PPC Strategies to Supercharge Sales, ROI and Positive Impact
PPC has seen a rapid pace of change within the last year and 2024 is set to accelerate even further. As a digital marketing specialist since 2000, I’ve seen more significant Google updates within the last 12 months than in the last two decades!
AI, Data and the Digital Markets Act
One of the key drivers behind the acceleration of Google Ads and Google Analytics changes is Google being officially named as a gatekeeper in the Digital Markets Act.
Google and other major platforms such as Meta are now legally required to comply with a host of data management duties or face fines of up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide annual turnover, or up to 20% in the event of repeated infringements. With Google’s revenue of $279.8 Billion in 2022 largely driven by advertising, a fine in the region of $28 – $56 Billion is clearly what is motivating Google to act so swiftly.
In particular, gatekeepers must not track end users outside of the gatekeeper’s core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted.
The result is Google’s massive shift to AI-driven products that do not rely on cookie consent, require less manual human intervention and that use machine learning to fill in the data gaps including:
Responsive Search Ads
Google’s classic search ad appearing at the top of Google’s search results with a headline, description, link and other advanced extension features such as Google Ad Seller Ratings, now runs off of up to 15 headline combinations and up to 4 description combinations with the Google’s AI determining which is best.
Many PPC agencies have been slow to adapt and relinquish the decision making to Google’s AI to take care of running P Max campaigns. With the full Google portfolio of Search, Shopping, YouTube, Display, Gmail and Maps at your disposal ensuring error-free human inputs of targeting, text, images, videos and in the case of ecommerce PPC, product feeds, are essential to ensure best practice performance.
Google Ads now includes the option for Smart Bidding, alongside Automated and Manual Bidding. Traditionally Manual Bidding has been used by PPC experts to take a granular approach across different keyword match types such as Broad, Phrase and Exact Match. Now with Smart Bidding, Google’s machine learning can save PPC teams precious time by optimising in real-time for Max Conversions, Max Conversion Value, Target CPA and Target ROAS.
After sunsetting Universal Analytics in July 2023, the new era of Google Analytics 4 is seeing GA4 use data-driven attribution informed by conversion modelling and user behaviours based on Google Signals and previously reported 1st party data.
Consent Mode v2
Due to rollout on 6th March 2024, Consent Mode v2 is Google’s upgrade on the existing Consent Mode feature that may see advertisers in breach of GDPR cookie control policies have their PPC campaigns suspended at worst, whilst advertisers adopting a Google-Approved Consent Management Platform (CMP) to ensure their cookie control banners meet all relevant global privacy directives may gain back up to 70% of their lost traffic and conversions that would otherwise by unavailable due to users declining cookies.
Going through the painful process of utilising AI and data-driven PPC strategies are worth adopting when you can demonstrate your hard work in bottom line performance impact such as ecommerce revenue growth of £3 Million to £11 Million and return on ad spend growth from 3X to 18X.
Humans, the Cost of Living Crisis & Race to Zero
2024 is not business as usual.
Hot off the heels of the United Nation’s COP28 Summit there is an urgent need for businesses of all sizes across the globe to join the Race to Zero Campaign to achieve net zero carbon emissions as fast as possible. Collectively businesses and the humans making decisions on behalf of those brands have the power to shape a better future.
According to GWI’s Slowdown Report based on human behavioural data evidence from across 11 different markets globally, responsible consumption is already being adopted on a massive scale with 27% more people spending less than they did in 2023 compared to 2022.
With the Cost of Living Crisis driving the Great Re-Evaluation, Work Less/Live More is now the prime motivation driving large spending changes with housing/property purchases down 18% year on year and vacation purchases experiencing a 36% surge in growth comparing 2022 to 2023 – presenting a major opportunity for travel PPC strategies.
Other 2024 frugal lifestyle trends experiencing growth in the last year and an opportunity for DTC/retail/B2C PPC strategies include:
- Cooking at home more (+44%)
- Being more energy efficient/turning down heating (+42%)
- Walking/cycling more (+36%)
- Doing more activities that cost less (+34%)
- Reusing products more (+30%)
- Growing/preparing own food (+21%)
Mastering PPC Strategies For Your Brand
With so many external forces impacting your PPC Strategy, it can be easy to jump to implementing Google Ads platform tactics. However when forming a data-driven PPC strategy the best place to start is with agreeing the goals and specific key performance indicators you’re looking for PPC to achieve such as increasing your brand’s visibility, revenue, return on investment and positive impact.
Mastering human-powered data-driven PPC strategies in 2024 can be achieved by adopting 3 key strategic principles:
1. Data accuracy
If you are not accurately measuring conversions or integrating your ecommerce, offline or CRM revenue sources into GA4, the Google Ads AI will be making performance decisions based on inaccurate data causing more of your budget to be wasted on campaigns that are not driving your actual revenue and return on investment. Understanding revenue attribution in GA4 is a key success factor.
2. Human-powered data-driven decision making
Humans need to be confident their Google Ads accounts are working with as much accurate GA4 data as possible to gain data-driven insights and make data-driven decisions such as to increase budgets, shift spend or stop wasting budgets on campaigns proven not to drive the brand's goals. GA4 training and measurement skills across the marketing team is a key success factor.
3. Integrated collaborative teams
PPC teams must work collaboratively across in-house and external agency teams sharing valuable insights with other marketing teams such as Brand and SEO, as well as other functions such as Senior Management, Finance, Sales, Customer Services and HR, and of course vice versa to drive forward positive impact in innovation, product development, customer experience, employee recruitment, team wellbeing and sustainability initiatives. Integrated digital marketing strategies involving all teams is a key success factor.
Final PPC strategy thoughts
Pay per click has evolved considerably over the last few years with a lot of help from AI. So, with PPC typically representing one of the biggest revenue opportunities for brands, making a positive change to your existing PPC strategy or adopting a brand new PPC Strategy can be an absolute game-changer.
I look forward to seeing how quickly brands can master human-powered data-driven PPC strategies to drive forward positive impact for their own organisations, teams, customers and communities towards a sustainable future for all.