Rethinking Your PPC Strategy

As the use of content and social media continues to rise in the great big world of digital marketing, is there any room left for the pay-per-click campaigns we've come to love (or hate)?

The $51 billion Google gobbled up in ad revenue last year would point to "yes". And that's despite the 198 million people using ad blockers.

However, changes in consumer demographics, mobile technology, and Google's SERP layout are forcing us to re-think the way we approach PPC advertising. Yesterday's techniques aren't as effective as they once were, and adapting to these new changes is going to become increasingly crucial as we move further into 2016 and beyond. So here are three ways to re-think your PPC marketing.

More Money. More Focus.

Competition is, and always will be, the heart and soul of PPC advertising.

While the success of your ads is determined by multiple factors--such as relevance, targeting, and quality score--money is your primary source of competitive power. This can sometimes create an uneven playing field that favors larger companies with bigger budgets. And unfortunately for the smaller companies, the competition just got a lot tougher.

A few weeks ago, Google killed right-side ads, leaving only 7 coveted spots on the results page up for grabs. And less space means higher CPCs, which makes bidding for keywords even more competitive.

If you can afford to up your budget, then I highly suggest doing so. If not, then consider killing your lowest performing keywords and putting the excess spend behind the higher performing ones.

For example, let's say Client A is running a campaign targeting 5 keywords.

Keyword Clicks Impressions Click Through Rate Conversions
KW 1 20 1129 1.7 1
KW 2 77 1992 3.87 5
KW 3 2 313 0.64 0
KW 4 16 901 1.78 0
KW 5 7 1735 0.40 1


From the chart, we can tell that Keywords 1 and 2 are performing fairly well. They're getting plenty of impressions, clicks, and conversions. Keywords 3 and 4, however, are showing fewer impressions and clicks, and they aren't pulling any conversions. Keyword 5, while low on clicks, is getting impressions and a conversion. In this situation, Client A might delete Keywords 3 and 4 in order put more money behind 1 and 2 to be more competitive.

Focusing more money on the most effective keywords isn't a new strategy, but it can help you stretch those precious pennies where it matters most.

Forget Text. Go Visual.

When we talk about PPC, we often think of search ads. But these are not your only options.

If you've ever used a streaming site, then you've probably noticed the abundance of video advertising, like this tear jerking beauty.

Are they annoying? Some of them. But they're ridiculously effective. Videos have been shown to decrease bounce rate, increase time on site, and aid in memory retention.

AdWords has a video option for its display network, but they're not the only avenue. YouTube, Pandora, and Facebook all offer video advertising options.

Go Social.

Paid ads on social media are growing in both popularity and effectiveness (I've become pretty partial to Facebook ads myself). This is especially true for millennials, which is very important to note since millennials generally don't trust advertisements. It's also important because, as I've pointed out before, millennials now make up the majority of consumers, which means it's time to start building strategies around what works for them.

Social media ads are effective for a few reasons. On one hand, they're passive, meaning they aren't as intrusive as Google Ads, making them more palatable for users. On the other hand, they are much more cost effective (when done correctly, of course). $5 on Facebook will go a LOT further than it will on AdWords.

Social ads also usually allow more room for creativity and personalization than AdWords, and sites like Facebook offer a ton of filters. This means you can better target your ads to the right demographic of people.

Overall, it looks like PPC is here to stay--for now at least. 2016 is projected to be a big year for content marketing, so it will be interesting to see if paid ads are still standing by December.

Got anything to add? Share it in the comments!