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SASCon Day 1: 5 trends impacting the future of PPC

by Gemma Tomlinson


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The most engaging talk from SASCon day 1 was served by Larry Kim, the founder of Word Stream, on the topic Key trends impacting the future of PPC.

Trend 1) Price and inventory headwinds in paid search

CPCs keep falling however CPCs are at an all-time high in established markets with low growth. Apps are stealing from desktop searches and mobile is shrinking the search inventory further. Kim suggested that the pressure to find higher value clicks is more important than ever. Use bid modifiers for location, device, time and demographics, and RLSA to increase the quality of the clicks.

Bonus tip: Customise search ads specifically to people who recently visited your site. On average this doubles the CTR, raises the quality score and cuts CPC in half.

As 95% of time online is spent on content, utilise display ads to reach users and benefit from cheaper clicks too. Be aware that CPAs are usually lower. However there is a trend toward the conversion rate increasing with more ad impressions, suggesting that the more times a user sees an ad the more likely they are to convert.

Trend 2) The rise of identity-based PPC marketing

The evolution of display ad targeting options
The evolution of display ad targeting options

The next frontier for PPC is the rise of identity-based targeting options. Facebook is already leading this arena with Custom and Lookalike targeting options thanks to its 1.4 billion users who log in on various devices, revealing their true identities.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for other industry players offering a rival product is matching data to the users as they browse on different devices. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Google is set to enter the arena in the not too distant future utilising all of its resources including search engine users, YouTube and of course Gmail. This could see email addresses and telephone numbers provided as targeting methods.

Pitching PR via email is dead. Identity-based targeting opens up a new avenue for PR by promoting tweets to influencers. This is a time consuming option, requiring the manual curation of Twitter users such as press into a list. The benefit of taking the time to do this is that your list is pertinent to your specific message and highly targeted, vastly increasing the chances of your message being picked up and taken viral.

The future of display ads lies with native mobile, bridging the gap between brand publishing and banner ads by targeting logged in user. Some examples include suggested posts on Facebook and promoted Tweets.

Trend 3: Mobile Ads
Unfortunately Larry was a bit sneaky and saved this trend for a later seminar.

Trend 4: Google is taking away all our toys

Google has blurred the lines between match types rendering them almost obsolete. Larry suggests that match types shouldn’t be your PPC focus, the key is to be a unicorn, not a donkey. Oh yes you did read that correctly…unicorns and donkeys

Example of donkeys in PPC
Example of donkeys in PPC
Example of a unicorn in PPC
Example of a unicorn in PPC

A unicorn is therefore the tactic of finding an alternative message to the rest of the market that cuts through the clutter. After all the top 1% of advertisers get 6x the average CTR.

Trend 5: Rise of “content marketing”, convergence of paid / organic teams

Content marketing has been one of the biggest buzz word in the SEO arena for the last few years, it’s nothing new, but the way marketers approach the amplification of content pieces is still evolving.

Social platforms are killing off organic reach so the time to do things differently has arrived. Larry Kim suggests that the answer is to converge social with content remarketing to get the most out of the content.

Content remarketing sits on the intersection of social, content and PPC marketing so it’s in the best interest of each marketing team to collaborate.

How content remarketing works - image 1
How content remarketing works – image 1
How content remarketing works - image 2
How content remarketing works – image 2

One approach to content remarketing is to apply paid social promotion to regular fans using the remarketing tool in Facebook, and with post engagement ads. You can refine audiences by layering recent purchase activity, or recent life events such as a new job.

The main benefit of buying paid promotion is the organic exposure it yields. For example buying retweets will bring with it additional organic traffic.


Use remarketing to promote content on the Google display network to amplify your content.

by Gemma Tomlinson on 16/06/2015

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