PPC, SEO, CTR – it seems like every day there’s a new digital acronym to learn, and SEM falls into this category. Marketers have used it for years with different interpretations depending on whom you spoke to. However, it now seems to have found a consistent definition, and you may be surprised to realize you already know more about it than you think.

What is SEM?

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. Not so long ago, the term was a catch-all for every channel that utilized search engines, including search engine optimization (SEO) and social marketing. Today, however, its meaning is clear: SEM is a paid search channel. In fact, you may know it as pay-per-click (PPC) or paid search ads. Is it the same as SEO? No. The two work closely together, but search engine marketing is more deliberate and you control what you do and when. You purchase a search term media placement and can choose whether you’re always-on or appear only on certain days or a specific time of day, whereas SEO involves intelligently managing the content on your website.

How is SEM Measured?

Understanding how SEM is measured explains how you can purchase your search placements.  Marketers can measure and buy media space in several ways. These include cost per thousand people reached (CPM – don’t be confused by the M, it stands for mille, which is Latin for thousand); cost per click (CPC), which is how much it costs each time someone clicks on your placement; and, click-through rate (CTR), which measures how many people click on your advert compared to how many people saw it. Impressions are another, less frequent, measurement. It tells you how many people viewed the page your advert was on, but this doesn’t always mean they noticed your placement, so it can be misleading.

Why Should You Practice SEM?

SEM does more than merely get people to click on your adverts. It helps to increase brand awareness and engagement, drives sales, helps reach your target audience at the right time and in the right places, and gives you a competitive advantage. It’s also extremely cost-efficient, often working out to be cheaper than most other advertising channels.

If you haven’t already done so, reach out to a specialist team to make SEM a core part of your marketing strategy. If it already is, continue to optimize and use it as efficiently as you can.