General

The PPC Trends Your CMO Needs to Know

Written by Jeff Allen, President

Pay Per Click—which is largely made up of Paid Search, Paid Social, and Display Advertising—is growing more complex, more quickly, than most brands can keep up with. Paid Search stayed relatively the same for the first decade of Google AdWords’ existence. Then Mobile became the biggest driver of volume, quickly followed by Facebook beginning to pilfer away that audience. Now we have Artificial Intelligence, Voice Search, and an endless stream of tech companies trying to get their hands in advertisers’ pockets.
If brands aren’t looking around the corners right now, they’re going to be caught by surprise. The problem is, it’s nearly impossible for a CMO or VP of Marketing to know what’s the most important trends to be preparing for. What follows is our guidance on 3 trends your CMO absolutely needs to know.

EMBRACE THE COMPLEXITY

Start Testing On New Platforms Now
Digital advertising is thriving! Per the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), it will continue to increase at greater than 20% YoY – at least for Google and Facebook. The platforms together captured an astonishing 99% of the growth in ad revenue when comparing Q3 of 2015 to Q3 of 2016, per Jason Kint of Digital Content Next.

The less thought about perspective, is that while the bulk of current ad dollars are with two main platforms, there are exponentially more new platforms and tech providers every couple of years. For social platforms, you have Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (part of Facebook), SnapChat, Reddit, and YouTube (part of Google). You also have display tech and supply vendors like DoubleClick, RocketFuel, AdRoll, and Criteo. And then there’s call tracking services, third-party data providers, bid and budget management platforms, attribution tools, etc.
If so much money is spent with just two platforms, why shouldn’t a brand focus 100% of their efforts on Google and Facebook?

That eliminates a lot of complexity, and would significantly reduce costs. There’s a case for both sides, but the less obvious side, and one that I agree with, is to embrace the complexity.

Just because brands are spending on Google and Facebook doesn’t mean they’re hitting their ROI goals. If other platforms aren’t capturing growing ad spend, they may cut discounts, or if they are auction-based, they should have lower CPC’s. Advertising platforms all follow the same ark. They get a lot of users, struggle to find a way to monetize those users through non-advertising methods, and then add a select group of partners who can buy on their site, creating a self-service model.
Eventually, inventory or price will cause advertisers to flee Google and Facebook. It probably will not happen for years, but if you wait until everyone else starts escaping, you will pay more to learn how to win in the new platforms. Why? CPC’s will be higher with the influx of competition and you won’t know which platforms to test first, so you’ll likely have to invest in a broad range until you find some that stick. That lengthens your timeline to get back to acceptable ROAS goals, all while paying a higher cost for the learning.

 

CONSUMERS HOLD BRANDS ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHERE THEIR ADS SHOW

 

Running an ad on the Google Display Network? You may be displaying advertisings on websites that can land your brand in hot water. Decide to pull your ads from those websites? Well then, you may face backlash. Kellogg’s is a prime example of this. Bloomberg ran an article in December 2016 titled, “Breitbart urges boycott of Kellogg after brands abandons site.” Kellogg’s publicly announced they were pulling advertisings from Breitbart, a Google Display Network partner, and Breitbart somewhat-successfully called for a boycott of the brand.
Protecting a brand by understanding where ads are placed has always been an issue. Some may argue it’s not a new trend at all. But consumers better understand how advertisers target them now, and thus know advertisers can easily control where their ads show. This, combined with the current political climate in the US, means people are more likely to strike back if they feel a brand isn’t being true to their stated, or inferred, values.
Want to control your ads?

Excluding placements is easy. Use a simple search to find a list of potential sites to exclude, such as websites that self-identify with the Alt-Right movement. And doing this discretely, by adding the negative placements to your AdWords and or Display accounts, will prevent potential backlash.

 

VOICE SEARCH DOESN’T MATTER, UNTIL IT DOES

 

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was packed with Amazon’s Alexa. From integrating Alexa into robots to using Echo to pull marketing KPI’s. You can do a lot with Voice these days. The problem from an advertising perspective, is that it is still mostly non-commercial queries. Users are either controlling their house by voice or asking trivia questions. Platforms haven’t figured out the path to placing ads yet. But they will. And when they do, brands will see the same trajectory as Mobile search traffic.

This graph from eMarketer shows how, in just 5 years, a new tech can take over an entrenched occupant (mobile taking over desktop in terms of search volume). This graph starts at 2011. The first iPhone came out in 2007, so there were 5 years before Mobile even got to 20 billion annual searches. But in 2016 it ramps up all the way to 113 billion. Our world changes quickly and Voice is showing signs that it will be what’s next.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) reports that Voice Search queries have increased 7x since 2010, which is a similar trajectory to mobile devices. Now, 22% of searches, per Google, have local intent. Many people argue that it won’t matter as much to national advertisers, however the same thing was said about Mobile too.
The best path forward today?
Engage with the medium. Use Alexa, use Google assistant, use Siri. Keep an eye on how it changes your behavior. Pay attention for the possibility of new ad formats. And remember, everyone said they never bought things on their phones and now mobile commerce has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. You may not buy stuff through Voice Search, but pay attention to how others might.

 

THE TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE TOMORROW ARE JUST STARTING TO FORM

 

From automating simple media buying tasks to entirely new ad formats, the next 2-3 years promise a lot of exciting change. Brands that start experimenting today are primed to lead their competitors far behind tomorrow.

 

SPECIAL FEATURE

We asked industry professionals what trends they thought would be most important for their CMO to know in 2017.
“Audience targeting will separate mildly successful digital campaigns from wildly successful ones, especially for small businesses. Whether it’s for maximizing a smaller budget or increasing conversion rate, targeting the audience with tailored and sequential messaging is going to be a key to success in 2017. “

Joe Butch
Director of Marketing



“Customer(s) search habits are constantly changing. Paid Search and other digital channel strategies need to be nimble in order to keep up with changes in these trends. Ratings and reviews on products seem to be emerging as a key factor in online buying decisions and are very prevalent in shopping ads. Mobile is also becoming increasingly important day by day, as a purchasing vehicle and method for consumers to research companies before a purchasing decision is made. “


Steven Short 
Digital Marketing Specialist

“When you hear marketing, most people think advertising. While we of course do that, we have made sure that marketing has been redefined as innovation. We expect marketers to be the champions of what’s next. “

Beth Comstock 
Vice Chair



“Social and paid social continue to advance and mature. It is important to make sure your expectations are in alignment with what the channel (typically a top of funnel function) can actually deliver. This may/will change over time. You need to have a clear expectations for the channel and measure performance along these lines. PPC (pay-per-click) is a mature marketplace for most verticals. Be aware of new features as they come down the line and be able to adapt, test and measure rapidly. Adoption amongst PPC professionals is rapid. Any gains will be realized early and then possibly negated as your completion catches up. “


Peter Green 
Senior Marketing Manager