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Hosted by Julie F Bacchini, this week’s PPCChat session was focused on various topics like what if experts are no longer to do retargeting, what if experts could not utilize first-party data, what if PPCers are no longer able to see the audience or demographic data in platforms and more.

Q1: What if you couldn’t target search ads by keywords – what would you do instead? Would it change your strategy or approach?

It would def change my strategy, but I would still look at what people are asking on atp and google trends. then I’d go hard on audience testing and retargeting. @JuliaVyse

Audiences have become more reliable over time and make up a significant portion of our results. If no keywords, then Audiences would be the main targeting focus.@Realicity

My thoughts would be to just go hard on leveraging audiences. I really like that in the last @Optmyzr PPC townhall – @navahf showed a case study how CPA was lower for activity that had audience layering as opposed to those that don’t. So… that’ll be my first step. @TheMarketingAnu

I’d lean into audience testing hard. Remarketing obviously, but lookalike, in-market, custom would all get in the mix. The goal would be to gather the best signals possible. @robert_brady

Audiences (which we’re already doing) would be even more important. Ads would be crafted around human interest (as opposed to qs keyword stuffing). Do we get negatives in this world? If not, audience exclusions would be clutch. Custom Intent audiences are a must! @navahf

This would be scary – but definitely would adjust my approach to what is relevant, perhaps narrow down on target demographic or where you want to attract leads from. @GreenRope

I mean….we can’t really target by keyword now (at least how we used to – thanks, Google) – so you adapt. Target relevant topic clusters, overlay audiences + move search up in the maze with the goal of feeding more direct channels (i.e. email, SMS, sales) @DigitalSamIAm

This is a good exercise, because I think we will eventually get to this place. Assuming audiences were still a viable thing (big assumption) would start there. Would be interesting to see if we would still see any keyword data (doubt it though). @NeptuneMoon

DSAs (URLS) as a replacement and strict audience targeting based campaigns. This would have me placing a heavy focus on landing page content, continuing to build up that first party data and building out more audience segments to test. @BrettBodofsky

Audiences or website focused targeting would probably be the next move – DSAs with a close eye on queries to continually add negatives. @selley2134

If I can’t use keywords as the guard rails for the Google Ads machine learning beast I’d be looking to find another. @zerospin

Definitely would have to switch up strategy. I’d be leaning more on audience data, what we are seeing in People Also Ask results, other channels (full marketing funnel data) to help create a targeting strategy. @sonika_chandra

I don’t think keywords are as important as they are comfortable. We’re used to playing cribbage, and the game has since moved onto poker. @navahf

I would definitely have to change up the strategy. I’d move into audience targeting along with custom/in-market audiences. Using tools like GSC to see what people are searching would be how I’d figure out new audiences. @ameetkhabra

I forgot feeds! We’re going to become such good friends with our tech #seo colleagues as we optimize our feeds for new ad formats that get better screen time and auction prices than conventional text ads. @navahf

Yes, but not by much. Accounts would be structured to mirror the various stages of the user journey, and target intent audiences based on those stages. Keyword campaigns should already follow this structure. @snaptechmktg

I’d push into to custom audiences quite a bit. I honestly think that’s where will be going. The visits websites like, etc. can build a nice profile. @armondhammer

DSA + more intricate audience and demographic targeting based on customer profiles. Also, target topics and apply detailed demo audiences. @Anna_Sorok

If Google has their way, soon I wont be able to. Then it is just off audiences. @JonKagan

Q2: What if you could no longer do retargeting – what would you do instead?

We’d lean into DSAs more. One of the biggest problems with increased fuzzy keyword matching is irrelevant landing pages. DSAs done we’ll solve this since the correct landing page gets matched to the correct query (theoretically @PPCKirk

It’s my time to shine!!!! if you can’t do retargeting at all (like two major clients of mine) you go omnichannel. You do awareness on video channels, make a lot of noise on spotify and then go direct with DSAs and social. it’s not as sexy but it works! @JuliaVyse

Many businesses already do this well, but getting people to sign up for email/SMS would be my top priority without retargeting. @robert_brady

Now this one would scare me. Lurking for some good tips on this… @TheMarketingAnu

Run “shotgun” styled ads and try for the upper awareness part of the marketing funnel. @PPCKenChang

In this world of no retargeting does PPC now stand for Paid PostCard marketing. Going back to direct mail to people letterboxes. @zerospin

Cry and then probably move into DSA. @ameetkhabra

Could test similar audiences to those that have converted. @selley2134

If retargeting were not longer possible (and we could get there sooner than you think with all the “privacy” moves being made right now) then getting your own list to market to (emails) will be even more important. Awareness advertising will also need to increase. @NeptuneMoon

Shrink/Segment prospecting audiences, then lean heavily on data capture + passback to platforms from an advertising standpoint. From a marketing standpoint, invest a metric ton into community building, which could then mimic the remarketing experience. @DigitalSamIAm

Going to keep it simple here and just say prospecting. KIDDING! I would look to use some of that budget to place a stronger focus on new customer acquisition. But also look to potentially invest into retargeting outside of PPC. Think Email and SMS. @BrettBodofsky

We would have to go back to basics – email marketing, SMS/MMS campaigns, guerilla marketing tactics, word of mouth, social media engagement and content. @GreenRope

The use of emails and first-party data is crucial with regards to losing retargeting. Email marketing itself becomes that much more important in our opinion. @snaptechmktg

This is a loaded question because audiences are so baked into all advertising. At what point is retargeting just regular targeting? I guess I’d go all in on influencer marketing? @navahf

Assuming customer match lists are still ok in this scenario I’d be collecting those names! @sonika_chandra

This one seems very impending with FLoC, since I don’t know how we will have any individual options. I’ll be pushing the lightest possible CTAs to get people to like, follow and obey. It won’t be 1-1, but social can still re-engage. @armondhammer

Maybe double down on very very specific placements to my target audience. So no more general news and other random placements remarketing ends up on. @zerospin

If we say that retargeting is only “visitor to one page who didn’t visit another” – that’s an easy pitfall to avoid with: 1. Customer Match/Custom Lists 2. Intent based audiences 3. Contextual targeting 4. Not writing bad ads. @navahf

One of my clients can’t retarget or use customer match audiences. We boost awareness with YT ads & radio then capture leads through lower funnel Social and Search campaigns. @Anna_Sorok

Then I build really elaborate audience profiles, like I am a FBI profiler stalking a serial killer on criminal minds. @JonKagan

Q3: What if conversion actions could not be passed back into ad platforms – what would you do?

Get even closer with the client’s business data. @TheMarketingAnu

Question wtf it is I am doing with my life. @JonKagan

Lean heavily into CMS data. A lot of it’d be very manual/labor intensive, but the data would be your new gold standard. @Realicity

Oh, like public sector? did you make this just for me Julie? If you can’t pass back to the platform, your utms need to be awesome! not long 4 the sake of long, but elegant, succinct, data rich. See which tactic on which channel is doing what you need & build on it. @JuliaVyse

I’ve been soap boxing on this for a long time. Conventional marketing tackles this all the time – using things like no exposure segments, double volume areas etc. It’s time to get fancy with stats. If you’re doing social PPC this already needs to happen. @armondhammer

Almost definitely cry. But then try and think logically about what can be done. Can the conversions still be tracked via analytics platforms? Can you still view the volume of conversions coming from paid? This is a tough one, curious to see what other people would do. @BrettBodofsky

Use the data the business owns – try your best to implement some sort of utm structure you can see on the client’s backend that will help you determine what is producing. @selley2134

I wrote about this a while ago on @sejournal (bit.ly/3xmkRlY) I’d focus more on internal reporting and layer in UTMs to tell me which users were behind which visits (correlating the conversions). @navahf

We are coming into an age of extrapolation and modeling. Extrapolation on our end, based on whatever data we will still have access to and modeling from the platforms to make us feel like their platform is definitely driving conversions! Start learning GA4 now. @NeptuneMoon

Omg criiinge I really hope I never see the day, but I believe we will always have a “success” metric even if it’s not all conversion actions. In any case, developing a relationship with your clients & creating a process to share back end sales data is important!! @sonika_chandra

No conversion data, fine then pass as much ad platform data into my platform/CRM ValueTrack parameters for the win. @zerospin

Give up. I’d lean into data owned by the client and accept that we have to do the tedious work to figure it out. @ameetkhabra

We’d increase mental health benefits for our employees. @snaptechmktg

In all seriousness, we would use Google Analytics to report on conversion performance, and monitor performance relationships between post-click data and on-platform metrics like CTR, S-IS, to help make informed decisions. @snaptechmktg

I like @GoogleAds‘s answer with consent mode and getting us used to modeling out conversions as opposed to relying on corruptible data points. That said – @Facebook‘s algo is kind of doomed in this scenario. @navahf

Conversions are vulnerable to human error – RL sales are not (either we got the business or we didn’t). This world is the best one to force all departments to rally/share data in the pursuit of profit (as opposed to what happens now with attribution in-fighting) @navahf

A3: short-term: proxy time! Long-term: break out the modeling + find a new source of truth. @DigitalSamIAm

Most of my clients already don’t look at Google ads for conversion data and track it elsewhere (GA, Power Bi, etc.). UTMs and conversion modeling are key in this. @Anna_Sorok

Q4: What if product feeds went away and we were left with only schema? What would you do? h/t to @BrettBodofsky for this Q

Now that’s a brain buster. The single point of truth for sales data should be the client crm, but it is harder to make that actionable without feeds. @JuliaVyse

Run to @PPCKirk and bang on his door till he opens up!!! @TheMarketingAnu

I don’t do a ton of e-comm, but I would hope that the major e-comm platforms (like Shopify) would make this pretty painless to set up correctly for biz. Because if it is not stupid easy, it will be a mess. @NeptuneMoon

Literally no idea. I’d follow @PPCKirk‘s lead here. @ameetkhabra

Finally have a way around unnecessary disapprovals! @JonKagan

Probably panic because that would mean that supplemental feeds won’t work either. @PPCKenChang

No product feeds, make sure the schema is 1) valid 2) easy for Google et al to access FAST 3) up to date and matching human visible website copy. @zerospin

All of the #ecommerce#ppc peeps would PPCs and SEOs working together in harmony might actually happen. I feel like this is the one “what if” that would cause real disruption because of the tech gap a lot of folks have (we can’t be great at everything). @navahf

Coming from a dev background schema doesn’t scare me. But if you aren’t familiar it certainly seems like something you should brush up on. It’s long been a hot topic for SEO but could become more prevalent on the PPC side. @BrettBodofsky

Imagine a world where adding some structured data has the ability to benefit SEO and PPC simultaneously. @BrettBodofsky

If the Schema is implemented properly, it could (in theory) basically replace the product feed; it just changes the workflow. @DigitalSamIAm

(1) Get your schema perfected, fast (2) Brush up on supplemental feeds and feed rules as these will likely be the ways to submit edits to the automated feeds. @PPCKirk

Make sure I have a developer close by. and hope they don’t take away feed rules. @selley2134

This is a cop out answer but tbh, I’d be learning more about schema. When you are left with few choices, you give up & sink or you learn new things & swim. @sonika_chandra

In this case, I think we’d have to work together as a community (and with our SEO team) to ensure that all Schema was consistent and optimized for Shopping Ads. @snaptechmktg

Less chance of having pricing mismatch errors sounds kinda nice. So there’s one advantage. @fennolio

Q5: What if you could not use lookalike or similar audiences anymore – what would you do?

Fall back to demographic targeting; while we are still able to use what is left of demographic targeting. @PPCKenChang

Ugh! go back to regular lookalike building. Get a STRONG audience profile, then start mining your channels for audience insights. I like to start with YouTube and test test test. @JuliaVyse

You got me – on this one I’d cry. I’d lean in on custom intent audiences and use audience exclusions to ensure I’m not misdirecting budget. I’d also go ham on branded campaigns and focus more on a blitz display/youtube buy. @navahf

Focus on other prospecting/new customer acq plays. This is my cop out answer of the day. I’m trying to think of what’s the most similar to similar audiences. @BrettBodofsky

These are tough questions. Go heavy into branded, look at audience insights more intently and audience exclusions???? @ameetkhabra

In market, demographic, Affinities – go back to contextual targeting and managed placements? @selley2134

I really hope that lookalikes and similar audiences don’t get kneecapped in all the privacy and data fights, but I don’t have a great feeling about it. Will call upon my ancient marketing knowledge for how we did things before these capabilities existed. @NeptuneMoon

By focusing on a top of funnel blitz (cheaper channels) I can use volume to overcome the quality issue. I’d focus on landing page experiences to ensure I created a great experience (capturing emails), & focus more on those who are aware of me/I have their email. @navahf

As @NeptuneMoon said, we would use our “ancient marketing knowledge” and revert to relying heavily on first-party demographic, affinity and geographic historic performance to build audiences. @snaptechmktg

Initial reaction: a lot of time spent with @sparktoro + a lot of placement-centric advertising where my target audiences are likely to hang out. Instead of finding them (i.e. LALs/Similar Audiences), let them find you (i.e. appear where they hang out). @DigitalSamIAm

No Look A Like audiences, we still got the custom audiences built on “People who searched for any of these terms on Google” right… right… @zerospin

Build audiences in GA to capture the customer audiences. @ValenciaSEM

I think if we’re pushed out of any data based audience expansion, we will need to look at external use behavior and go there. Using a sparktoro or other tool to find the sites your audience uses and either place direct buys our placement target. That’s expansion. @armondhammer

Q6: What if you could not utilize your first party data (like uploading customer lists to a platform) – what would you do?

First, complain on Twitter. Then….probably some combo of: (i) create a “customers” or “users” section of my site (yay remarketing!); (ii) double-down on community building and (iii) more email/SMS marketing to those people. @DigitalSamIAm

Not advertise? This “what if” scenario seems like it would be the death knell for digital advertising as we know it (mostly because we don’t put up with the lack of transparency on results that traditional media is susceptible to). @navahf

If it was data such as qualified leads, I’d be seeking out a third party platform that allows you upload said data. If that wasn’t an option I’d look to use that first party data in other channels if possible. Google seems to be pushing 1p data, so we should be good. @BrettBodofsky

Uploading first party data I think isn’t in trouble now, BUT it will potentially be w various state level privacy legislation being passed. Of course a federal law could address this as well. I could see it saying customers did not consent to sharing w platforms. @NeptuneMoon

Without that point of differentiation, there’s no real reason to choose those platforms other than for local services and product buys. Local Service Ads comes to mind as an exception to this (& the retail market would likely shift to Amazon/Walmart/etc.) @navahf

Again, it comes back to reverting to old methods of data mining internal customer banks to identify hero marketing audiences. Fingers crossed we don’t have to! @snaptechmktg

Q7: What if Google Ads goes fully automated – how would you adapt?

Dig more into working on strategy – not just Paid Media Strategy – but Marketing strategy as a whole. pretty much an adapt or die mentality. @TheMarketingAnu

Become a marketing robot. @PPCKenChang

I think I’d be looking to get more involved with other channels where there are levers to pull. Microsoft Ads, TradeDesk, Facebook But I’d of course provide clients with guidance on how to best support that fully automated system. Via CRO, content, stuff like that. @BrettBodofsky

Find a new job. (80% kidding) Even fully automated still takes some effort. There will always be CRO improvements, and potentially even metadata needs that can push that robot in the right direction. There are agencies that work on LSAs which are close to that. @armondhammer

I feel like the only thing we really could do is get more involved in the marketing strategy as a whole. @ameetkhabra

Again, I think is is pretty inevitable – only the timeline is in question. As for how to adapt, everything post click will become even more important. Start cultivating “big picture” or “full spectrum” thinking in everything you do. @NeptuneMoon

Automation revolves around inputs and outputs. This means our jobs should shift to focus on these so I would ask “how can I improve one or both of those”? Inputs: data quality, code placement, algo guidance tactics, etc. Outputs: reporting, troubleshooting, etc. @PPCKirk

Look for ways we can test and optimize it, otherwise I would start to compare it to other platforms to see if we need to shift strategies. @ValenciaSEM

Well that one seems more likely – though you could argue that Facebook is already ~80% of the way there now. But even with that, there are creative needs, CRO, website, etc. And overall marketing strategy. If the car drives itself, it needs a destination. @DigitalSamIAm

Automation still needs a strategy to align it to best practices and make it work for your client’s unique needs. We’d definitely have to get creative, but just because it’s automated doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a human touch. (We learned this at. @snaptechmktg

I’d push @MSAdvertising A fully automated Google means they think they can sell their service better than we can (I don’t think they’ll ever get there). SMBs might not need more than what’s currently automated, but I doubt enterprise could be fully serviced. @navahf

Google Ads fully automated. I’d learn how to write better copy, be more creative, understand the human psychology better. Or just become a pro table tennis player or inline half pipe skater. All totally possible @zerospin

Communication + strategic guidance is a vital role here as well. Even in an automated system, your client still needs someone to help with that and communicate on how to manage/improve it. (Develop soft skills!) @PPCKirk

I think this is where PPCers really shine as marketing and overall business consultants. If Google moves away from any manual work, we not only can use other platforms, but other channels to compliment Google. Agreed with @PPCKirk on refining inputs as well. @sonika_chandra

Q8: What if you can no longer see audience or demographic data in platforms – what would you do?

Wait…are we saying no keywords AND no audience or demographics @NeptuneMoon? @TheMarketingAnu

That would be a really bad day, and would probably look for other platforms at that point. @PPCKenChang

Facebook did this and I’m honestly not that bothered (respecting privacy-first web). Now if this extends to targeting, I’d be a little more bothered, but could still manage with contextual targeting and great creative. @navahf

It would be difficult to lose access to this data, as we have become accustomed to seeing it and using it for targeting. Major expectation resetting would be in order. @NeptuneMoon

Intent is key. We’d pray to the PPC Gods that we are still able to target users by their demonstrated intent. @snaptechmktg

I think this is one where you could pretty efficiently proxy around the audience using creative. Use more specific creative, target the creative to an audience, and evaluate using the creative. At least, in the short term. @DigitalSamIAm

Companies like Claritas have been providing audience data for a while now. Plus we can <gasp> Talk to customers too. There will always be a way to garner audience insights. It just might not be as easy. @armondhammer

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