What are the most important PPC trends that you should focus on in 2022 for greater success?
For our fifth annual look at PPC Trends here on Search Engine Journal, we once again reached out to some of the top PPC experts for their insights.
Here are the top 10 PPC trends you need to know for 2021 – from paid search to paid social, to remarketing, and beyond – according to 23 experts.
Automation continues to be a hot topic in PPC trends, with almost half of our experts weighing in with their thoughts.
“Automation has been picking up speed and momentum for a couple of years now,” said Julie Friedman Bacchini, President, Neptune Moon. “But it feels like it is about to enter hyperdrive.”
Andrea Atzori, Co-Founder & Director, Ambire, agreed, noting that automation will play a key role in helping marketers make informed decisions based on data.
“The challenge of having to extrapolate, consolidate, and collate information from multiple sources means that this is not a job that can be completed without resorting to automation,” Atzori said. “Similarly, the planning, execution, and analysis of scalable, data-driven campaigns across multiple channels and platforms will require adequate processes and tools in order to succeed.
“Investing in smart(er) technology will help marketers to gain an advantage over their competitors and businesses and brands to be nimble and agile with their marketing,” Atzori added.
Brad Geddes, Co-Founder, Adalysis, believes that humans are still better than machines at strategy, empathy, insights, and prior knowledge. With Google’s massive automation push, it looks like both camps are starting to merge.
“Advertisers need to use some automation but realize Google is terrible at certain aspects of automation, and there are areas the human is clearly superior that should be leveraged,” Geddes said. “This year should be a ‘catch-up’ year where the various groups learn to blend human ingenuity, insights, and strategy.”
Melissa Mackey, Paid Search Manager, MerkleB2B, noted that the most successful B2B advertisers are already laser-focused on delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time – and using automation to do so.
“If you haven’t already, it’s time to get started on identifying audiences, creating a variety of content, developing differentiated ads, and embracing automation, for both paid search and paid social,” Mackey said.
Should you compete with automation or work with it?
“Successful PPC advertisers will learn how to deploy automation layering in 2022 to stay in control of modern PPC,” said Frederick Vallaeys, Co-Founder & CEO, Optmyzr.
2. First-Party Data
Another trend that experts like Amalia Fowler, Instructor, BCIT & Google Ads consultant, Good AF Consulting anticipates is that, “Continued advocacy for privacy will make acquiring first-party data something brands should be working on.”
“We’ve been dependent upon pixels, tags, and cookies for marketing attribution since the beginning of digital marketing,” Johnston said. “But now that companies like Apple and Google are beginning to restrict the usage of these means of tracking in the name of consumer privacy, we have to plan for a future without them. As a result, the value of first-party data, and specifically, the means to integrate it with advertising networks is going to be the key to maintaining and improving digital marketing efforts.”
Kimberly Shah, Senior Account Executive, Microsoft Advertising agreed that privacy will continue to be an important focus for our industry.
“With the updates in cookie tracking in iOS14, and the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome looming on the horizon, inevitably, other publishers will quickly start to follow suit,” Shah said. “The reality of a 3P cookieless world is fast approaching, and in order to ensure a successful entry into this world, it will be key in 2022 to heavily strategize, invest, and test into first-party data sources and start to apply these across your marketing channels holistically.”
Jeff Ferguson, Partner, Amplitude Digital, said smart marketers should learn how to go “old school” with their targeting using modern technology.
“Look for a massive shift to more contextual targeting options, but a more updated version than what we had at the ‘turn of the century’,” Ferguson said. “Machine learning and other tech will be on every marketers’ lips while they try and rebuild their first-party data so they can claw back some of the targeting they were used to before.”
3. Audience Targeting & Segmentation
You need to ensure that your brands are showing up when their target users will be online, not just when they’re searching, according to Brooke Osmundson, Senior Director Client Strategy, NordicClick Interactive.
“With the other announcement in how Broad and Phrase match keywords are being categorized, audience characteristics will be even more important to capture and target our audience, with less reliance on keywords,” Osmundson said. “In sum: less keywords, more audience, better intention.”
Jonathan A. Kagan, VP Search, 9Rooftops, agreed.
“With more ‘smart’ programs rolling out, the typical levers we advertisers control for digital is shrinking. This means they need to refocus on the most important things they can still control, which is audience targeting and segmentation.”
With the end of expanded text ads in sight, Amy Bishop, Owner & Digital Marketing Consultant, Cultivative, is encouraging clients to test, test, test.
“Test ETAs for as long as you can – and consider even adding in additional variations for later testing, once they can no longer be created,” Bishop said. “And test Responsive Search Ads (RSAs), as well. Test different messages and test pinning different parts of the ad.”
Ilya Cherepakhin, Consulting Manager, MightyHive, wants marketers to rethink copy testing.
“I would say that the shift to ad creative automation is perhaps the most impactful trend we see in paid search,” Cherepakhin said. “This impacts not only the tactical and technical aspects of campaign management but paid search and digital marketing strategy of any omnichannel marketer.
“Rather than testing performance variances from a couple of words… advertisers will need to think bigger and focus on ads that test concepts and phrases aligned to intent rather than specific words,” Cherepakhin added.
Testing applies to Amazon advertisers, according to Robyn Johnson, CEO and Founder, Marketplace Blueprint.
“Advertisers on Amazon should be focusing on making sure they are testing the new ad types and placements. Testing multiple match types/placements and different ad products like Sponsored Display, Sponsored Brands Video, and in some cases Amazon DSP.”
“If PPC marketers want to be more successful, they need to help the brand(s) they work on look beyond paid ads…” according to Duane Brown, CEO & Head of Strategy, Take Some Risk. “Making sure the brand you work on has built up other marketing channels like PR, SEO, affiliate and even email marketing is more important than it ever has been.
“Paid ads don’t operate in a silo nor do these other marketing channels and the more ways you can grow your brand via channel diversifications, the more stable your business and brand will be,” he added.
That also includes looking beyond platforms you’re comfortable with, noted Akville DeFazio, President, AKvertise.
“Many of us grew comfortable and reliant on what certain channels like Facebook offered and how it impacted the bottom line,” DeFazio said. “If you haven’t yet, see what other ad platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Quora, Pinterest, and others can offer, as they too, have grown and can be lucrative.”
Tim Jensen, Campaign Manager, Clix Marketing, agreed.
“While skilled marketers will continue to find routes to track as much data as possible, the most success is likely to come to those who shift to looking more holistically at ROI data across the board,” Jensen said. “Diversification across multiple channels will become more crucial, as marketers have seen one-channel success stories tank overnight after these changes.”
6. Responsive Search Ads
In 2022, Google’s Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) will become a thing of the past as Google pushes all advertisers to Responsive Search Ads (RSAs).
“Advertisers that have already had RSAs live will be ahead of the game.” according to Pauline Jakober, Founder & CEO, Group Twenty Seven. “They’ll have the processes in place for creating and managing these ads as well as performance history and metrics they can build on.
“Advertisers that haven’t yet included RSAs in their ad groups need to start today,” she added. “RSAs require a different approach than ETAs, backed by solid procedures and strategies to build comprehensive, targeted messaging.”
Aaron Levy, Head of Paid Search, Tinuiti agreed.
“ETA’s are dying, though they’ve effectively been dead for some time as nearly everything in the search engine realm is responsive to one degree or another.”
Ultimately, it’s about creating the best ads for your audience, not for Google, said Amy Hebdon, Founder, Paid Search Magic.
“Google’s given us ample notice that RSAs are the ad type of the future. Don’t be afraid to pin and control your ads, even if Google gives you a ‘poor ad strength’ warning,” Hebdon said.
7. Conversion Tracking
Johnston is seeing an increased emphasis on the Facebook Conversions API, as well as Google’s Offline Conversion Tracking from the platforms, as marketers look for ways to maintain tracking quality in a pixel-less environment.
“Smart marketers will get on board with offline conversion tracking and integration quickly to help future-proof their efforts in 2022 and beyond,” Johnston said. “Embracing offline conversion tracking isn’t just a necessity for survival though. It’s also the key to improving the performance of campaigns through better optimization.”
8. Small Business Education
If you work with small advertisers, keep in mind that in 2022, the small advertiser will continue to suffer, according to Amalia Fowler, Instructor, BCIT & Google Ads consultant, Good AF Consulting.
“They typically have less budget and less resources to expend when the industry changes and these large shifts are going to make it even harder,” Fowler added. “Continued education of, and advocacy for, smaller businesses will be key in 2022.”
9. Return To Fundamentals
Even if you’re an advanced user, Mark Irvine, Director of Paid Media, SearchLab Digital, suggests a fresh return to fundamentals – keywords, match types, ads, bidding.
“All of them have changed several times in the last 20 months and in significant ways,” Irvine said. “Relearn and reapproach them as they are in 2022 without the past blinders of the best practices of yesteryear.”
10. Be Ready For Anything
Vallaeys recommends that marketers be ready for anything.
Why? Because we aren’t going back to a predictable time yet.
2022 will likely be another year where advertisers will need to be nimble and take full advantage of all the flexibility search marketing has to offer, he said.
“Monitor your data closely for anomalies,” Vallaeys said. “Have a campaign structure that is flexible enough to support changing the course when business data warrants it and use your own tools and automations to keep things running smoothly when a colleague is unexpectedly unavailable.”
Discover More PPC Trends & Insights For 2022
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Discover a lot more trends and predictions in the rest of Search Engine Journal’s PPC Trends 2022 ebook.
Are you ready to dive in?
Click here to download Search Engine Journal’s PPC Trends 2022.
You’ll get more insights and tips straight from these 23 PPC experts on how to succeed at PPC and paid social in 2022:
- Andrea Atzori, Co-Founder & Director, Ambire
- Julie Friedman Bacchini, President, Neptune Moon
- Amalia Fowler, Instructor, BCIT & Google Ads consultant, Good AF Consulting
- Amy Bishop, Owner & Digital Marketing Consultant, Cultivative
- Duane Brown, CEO & Head of Strategy, Take Some Risk
- Ilya Cherepakhin, Consulting Manager, MightyHive
- Akville DeFazio, President, AKvertise
- Jeff Ferguson, Partner, Amplitude Digital
- Brad Geddes, Co-Founder, Adalysis
- Amy Hebdon, Founder, Paid Search Magic
- Navah Hopkins, VP of Strategic Marketing, Adzooma
- Mark Irvine, Director of Paid Media, SearchLab Digital
- Pauline Jakober, Founder & CEO, Group Twenty Seven
- Tim Jensen, Campaign Manager, Clix Marketing
- Robyn Johnson, CEO and Founder, Marketplace Blueprint
- Sean Johnston, VP of Digital Advertising, Closed Loop
- Jonathan A. Kagan, VP Search, 9Rooftops
- Aaron Levy, Head of Paid Search, Tinuiti
- Melissa Mackey, Paid Search Manager, MerkleB2B
- Brooke Osmundson, Senior Director Client Strategy, NordicClick Interactive
- Kimberly Shah, Senior Account Executive, Microsoft Advertising
- Frederick Vallaeys, Co-Founder & CEO, Optmyzr
- AJ Wilcox, Founder, B2Linked
Featured image 1: Paulo Bobita
Featured image 2: Shutterstock/Faces Portrait