As we approach 2024, it’s time to take a look at the upcoming trends in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing. With insights from industry experts and data from leading digital marketing platforms, we can anticipate the shifts that will shape the PPC landscape in the coming year.
Embracing AI in PPC
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly prevalent in PPC. AI can help marketers automate tasks, optimize campaigns, and generate insights. For example, AI can help create ad copy, bid strategies, keyword research, and audience segmentation.
As per the insights from the industry experts at Search Engine Journal, AI offers potential new tools in PPC, but it’s important to be aware of the limitations that can lead to pitfalls. For instance, AI can create biased or misleading ads, violate user privacy, or manipulate user behaviour.
Therefore, marketers need to embrace AI in PPC, but also be cautious and critical of its applications. They need to monitor the performance and outcomes of AI-based campaigns, and ensure that they align with their goals and values.
New developments are coming fast in the world of AI, along with inflation in CPC budgets, and new shifts in user engagement. This means it’s a great time to pivot. If you can lean into these changes, and do it sooner and better, there’s a lot of opportunity.
Focus on Efficiency Amid Economic Slowdown
With the economy struggling, there’s a heightened focus on efficiency in PPC marketing. As Anthony Tedesco from Search Engine Land suggests, digital marketers are feeling the impact with tightening budgets and leaner teams.
This means that PPC marketers need to find ways to maximize the return on investment (ROI) of their campaigns, and eliminate any waste or inefficiency. They need to measure and analyze the key performance indicators (KPIs) of their campaigns. They also need to optimize their campaigns for quality and relevance, such as improving the landing page experience, targeting the right keywords and audiences, and using ad extensions and features. This fall we set up a new Google Ads strategy for an emerging mattress retailer in B.C. Their campaign objective was to drive leads to their locations and ecommerce. With this in mind, we evaluated the right keywords and audiences for their campaign, mainly focused in Squamish, Whistler and Powell River. To maximize the visibility of their brand, we set up a Google Merchant Feed, location extensions (through Google My Business), phone extensions and other ad assets. The campaign has increased brand awareness and after establishing a baseline for conversions, we have seen an increase of 6% month over month. As shoppers become aware that there is a local alternative that provides high quality products for a lower cost than big box stores and can deliver with white glove service within a short time after purchase.
Balancing Automation and Autonomy
The debate between automation and autonomy in PPC marketing has intensified. With the rise of Performance Max campaigns, the revamped broad match, and the deprecation of Expanded Text Ads in favor of Responsive Search Ads, it’s crucial to find the right balance.
Performance Max campaigns are a new type of Google Ads campaign that use machine learning to automatically optimize the ad delivery across Google’s inventory, such as Search, Display, YouTube, and Gmail. They only require campaign goals, audience, budget, and assets. However, they also offer limited control and visibility over the campaign settings and performance. This campaign type can be a great complement to a more traditional search campaign, as it targets users that may be in the market for your product but have not shown a clear transactional intent. Also, if the user’s search query is identical to an eligible search keyword in a search campaign, this will be prioritized over Performance Max.
Consider another one of our clients, a national ecommerce retailer as a great example. For this client, we leveraged Performance Max campaigns which produced very positive ROI. By tapping into the expanded targeting of audiences with affinity for DIY home improvement, home decor, furniture painting tutorials. Performance Max played a pivotal role in retargeting, keeping them top of mind for prospective and existing customers alike, leading to additional conversions.
The revamped broad match is a new version of the broad match keyword type that uses Google’s understanding of the user intent and context to match the ads with relevant queries. It can help advertisers reach more potential customers and drive more conversions. However, it may also result in irrelevant or low-quality traffic, and increase the cost and complexity of the campaign management. Knowing this, we apply broad matches to non-brand keywords and monitor how Google matches these keywords to search queries. Any non-relevant matches are excluded and relevant matches that show high click-through rates and/ or conversions are added to the campaign.
Leveraging this strategic approach, we built a new search campaign for a medical enhancement client, utilizing broad match for certain non-brand keywords. Within the first two weeks of the campaign this resulted in a conversion rate of 11.45%. The ads platform was given liberty to match ads with more broad search queries, while at the same time we closely managed the search terms, including or excluding search terms to optimize the budget and provide valuable feedback to the platform.
We need to balance automation and autonomy in PPC marketing, and choose the best option for their specific goals and situations. They need to leverage the benefits of automation, such as efficiency, scalability, and innovation, but also maintain some level of autonomy, such as creativity, strategy, and oversight.
The Rise of Holistic Strategies
Holistic strategies and cohesive messaging are becoming more important in the attention economy. As per the insights from Semrush, marketers need to improve the value of the click instead of trying to reduce the cost.
The Attention Economy is a term that describes the scarcity of human attention in the digital age, where users are constantly bombarded with information and stimuli. This means that marketers need to compete for the user’s attention, and deliver a meaningful and memorable experience. They need to create holistic strategies that align the ad message, the landing page, and the post-click actions, and provide a consistent and seamless user journey. They also need to use cohesive messaging that conveys the unique value proposition and the brand identity, and resonates with the user’s needs and emotions.
As we move into 2024, we will continue to pay close attention to how AI will continue to change search, whether its new tools to build or enhance campaigns, or how ad placements and matches are enhanced. As search behaviour continues to become more conversational, we will continue to balance the automation and human input to deliver effective and relevant ads.
Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.