It’s that time of year again.
The air is crisp, the leaves are changing color, and pumpkin spice mania has reached a caffeine-fueled frenzy.
That can only mean one thing.
It’s time to dust off the old crystal ball and predict some pay-per-click marketing trends for the upcoming year.
It’s All About Speed
In case you missed it, mobile internet usage surpassed desktop usage sometime back in late 2016. What do these mobile internet users value more than almost anything else?
How do we know this? Well, we didn’t send out a survey.
To be clear, these users are not consciously thinking about how much they value speed, but their actions speak volumes.
When your site takes more than a few seconds to load, you stand to lose close to 40% of your visitors. You can also expect your conversion rate to sink like a rock with every additional second it takes your page to load.
People browse on the go. An idea pops into their head, and they Google it right then and there, wherever they are. This scenario does not lend itself to a long, leisurely browsing session.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Leading the charge towards a faster web, Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in 2016. AMP pages are the ones with the little lightning bolt icon you see in search results.
They load ultra fast, usually in less than one second.
In September of this year, advertisers gained the ability to designate AMP landing pages as destination URLs for their AdWords campaigns. Early adopters have already reported significant improvements in key performance indicators like bounce rate, time on site, and conversion rate.
It’s time to AMP up your landing pages in 2018!
The New AdWords User Interface
Perhaps the most dramatic change in the PPC landscape is the new AdWords user interface.
Advertisers have all seen the little blue box in the bottom right hand corner of our AdWords screen that says “Get more done. Try the faster AdWords.”
I know most of us have been avoiding it like the plague. I’m guilty of it too.
We’re all busy, we’re all in a time-crunch, and venturing outside the familiar comfort of the classic interface just never seems like the best use of our limited time.
The last time the UI was redesigned was in 2009, so don’t you think it’smaybe time for a change?
In a very out-of-character moment of courage, I took the leap. By 2018, you should too.
You will not enjoy it for at least 45 minutes.
All your favorite tools are not exactly where you left them. There are little icons that you haven’t seen before.
What are those three dots? Where are my custom columns!?
Take a deep breath. Be brave.
(The three dots are the icon for an expandable menu, and your custom columns are behind the icon with the three vertical bars.)
The first nifty features you might stumble across are right there on the overview page. Just scroll down a little bit, and you’ll see the four cards: Searches, Devices, Day & Hour, and Auction Insights.
On the “searches” card, you can see a really cool word cloud of your most common search phrases, but you can also see individual words if you switch to the words tab. This can be very helpful in finding both new keywords to target and keywords to add as negatives.
The other data in these cards have always been available, but not displayed in such a useful, visual manner. The heat map style day and hour chart immediately communicates useful information about your most popular search times, in a way that a plain table cannot.
The auction insights scatter chart is also an extremely cool way to visualize your position relative to your competitors. These graphics are actually useful, and they aren’t just infographics for the sake of infographics.
As you drill down from My Client Center (MCC) to account, to campaign, and to ad group, there’s a convenient breadcrumb style navigation path at the top of the screen, helping you quickly and easily jump back and forth between nodes.
Of course, when you do actually click on different tabs, the pages load really fast. Google claims it to be 20% faster, but I think they’re being modest. It seems WAY faster to me, you know, scientifically speaking.
New Keyword and Search Volume Features
The Easter eggs just keep coming. I’m sure I haven’t found them all yet.
Select an ad group, head over to your keywords tab, and click on the big blue button with the plus symbol to add more keywords. Just like in the classic interface, you’ll get keyword suggestions that are related to your current keywords in the ad group, but you’ll also see search volume data right along with them.
There’s no need to open up the keyword planner separately.
This can be really useful, especially if you are managing an account in a very technical niche, with words or phrases you aren’t so familiar with. You might find significant search volume for a phrase you didn’t know anyone would be searching.
Enhanced Demographic Targeting
A few tabs down from the keywords tab you’ll find the Demographics tab. Here you’ll notice two very interesting new ways to target audiences for search campaigns. You can make bid adjustments for parental status, which has been available for display campaigns in the past but not for search campaigns.
You can also make bid adjustments for household income. Granted, a lot of your visitors are going to fall into the “unknown” category, but for those who don’t, it can be a very useful targeting criteria.
On Facebook, everyone is logged into an account with a fully filled out profile, and people like, post, and comment about everything that goes on in their lives. This gives Facebook very accurate details about all aspects of your life, like your job title, your income range, your marital status, your political affiliations, and much more.
Google doesn’t have that much data about each searcher, but rest assured they are working on it. This is another step in the right direction in Google’s quest to combine search with the kind of demographic data that Facebook has.
Coming Soon: In Market Audiences for Search
Since day one, the power of search marketing has rested on the ability to advertise your products and services to those who have shown intent to buy. Keyword searches, of course, have always been the main signals of purchase intent.
However, signals of intent can also be communicated through user behavior. A recent history of browsing parenting sites and nursery decoration ideas, for instance, sends a strong signal of a user’s likelihood to be interested in strollers.
On the Google display network, targeting people this way has been around for years, with In-Market Audiences. Showing display ads to users whose recent history shows they are “in the market” for what you have to offer is a great way to target potential customers.
When you layer this targeting ability on top of search campaigns, you’ve got multiple layers of intent piled on top of each other. When In-Market Audiences for search is rolled out, you’ll have the ability to target people who are both searching your keywords AND have shown intent through their recent behavior. Now that’s a strong candidate!
If there’s one thing that we can rely on, it’s change. Take these new AdWords features and the new interface for a spin, and have a prosperous 2018!