Intent Is The Key Digital Advertising Concept

Understanding Intent Is Critical

If you don’t understand what intent means, you won’t be successful in digital advertising. It’s the starting point. The spark that starts the fire called PPC and organic search. The light that saves you in a pitch dark cave. The way out and forward. Without intent you have nothing. No blinking Google search bar cursor. Nothing. No sales and no customer finding what they need.

Intent is everything. Hence, understanding intent increases the chance the searcher ends up on your website landing page. Trying to get as much advertising exposure as possible is the quantity approach. It costs more, too. Targeting the intent of specific searches through the right keywords is the quality approach. This approach usually costs less and leads to higher profit and ROI.



The concept has existed for centuries. It may seem like a simple word but it has great depth of meaning and application. It’s almost as if the usage of intent was growing and learning and building for centuries and then, boom, search engines and the internet came along. It was the perfect fit of both concept and technology. Let’s explore the concept then give it some simple application.

The English concept of intent goes back to Latin and French origins. The online etymology dictionary defines the noun, intent, as follows: “purpose,” early 13c., from Old French entent, entente “goal, end, aim, purpose; attention, application,” and directly from Latin intentus “a stretching out,” in Late Latin “intention, purpose,” noun use of past participle of intendere “stretch out, lean toward, strain,” literally “to stretch out” (see intend). In law, “state of mind with respect to intelligent volition” (17c.).” ¹

High Commercial Intent

The above definition is the perfect fit for the search marketing, the internet, and digital advertising such as pay per click advertising. Think of a customer that needs a product or a service. Some of those customers are in the high commercial intent buy mindset. Their goal, aim, purpose and attention is focused on finding that product or service that will fulfill their need.

For example, a customer’s car radiator is leaking so they type in the search phrase “radiator repair shop.” In a sense, the blinking cursor is asking, “How can I help you?” They type in the keyword or words, hit enter, and then the search engines results page comes up with just that: results and listings about local shops to fix the bum radiator. The need was not just mere information. The intent lead them to an internet search and a purchase, and a solution to their problem. The end game was that something needed fixing. The purpose is fixing my car and I’m ready to pay for it.

All Of Life Is A Search

If you think about it, life is all a quest or a search. We search for the right friends, schools, jobs, partners, spouses, houses, doctors, places to eat, movies to watch, meaning in life, and the like. Both on the simple and practical, day-to-day level and on the life goal level. Short-term and long-term. We’re always searching. In a very real way, humans love the hunt. It might be practical and it might be digital or it might be both.

From The Search To The Site

Part of the goal within the goal should lead to your website. An aim, a search, the conversation inside our brains then leads to a website with details on a product or service. Not just a mere information search but a a search for something tangible. It’s back to the leaking radiator discovery, picking up our phone, entering the search phrase, “radiator shops near me,” that then leads to either a website visit or a phone call directly to the shop. It’s the legal definition above that touches on this also. A state of mind, or conversation, that leads to a choice. The intent is the beginning process of the purchase.

Because the search involves something of high commercial intent, there’s close to a 65% chance you will click on the pay per click ad rather than just any organic link on the search results page. There are three types of searches or intent categories: Navigational, Informational, and Commercial:

  • Informational – searches performed to answer questions or learn something, such as “who is Thomas Edison.”
  • Navigational – searches performed to locate a specific website, such as “auto mechanic website.”
  • Transactional – searches performed to buy something, such as “buy trailer tires.” ²

Transactional intent relates to a “buy now” purpose, goal and mentality. Those are the most valuable because the potential website visitor in already in a purchase mode. They need a product or a service and not just information.

From Intent to Landing Page

So, when a well-written PPC ad targets a high purchase intent customer, the transactional keyword directs traffic to your website or business phone number.

Most of all, once you get the visitor to your site that needs to buy, a great landing page is critical. You can write the best digital ads in the world but if the landing page does not convert to a sale or action, then why advertise? Make sure your landing pages include:

  • A low attention ratio. One or two clear calls to action that can be measured.
  • A way to A/B test which landing page design work best.
  • Analytics tools that will measure those actions, such as Google Analytics or other custom tools like call tracking and the like.

If your company needs help turning intent into sales, feel free to contact Atkins Marketing Solutions.

By Stuart Atkins




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