What does 2017 hold for PPC?
The world of digital marketing is ever-evolving. It pays to stay on top of any changes and if you can, get ahead. The world of PPC marketing changes rapidly, and you need to get your strategy right by taking a proactive, rather than reactive approach.
For example, if Google decides to change the way their search engine advertising works you’ll be far better off if you’ve planned for it in advance, rather than trying to react to the changes after they’ve happened.
So, it’s time for a bit of crystal-ball gazing. Here are our top tips on what the PPC trends will be for 2017.
1. Focus on Attribution
There’s a great debate in the digital marketing world at the moment about which attribution model is best. The general consensus is that last-click attribution (assigning all credit to the last click in a sales funnel) is a more effective metric than first-click or anything in between.
However, there are moves afoot to create a better picture of attribution, one that “attributes clicks ‘days, weeks, and even months’ before they actually ‘convert’ ” according to Jeffrey Baum, Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing, 2017.
Businesses are spending considerable amounts of money on PPC, and they want to be able to justify the expense by getting a clear picture of how well these clicks are converting to sales. They want to plan strategies that close the gap between clicks and sales. The best way to do this is to know where the clicks originated and how well each step in the sales funnel performed.
Therefore, attribution is sure to be a key focus in 2017. Google have recently updated Adwords to allow for more in-depth attribution modelling, and they’re likely to continue refining their systems over the course of the year.
2. Increasing Similarity of Search and Social Media
You wouldn’t think that search engines like Google have much in common with a social media giant like Facebook, right? Wrong. They are becoming more alike in more ways than one and there are signals that this is going to become even more true in 2017.
It’s estimated that over 2 billion searches are performed on Facebook every day and that a relatively high proportion of those are related to products or services. The potential for commercial marketing is obvious.
Indeed, even the chief himself, Mark Zuckerberg, stated last year that “once there’s a large volume of people interacting with businesses. Give businesses tools to reach more people and pay, and that’s ultimately the business opportunity”. These words seem to imply that Facebook is on the verge of moving towards a Google-style PPC model. In other words, businesses will be able to bid on certain keywords, then have then pay to have their business advertised at the top of the search results.
To balance things out, it appears the Google are becoming more and more like Facebook. Google are increasingly moving towards more sophisticated audience targeting, à la Facebook. Although keywords will always play a major role in Google’s search ads, they are borrowing techniques from social media advertising to target specific audience profiles.
By using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), there is scope for Google to increase profits by encouraging higher bids on audiences that have highly relevant leads.
The key takeaway from this is not to think of Google and Facebook as two separate advertising platforms, they are becoming more and more similar, so it’s worth considering what your goals are before investing in either or both. Which brings us on nicely to number three…
3. Hybrid Google and Facebook PPC campaigns
Let’s face it. PPC is completely dominated by Google and Facebook. Accounting for around 73% of all digital advertising spending, you can’t ignore this pair when planning a digital marketing strategy.
The businesses that have the most success online (reportedly up to 70% higher returns) are the ones that are sharing their advertising budget between the two. The proportion at which they are split mainly depends on marketing objectives and demographics. In general, Facebook is used to increase brand or product awareness, and then RLSA in Google is used to convert that awareness into leads or sales.
Another factor driving hybrid campaigns is cost. Facebook ads are generally, as of writing, more affordable per click than Google (depending on keywords). But Google is more effective at creating actual sales and revenue. So a balanced PPC advertising strategy between the two seems to make sense.
Pay per click advertising is still relatively young. It hasn’t even reached its rebellious teens yet, so changes are still occurring rapidly, but at least a clearer picture of where it’s heading is starting to emerge. Everything is pointing towards the continued dominance of Google and Facebook, with the two becoming more like understanding and friendly neighbours rather than warring competitors. They are learning from each other and adopting each other’s successful attributes.
But, be warned. Both companies still like to keep major developments under their hats. So, you never know, there could be a big surprise in the offing that will turn PPC on its head that nobody (including us) saw coming. Nobody said crystal ball gazing was fool-proof!