Pay Per Click: What’s New in 2021

paid per click

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is one of the most widely known and most lucrative forms of marketing to emerge in recent history. Its bidding structure ensures that businesses only pay when they get results, and its precision marketing capabilities have driven tons of revenue worldwide.

Like everything else in the professional world, however, PPC advertising is changing. On one hand, the same tactics that led to great marketing wins a year ago don’t have the same kick today. On the other hand, there are new functions and technologies that can improve things for practitioners.

One thing is clear: 2021 has brought a handful of changes to PPC and is likely to introduce more before we see 2022. Here are four new things you may have missed, or might see very soon:

1. PPC Audience Data is Getting Even Less Visible

Pay per click marketing used to rely very heavily on precise audience data. Not too long ago, ad managers could target segments of viewers with pinpoint accuracy—serving their ads to exactly the kinds of people who would most likely click and convert.

Recent changes to Google’s policies on privacy and data have changed the game. For one thing, search query data (i.e. the search terms that audiences used that resulted in ads being served) has grown less transparent

From the time that change was implemented, search engine marketing (SEM) professionals have had to be more strategic when researching keywords and adjusting their Google Ad campaigns. Things like search intent and estimated traffic became more important than they already were, and working with third-party tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush became must-know skills.

Now that Google has announced an eventual end to tracking cookies on their browser, we can expect to see further changes to pay per click marketing.

This year, smart PPC managers are preparing to work with machine learning and algorithms. They’re anticipating an eventual loss of control over the minute details of their ads, and greater importance placed on things like ad quality: reaching a broad base of people with relatable and impactful ad design (versus relying on serving passably good ads to the perfect audiences).

2. PPC Marketers will be More Valuable than Ever

Since automation is growing in prominence, the digital advertising community doesn’t know exactly what to expect from tomorrow’s pay per click environment. What they do know is that 2021 is the year to start investing in agility: the ability to take what you know about marketing and scrap it in order to re-learn it.

The average business has little time to dedicate to obsessively following search engine marketing trends or staying ahead of the current best practices. 

This means that PPC management agencies and professionals will be very important in the coming years—and the sooner a business is able to secure the services of a qualified SEM expert, the better-prepared they’ll be to run successful campaigns in the future. 

It takes time for a marketer to learn your value propositions, then even more time to study your audiences and get a sense of what they respond to. Since knowing your audience and their preferences will be a core skill in guiding Google’s algorithms in the future, having an early start is a good way to guarantee your positioning in the future.

3. Bing and Other Search Engines Will Offer More Value

Data visibility and ad control were two of the biggest reasons why Google was the go-to platform for pay per click marketing. Now that things are changing, however, many industry members expect alternatives like Bing and DuckDuckGo to become more viable options for businesses looking to reach customers as directly as possible.

This doesn’t mean that people will abandon Google overnight—after all, the search engine does pull in 5.6 billion searches a day. But there will be a very compelling argument for taking a more diverse approach to SEM: you can cast a wide net with Google and eventually learn to turn its machine learning programs to your advantage while supplementing your lead inflow with precision targeting on other search platforms.

On a practical note, this means that businesses will have to expand their skill sets, either by self-studying or vetting for agencies that have a proven record for working on non-Google search engines. At the very least, they’d want to start outsourcing to partners with demonstrated agility and learning on the fly.

4. It’ll Pay to Remember Non-Search Pay Per Click

Pay per click isn’t exclusive to search engines. Bid-based digital advertising exists all across the internet, most notably in the form of social media platforms.

Marketers and entrepreneurs would be well-served to remember that many of the skills developed by using Google Ads can translate well to Facebook and Instagram as well. If you’ve had practice with bid management, audience targeting, and ad design then it’s only a short lateral move to figure out ads on Facebook Business Manager.

Of course, it bears mentioning that the similarities only go so far. To succeed at pay per click marketing on social media, you’d have to understand and appreciate the differences in user behavior. People are on social media for news, entertainment, social connection, or just out of idle habit—they aren’t likely searching for anything specific.

Since it’s likely that your business has invested in both social media and search platforms, the odds are good that you should have all the data sources you’ll need to expand your ad activity from SEM to SMM (or vice versa). If you aren’t confident in your skills at one or the other, you could always outsource and hire a qualified agency that specializes in both fields.

pay per click

Conclusion

As you can see, pay per click marketing is changing rapidly—which is par for the course when it comes to digital marketing. And as ever, it’s clear that digital marketing agencies will be a great asset in navigating the future of the format.

If you’re ever in need of a helping hand when it comes to paid search or other forms of performance marketing, our experts at Igloo are more than happy to step in and guide you through what we do best.

All you have to do is say the word, and we can set up a call to explore your options.

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