interesting option within the “display” strategy is remarketing. With remarketing, you attempt to impact users who in one way or another have already interacted with the company (by visiting the website, leaving a product in the cart etc.). The advantage is the ability to impact users with more personalized messages which can’t be achieved as well on a public platform.

    Social Ads

    Like its name suggests, this format works through social media. The most important platforms are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Tik Tok, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. While these are the most popular networks in the U.S. and many other countries, it is important to know your audience. For example in Russia and China there are other popular networks to keep in mind (including Wechat & VKontakte).

    This way of hiring ad services has the advantage of allowing us to show our value to users in different stages of the funnel; from the first time they hear about us to the moment they become fans, we’ll be able to show them content and messages adapted to their stage. This makes social ads a great channel for branding, creating community, increasing conversion and getting others to recommend us.

    One of the fastest growing features in this type of ad service is that of “Lookalike Audiences”, which allows us to find users that are somehow similar to those we already have in our database. This helps us to launch a campaign directed at those who behave in a way similar to those who have purchased our products in the past. 

    Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate Marketing is a marketing strategy where a network of websites and blogs promote the products of an advertiser in exchange for a commission on each sale.

    There are 3 distinct players:

    • Brand: Who offers the product or service and makes it available to the affiliate.
    • Affiliate: Those who are responsible for promoting or recommending a brand with the goal of obtaining a commission for each conversion.
    • Platform: The network that connects brands or advertisers with affiliates. Here, important matters such as the commission amount for each sale, permitted channels and any restrictions the brand puts on the affiliate are defined.

    Influencer Marketing

    This marketing strategy is built upon the hiring of influential people for a publicity campaign. It’s an effective strategy because it taps into the minds of users, who are generally more easily influenced by the people they know and admire.

    Keep in mind that influencers are recognized and trusted by their community, and brands have learned to harness the fame and charisma of certain people to help their value proposition reach audiences.

    These are only some of the paid channels which should be considered for a digital marketing strategy. Once we’ve launched our campaign, we’ll need to know how to measure and analyze its results in order to make the best decisions and make sure the campaign is a success.

    Picture of Natalia De la Peña Frade
    Natalia De la Peña Frade
    Content creator: I try to write things you like to read

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    3 Responses

    1. That was an amazing article about SEM, it helps me in understanding how SEM is important.

    2. Necesitas seguir un camino claro cuando gestionas tus campañas de marketing. Un enfoque sistemático paso a paso te permitirá seguir adelante con tus campañas sin tener que preocuparte de si has hecho suficiente investigación o tienes los recursos suficientes. Gestionando tus campañas de marketing desde el comienzo, sabrás exactamente qué necesidades tomarán lugar y cuándo.

      1. ¡Bien dicho, Mario! Es muy importante gestionar la estrategia de las campañas desde el principio.
        Que tengas un día genial.

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