PPC advice for 2022 from the Vertical Leap team

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A lot has happened in PPC over the past year with volatile search trends, new privacy measures and features constantly changing in platforms like Google Ads. Advertisers need to keep on top of these developments and the impact of external factors like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. So, we asked our PPC experts what they’ll be doing differently in 2022 to deal with the new challenges and opportunities in paid advertising.

“Start building a messaging bank for responsive search ads”

Andy King, Senior PPC Specialist

Andy King, Senior PPC Specialist

One of the biggest changes coming to Google Ads next year is the phasing out of expanded text ads (ETAs). Starting from June 2022, you’ll no longer be able to create or edit expanded text ads although existing ETAs will continue to serve alongside your other ads.

Google wants you to transition to using responsive search ads, which require you to include up to 15 headlines and five descriptions, far more than the limit of three headlines and two descriptions with expanded text ads.

PPC Specialist Andy King recommends creating a messaging bank for your search ads now so you can compile headlines, descriptions and other assets into groups for responsive search ads.“Start to build a messaging bank for your search ads. Expanded text ads will be retired and you need to be ready to move to responsive ads with 9-15 headlines and 2-5 descriptions.”

With responsive search ads, Google finds the ideal combination of headlines and descriptions you provide for each search, using performance data from your account and machine learning from millions of similar searches. You can use these to test variations on a large scale or provide headlines and descriptions that cover a broader range of interests, allowing Google to pick the most relevant combination for each user.

Be prepared to adapt strategies and budgets quickly to account for unexpected fluctuations

Stacey Pendrich, PPC Specialist

Stacey Pendrich, PPC Specialist

Unpredictability has been one of the biggest challenges for search marketers throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Years’ worth of historical data, including seasonal trends, were wiped out by the unpredictability of the pandemic as consumer concerns and interests shifted with every new development. We’re still feeling the effects of this towards the end of 2021 with more uncertainty on the way for next year, too.

PPC Specialist Stacey Pendrich, warns that: “Seasonality trends are still not consistent with pre-COVID times for some industries and we should be prepared to adapt strategies and budgets quickly to account for unexpected fluctuations to make the most of traffic demand available.”

We touched on this earlier in the year during an interview with Vertical Leap’s Managing Director, Chris Pitt, discussing search data as the biggest asset for marketers. Chris explained how search data provides real-time insights into consumer behaviour, as it changes.

Instead of assuming history will repeat itself with seasonal trends, marketers should let the search data guide their PPC decisions, such as optimising bids as demand fluctuates and identifying new keyword opportunities as they emerge.
Stacey also reiterates Andy’s comments on responsive search ads and other new features coming to Google Ads in 2022.

“Google is phasing out expanded text ads (ETAs) so all accounts should have responsive search ads (RSAs) running across all campaigns. Also, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can now be linked to Google Ads so we should be moving accounts over from GA3 where possible.

On another note, Stacey notes that platforms like Google Ads and platform representatives are increasingly offering recommendations to account holders. You might be encouraged to use certain features or adopt certain bidding strategies in specific scenarios – or, even, based on campaign performance. However, Stacey urges caution when it comes to implementing this kind of advice.

“Don’t blindly follow recommendations given by platforms or representatives – most of these are automated and, while many are good, they’re not always suitable for every business type”.

Instead of implementing recommendations right away, consider whether they make sense for your campaign. Look at all recommendations in detail and consider whether they’re backed up by data and, if they are, where this data comes from. Is it generic data or are these recommendations based on performance data from your campaigns? Finally, test out any recommendations before you implement any serious changes to make sure they’ll have the intended impact.

“Diversify your marketing channels & test automated bidding / Smart campaigns”

Mike Johnson, Senior PPC Specialist

Mike Johnson, Senior PPC Specialist

PPC advertisers all know the frustration of being at the mercy of advertising platforms. It hurts when valuable keyword data is removed from reports or targeting options you’ve relied upon are taken away. Mike Johnson says the only way to minimise the impact of changes like these is to reduce your dependence on individual channels.

“Diversify your marketing channels – as we’ve seen with Facebook Ads a lot can change in a quick timeframe and lots of businesses have struggled due to being reliant on Facebook Ads as their main source of traffic/ revenue.”

Aside from responding to privacy concerns by removing targeting settings, Facebook was hit particularly hard by the iOS14.5 update that introduced App Tracking Transparency (ATT), which requires applications to ask permission from users to track their data across other apps and websites.

While Google and other platforms reported minimal impact from the update, Facebook is suffering as the majority of users refuse to allow cross-app tracking in iOS 14.5. Facebook’s targeting system relies heavily on this tracking method and this impacts the performance of advertising campaigns on the network. As a result, companies that have put all of their investment into Facebook advertising campaigns are struggling to cope with these changes, highlighting the importance of diversifying your channels.

Mike also acknowledges that many advertisers are reluctant to use the latest automated features in Google Ads. While he understands advertisers feel uncomfortable about handing too much control over to Google, he says these decisions should be based on results, not principle.

“Lots of marketers and advertisers are hesitant and reluctant to move toward Google’s automated bidding and Smart campaigns. And while they don’t suit everyone, we’d highly recommend testing these in a fair way, repeatedly – not just test once and then deciding yes this works or no it doesn’t.”

Mike is urging advertisers to embrace automation and take advantage of the data Google has access to. You might like to think you can beat the performance of Smart campaigns with manual optimisation but Google don’t underestimate the volume of data Google is working with and the speed this allows it to maximise results. Test your campaigns alongside Smart campaigns and manual bidding against automated bidding strategies to see where Google has the edge. It might be a case of Google getting results faster for new campaigns, such as product launches, or volatile demand – the latter of which we’ve seen plenty of over the past couple of years.

“Pay close attention to impression share”

James Faulkner, Head of PPC

James Faulkner, Head of PPC

Earlier, Stacey Pendrich raised the unpredictability of seasonal trends due to the coronavirus pandemic. Head of PPC, James Faulkner, raises the same point and explains how PPC advertisers can use impression share to measure the impact of this unpredictability on market share.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes to demand and competitor landscapes over 2020 and 2021. Therefore making comparisons year-on-year or understanding trends has been very choppy. Tracking impression share (IS) in Google Ads helps you determine how much of the current demand you’re showing for, even as it fluctuates.”

Impression share tracks the number of times your ads show against the total number of occasions they’re eligible to show, calculated as IS = impressions / total eligible impressions.

By extension, impression share also tells you how many of your target searches you’re showing for (visibility) vs the total number of relevant searches being performed (demand). So, as demand fluctuates, impression share indicates how many opportunities you’re showing for and how many you’re missing out on.

As James says, it’s always important to understand where you are in the market because demand is always changing but the past two years have been especially volatile.

“It’s always good to keep a close watch on your position in the market – have you lost market share to competitors? Are you maximising your visibility for your most profitable campaigns and capturing a high share of impressions?”

Impression share is one of the most valuable metrics in Google Ads for measuring your share of search and, by extension, your market share as demand changes. You’ll find it in the auction insights report along with other powerful metrics for comparing your performance against competitors.

For example, Overlap rate tells you how often another company’s ad shows when your ad also receives an impression.

Need help with your PPC campaigns in 2022?

If you’re worried about volatile demand or the latest changes to platforms like Google Ads, you can speak to our PPC experts for further advice on boosting campaign performance in 2022. Call us on 023 9283 0281 or fill out the form below to arrange a callback.

Lee Wilson profile picture
Lee Wilson

Lee has been working in the online arena, leading digital departments since the early 2000s, and oversees all our delivery services at Vertical Leap, having joined back in 2010. Lee joined our company Operations Team in May 2019. Before working at Vertical Leap, Lee completed a degree in Business Management & Communications at Winchester University, headed up the online development and direct marketing department for an international financial services company for ~7 years, and set up/run a limited company providing website design, development and digital marketing solutions. Lee had his first solely authored industry book (Tactical SEO) published in 2016, with 2 further industry books being published in 2019, and can be seen regularly expert contributing to industry websites including State of Digital, Search Engine Journal, The Drum, plus many others. Lee has a passion for management in the digital industry and loves to see the progression of others through personal learning, training and development. Outside the office he looks to help others while challenging himself, having skydived, bungie jumped and abseiled (despite a fear of heights) with many more fundraising and voluntary events completed and on the horizon. As a husband and dad, Lee loves to spend time with his family and friends. His hobbies include exercising, trying new experiences, eating out, playing countless team sports, as well as watching films (Gangster movies in particular – “forget about it”).

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