Who are the most aggressive PPC advertisers in the US

PPC stands for ‘pay per click‘. Companies can sponsor their products to appear whenever someone searches a keyword. Each time a customer clicks on an advert that is sponsored, the company has to pay a small fee to Google. PPC advertising is used by thousands of companies around the world to promote their products and services. PPC ads can also promote brand awareness by pushing the company’s products to the top (or bottom) of the search engine. This potentially results in more sales and profits.

The main PPC platforms are Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. The goal of PPC advertising is for the customer to spend more money on their website than the PPC ad cost to run. For example, if it costs the company $2 every time someone clicks on their ad, but the visitor spends $200 on products, the company has made a sizeable profit.

Lots of big companies see PPC as a necessary advertising strategy to increase sales and exposure. In 2020, Google made $147 billion from Google Ads. This was approximately 80% of Google’s total revenue for the year.

There are various factors that contribute to the placing of a company’s advert on a search engine. These include the quality of the advert, the price of the bid (the maximum amount a company is willing to pay for an ad click) and the context of the search. The most popular ads will cost a company more in PPC payouts, but they should also repay them in customer purchases from the website. The most profitable positioning for PPC campaigns are the headline search ads.

Who are the most aggressive PPC advertisers in the US?

Click Fraud specialists PPC Shield conducted research using SEM Rush to calculate who the most aggressive PPC (pay per click) advertisers are in the US. The results were based on the estimated amount that each company pay to have their products and services boosted to the top of the search results. The ad campaigns have been hosted by Google Ads.

PPC campaigns can work out quite expensive, especially if it is a competitive keyword, which is why the biggest international companies tend to invest the most. The majority of the businesses featured in this article are global e-commerce or technology businesses.

Continue reading to see which company’s have invested the most in their PPC campaign.


Amazon is a global giant that has dominated e-commerce for many years. Since its modest beginnings in 1994, it has become the world’s largest online marketplace. Amazon is one of the ‘Big Five’ tech companies in the US, which also includes Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google. It will come as no surprise that Amazon has spent the most on PPC in recent months.

In June 2021, it was estimated that $22,357,853 was spent on Amazon’s PPC strategy. One of their most expensive PPC investments was on searches for candle and fragrance shop, Scentsy. Amazon spent over $600,000 on the keyword ‘Scentsy’ to increase traffic to their own website.

Pharmaceutical terms also appeared highly on Amazon’s PPC costs. Keywords such as ‘pharmacy’, ‘express scripts’ and certain medications such as ‘amoxicillin’ and ‘metronidazole’ amassed lots of clicks.

It’s worth noting that Amazon sponsored keywords that featured the name of their competitors. This could drive potential customers away from the website they were originally going to visit and bring them to Amazon instead.

Not only does Amazon participate in PPC campaigns on Google, but they also run PPC ads for their own website. Amazon sellers can set up PPC for their accounts. It comes in three different forms: Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Display Ads. The average cost of each click is $0.77, although this can vary depending on the price or quality of the product.


Apple is another member of the Big Five tech companies in the US. Apple is the largest technology company in the world, based on revenue. Although Apple didn’t spend the same dizzying amounts as Amazon did, they still invested an estimated $3,794,000 on PPC ads in June 2021.

At the top of the list of relevant keywords was ‘iPhone 12’. The company spent an estimate of $651,000 to make sure their newest iPhone product appeared at the top of search engines. Also featuring highly were the keywords ‘apple’, ‘apple store’ and ‘iPhone 11’.

Similarly to Amazon, Apple has also seen the benefits of using PPC ads and has created its own: Apple Search Ads. This enables apps to appear in a prominent place on the Apple App Store. The ads encourage users to download the sponsored apps.


eBay is a multinational e-commerce corporation that had a revenue of $10.27 billion in 2020. It operates in 180 countries with an online auction feature, ‘Buy It Now’ shopping and multi-user selling accounts.

At the top of eBay’s PPC costs was the keyword ‘eBay’. It drew traffic of 1,748,400 users wanting to find the company’s website. The advert cost eBay an (estimated) whopping $681,900 for all of the clicks it accumulated.

The next most expensive keyword was ‘pawnshop’, which cost $118,000. eBay also paid high amounts on PPC ads for brands such as Converse and Nike. The keyword ‘Converse’, cost eBay about $58,300, whilst ‘Nike’ cost around $51,700.

eBay was relatively late to the PPC game. An article published by Harvard Business Review in 2013 found that bosses at eBay were reluctant to engage with PPC. eBay were concerned that the ads didn’t bring in enough sales and they couldn’t make enough profit on sales to make the ads worthwhile. They’ve clearly worked out a better balance since then, as eBay ranks in third place in this list.

Not only are companies concerned about poor sales, but click fraud on PPC ads can also cause problems. Cybercriminals disrupt the accuracy of campaign data, with bots giving fake clicks to ads. With click fraud accounting for as much as 20% of a PPC budget, this can result in a massive loss to companies’ PPC budget.

In 2020, the University of Baltimore found that $1.5 billion was lost in the e-commerce sector. However, with PPC filter software, Google ads are protected from bots and fraudulent clicks. They use algorithm software to detect and block fraudsters from viewing and clicking on sponsored ads. This helps companies save money on their PPC budget and spend it on real customers.


Walmart is a retail corporation that operates on an international scale. Since its inception in 1962, Walmart has grown to become the world’s largest company, based on revenue. The company has over 10,500 stores in 24 countries and has an advanced advertising strategy online through its PPC ads.

In June 2021, it was estimated that Walmart spent over $4,500,000 on their PPC campaigns. Topping the list for Walmart’s keyword search expenses is the term ‘Instacart’. Walmart has partnered with delivery service Instacart to provide grocery delivery and pick-up services. It cost Walmart an estimated $627,200 so that their ad appears whenever Instacart appears in a keyword search.

As with Amazon, pharmaceutical terms appear frequently in Walmart’s advertising campaigns. Search terms such as ‘pharmacy near me’ brought in high volumes of traffic and were estimated to cost around $277,100 in its PPC campaign. ‘rite aid’ also featured as frequent search terms and cost Walmart $209,500, alongside ‘Walmart pharmacy’ costing around $182,900.

Home Depot

The Home Depot Inc, otherwise known as Home Depot, is a home improvement company founded in 1978. It is the largest DIY retailer in the US, with over 2,200 stores. In terms of their expenses on PPC advertising, Home Depot spent approximately $3,298,200 in June 2021.

Although they didn’t spend as much on Google ads as some of the previously mentioned companies, Home Depot still invests considerable amounts on marketing strategies. Relevant keywords such as ‘home depot’ and ‘home depot near me’ show the highest ad spend. It was estimated that ‘home depot’ cost the company $128,300 and ‘home depot near me’ cost slightly less at around $42,500.

Best Buy

Best Buy is a consumer electronics company. With just over 1,000 stores worldwide, Best Buy has the smallest physical store presence on this list. According to their website, Best Buy attracts around 1.5 billion customers each year.

In June 2021, it was estimated that Best Buy invested $117,000 on the keyword ‘best buy’. The company also spent about $79,600 on the term ‘PlayStation 5’ and $29,600 on ‘Best Buy near me’.

Although most PPC campaigns are focused on driving traffic to the companies’ websites, sometimes companies can find that they are attracting lots of clicks that aren’t necessarily improving their profits. To help keep search results relevant, companies can choose to exclude their products from searches featuring related keywords. They can do this by applying negative keywords to their PPC campaigns. This will block a company’s PPC ads from showing amongst Google’s headline search ads.

PPC campaigns have proven to be very popular with big companies all around the world. We hope you enjoyed reading this comprehensive list of the most aggressive PPC advertisers in the US.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.