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Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, this week’s PPCChat session shed light on the biggest positive or negative change faced by PPCers in 2019, PPC trend or topic which experts do not want to hear about again in 2020, PPC wish list for Q1 2020 and more.


Q1: What was the biggest change in paid search for you this year?


Close variant matching has spread like a plague and it’s required me to experiment with different campaign structure and keyword selection. And of course, more and more automation. @robert_brady

Definitely would say the continued push to automation. @CJSlattery

The keyword matching has been a major headache of 2019 for me too. Agree on the automation push too. It still has SO LONG to go to be good in a lot of instances. @NeptuneMoon

Honestly, the biggest change seems to be Google Support. This past year seemed worse than years past, but as a “regular partner”, I get called by folks who really don’t seem to know much about their own platform now. They are just sales people now. @lchasse

For me personally, the biggest change has been a conceptual one. Because of the inexorable march away from micro-optimizations, I feel like we can talk about Paid (& Organic) Search as ad channels in a marketing mix serving a specific user function. @ferkungamaboobo


Q2: What is something that was really positive that changed in PPC in 2019 in your opinion?


Audience improvements have been really nice and I have seen great success with them this year. I do love how they have expanded them as much as they have. @lchasse

We are awfully quiet on positive changes in 2019. @NeptuneMoon

I think more and more advertisers are breaking PPC out of the silo and realizing it needs to interact with their other marketing efforts. @robert_brady

And in fairness, I’m seeing better results with Google automated bidding options recently. @robert_brady

More brands seeing there is life beyond Google, Facebook, and Instagram. The speed at which newer platforms are updating their ad manager has been great to see from #SnapAds, Pinterest and Quora. @duanebrown

This has nothing to do with the platforms, but I am seeing a bit of a return to recognizing that branding activity is important and has value beyond the ROI obsessed culture of PPC. Fingers crossed this trend continues! @NeptuneMoon


Q3: What is something that was negative that changed in PPC in 2019 in your opinion?


Close variant matching has gone too far IMO. The machine learning isn’t as refined as I’d like to see. Seems like Google is chasing additional ad impressions HARD. @robert_brady

Similar to question 1, support at Google has deteriorated to sales people with call scripts instead of knowledgeable folks who really understand marketing and how to use the tools. I know “premium” support is still decent, but regular “partners” not so good.. @lchasse

Where does one begin: 1. Poor close variant match 2. Automation that’s still trying to learn to walk 3. Forced changes that we can’t do anything about. 4. Lies the mountains of lies from ad platforms. @duanebrown

Facebook is a lot more crowded as an advertising platform and that has not been positive. The “close variant” thing is awful. Other sneaky changes too like changing the tightest location setting to be more broad & making placements harder to exclude in GDN. @NeptuneMoon

Reporting on responsive ad formats is a joke. I give you 10 headlines and 5 description lines and all you’ll tell me is impression counts? Same thing for smart campaigns; so little data. @robert_brady

Automation has been a net negative for almost all accounts I manage. And the death of good support. Two biggest Ls in my opinion. @CJSlattery

The “black boxing” of data is troubling too. Not just for performance on platforms, but I use that data for things outside of PPC and also across platforms, so not seeing some or all of it makes it harder to see a fuller picture.@NeptuneMoon


Q4: What is something that you were looking forward to happening that did not happen in PPC in 2019?


I was hoping the platform would be faster to work in since they updated the interface. I am still seeing it be very sluggish if you use the web interface. I use Editor 90% of the time due to this. @lchasse

I live in hope that one day, Facebook will not go down on a day when I need to do something on it. Seriously, their downtime is pitiful. 2019 was, apparently, not that year. @NeptuneMoon

Hoped Pinterest would stop having a less broken ad manager…..still not the case. @duanebrown

For google to sack the people in charge of google ads and replace them with competent people who understand direct marketing… only joking… I never had any hope this would happen. @stevegibsonppc

Maybe a more reasonable hope would be that when they made changes to the interface (A) They’d test them to make sure they work. (B) They’d talk to high-volume users to see if the changes were useful or detrimental. @stevegibsonppc


Q5: What PPC trend or topic do you NOT want to hear about again in 2020?


That question is a little harsh, but I feel like voice search keeps getting hailed as the next big thing and I just don’t see it. @robert_brady

Really don’t want to hear more about the branded search ad stuff. I get it but the click costs are negligible and you should want to maximize your SERP real estate anyway. @CJSlattery

Y’all gave great answers. I’ll sit this one out. @duanebrown

I feel the theme I want to remove from “the discourse” is a lack of context. So much of PPC-related content is “best practices” or seeking a “one true path” where there’s a real dearth of “how to use PPC in X role”  @ferkungamaboobo


Q6: What was your biggest takeaway for PPC in 2019 (lesson learned, success story, thing that you thought would work, but didn’t, etc.)?


Audiences worked very well in 2019. Google created great new audiences, especially in the accounts I manage that focus a lot on retail (home, food, apparel, etc.The “stealth” expand audience feature caused the expense to go way up and revenue to drop (failed). @lchasse

I’m sure I say this every year. The more things change the more they stay the same. Strategy still beats tactics and just following a step by step guide on YouTube. Testing still matters. What works in one account may or may not work in another. Understanding people…even USA vs Canadians…makes for better marketing. Talking to customers will help you win against bigger competitors. @duanebrown

It’s a bit broader than just PPC but is relevant to my work in PPC and its know your value. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Know what you’re worth, and say no to people who seek to “get a deal.” It’s always more trouble than it’s worth. @CJSlattery

The playing field is getting less and less level, as usually happens as any industry matures. @NeptuneMoon


Q7: Are there things that were on your to-do list that you didn’t get to in 2019?


This is outside regular SEM, but I wanted to start making online classes for some various topics. Just trying to expand what I am doing outside just being a freelancer. @lchasse

Tons. The big one was my 19,000 word 10x content piece. It’s close though. @CJSlattery

More time with Snap and Amazon was high. Testing IG Stories more was one plan. Speak at a conference in Asia. Still, tons to reach for the stars in 2020. @duanebrown

Finish my book on PPC strategy. Been at 99% done for 3 months…@stevegibsonppc

I had wanted to improve my Excel skills and write more regularly, didn’t get far with either of those goals. @NeptuneMoon


Q8: What’s on your list for Q1 2020? (2020 PPC Wish List is the next chat’s topic too!).


Finish my content piece. Close a few new PPC clients. Familiarize myself with snap ads! @CJSlattery

I want to dig more into Instagram and be better at recommending specific strategy for that part of the FB platform. It seems like an area for opportunity as FB gets more crowded. See if I can streamline mgmt tasks more too. @NeptuneMoon

I have the perfect load of clients right now, so probably trying to start working on doing some classes (some SEM related and some not). Usually set aside time weekly for learning. I may take the Amazon certification class since I work in it so much. @lchasse

Launch my next content piece in January and get our 5th annual salary survey up Feb 1st as usually. We all got raises to ask for in 2020. @duanebrown


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