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Greetings Happy Readers! Planning and Researching are very important for PPCers to use their budget properly to gain maximum returns. During this week’s PPCChat session, host Julie F Bacchini sought answers to questions like what is the biggest challenge experts are facing with PPC planning or research right now? are they doing competitor or keyword research these days? how are they handling budgeting planning for 2023? and more.

Q1: Are you in the midst of any PPC planning right now? If so, what kinds of planning are you working on?

Hi gang!! New role has a lot more of a b2b/event focus so planning is very much in a Christmas planning mode! Also just trying to take seasonal learnings but still adding the major caveat of Covid. @PPC_Fraser

There isn’t a moment that I’m not planning. Currently, I have 2023 planning, Q4 planning, peak season planning (retail and healthcare), Q1 seasonal planning (healthcare and finance). All while trying to find time to curse GA4 and PMax. @JonKagan

Yes, we’re currently planning for 2023. @spacetime_0914

Planning for 2023 for clients – budgets and strategy. Also business planning for Neptune Moon and PPC Chat! And also putting a timeline to figuring out how to actually use GA4. @NeptuneMoon

Always! Right now we’re planning for various initiatives in October & November. Don’t have many ecomm clients, so not as much of a focus on holiday season prep (moreso looking for expansion and/or refinement opportunities). @adclarke10

Also starting to look ahead to Q1 2023, and finding/planning for new clients. @adclarke10

Mostly 2023 planning at this point, but still some smaller tactical planning around the holidays for some brands. @lchasse

My clients definitely are. @TheMarketingAnu

Launching into new markets. Some of the E-Com clients want to go on omnichannel for different geographic location launches. They are preferring the UK & EU markets. For B2B, I am working on preparing the reactivation campaigns for dormant clients in Q4. @1tagupta

Of course, Black Friday Q4 is on our team’s mind across clients. Plus always looking at Q1 & Q2 2023 with some clients. I predict Amazon will huge in 2023 because of the recession. Thinking about client’s media mix right now. @duanebrown

Yes, but still at a bit of a high level. Budget conversations are happening of course, but we’re also exploring media mix expansions and trying to move from solely BOFU advertising. A lot of options on the list of proposals. @danielparscale

Q2: How are you handling budgeting planning for 2023? Are you using 2022 or your comparison? If so, why and if not, why not and what are you using? Are other economic factors coming into your planning (inflation, recession, etc.)?

Budgeting is complicated across B2B and B2C. It is a mix of looking at the previous year, but also where do we want to be. @lchasse

I am trying to look at budget data from 2019 through 2022 to try to figure out/plan for 2023. And yes, inflation and recession concerns are definitely making a ruckus in the planning right now! @NeptuneMoon

It depends on the client. Some are a little leary of the current economic state so are trying to hold budgets. But the rising costs of CPC makes it difficult to use this years budgets or last years (less traffic for some cost) @selley2134

Luckily, the organization I’m with benefited from the Pandemic (telemental health) so we’re using 2022 as a point of reference. So far our forecasts show that there will another boom in our industry due to the recession. @PPC_Fraser

I look at the data from last year, while always taking economic factors into account. @DianaAlinaAldea

No clear answer of one of the other. my clients are geared more towards what is driving ROAS now and trying to add a bit of a % increase on that. @TheMarketingAnu

Most of our clients have an ideally monthly budget and then we adjust each month based on product launches, past performance, and other external factors. We don’t plan budgets a year out as it is a waste of time. No one can predict what will happen a year out. @duanebrown

For the most part, we’re planning for similar ad spend budgets as 2022, bc most of our clients don’t have fluctuations in budget each month. Definitely aware of economic concerns, but haven’t really had any clients indicate that this will impact their ad spend (yet). @adclarke10

I see a mixed version of responses in terms of budget planning and 2023 preparations. Early 2022 has been mild for the businesses and in Q4, companies are planning to spend heavily and take some risks (I am talking about companies I interact with). @1tagupta

Each year is drastically different. We have noticed that some clients have a drop in volume close to elections. Major events can sometimes shake up results. @onlineadacademy

We have experiments going on majorly finding the new markets for the launches and reactivating dormant businesses. The major issue is testing with both sides. Especially with the new market launches. I see that clients are not hesitating with testing stuff. @1tagupta

I am looking at the previous market trends for the industries, spying on their competitor’s strategies, and trying to find the USP for new products & offers in competitive markets. Cracking this down profitably would be my best experiment so far. @1tagupta

So I am using 2022 for the most part because it is now similar to 2019. But I am scaling the expected CPC costs, as we’ve seen them skyrocket above normal levels since April. @JonKagan

Q3: How are you conducting keyword research these days (if you are!)? Any tools you’re using that you like to help with this task?

Keyword research these days is not all that much different than previously with one big change. I am doing negative keyword research at the very beginning. I have seen campaigns where 80% or more of the search terms are not shown. @lchasse

To be honest – Assuming we have the volume of spend, Broad match is highly effective. We’ll use broad match of obvious terms but also competitors. @jporcas

The G Ads keyword planner ain’t what it used to be, sadly. I like Keywords Everywhere for ideas. And, with keyword and query matching fuzzing up, this tool for misspellings is a must (h/t to @AmaliaEFowler for this!): tools.seobook.com/spelling/keywo… @NeptuneMoon

I’ve recently been using (keywordtool.io) not to identify ideal keywords to target but to identify negative keywords. Now that the landscape has changed in terms of keyword matching.

Mainly use the Google Ads KW Planner – I search core terms first, then note any related terms along with volume & CPC ranges to determine a campaign structure & budget recommendation. I’ve also used Keywords Everywhere in the past, but more for SEO KWR. @adclarke10

A keyword planner is still a place to get “ideas” not hard data. Also, @semrush and @spyfu are keyword tools we use, but again – more for keyword ideas to test, rather than the exact words we’ll use. @onlineadacademy

God this is such a trick question these days. I still do it, but with the concept of match type lacking and smart campaigns abound, it really is becoming less relevant. I dunno, maybe I am just doing it for nostalgia. @JonKagan

You could also go totally new school and run DSA campaigns and see what Google matches for you. I have been doing this for a while (in addition to specific campaigns). It is eye-opening to say the least. You can share w/ SEO teams too! @NeptuneMoon

@semrush and @spyfu are my go. Apart from this, @bing has an interesting keyword planner. It helps you to segment keywords into categories. Worth a look. I use Social Listening tools. It helps you get on top of your industry jargon and you can test them. @1tagupta

Google’s keyword planner is pretty solid. Talking to customers is the best tool to do keyword research. @duanebrown

Love to read more on this! Jumping between SEMrush and KW planner but from a trends perspective, finding TikTok really interesting. @PPC_Fraser

Q4: How are you conducting competitor research these days (if you are)? Any tools you’re using that you like to help with this task?

Yes, talking with your brands to find who they believe their top competitors are. Using the auction insights tool is also eye-opening in many cases. Outside tools like Spyfu work pretty well also to provide some information. @lchasse

Most competitor research is a waste of time for most brands. Brands spend way too much time worrying what competitors are doing. VS spending time on ad copy, CRO, product improvements and supporting their customers. Unless you plan to copy a competitor’s POV. @duanebrown

Why are you going to spend all that time focused on them. Your brand and North star should be leading the way. What makes you different and why are you in business. Not what your competitors are doing. @duanebrown

Besides your traditional SpyFu & SEMRush – I’ve found the following pretty useful: moat.com/advertiser/craft.costatista.com (to ensure that my findings align with industry studies) @spacetime_0914

Mainly Google keywords tool but I keep looking at Search Console and Ahrefs report, which gives a lot of long tail keywords that generate sales/leads at much lower cost. @hemangrami

I like to review the auction insights, SERPs, and ad copy & landing pages for Search campaigns. For Social, using some of the platforms’ new ad transparency tools are really helpful to see exactly what ads, messaging, etc. that competitors are using. @adclarke10

The other thing is most social platforms have ways of seeing other brands ads. You can just check what your competition is running by using these different tools directly. I believe several folks have shared links to them in various platforms. @lchasse

I always start by asking who they think competitors are. Then I do some searches and see what I see. Review G Ads auction insights if available. Look at FB ads library. Visit competitor sites to see remarketing. Sign up for comp newsletters. Google alerts! @NeptuneMoon

For the platforms where you can essentially target those who like/are interested in competitors, play around with setting up some audiences and see what you see with regard to size, estimated cost, etc. @NeptuneMoon

This is slightly not exactly the answer to this question, but… You can get audience data by putting platform pixels on your site, even if you don’t use them for actual advertising (or don’t yet). Prove your audience is there this way! @NeptuneMoon

Always doing it, but with more PMax, it gets trickier. I like splitting it up between @Similarweb@spyfu and @semrush @JonKagan

Yes. @semrush, @spyfu, @sparktoro, @g2, @Capterra, @crunchbase, @googlenews, Google Alerts, @Similarweb, @ProductHunt, @MeetApollo, Meta Ads Library, Reddit Groups, @ZoomInfo, @owlerinc and many more. I can just go on and on with the tools. @1tagupta

I think it’s handy to look at competitor research as a mix. Typically I’ll rely on spyfu/auction insights but normally try to reach out to wider teams to see what info they may have. @PPC_Fraser

Q5: What is your biggest challenge with PPC planning or research right now? Let’s see if we can help each other!

As the last 2.5 years taught us… don’t plan too far out and keep an eye on the prize. The biggest issue continues to be uncertainty with what the future holds. @duanebrown

Planning for efforts that don’t have true insight capabilities (i.e. PMax). That and random outages. @JonKagan

I am focusing heavily on new client acquisition for my biz. I am getting accounts that are messed up by earlier agencies, consultants, and media buyers. For me, creating ways to figure out the mess-ups and start fixing the mess-ups asap to bring in the results. @1tagupta

Planning when there is so much uncertainty – both with economic conditions and with the whims of the ad platforms. Now, more than ever, we need to be flexible and teach our clients and stakeholders that things can change quickly. @NeptuneMoon

Accounting for close variants when planning for Search campaigns has been kind of a headache. Constantly questioning how much segmentation is too much/too little, will certain keywords be viewed as the same, etc. & then having to explain all of the nuances to clients. @adclarke10

The challenge is to do deep audits to find the issues behind bad performance and test how to align products, offers, and advertising budgets in any market for any industry and bring in the results. Like something that can work at a macro level for everything. @1tagupta

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