So we got through the January that felt like 300 days, and we’ve just finished February so it seems like we’ve all settled into 2019 - that being said, I still keep accidentally writing 2018 in the top corner of my notebook on a daily basis.
But all that aside, what’s happening in the world of PPC this year? Last year we had a complete rebrand from Google AdWords to Google Ads, we had new expanded text ads, new bidding strategies & obviously enough changes to write a blog of its own but I’ve pulled together a list of 10 trends that PPC-ers should be watching out for in 2019.
1. machine learning, automation & ai causing a shift in Google.
Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI). It works from complex algorithms that feed data back into themselves which allows them to learn & improve. These algorithms can make decisions to carry out specific tasks based on the collected data in a more efficient way.
How can this help PPC though? Well within PPC there are many day-to-day mundane tasks that can be completed with a helping hand from AI & Machine Learning. Machine Learning can help improve CPC bids, campaign budgets, test & choose ad copy & complete ad scheduling tasks. These are all tasks that paid search executives are doing manually day-to-day.
Machine Learning takes this task, does it faster, & more efficiently than humans can which free’s up our time to be used elsewhere (on different PPC magic). Machine Learning, Automation & AI is an important tool for PPC marketers to use in 2019.
2. smart bidding.
Smart bidding is an automated bidding strategy that uses machine learning to optimise performance for conversions or conversion value in every auction. Some smart bidding strategies include; Target CPA, Target ROAS, Max Conversions, & Enhanced CPC. Smart Bidding strategies are going to grow throughout 2019 to take the scut away from the account managers. That’s not to say you shouldn’t keep a watchful eye over what it’s doing though.
Each strategy supports different marketing goals but depending on what you’re looking to achieve, they all have pros & cons. Smart bidding looks at search query level rather than keyword level which gives it the power to determine the users intent better and use that to predict the likelihood of a conversion. It also incorporates the users' historical behaviour to determine bids & leverages auction-time signals that may only be available to Google such as the browser being used, the language settings, the operation system & search query etc.
Smart bidding combines machine learning with factors like geolocation, time of day, ad creative, & user device to find the best conversion opportunity & best bid at each auction.
Does this mean that manual bidding is going to become a thing of the past? This means that marketers get more time to focus on the more creative areas of their work, like ad copy, strategies, and analytics.
3. responsive search ads.
Google’s latest & most flexible search ad format. Unlike the Expanded Text Ads where you provide 3 headlines & 2 descriptions to create 1 ad, with a Responsive Search Ad you can provide up to 15 headlines & 4 descriptions where Google then selects up to 3 headlines & 2 descriptions to show the user. Collectively they can be arranged in 43,680 different ways which means that Responsive Search Ads are an absolute gold mine for testing ad copy.
With everything you’ve provided, Google will automatically test different combinations & learn which performs best. Over time your RSAs will serve the best message to different searchers depending on the keyword they searched with, their device, & their past browsing behaviour. According to Google, using RSAs will lead to increased CTR.
I think as RSAs roll out of beta they’ll become more mainstream for many PPC marketers in 2019 & definitely a significant ad type for marketers to test & utilize.
4. 'exact' doesn't exactly mean exact anymore.
Google has updated its exact match algorithm to include close variants of keywords. For example, if I were to search for ‘luxury hotels in Bournemouth’ I would be triggering ads with the keyword of ‘5-star hotels in Bournemouth’.
As a result of this PPC marketers have less control over which queries their keywords match for in 2019 which shows how Google Ads is starting to care less about keywords and more about user behaviour & intent. This being said PPC marketers will now need to be ever more vigilant of their negative keywords, & search query reports.
While we don’t have much control on who our ads are shown to anymore we can still control who our ads aren’t shown to utilizing this power effectively will be our last means of manual control before machine learning & AI takes over all of our traditional tasks.
5. cross-device attribution & multi-channel advertising.
Where users constantly switch from channel to channel, they’re also using multiple devices. With YouTube being increasingly integrated on TV sets, advertising on YouTube is now becoming what television ads dream of being.
PPC marketers need to focus on cross-device campaigns heading into the multi-device world.
Similarly, with multichannel PPC efforts, People are everywhere on the social scale. Personally, I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter & Snapchat - some with more than one account! Multiple platforms mean we need to drift away from just Google, Bing & Facebook advertising & go where we’re needed to target customers on these other platforms.
6. voice search.
People have been saying for years that voice search is a trend for the year, but it’s as applicable as ever this year. Smart homes, smart speakers, personal assistants, none of these existed a handful of years ago, now the smart speaker market is a battleground for tech giants.
Alongside their smart speakers, UK residents are buying into smart monitoring & security systems. More UK households have smart speakers than pet rabbits now with 62% of Brits already using or being happy using voice-operated devices for shopping, music, web searches & news.
While voice search is still finding its feet in the world of marketing, marketers are developing strategies to work in harmony with voice search. Like adapting online content so it reads with a more conversational tone.
Along with all these exciting voice search advances eventually will come new ad real estate like never before but don’t hold your breath on that happening in 2019!
The price of a click is set to grow going forward. To battle against high CPCs marketers will have to improve their CTRs by focusing on things like remarketing ads. Remarketing campaigns typically see higher CTRs & conversion rates.
With rising costs in search ads you may find that you’re spending too much on Google without good results, in which case it might be worth considering other lower-cost alternatives such as display advertising, remarketing or social media advertising.
8. audiences over keywords.
Now that the fire that was GDPR has been put out most businesses are at a point where they know what valid data is available to them. With this in the rearview mirror, we have GDPR compliant & more detailed customer data which can be aligned to the user in a more specific way making for more efficient campaigns. By gathering data and understanding the information that it provides you can refine & more accurately target previous users & customers.
I expect a shift in 2019 for more small businesses to dive into online advertising under a smaller budget & conversion led targets which means efficiency is their key to success.
9. the new click-share metric.
Google released some exciting news recently about their new metric! click-share. The click share metric is the clicks that you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated maximum number of clicks that you could have received.
Everyone gets excited about new shiny things and it’s not different with this new metric, I think people will be looking into their click-share up against their impression share a lot as Google rolls it out of beta in the next few months. Leveraging the new metrics we're being given is going to be just as important now as Google seems to be culling a lot of the traditional metrics we grew to love, especially as they're taking away some favourite metrics like Average Position.
10. recommendations & online reputations.
Maybe this one is a given, but maybe not so it’s sitting pretty at number 10 on my list of 2019 PPC trends. More and more users are using online reviews & ratings to evaluate whether they trust a business or not.
Brands would be wise to focus on their online reputation and what their customers think of them going into 2019.
Thanks for giving my predictions on PPC in 2019 a read, feel free to share any ideas you have for PPC in 2019 with us on social!