PPC Trends and Strategies for 2016
With search engines and social media networks making it more difficult for online businesses to be visible online, many companies are turning to paid ads in order to reach their audience.
But digital giants are restless. With a focus that is firmly fixed on improving user-experience, search engines like Google, Baidu, Bing and Yahoo! continue to upgrade their PPC technologies.
In-app mobile ads
Google is a prime example of the search engine evolution to improve user-experience. Last year, the search engine giant launched interactive mobile ads that give users a 60-second sneaky-peek of the product before they choose to purchase.
The initiative was originally used for mobile users to trial apps – because most apps are only used once or a handful of times. Google then applied the mobile-friendly concept to its PCC Adwords set up.
Interstitials are a viable option for driving traffic from within apps. The problem for mobile users is they were intrusive. So Google changed its policy
to only show interstitial ads based on user intent.
Google also just recently made a big change to their bidding mechanisms while we were writing this post. Previously bidding on mobile was based on a multiplier of your desktop bids. Bidding on tablets or mobile devices couldn’t be managed separately before, but now this has recently changed which gives advertisers much more flexibility being able to optimise more independently by device and shows the Google’s ongoing trend of mobile-first viewpoint.
Content marketing through PPC
Content marketing is playing a more decisive role in PPC now it has passed through the trend stage. Search engines look for brands they can trust to produce great content and provide a good experience for users. Linking PPC ads to high-quality content provides search engines with critical information they need to rank webpages higher in search results. Furthermore, sponsored ads fail when the content fails to seduce consumers.
You should be applying the same tactics to social media PPC campaigns too. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter already use algorithms to identify the type of content users are most receptive to based on past behaviour. Instagram
recently announced the intention to follow suit. Although paid ads are the best way to appear in social media feeds now organic reach has been shredded, delivery of disappointing content could damage your brand reputation with social media networks and search engines.
You may have noticed the PPC ad boxes have changed recently. Adwords for example used to allow 95 characters and provided three lines to persuade users to click-through. Adwords now includes seven manual ad extensions allow marketers to add site links and structure ads with more information. The move brings Google more in line with the space Baidu offer in their paid ads
Bing and Yahoo Gemini still use the old format, but this is likely to change in the design of their ad structure in near future also. But for marketers advertising on Baidu and Google, ads have taken on a design concept that you can build keywords with using structured snippets. You can therefore include benefits and features of your product or service like the example below shows.
Create awareness with native ads
When Yahoo launched a campaign last year to include native ads on its Gemini platform, it sparked a flame that is likely to shine brighter in 2016. Native ads are like advertising chameleons and change colour, form and function to match the design of the host page so that it looks as though it belongs to the website the ad is hosted on.
Companies can utilise native ads to create product awareness for users that are still in the research stage and not quite ready to purchase. Native ads have been outstripping other forms of display ads since 2014, and given the increasing use of ad blockers is killing intrusive ads, native PPC ads are the way to go this year
Given the exponential growth of video ads, it was inevitable they would make an appearance in sponsored ads. Last year video ads started to make a real impact, and the trend is set to continue in 2016 when the medium will eventually mature into a powerful marketing tool.
The major PPC players already accommodate and marketers can expect to see tools improve to enhance visibility of video promotions. Google has already integrated TrueView and YouTube added custom ads that match the user’s listings.
It’s a sign of things to come and 2016 will be the year that all paid ad providers leverage “personal” in-stream video promotions designed to appeal to consumers. Whilst there is still work to be done in the area of personalised advertising, 2016 could see the breakthrough for marketers to target the right customers.
The impact machine learning
and personal assistants like Siri and Cortana could have on search will become more evident in 2016. Voice search is destined to be the new search and with a reported 55% of 13 to 18 year olds already taking advantage of voice activated services
, the potential for a sudden explosion is imminent.
Enquiries made through personal assistants pose a problem for marketers. Searchers typically use natural speech patterns so sentences start with “who,” “what,” “why”, “where,” “when,” and “how.”
According to the Huffington Post, marketers should prepare for voice search sooner rather than later by implanting long-tail keywords in ads, using FAQ strategies and writing content in natural language.
Leverage first party data
Marketers can take a lead – and valuable data – from social media networks. Since popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter implemented algorithms they have been able to deliver content individual users most prefer.
The introduction of initiatives such as Customer Match and Lookalike Audiences allows search and social platforms to compare consumers with similar interests and present them to marketers so you can connect with new followers and place your content in front of the right audience. Tools like this are invaluable to marketers and will be privileged information to companies that have splashed out on sponsored ads.
As advertising platforms become more sophisticated and geared towards PPC, the cost of purchasing sponsored ads becomes more competitive and expensive.
Small businesses that cannot compete with the bulging budgets of top brands will struggle to compete on the leading advertising platforms like Google, Facebook, Bing and Baidu. But there are other options. Fringe social media platforms are adding buy buttons and other direct shopping tools which will present small business marketers access to an audience in a less crowded space.
and Instagram have launched instant buy ads in the last year and the Chinese giant WeChat added a micro-payment function to its publishing app that enables users to purchase items with the mobile phone when visiting overseas countries.
Paid ads v organic search
With organic search becoming harder for companies to position content in front of their audience and raise brand awareness, paid ad platforms offer the only realistic method for low ranking websites to attract traffic.
By way of compensation, paid ad platforms are constantly developing new web technologies that enable marketers to improve ad campaigns and reach a wider audience. And not just any audience. In 2016, online companies will be able to target consumers that have a genuine interest in specific products and services, thus paid ads are placed in front of the right audience.
Although marketers may grimace at the thought of a paid ad campaign, it is the best route to follow in order to be visible in search engine results and social media feeds.
Although content will still play a major role in the way brands engage with their audience, paid advertising will finally trump organic search this year. It has been a long running battle, but a war paid advertising was always destined to win.
Author: Jonathan Gillespie