With an ongoing coronavirus pandemic that no one could have predicted, it is fair to say that 2020 was not just a normal year and a fairly unpredictable one at that. With the hopes that 2021 will sail more smoothly, the same cannot be said for PPC marketing. In normal times, pay-per-click advertising can be difficult to predict. However, the trends of PPC marketing, set to take shape in 2021 can help us be prepared. Pay-per-click ads can be a great way to increase your reach and drive traffic to your website. With the ability to launch highly targeted PPC ad campaigns, you can also rely on pay-per-click ads to optimise your conversion rate and boost sales.
To maximise your success, however, you’ll want to ensure you’re using the latest tools and techniques to enhance the performance of your digital marketing strategies. With this in mind, take a look at the eight pay-per-click trends you’ll want to be ready for in 2021:
1. Pay-per-click as part of the buyer journey
Traditionally, marketers viewed PPC ads as triggering the buyer’s journey, but the evolution of tech has changed consumer behaviour. Now, we recognise that the buyer’s journey begins well before they click-through to your website via a pay-per-click ad. This makes each ad a central component of the buyer’s experience and emphasizes the importance of understanding your target audience.
Instead of brainstorming how your PPC ad campaigns can kick-start a buyer’s journey, focus on how they can continue to propel the user through your sales funnel. Identifying what your target audience is searching for and, therefore, what compels them to act. This will enable you to create compelling ad content that generates clicks and revenue. Therefore,the trend is anticipating that by looking at the buyer journey as a whole, your PPC campaigns will be more effective in boosting your conversion rate and sales.
2. Increased use of RSAs
Responsive search ads (RSA) have been increasingly important since their introduction in 2019. Experienced pay-per-click marketers won’t be surprised that they’re set to become a mainstay PPC trend of digital marketing in 2021. While some view RSAs as a time-efficient way of creating Google Ads, they aren’t popular with everyone.
The move towards artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning means that marketers can take a more hands-off approach, to a certain extent. It arguably limits the control that marketers have over their campaigns, particularly as Google is keeping more and more data under wraps. However, AI will only become more prevalent as time goes on, so expect to be using more RSAs as the year progresses, as this PPC trend is set to continue.
3. New and improved Smart Bidding
Google has been giving marketers the option to use automated bidding in pay-per-click campaigns for years, but the introduction of Smart Bidding heralded a new era of PPC automation. Since then, Smart Bidding has become even more powerful. You can now implement bid strategies based on machine learning, helping you to manage your budget and maximise returns. The option to bid manually for PPC ads will still be there. However, the potential to identify behaviour patterns and trends with Smart Bidding could be too tempting to resist.
4. Limited Access to Data
Access to comprehensive search data is one of the reasons why digital marketers are able to execute highly targeted ad campaigns. However, the increased legislation regarding data security and processing has curtailed the amount of data major companies are willing to share. Since the introduction of the GDPR, Google has scaled back the volume of data that’s available to PPC marketers. Of course, keeping their data hidden ensures they have the upper hand when it comes to releasing performance metrics too. Marketers will be more reliant on broad sweeps of information that Google chooses to release to execute their PPC campaigns. With the introduction of the iOS 14.4 update on Facebook, this will heavily impact reporting for PPC marketing on the Facebook platform. The data collected from Facebook Advertising campaigns for example, will not have the same lengthy reports of data for PPC marketers to analyse and adjust.
5. Free Shopping Ads
Until recently, venders were forced to pay if they wanted to put their listing on Google via Shopping Ads. However, the search engine has confirmed that free Shopping Ads are available to all businesses, worldwide. For ecommerce sites and retail businesses, this is a major change and trend to pick up and one which will have a long-term impact on their pay-per-click activity. By complementing PPC campaigns with free Shopping Ads, you can essentially increase conversions and sales without modifying your budget.
6. More Video Ads
Considering YouTube is owned by Google, it’s not surprising that the search engine has been keen to push the video ads trend in the past. Their strategy seems to have paid off, as video is now the best-performing digital content. Videos on YouTube alone receive more than a billion views every day, so it’s not surprising brands want to capitalise on this with PPC advertising. The growth of the platform TikTok in 2020 has also strengthened video content as the best performing digital content. With over 1 billion monthly active users (and steadily increasing), TikTok is here to stay because of it’s focus on video and the ever-increasing demand for video content. In 2021, PPC marketers can expect to see more a spike in demand for video content from businesses, as a huge trend for PPC. However getting exceptional results, all depends on the placement being right.
7. Audience segmentation
Successful marketing rarely adopts a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it’s important to understand the needs, wants and behaviours of various demographics and customer personas. Segmenting your audience into smaller, niche groups gives you the opportunity to target your PPC campaigns with an even higher degree of accuracy. As the segmentation trend continues, marketers will be differentiating between in-market audience and re-marketing audiences to create more effective campaigns.
8. Greater diversity in PPC ad campaigns
Many people view pay-per-click and Google Ads as interchangeable but, as digital marketers know, Google Ads are simply one way to use PPC ads. Although many businesses have been content to focus on Google Ads in relation to PPC campaigns, this could change.
As other platforms continue to release comprehensive, actionable data, both marketers and business owners are likely to look for additional advertising options in 2021. Google Ads will undoubtedly remain a critical element of pay-per-click campaigns. Nevertheless, greater diversity means you’ll be spending more time running campaigns on other platforms, including Microsoft, Amazon and social media. Facebook paid social advertising is by far the most popular platform today alongside Google. On Facebook you serve up adverts based on users interest and behaviours, allowing you to target your audience precisely. The easily navigated Facebook Ads platform makes it a popular choice among businesses and provides an alternative to Google when it comes to pay-per-click advertising.
What Does the Future Hold for PPC Advertising?
Pay-per-click advertising will continue to be an integral element of any digital marketing strategy. The landscape is changing, but the budget-friendly costs and highly targeted nature of PPC advertising means it will be around for a long time to come.
The availability of data will undoubtedly change the way marketers and brands approach their advertising. However, the increasing influence of AI and machine learning stands ready to replace it. As expected, the evolution of tech as a whole will be what sets the tone for pay-per-click advertising in 2021 and beyond. Nonetheless, if we remain on top of the latest pay-per-click trends and adapt to the changes, PPC marketing will continue to increase your reach and drive traffic to your website.