With 2022 just around the corner, we at MintTwist have put together a list of the latest PPC trends to keep you and your marketing campaigns one step ahead.
Keyword and search ad format changes
Google is closing the door on the use of Expanded Text Ads (ETA) within its ads network, with advertisers no longer being able to create or edit ETA’s after 30th June 2022. Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) will be the only creatable and editable search ad type moving forward. This ad format automatically tests different combinations with a maximum of 15 headlines and four descriptions per ad to identify the best performers. Google states that the intention behind this move is to show the ‘right message for the right query’ within a wider variety of relevant auctions. RSAs have been the default ad type within Google’s UI since February 2021.
It is worth noting that previously existing ETAs will continue running, providing data for reporting and being pausable/removable after June 2022. The automatic nature of RSAs limits detailed breakdowns of exact copy performance. Therefore, we recommend rigorously testing specific ad copy combinations up until their cut-off point. You may also wish to pre-emptively create ad variants for future use and testing. Implementing RSAs now within all ad groups should help develop realistic benchmarks in terms of CTR and conversion performance.
In a further move towards automated advertising, Google began incorporating elements of Broad Match Modifier (BMM) into phrase match during the first half of 2021, resulting in the discontinuation of BMM as a separate match type. This update essentially expanded the reach of phrase match nearer to the levels of BMM, while still maintaining controlled search query targeting. As of July 2021, BMMs were no longer able to be created and legacy BMM keywords automatically adopted the updated phrase matching behaviour.
Search engine diversification
Google still dominates the global search engine sphere, averaging roughly 90% market share across mobile and desktop devices in 2021. On the surface, it may seem an impossible task to perform positively in the face of such strong competition. However, smaller engines are rapidly gaining in popularity both among users and advertisers alike.
The search platform, DuckDuckGo, has experienced exponential growth in their number of search queries processed since 2019; Yandex and Baidu have also experienced remarkable region-specific performance accounting for roughly 60% of Russia’s search market and over 85% of China’s search traffic respectively; and Bing has increased its search advertising revenue, excluding traffic acquisition costs, by 13% for the fiscal year 2021. Microsoft, the parent company of Bing, has also increased the accessibility of its advertising platform through developing Google import – a service designed to move ad campaigns easily from Google Ads onto the Microsoft Search Network.
Responsive Display Ad assets
In our estimation, Google will continue with its uptake of Responsive Display Ads (RDAs) in 2022. With this development, Google automatically combines customer-provided ad assets such as images, videos, headlines and descriptions, effectively simplifying the creative process. This format extends advertising reach by automatically optimising for a multitude of different ad spaces within the Google Display Network while maintaining brand image and lowering the reliance on internal/external designers.
For prospective advertisers who are unsure whether these dynamic ad formats will benefit their business, RDAs can still be run alongside traditional static image display ads, providing an opportunity to test and compare results.
The use of video as an advertising format has proven increasingly popular in recent years, with:
- 86% of businesses now utilise video as a marketing tool – up 35% from 2016
- Video Ad spending is expected to show an annual growth rate of 12.55% from 2021 to 2025
- 82% of all internet traffic will be from video by 2022
This increase in video consumption comes with a caveat: user’s attention spans are shortening. With it, the need for fast, focused and short content has become fundamentally important, with 25% of adults stating that they will close a video after 10 seconds.
This trend is particularly evident in the large-scale uptake of social media platforms based around short form videos: TikTok has surpassed 1 billion users worldwide, YouTube shorts established a $100 million fund to be distributed to content creators over the course of 2021-2022 and Instagram has announced its intention to become a video-first platform optimised for mobile viewing with full screen reels and IGTV as focal points. Google has developed a tool powered by machine learning that creates multiple short (6 sec or less) videos, known as bumper ads; these are derived from crucial moments within longer assets and designed to be placed in front of YouTube videos.
A good paid media video strategy will aim to produce authentic advertising experiences which mimic organic content on the previously mentioned platforms. An alternative approach would be to use high performing pre-existing organic videos to reupload as standalone paid advertisements. In-app engagement data collected from this strategy is unaffected by iOS tracking restrictions, in turn allowing for accurate retargeting and lookalike audiences to be built.
Expanding social commerce space
Buying products via social media networks is not a new concept, with over 25% of shoppers now using social media to discover new products. Social commerce, however, aims to create more seamless user experiences by supporting purchases natively in-app. The lines between content creation, entrepreneurship and consumption are becoming increasingly blurred. This trend has become increasingly apparent in video-centric platforms that offer a seamless opportunity to showcase products and their features in context. The impact of viral trends such as #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has helped business owners generate millions of dollars in revenue, and in some cases caused national shortages of certain items.
This recent evolution, combining the convenience of social commerce and its inbuilt emphasis on virality, has led platforms like TikTok to experiment with new features: products can now be promoted and sold directly through livestreams, and a recently expanded partnership with Shopify has introduced TikTok Shopping, an in-app feature located within certain approved profiles. Campaigns can now be run and optimised on TikTok directly through the Shopify dashboard.
Growing consumer demand for voice-enabled services such as Alexa, Bixby and Siri coupled with advancements in voice-based AI technologies have resulted strong growth within the voice search sector. Analysts predict strong market growth ranging from $2.8 billion in 2021 to $11.2 billion by 2026.
As a result, voice-driven shopping is expected to increase in popularity, becoming a $40 billion dollar conduit by 2022, compared to only $2 billion in 2017. On-the-go searches will make up make up a large part of this search traffic due, in part, to the increasing availability of mobile devices supporting voice-enabled technology. Research suggests that one primary intention for on-the-go searches is to discover local information about nearby businesses. Therefore, we should consider steps that optimise for location-specific voice search queries:
- Regularly and accurately update ‘Google My Business’, local directory and map listings’ information
- Use conversational, natural language to answer spoken questions
- Target query modifiers such as ‘near me’ or ‘open now’
- Include at least one ad group based on conversational language and these keywords
Growing privacy concerns
There has been a strong shift in public sentiment over recent years regarding appropriate privacy protection and data handling by private organisations. This growing concern has been addressed both by governmental legislation, such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), as well as private initiatives from Apple in the form of their controversial iOS 14 update and from Google through initiating the phase out of browser cookies due for completion by the end of 2023.
So, what does this mean for marketers? From a practical perspective, diversifying current ad channels will help maximise exposure and reach, while mitigating against any future changes to the privacy landscape that may be introduced. This could include experimenting with unused paid media channels such as LinkedIn or Reddit, as well as integrating alternative search platforms such as Bing or Yandex into your paid search strategy.
Given the large-scale paradigm shift on the horizon, privacy interventions will continue generating challenges to marketing operations. The frames of reference we used in building current strategies are likely to become outdated by 2023. You can stay ahead of the curve by exploring the innovative solutions proposed by Google with their new set of API’s called ‘The Privacy Sandbox’, or Facebook with their growing emphasis on utilising The Facebook Conversion API to better track conversion events in a post iOS 14 world.
High on the list of global trends next year are the impacts brought about by privacy regulation, both governmental and private. Google, from its position as the world’s overriding search engine, also dominates forthcoming trends as it implements changes to its Ads keywords, ETAs,RDAs, APIs and other protocols. In response to Google’s overwhelming market dominance, watch out for the growth of region-specific alternatives (e.g., DuckDuckGo, Yandex, Baidu) as well as the pioneering thrust of new start-ups.
Expect further growth in video production and consumption, particularly the large-scale uptake of short, focused videos by social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. The convergence of commerce and social media will continue apace, as platforms expand their commercial partnerships and their own video-centric showcasing. Listen out for rising consumer demand via voice-enabled services such as Alexa, Bixby and Siri, particularly in the area of on-the-go local search traffic.
This post-COVID era will present us with extraordinary challenges about the nature of digital information and marketing, at the same time as offering us exciting possibilities for dynamic modifications and creative new growth.