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Trish O'Loughlin
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2018 PPC Marketing Trends: Display Advertising, Mobile Landing Pages and the Rise of AI

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After diving into the SEO trends expected to grace the digital marketing realm next year, we’re now investigating how PPC will likely fare come 2018. Whether you rely on a Google AdWords campaign alone, or have mixed things up by advertising your brand via Google Shopping or on the Display Network, the following pointers should help you shape your marketing campaigns according to the latest Google changes.

So, without any further ado, let’s look at what’s likely to steal the PPC spotlight in 2018.

PPC advertising laptop

 

Display advertising on the rise

One of the biggest observations in PPC land right now is the consistent increase in display advertising. US digital data experts eMarketer released some interesting stats earlier this year, resulting in predictions that display ad spending will reach 41.87 billion USD in 2018 (up from 37.20 billion USD in 2017).

The numbers are impressive, but what’s interesting to note is where exactly these display ads are most commonly appearing.

 

Google dominates the search market; Facebook is stronger in display

When confronted with a puzzling question, our first instinct is to turn to Google. This is where we find most of our information when searching for answers in the digital age.

Conversely, given that consumers spend plenty of time browsing Facebook, this platform has become a prime arena for introducing users to new products and services. As such, Facebook has become quite the advertising vehicle, leading to an impressive increase in display ad revenue over recent years as more and more advertisers recognise and leverage the power of this platform.

While AdWords campaigns are still effective, there’s no denying that Facebook display ads are growing in popularity. On this note, if you plan to run display ads in 2018, it’s a good idea to scope out the Facebook Custom Audience option, which allows you to draw on your existing customers’ data to retarget your ads to similar Facebook users.

 

Video display ads

It’s also worthwhile acknowledging the surge of video display ads, and contemplating ways to introduce video into your current digital marketing campaign. As stated by Monica Peart, Forecasting Analyst at eMarketer:

“Facebook users are increasingly captivated by videos on the platform – not just on Facebook but on Instagram as well. Video, both live and recorded, is a key driver of growing user engagement and advertiser enthusiasm.”

Action director's clapboard video marketing

Just to cap this off, a number of reports indicate that video display ads are expected to be the second leading highest ad spend platform in 2018 and 2019, while video traffic is predicted to account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic in 2019. Simply put, the surge in video marketing is because, on average, this medium has a higher conversion rate. Time to brush up on those recording skills…

 

The seamless mobile landing page

Not only is display advertising on the rise, so is mobile paid search advertising. In fact, 2018 is expected to be a “great year” for this facet of digital marketing. While it’s no secret that mobile-optimised websites are simply a must in today’s mobile-dominated world, plenty of PPC landing pages still fall a little short. In the words of digital marketing guru Neil Patel, “Your PPC campaign landing pages must be responsive”. This trend means marketers need to consider the user intent of mobile visitors, and subsequently craft a compelling user experience that matches this intent.

Sure, your mobile marketing clickthrough rates might be fab, but how do your conversions look? If those clicks aren’t turning into purchases, you might want to rethink your landing page design come 2018. Keep the following in mind when striving towards a mobile-first PPC campaign landing page:

  • Short sales cycle
  • Industry-specific mobile search campaign formats
  • ‘Mobile-preferred’ ads

Whilst the above points are certainly highly valuable, it’s important to keep in mind that cross-channel attribution will essentially validate your PPC campaign budgets. In other words, though mobile marketing is hugely popular, it still remains at the upper end of the sales funnel, with most conversions taking place on desktop devices. By enabling AdWords cross-device conversions for your Search, Display or Shopping campaigns, you can make sure those mobile searches actually translate into tangible sales.

Free AdWords audit online shopping

 

Introducing Google AdWords Version 12.2

As you may be aware, our beloved Google recently rolled out version 12.2 of its AdWords Editor, bringing with it a nifty little collection of new features, including:

  • Gmail asset-based ads
  • Campaign total budgets
  • Custom rules updates
  • Semantic location
  • Promotion extensions
  • Life events
  • Video campaign extensions
  • Ad group level ad rotation
  • Expanded language targeting

The aforementioned features are paving the way for marketers to improve their AdWords campaigns and shave off time and energy usually dedicated to current processes. For instance, promotion extensions now allow businesses to display specific offers (such as percentages off, promotion codes or offer periods) in their text ads without having to create new ads from scratch – perfect for seasonal deals. Additionally, the concept of custom intent audience means marketers can now target “people who want to buy the specific products you offer – based on the data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel”, according to Anthony Chavez, Director of Product Management for AdWords. A third feature worth mentioning is the newest way to test ad variations, wherein thousands of variations can supposedly be tested in a few clicks, with Google then showing the results of the test once they are statistically significant.

Each of the above examples illustrates the growth of machine-learning and automation in AdWords – something that will most likely harness great control over how AdWords continues to remould itself in the future.

 

AI and AdWords: a match made in heaven?

According to Cardinal Digital Marketing, “in 2018, Google will embrace machine learning even more as it works tirelessly to move from advertising based on keywords to advertising based on user intent”. Adding substantial weight to these speculations, the concept of machine learning was mentioned by almost every speaker at a recent Google Marketing Next event.

These statements combined with AdWords’ latest feature rollout indicate there’s a strong chance that AdWords will become increasingly automated next year. Right now, this kind of movement is proving extremely valuable in terms of in-marketing audiences: a way for advertisers to connect with searchers who are most interested in what they have to offer based on user behaviour and purchase intent. Basically, in-marketing sees Google break down precise segments that classify users based on their search query data and activity analysis, thereby determining which stage of the sales funnel they are at. Once this kind of information is clarified, it makes things a ton easier for Google to show users relevant results to enable them to take action quickly.

shutterstock_714502264

While this is super-handy, the rapid increase of AI in AdWords does have cause for concern. Our star Performance Media Specialist Rob delved into the role of artificial intelligence on paid search marketing a few months ago, detailing the evolution of AdWords and sharing his predictions for the future. Whilst almost anything seems possible, it’s definitely wise for marketers and businesses alike to stay on top of machine-learning trends, particularly where pay-per-click advertising is concerned.

 

The wrap-up:

To adequately prep yourself for where pay-per-click advertising is heading, keep the following points in mind:

  • If you haven’t already, try implementing Facebook display ads. You can make the most of this by enabling the Facebook Custom Audience feature to target likely prospects.
  • Boost the effectiveness of your Facebook display ads by incorporating video marketing.
  • Ensure your PPC campaign landing page is optimised for mobile devices. This can be achieved by ensuring the sales cycle is as short as possible; employing industry-specific mobile search campaign formats; and checking ‘mobile-preferred’ ads when creating your landing page.
  • Remember that most conversions occur on desktop devices, so it’s important to enable the AdWords cross-device conversions feature for your search, display or shopping campaign.
  • Keep tabs on the influx of machine learning within the PPC sphere. It’s only growing at a rapid rate, and to keep up with your competitors, you’ll want to understand exactly how this sector of digital marketing is evolving and what you can do to leverage the latest changes.
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By Trish O'Loughlin


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