James Marshall Head of Product How PPC Changed The Internet We’re going to discuss how PPC changed the internet for the better. Back in the early 1990’s when the internet was in its infancy there was no easy way to navigate the world wide web. Early methods of navigation consisted of things like Web Rings where similar sites provided links to each other; or the “Portal Wars” era where the then big players like MSN and GeoCities allowed users to create simplified pages that were only accessible through their umbrella network (we lost a lot of good men in the Portal Wars). Luckily, the internet didn’t continue down this path of forcibly restricted access and instead evolved around the search engine instead. Now if you’re reading this you probably don’t need me to tell you what Google is (type “what is google?” into Google if you’re not sure) but in all but a few of the more restrictive countries in the world they are the most commonly used search engine by a country mile. Google acheived this by simply removing ads and clutter from their homepage and search results and providing users with the easiest possible means of getting to where they want to go. Once they were an established provider their popularity snowballed, webmasters realised that their sites needed to be ranking on Google and they effectively took control of the internet. With their monopoly over the internet and an increasing number of websites being created, it was only a matter of time before people would be able to pay to rank higher on their respective search results page to encourage more users to their own websites and drive their own businesses. The introduction of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising meant that a person/company could exchange money for their website to appear under certain search results or as ads on certain web pages which suddenly meant there was a way for a new website to come along and buy their way to the top. With the Google monopoly already well in place, this created a perfect storm for Google as if you want to be seen on the internet you basically have to be prepared to hand over some money. In fairness to Google, their search engine provides what is arguably the best service as well as plenty of tools and programs such as Google Drive and Analytics that are only free because of the money that comes in from their advertising revenue. So although it’s easy to point the finger, the fact is that all Google have done is provide a means other than SEO (search engine optimisation) to rank higher on their Page rankings. Where the area becomes a little greyer is that to rank organically (not via paid advertising) Google use a secret set of criteria that is never publicised to the wider world. Hints are dropped and the occasional big change is publicised but there is no guaranteed method to get to the top of a search results page other than paying a premium for it. Again however, this can also be seen as a positive influence in the world as working out means to improve SEO is an entire industry employing thousands of people that wouldn’t exist, if everyone knew exactly what they need to do to get to the top of Google (not to mention be virtually pointless). Ultimately, the introduction of PPC revolutionised the way we use the internet by enabling the mere act of finding a website to become monetised; something that in itself isn’t too surprising as more and more businesses are made and lost on the internet it was only a matter of time before the medium of advertising became the staple of the internet as it is in the wider world. This doesn’t however mean that this is the inevitable future of the internet; only time will tell whether another Internet Revolution or bursting .com bubble will change the fabric of the internet all over again.