Aside from being increasingly competitive, the world of Pay-per-Click (PPC) is also one that is constantly evolving. Last year’s PPC strategy might have been a huge success, but if you don’t keep pace with new PPC opportunities that present themselves, you might fall behind the competition before you even realize it.
That’s why we have compiled this list of the top PPC trends you can consider for your 2021 strategy. We’ve cut through the noise to provide you with a comprehensive rundown of what industry experts believe will move the needle in 2021.
The Continued Rise of Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Any list about the top PPC trends of 2021 will include the use of smart bidding with automation and AI. While many marketers still prefer the traditional methods of overseeing and adjusting their PPC bids manually, there is a growing movement towards shifting to automating the process.
The premise is that by relying on Google’s vast amounts of search data, the AI machines will be able to place bids that will maximize clicks. It makes a lot of sense. Who knows about people’s search habits better than Google? Automated bidding takes this data and applies it so that your ads will be able to reach the specific target audience that is most likely to achieve conversions.
Of course, automated bidding is still a relatively new technology, and like everything else, has its pros and cons. One very obvious benefit to smart bidding is that Google has much more data to work with than you. This one speaks for itself. There is no ad campaign manager in the world that can even come close to competing with the sheer amount of data the tech giant has. Of course, not all this data is relevant to your ad campaigns. For example, Google’s AI has no way of knowing whether a particular computer is shared by many users. One user’s search data can easily be misinterpreted as another user’s, making the PPC campaign much less targeted.
Smart bidding will also allow you to simply set your campaigns and then leave all the work up to the AI. However, this will limit the amount of control you have on your campaigns, especially on the budget side of things.
Because the technology is still very new, you may not get optimized results from automated bidding right away. Make no mistake though; the future is likely to be heavy with smart bidding, especially as the technology improves. It only makes sense that you start learning all that you can now, or you might get left behind.
More Video Content and More Video Ads
More and more marketers are taking advantage of advertising on videos, and it’s easy to see why. Videos are the new wave of content, a departure from the more traditional written word. They are a powerful medium to get any message across, with statistics showing that users spend up to 80% more time on a website with videos than on one without.
Another reason why using videos is predicted to be one of the top PPC trends in 2021 is that recent advances in technology has made creating videos extremely accessible. You no longer need professional lighting and cameras; the standard smartphone today has more than adequate video editing capabilities to create your advertisements.
Aside from the higher user engagement and low barrier to entry, video advertising has an amazingly wide, yet at the same time targeted reach. YouTube is the second most-used search engine in the US, with millennials 2.7 times more likely to use the platform to learn something as opposed to a book. Educational channels like Coursera and Udema also do very well, delivering targeted advertisements to engrossed audiences, resulting in high engagement rates.
Responsive Search Ads Will Be More Prevalent
Google rolled out responsive search ads in 2019, and it is expected to be one of the biggest PPC trends in 2021. The format allows you to create up to 15 different headlines and 4 descriptions for your ads. Depending on how many headlines and descriptions you submit, Google will have more chances to show your ads and match them to your prospective customers’ search terms.
The benefits of this are pretty obvious. For one, you can derive thousands of headline-description combinations to match your customer’s search needs. You are no longer limited to a few phrases like you were before. More combinations mean more search query matches, extending the potential reach of your ad. The best part is you don’t even have to come up with these combinations yourself. Google AI’s machine learning will test and figure out the best and most relevant combinations for you. You supply the creativity with the headlines and the description and let the machine do all the work. It’s a huge time-saver with tons of potential.
Responsive search ads will also be more flexible, able to adapt to different device widths, allowing you to maximize the screen space and your customers’ attention. For example, ads viewed on a mobile device will maybe show 2 headlines as opposed to showing 3 on a laptop or desktop unit.
The most important reason why responsive search ads will be very popular in 2021 though, is simply the fact that the technology works. Google reports a 5-15% increase in click-through rates for responsive search ads compared to standard ads. That’s a huge increase in customer engagement you cannot afford to pass up.
An Increase in Remarketing Strategy
Remarketing is basically all about reconnecting your product with people who have previously come in contact with your app or website. You can do this by installing a special code (often called a ‘tag’ or a ‘pixel’) in their web browser and serving ads to them outside of your website.
Why is it expected to be one of the top PPC trends of 2021?
Because it works. By targeting people who have already interacted with your website or used your mobile app, you know they are already interested in your product. Instead of trying to inform and acquire new customers, you’re simply giving the people who are already interested in you a gentle push in the right direction – straight to conversion. Ads do not get any more targeted than that. Remarketing has also been shown to have cost-per-acquisition rates that are up to 4 times lower than standard options for display ads.
Like everything in PPC marketing though, it all begins with data. Remarketing is most effective when you can target specific audiences with your ads. Did a potential client add items to their shopping cart without checking out? How much time did they spend on your website? What product pages were they specifically looking at? This is the data that you can use to pinpoint whom you choose to use the remarketing process on. With some testing, you should be able to determine which remarketing strategy will work best for you.
To top it all off, Google Ads makes the entire process very simple. They’ll provide the remarketing code for you, all you have to do is add it to your website.
Welcome to the PPC Jungle Known as Amazon
The PPC market is still largely dominated by advertising giants Google and Facebook, but Amazon is quickly catching up. Amazon is the fastest-growing ad platform by far and it’s only going to get bigger in 2021.
Perhaps one reason is that people don’t usually go to Facebook and Google necessarily looking to buy something. Compare that with Amazon, where advertisers assume visitors on the website are there to shop, and you can understand why many PPC marketers are flocking to the online retail behemoth. Add in the fact that Amazon has product detail pages, reviews, videos, ratings, and you’ve hit the SEO jackpot.
Integrating More Advertising Platforms in your PPC Strategy
While they may be the largest and most prominent, Google, Facebook, and Amazon aren’t the only players in the PPC market. Research data shows that in 2020, people have been spending more and more time on different online platforms. Among these platforms are TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, and Instagram. By all accounts, it seems that this trend is here to stay, so it only makes sense to consider going where your prospective customers are spending their time online.
This means spreading out your PPC budget among different ad platforms, testing and tweaking until you find what works for you and your target audience.
The Return of Bing
In September 2019, more than a billion people used search engine Bing worldwide at least once a month. In 2021, you can expect that number to keep on going up. That’s why it would make a lot of sense to start considering using Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) in your PPC campaigns.
After all, 35% of all desktop searches in the US are conducted using the Microsoft search engine. Can you really afford to ignore that number?
Doing so essentially means that you are ignoring 35% of all potential customers that use a desktop to do their searches, and nobody wants to do that.
Optimizing for Voice Searches
A few years back, data and analytics company ComScore predicted that by 2021, up to 50% of all searches will be voice searches. If that sounds too crazy to be true, consider the fact that Google recently announced that a quarter of all searches TODAY are voice searches, and it suddenly doesn’t seem too farfetched.
The reasoning behind this prediction is backed up by some pretty convincing statistics, too. Consultancy firms see 50% of all American households owning a smart speaker by 2021, a huge jump from 13% in 2016. As of today, over 70% of smart speaker users use their device as part of their daily routine, and at least 25% have used it for their holiday shopping. We’re not even mentioning the 5 billion people with smartphones, most of them with digital assistant capabilities. It’s only a matter of time before most of the US, if not the world, adopts the technology and relies heavily on voice searches.
This means that optimizing for voice searches has to be one of the top priorities for PPC marketing in 2021. You either adapt with the times or get left behind, right? At some point in the future, we can expect paid voice search advertising to appear. In the meantime, though, there are several things you can do to optimize your website for voice searches.
The first is to make the tone of your website more conversational. People tend to adopt a more conversational, natural tone when carrying out voice searches. Expect to see longer search queries, also. Try to predict how a person might ask a friend a question.
Another way to set yourself up for success when it comes to voice searches is to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Most voice searches happen with a smart device, so this is pretty self-explanatory. Not sure if your website meets the criteria? Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool will let you know if you’ve got a responsive web design fit for mobile device consumption.
Preparing Your PPC Campaign for 2021
Because the world of PPC is extremely competitive, there are always going to be innovations and new strategies popping up. By keeping yourself updated with the new developments in the industry, you can keep pace with the competition. It’s never been more important to stay at the forefront of whatever the current best practice is, and to keep your PPC strategy flexible.