10 important PPC trends to look out for in 2021:

  1. Customer experience more crucial than ever -- Google handcuffed marketers by restricting access to data late last year. Expect to lose more control on some aspects of marketing this year due to automation. But do not cry over spilled milk. Instead, work on ensuring that your PPC efforts will enhance the customer journey. By focusing on the lifetime value rather than short-term single sales, you can craft a comprehensive strategy that aligns with your business goals.
  2. PPC automation -- Expect Google and other search engines to force-feed you into using automation technology for intelligence-gathering. The sooner you take this into your marketing equation, the better equipped you would be to adjust to the new environment. Automation is designed to simplify your life so you can focus on the core areas of your business. But make sure that you will not end up being over-reliant on the machines.
  3. Mobile-friendly -- It is not exactly a new trend since marketers have been harping on the importance of a mobile-friendly website since time immemorial. More than half of US e-commerce sales come from mobile. But you would be surprised to know that many websites are still not optimized for mobile. It means they are losing out on the potential sales since the customer experience leaves something to be desired. Use your smartphone to visit your website once in a while and gauge the user experience for yourself.
  4. Audience targeting -- You can customize your ads to show your target audience based on their interests, buying behavior, profiles, and how they engaged your business. With audience targeting, you increase your conversion rate by reaching the customers at the precise moment when they are ready to buy. Another tool is lookalike audience targeting. Using automation, Google will identify customers who share similar characteristics with your existing audience and show your ads to them.
     
  5. AI -- Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be more relevant than ever. Automation will take care of your daily monotonous and administrative tasks. But AI will anticipate the click-through-rate of your future campaigns using historical data and trends. However, one of the limitations of AI is to mimic human intelligence, particularly in language processing, nuance identification, and reasoning. But human thought is eons behind AI's ability to parse and make sense of big data is unparalleled. In simple terms, both methods should not be mutually exclusive.
     
  6. Do not overlook Social media -- Even if Facebook has been around in just 2004, it seems like the social media platform has been there forever. Now more than ever, you need to build on your relationship marketing approach. But social media is not limited to Facebook. 2020 was the year of TikTok, which peaked at the end of the first quarter last year when 76 million people downloaded the app. Instagram followed suit when it launched Reels, allowing users to make 15-second clips. As people continue to be stuck at home, expect their social media usage to increase exponentially in 2021.
     
  7. Bumper Ads -- Bumper ads refer to short clips that enable you to expand brand awareness and reach out to more customers than ever. You can go to the "Video" campaign on your Google Ad to create bumper videos. You might have seen those five-second YouTube video ads that you cannot skip. Those are examples of a bumper ad. The payment term is CPM-based, which means you only pay if your ad shows up 1,000 times. According to Google, bumper ads are incredibly useful in producing brand recall.
  8. Smart Bidding -- Smart bidding utilizes machine learning to help maximize the conversion value of each auction. Among the strategies under this automated bidding subset include Enhanced Cost-Per-Click, Target Cost-per-Action, or Target ROAS (Return-on-Ad-Spend). With machine learning, you can increase the accuracy of your market predictions and online customer behavior by parsing large amounts of data. The algorithm will improve your PPC performance without necessarily blowing up your digital marketing budget. You can also customize your parameters to include a wide range of signals (defined as customer attributes + time-bound context) for improved results accuracy. Meanwhile, the results' transparency will allow you to spot gaps immediately and address the issues before they exacerbate.
     
  9. Amazon will continue to affect paid ads -- Amazon's foray into paid advertising will continue to impact your ad campaign. Similar to Google, advertisers can buy a prominent position on top of Amazon's SERP. Amazon is exerting its influence beyond its walls, as this study has proven. One thing that differentiates Amazon from Google and other search engines is buyer intent. People go to Amazon intending to spend their money, which affected other retailers' websites that cannot compete with a behemoth. You need to consider the evolution of Amazon in search so that you can exploit this to your advantage. For one, start thinking of Amazon as a marketplace rather than only an online store.
  10. More competition -- If you think that the pandemic in 2020 has dampened the spirits of advertisers, think again. Sure, the sweeping impact of the coronavirus shocked businesses to the core. Some companies, unfortunately, did not survive the onslaught. But those who did quickly got over the initial shell-shock and found some opportunities underneath the rubble. For instance, experts do not see any changes in the digital ad spend for 2021. Advertisers will likely ramp up their spending as they see the market rebounding this year. It means you need to rethink twice if you plan on scaling down your marketing budget for 2021. If you are not careful, you will be swallowed by the competition.

Knowing the Google Ad trends for 2021 will help form your marketing strategy. After surviving a catastrophic 2019, there is a lot of room for optimism among advertisers. Admittedly, there is a lot to unpack based on the top ten trends outlined in this article. However, 2021 may yet prove to be a banner year for PPC.

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