Online Advertising Answers: March 2022

A warm welcome to the March edition of Online Advertising Answers. Each month I look at all the questions I’ve been asked about digital marketing on Quora, Reddit, or by email and I share with you some of my favourites.

This month I discuss how Ad Agencies advertise themselves (it’s oddly complicated), the relationship between CTR and CPC (it’s oddly simple), and the SEO implications of moving pages (it’s risky).

Keep asking questions, and I’ll keep sharing them!

Let’s dig in.


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This month’s questions are:

[Click these links to skip down to the question]


Online Advertising Answers



Q: “How does an Ad agency advertise itself?


A: “Hi Thomas,

The term “Advertising Agency” covers a lot of different types of companies – from creative agencies, to strategists, to sales houses, to creative studios (and more). However, there are a lot of similarities in how they advertise themselves. This is mostly because of 2 things:

  1. They are B2B companies meaning that they are interested in targeting other businesses.
  2. They are full of people who think they know everything about advertising, making a marketing person at any advertising companies job pretty untenable.

Because of the second fact, most advertising companies won’t run the same sort of ads that they sell/create/whatever for other companies. The phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” really applies here – it’s very difficult to have the strong vision and objectives that good advertising needs when everyone you work with thinks they know better.

Also because of this reason, you often find that Ad Agencies have surprisingly bad websites despite being excellent at creative work for their clients.

You mostly won’t see any of this as advertising companies are B2B organisations, meaning they generally won’t advertise anywhere the general public will see.


Lead Gen

A standard B2B place to generate leads these days is LinkedIn – but in terms of advertising companies, that’s really mostly for small fry. If you have a limited marketing budget or are simply trying to get started, LinkedIn can be an amazing place to find business leads.

You can connect with people in your industry or with a similar role to you and message them, or you can advertise and directly target people with the job titles you are looking to hit and get leads that way.

Larger companies may use LinkedIn for inbound marketing, via their creative directors (or similar) becoming LinkedIn Influencers. When enough people hang on your every word, it’s easier to get business to come to you.


Industry Publications

If you can’t get into industry publications for free (see below), you can always advertise in them. Companies that need Ad Agencies will often have an in-house marketing person/team, and they’ll read about marketing news.

You can either get in touch with these sites directly for advertorial or partnership opportunities (or sometimes directory listings). Or else you can run banner advertising on them through an ad network.

Many will be available through Google Ads – but if you can’t target them there you can always get in touch and ask how to run ads on their site. They’ll almost certainly tell you their ad network.


Network Marketing

For mid-to-large-sized advertising companies, it’s all about connections. People who work in advertising go to conventions, meet people and exchange business cards. There will often be lavish afterparties thrown by the bigger organisations too, where large swaths of the industry will drink together.

These parties create work friendships, and that is how the majority of deals are done. In advertising, it really is “who you know” not what you know that gets you ahead.

The sheer number of deals that are done between two people that don’t really know what they are talking about and are only talking to each other because they are frequently drunk together (on one of them’s expense accounts) is frankly terrifying. Especially as they siphon off a crazy amount of money from the ad industry in the form of commission.

Please note I’m not recommending this tactic at all. I’m just explaining that it is common practice.


Pitching for Business

Large publishers will often issue an RFP – Request for Proposal. This means that they are interested in hiring an agency and are making that fact public. An RFP will explain what the organisation wants the agency to do (and for how much money). Agencies who are interested will put together a pitch.

These can take any format but is generally decided by the organisation which issued the RFP. They will ask for specific information in a specific format.

Of course, as ad agencies are filled with creative people, they will often do something outside the box to try and get noticed.

Regardless in most cases, this will be a multi-stage process. Firstly a written submission, followed by an intro call and then a presentation. Each stage will whittle down potential agencies, with only a few being asked to give a presentation.



One of the best, but possibly most difficult ways for an ad agency to market itself is through PR. This means getting positive coverage of your agency in places your potential clients might read.

This can happen in many ways, but the most common are:

  • Case studies. A good case study with stats and quotes and charts can make it into many publications.
  • Press Releases. If you have something to say about a new development you can put it out through a service like PR Newswire, and a publication might pick it up.
  • Awards. There are endless award ceremonies for ad agencies out there. Winning one (again – via submitting a case study) will get you positive coverage and something to say on your website.
  • Digital PR. This is more or less SEO – getting links and mentions of you around the web and turning up on relevant searches.

You’ll need a PR professional to undertake these activities as it is a specialist skill.

It should be noted that PR isn’t advertising – meaning that people at ad agencies will have fewer opinions on it! This is one reason why it is so effective for ad agencies.


Word of Mouth

The most effective marketing method is and has always been word of mouth. Personal recommendations will get you further than any ad campaign.

This more or less means doing a good job for your clients! It also, again, means collecting case studies to put on your site, for a sort of secondary word of mouth recommendation (also known as social proof).

This is all really general of course, but I hope it helps.




[This originally appeared on Quora]



Q: “What’s the relationship between CPC and CTR?


A: “The relationship between CPC and CTR is generally that the higher the CPC you pay, the higher the CTR you will receive. This is because not all clicks are created equal.


Low-quality clicks

Low-quality clicks are cheap, and yes there are a lot of them available but they are coming from people who will click on just about anything.

When a user who is click-happy is served ads by an ad network, they will be shown a lot of ads with a low CPC. They are likely to click on an ad but not necessarily yours. And crucially, they are unlikely to do anything after clicking (such as make a purchase).

So that means that advertisers who are buying ads on a CPA basis (or any conversion-based bidding) will not be bidding for their clicks. This drives the price down.

This creates a situation where you get a low CPC (because of low competition), but also a low CTR (because of low interest).


High-quality clicks

High-quality clicks on the other hand, will have a lot of competition because they are very likely to convert after clicking.

As ad networks will roughly know which people are likely to convert, they’ll enter advertisers looking to buy conversion into the auction and therefore drive up demand.

And as these people are likely to convert – they are also likely to click, getting you a high CTR to go with your high CPC.


Mathematical Relationships between CTR and CPC

These are only really useful if you don’t know the number of clicks an ad has served, but just in case that is what you were looking for…


CTR Formula or Click Through Rate EquationClick to enlarge

CTR = Clicks ÷ Impressions


CPC Formula or Cost Per Click EquationClick to enlarge

CPC = Cost ÷ Clicks


If you rearrange the CTR formula to focus on clicks you get:

Clicks = CTR x impressions

Which you can substitute into the CPC formula to get:

CPC = Cost ÷ (CTR x Impressions)


Similarly, if you rearrange the CPC formula to focus on clicks you get:

Clicks = Cost ÷ CPC

Which you can substitute into the CTR formula to get:

CTR = (Cost ÷ CPC) ÷ Impressions

Which can be simplified to:

CTR = Cost ÷ (CPC x Impressions)

[You could of course have also got this by rearranging the CTR into the CPC substitution]


[This originally appeared on Quora]




Q: “Are there any SEO implications to renaming sections?”


A: “Hi Paul,

There are SEO implications to renaming sections yes. You shouldn’t do it unless you really have to as it has the potential to break things!

When you rename a section you are essentially generating new pages with new URLs. This means Google (et al) will have to find them and index them again. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but if you have other pages that you want search engines to find and index they could get in the way.

Google only gives sites a limited “crawl budget” – ie the number of pages it is willing to find and index each month. By moving stuff around you could be using up a chunk of yours that could be better spent elsewhere.

To minimise issues, you should make sure every page you move is 301 redirected to the new URL it lives under. This will make sure all existing links to the pages in this section still work. It will also mean that Google finds the new URLs faster.

Then ideally, all the links to those pages within your site would be updated. This is because redirect chains are very slightly worse for SEO. They are also slightly worse for users, as they take longer to load. On top of that, by fixing all your internal links you are future-proofing yourself a bit – what happens if you move the pages again? You don’t want to keep redirecting people endlessly!

You can find broken links or redirected links on your site easily by using a tool like Screaming Frog.

However, even redirecting perfectly might result in a small amount of lost link equity. While Google have said that 30x redirects no longer reduce Page Rank studies have shown about a 3% loss in link equity (which isn’t exactly a fully defined thing, so basically a potential small loss in search traffic).

Other things to keep in mind when moving pages:

  • Reporting history. Make sure you make note of changes to your site structure in your analytics platform. It can be really annoying to write a report on a website only to not be able to find pages past a certain date.
  • Cookie deployment. If you are using Tag Manager then your cookie deployment could be URL dependent. Make sure to update it.
  • Links in Menus. Easy to overlook, but when moving pages make sure your menu works perfectly with the new URLs.
  • Ads. If you are advertising any of the moved pages, make sure to update them.
  • Random weird stuff. Moving pages on your site can create all sorts of unexpected issues. Look closely at every single page you’ve moved after the move to make sure everything is ok.




[This question came in via email]



See you next month,