Marketers may not be getting the expected ROI from paid ad campaigns, according to a recent study.

Brands continue to spend more on paid ad campaigns in 2013, but those investments might not be driving the clicks and conversions they need to justify investments. Tech media company Sticky recently published an infographic revealing the sometimes-disappointing results from PPC ads.

According to its data, consumers see less than 23 percent of ads, which means 77 percent of all the digital content marketers purchase is rendered ineffective.

People don’t see PPC ads

More than half of all PPC ads are technically impossible to see, the report detailed. Paid content might be invisible because it doesn’t rank on the first page of SERPs (where 95 percent of all consumers click) or it’s too far below the fold to catch users’ eyes. If consumers can’t see the ads that marketers create, optimize and purchase, it seems unlikely those investments will pay off.

Consumers see less than 23 percent of ads.

It seems marketers are unaware that PPC success is slim because they continue funneling more dollars towards these efforts. An RKG report found that paid search spend increased 21 percent between Q3 2013 and Q3 2012.

Diversify to safeguard content ROI

Diversity is essential for search engine marketing ROI, and PPC campaigns can support organic SEO strategies fueled with custom content. However, it may be unwise for marketers to dedicate the lion’s share of their budgets to paid ad campaigns with the intention of buying their way into search results. If we’re to assume Google is steadfast in its commitment to providing users with only the most relevant search results, an approach like this wouldn’t work regardless.

Paid search spend increased 21 percent between Q3 2013 and Q3 2012.

In fact, the search engine is throwing brand marketers another curve ball. Google just updated its AdWords ranking algorithm so that it will now consider Ad Extensions and formats (links to websites, call-to-click commands and business addresses) alongside quality scores and CPC bids. This is perhaps a move to accommodate mobile search, as smartphone users generally want easy access to contact data for immediate action, and it means marketers will need to adjust their paid brand content accordingly.

Organic content marketing campaigns are not impacted by this update, and brands publishing high-quality digital resources will continue to appear in results pages for relevant searches. Successful marketers already reap the benefits of taking a balanced approach, putting their eggs in multiple digital baskets, including paid and organic search, social marketing and video content.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.