Pre­dict­ing the future is nev­er easy – par­tic­u­lar­ly in the world of PPC. Even with all the cam­paign data in the world, you don’t know the lat­est trends until they hit.

It’s a tough task stay­ing on top of all the updates released by the likes of Google, Bing, and YouTube. It can be even hard­er to learn new things and quick­ly adapt to the changes.

On Octo­ber 23, I mod­er­at­ed a spon­sored SEJ webi­nar pre­sent­ed by Adzooma’s Puneet Vaghela and Sal Mohammed.

They shared the five biggest PPC trends com­ing up in 2020 and how mar­keters can increase paid search per­for­mance while stay­ing on top of the lat­est indus­try changes.

Here’s a recap of the webi­nar pre­sen­ta­tion.

We’ve all seen devel­op­ments hap­pen­ing in the paid search front over the past 18 months from both Google Ads and Microsoft Adver­tis­ing. Some of the changes involve:

  • Ad copy.
  • Smart bid­ding.
  • Aver­age posi­tion.
  • Audi­ences.

As inno­va­tion in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing con­tin­ues to grow at an expo­nen­tial rate, smart PPC pros need to keep up with the mar­ket.

Here are five trends you should be look­ing at in 2020 in order to stay ahead of the game.

1. Audience Segmentation

Audi­ence seg­men­ta­tion is based on tak­ing a group of peo­ple who have inter­act­ed with you online – either on your web­site, your CRM data­base, through a YouTube chan­nel or one of your oth­er social media chan­nels.

These peo­ple are then seg­ment­ed based on:

  • What URLs they’ve vis­it­ed on your web­site.
  • How they’ve inter­act­ed on your site (i.e., whether they’ve pur­chased).
  • What videos they’ve watched.

Then they’re placed into buck­ets that serve spe­cif­ic ads based on how they inter­act­ed with you.

This allows you to increase or decrease bids to make sure you’re more or less promi­nent to your audi­ences based on the val­ue that they have on your busi­ness.

Although it seems very in-depth, this is still the most basic way to use audi­ences.

How­ev­er, as we gath­er more and more data on our cus­tomers and audi­ences, we can begin to break them up into spe­cif­ic buck­ets and there­by mak­ing our mes­sag­ing even more per­son­al­ized and our bid­ding strate­gies more informed based on spe­cif­ic data points.

  • What type of user are they? Where did they leave your site? Did they pur­chase some­thing?
  • What are your audi­ences inter­est­ed in?
  • What age and gen­der are they?
  • What demo­graph­ic group do they fall under?
  • Where are they search­ing and brows­ing for you or your prod­ucts? What device are they on?
  • Are they com­ing from oth­er web­sites? What key­words are they find­ing you through?
  • Where are they in their life? Are they hap­py? Are they sad? Are they angry?

The inclu­sion of spe­cif­ic data sets, as well as inferred emo­tion­al data, means that you can make your ads extreme­ly bespoke to the peo­ple you want to tar­get.

You can also iden­ti­fy exact­ly which type of per­son you should be spend­ing your resources on to grow your busi­ness.

Make sure to cre­ate audi­ence lists in Google Ads to lever­age this oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Audience Segmentation

How to Create an Audience List

Step 1: In the top right-hand cor­ner of your Google Ads account, click the Tools & Set­tings icon. Nav­i­gate to the Shared Library col­umn and then click Audi­ence man­ag­er.

Step 2: In Audi­ence man­ag­er, click on the blue cir­cle with the plus sign to start cre­at­ing a remar­ket­ing list.

Step 3: Once there, you’ll have a drop-down menu of where you actu­al­ly want to cre­ate your list. You can either choose from:

  • Web­site vis­i­tors.
  • App users.
  • YouTube users.
  • Cus­tomer list from your CRM data­base.
  • Cus­tom com­bi­na­tion.

Step 4: In this step, you’ll actu­al­ly cre­ate your list. First, you need to name your audi­ence.

Next, select the List mem­bers – the type of vis­i­tors from which you’d like to cre­ate an audi­ence. You’ll then have to iden­ti­fy spe­cif­ic rules accord­ing to the type of vis­i­tors you choose.

Click on Cre­ate Audi­ence once done.

Step 5: The final step is assign­ing your audi­ence to a cam­paign or ad group.

On the left side of your Google Ads account, left click on Audi­ences. Once you’re in Audi­ences, click on the blue cir­cle with a pen­cil inside.

You’ll then get the screen on the right where it says Edit audi­ences. Here, the first drop-down Add to – you can either choose Cam­paign or Group.

Once you’ve cho­sen which lev­el you want, on the right-hand side you can then choose which cam­paigns or ad groups it actu­al­ly goes into.

You then have two options:

  • Tar­get­ing: For nar­row­ing the reach of your cam­paign to spe­cif­ic audi­ences, and get reports.
  • Obser­va­tion: For get­ting reports on addi­tion­al items with­out nar­row­ing the reach of your cam­paign.

Click Save. Your audi­ence list is now into your cam­paigns and ad groups.

So What Do You Need to Do?

  • Ensure you’ve cre­at­ed audi­ence lists in Google Ads.
  • Use the data from vis­i­tors to your site to iden­ti­fy the most promi­nent and lucra­tive audi­ence cat­e­gories.
  • Begin cre­at­ing more gran­u­lar lists based on these cri­te­ria and cre­ate dif­fer­ent cam­paigns and ad groups for each.
  • You should be max­i­miz­ing your bud­get toward these audi­ence-based cam­paigns.

2. Automation & Account Management

Automa­tion has already start­ed – but it’s going to be even more impor­tant in 2020.

We’re already see­ing it in:

  • PPC opti­miza­tion: Automat­ing the abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties with­in your PPC account to make changes and improve per­for­mance and account hygiene.
  • PPC account man­age­ment: Automat­ing rules with­in your account to man­age bid­ding and dai­ly account man­age­ment tasks.

That said, not enough automa­tion is being used in the indus­try cur­rent­ly. Automat­ing process­es, such as bid man­age­ment, can help mar­keters har­ness the pow­er of automa­tion.

Tar­get CPA and ROAS are great exam­ples of how this has been imple­ment­ed already in day-to-day account exe­cu­tion.

And even if you’re reluc­tant to let go of man­u­al­ly man­ag­ing your bids, then there are oth­er areas where you can apply automa­tion to.

A num­ber of com­pa­nies are emerg­ing to knit togeth­er opti­miza­tion across prop­er­ties such as Albert, an AI tool that takes data from across all of your mar­ket­ing activ­i­ty and decides where invest­ments should be focus­ing.

Moment mar­ket­ing tools such as Mpo­ri­um will allow mar­keters to auto­mate changes to the cam­paigns based on trig­gers from third-par­ty sources such as TV, social media con­tent, weath­er, and even stock mar­ket changes.

What Will Be Different in 2020?

In 2020, there will be an even big­ger light shined on mar­ket­ing per­for­mance, with clients and busi­ness­es requir­ing more data analy­sis, report­ing, plan­ning, and ser­vic­ing.

With more busi­ness­es adver­tis­ing online, it will become more dif­fi­cult to cut through the clut­ter.

There will also be a high­er promi­nence of automa­tion tools to help you with opti­miza­tion, dai­ly tasks, report­ing, project and account man­age­ment.

What Should You Be Doing About It?

  • There are plen­ty of ways to lever­age automa­tion in paid search:
  • Use scripts in Google and Bing to auto­mate account man­age­ment alerts and changes.
  • Invest in opti­miza­tion ser­vic­ing tools (OSTs), such as Adzooma, Search Squared or GOA.
  • Use bid­ding rules to man­age the per­for­mance of your cam­paigns.
  • Set up alerts across all your activ­i­ties to inform you of major changes.
  • Set up auto­mat­ed report­ing, reduce man­u­al report­ing time.
  • Spend more time ana­lyz­ing your data and audi­ences to deliv­er the best expe­ri­ence for your cus­tomers.
  • Test Smart Cam­paigns in Google Ads to hit your tar­get KPIs.

3. Voice Search

Com­Score pre­dicts that by 2020, 50% of all search­es will be voice search­es.

So what does this mean for PPC?

This means that the search terms that trig­ger ads to appear are going to change as peo­ple inter­act in a more con­ver­sa­tion­al way with their voice-enabled devices.

Obvi­ous­ly, we’re still quite a long way away from see­ing paid search with­in voice.

That said, it would be ben­e­fi­cial to:

  • Start using more con­ver­sa­tion­al and long-tail terms in your key­word tar­get­ing.
  • Make sure your land­ing pages are more con­ver­sa­tion­al as well for both the UX and for SEO rea­sons.
  • Test and learn more long-tail terms in 2020, mea­sure the impres­sions and impres­sion share on them, as well as the CTR and CVR.

4. Visual Search

Search is becom­ing more visu­al. Now, you can upload an image to a search engine and use the engine to find you rel­e­vant results based on oth­er images sim­i­lar to the one you uploaded.

Sur­pris­ing­ly, this devel­op­ment first came from the social media world with Pin­ter­est releas­ing its first visu­al search tool in 2015. They have since refined their visu­al dis­cov­ery tools with the intro­duc­tion of Pin­ter­est Lens in 2017.

Oth­er social chan­nels such as Insta­gram and Snapchat fol­lowed suit, allow­ing users to search with images.

Last year, Snapchat announced a Visu­al Search part­ner­ship with Ama­zon which allows users to search prod­ucts on Ama­zon straight from the Snapchat cam­era.

So what does this mean for PPC?

Bing has also released its own visu­al search engine which allows peo­ple to do the same thing but use their entire index of the web as their source of infor­ma­tion – much of the info that is on a retail site or social net­work plat­form.

Visual Search

So What Do You Need to Get Ready For?

Prepar­ing for the growth of visu­al search now will make it eas­i­er for peo­ple to find you in the future. You should:

  • Start think­ing about images that show­case your offer­ing on your web­site.
  • Ensure they have the cor­rect ALT text on them so the SERPs can pick them up.
  • Ensure you’re using the best images to show­case your prod­ucts or ser­vices.
  • Use mul­ti­ple images where pos­si­ble so the SERPs have a choice of what to index.

5. PPC & SEO Integration

The rela­tion­ship between PPC and SEO will be an impor­tant area to address mov­ing for­ward. Both have their advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages, yet they can be used togeth­er to max­i­mize your results.

In 2020, make an effort to inte­grate PPC and SEO through:

  • Key­word unearthing.
  • Effi­cient posi­tion strat­e­gy.
  • Data and infor­ma­tion shar­ing.
  • Increased SERP cov­er­age.

What’s the Best Way to Do This?

  • Use PPC data to inform SEO of the most viable and prof­itable key­words to tar­get for organ­ic rank­ing boosts.
  • Use SEO rank­ing data along­side PPC bid­ding to iden­ti­fy which key­words you should be pay­ing for and which ones you shouldn’t.
  • Use PPC copy data to help iden­ti­fy the best mes­sag­ing to use for meta data in SEO.
  • Use PPC adver­tis­ing along­side SEO organ­ic list­ings to make your brand more promi­nent on the SERP against com­peti­tors.

Bonus: Attribution Measurement Will Be Your KPI in 2020

Attri­bu­tion is key to under­stand­ing the true val­ue of your PPC spend. Make sure to use Google Ana­lyt­ics or oth­er ana­lyt­ics tools to mea­sure the direct and indi­rect effect of your tar­get key­words on your over­all busi­ness.

  • Do gener­ic key­words play a part in brand aware­ness?
  • Do upper fun­nel key­words dri­ve peo­ple to their end goal?
  • What oth­er chan­nels are effect­ing my PPC activ­i­ty?

Answer these ques­tions and use the data to plan your mar­ket­ing spend.


Here are just some of the attendee ques­tions answered by Puneet Vaghela.

Q: What are some auto­mat­ed rules most B2B com­pa­nies should lever­age in Google Ads?

Puneet Vaghela (PV): B2B com­pa­nies tend to be more lead focused, and so the most impor­tant met­rics will be inter­ac­tion with the web­site, but­tons that have been clicked, form engage­ment and com­ple­tion, and tele­phone calls and call inter­ac­tion.

These are all met­rics you can find with­in Google Ads and through Google Ana­lyt­ics, and import them into your Google Ads account to set up auto­mat­ed bid­ding.

Set up goals with­in Google Ana­lyt­ics to track how peo­ple inter­act with your site (e.g. for a form), set up goals for each step of the form process. Link your Google Ana­lyt­ics with your Google Ads, and import your goals into Google Ads as a con­ver­sion type.

You can then start using auto­mat­ed bid­ding or CPA bid­ding based on these met­rics to under­stand which key­words are dri­ving the more engage­ment, and then push more bud­get into these areas.

You can do the same with call track­ing, as this is also a fea­ture on Google Ads. Each call is record­ed as a con­ver­sion, based on what length of call you set to be a con­ver­sion.

So if you know that for your busi­ness, con­ver­sions take at least 3 min­utes to com­plete over a call, then set the call length to 3 min­utes and all calls over 3 min­utes will be record­ed as con­ver­sions in Google Ads. You can then auto-bid toward these con­ver­sions as well.

Q: You talked about how SEO key­word rank­ings can be used to adjust PPC strate­gies, but what are some ways we can use PPC data to change SEO strat­e­gy?

PVSEO requires a more time­ly strat­e­gy, and so when you decide to opti­mize your site for a set of key­words, the only data you have is either from exist­ing SEO traf­fic, or what you research on key­word tools.

How­ev­er, as PPC allows you to gath­er real-time data at key­word lev­el, you can iden­ti­fy the high­est con­vert­ing terms for your busi­ness from PPC, and then decide to SEO these terms.

Using the Search term report from PPC allows you to see which long tail and less com­pet­i­tive terms are dri­ving con­ver­sions for you, and from here, you can start iden­ti­fy­ing more terms to SEO that will be eas­i­er to rank for, allow­ing you to reduce your PPC bud­get on these terms and re-invest it into oth­er key­words that are more com­pet­i­tive.

You can also use PPC audi­ence data to see what types of peo­ple are inter­act­ing and con­vert­ing on your site more, there­by tai­lor­ing your con­tent and land­ing pages for SEO based on the peo­ple most like­ly to see them.

Q: Do those voice search sta­tis­tics hold true for B2B search­es as well? I see peo­ple mak­ing voice search­es for a new pair of pants, but not for busi­ness solu­tions.

PV: I agree. The voice search rev­o­lu­tion will be main­ly for con­sumer prod­ucts, as these are the ones that peo­ple will gain the most effi­cien­cy from on a day-to-day basis. B2B search­es require more research, and also, the vol­ume won’t be as high as for B2C search­es.

How­ev­er, we’re see­ing more and more search­es for B2B com­ing through smart­phones, and a study by Google and the Boston Con­sult­ing Group has pre­dict­ed that 70% of all B2B search­es will be on a smart­phone by 2020.

This means that peo­ple search­ing for B2B prod­ucts and ser­vices will be on the move more, and so will be look­ing for infor­ma­tion more direct­ly.

How­ev­er, as more peo­ple use their smart­phones, the like­li­hood is that they will begin to use them for their work lives as they do for their per­son­al lives, and so if they are using voice search to find a pair of pants, they will prob­a­bly tran­si­tion into using voice search if they are look­ing for a con­fer­ence venue or sup­pli­er of office equip­ment.

Q: What key­word research tools do you use for voice search terms? Are these long-tail key­words dif­fer­ent than the key­words you would find for tra­di­tion­al search?

PVThere is no spe­cif­ic key­word research tool for voice search terms. As men­tioned in the webi­nar, voice search will involve more con­ver­sa­tion­al terms.

For exam­ple, rather than some­one just say­ing “clothes shop”, they will inter­act with their device by say­ing “where is the near­est clothes shop to me?” This means that search terms will be more long-tail.

To iden­ti­fy these would be the same as set­ting up spe­cif­ic long-tail cam­paigns. Use the search term report in Google Ads to see which search terms trig­gered your ads, and the more con­ver­sa­tion­al ones are most like­ly to be acti­vat­ed by voice.

At the same time, use the Google Search Con­sole to ana­lyze your top URLs and gath­er a list of key­words from there to expand on.

You should also use Google Auto­com­plete by typ­ing in a top lev­el key­word you are tar­get­ing or look­ing to tar­get, and then see what sug­ges­tions appear on Google.

You will prob­a­bly notice a lot of ques­tion and long-tail based terms appear­ing, which you can take and tar­get in a sep­a­rate cam­paign to ana­lyze per­for­mance.

Q: Can you please pro­vide a good prac­tice for alt text on pic­tures?

PVThis is some­thing a lot of peo­ple don’t do well. It’s imper­a­tive to make sure that Google and Bing under­stand the con­text behind your images.

Don’t use frag­ment­ed sen­tences to stuff key­words into it, but use descrip­tive sen­tences to say what is in the image. It’s also impor­tant you don’t use too many char­ac­ters when describ­ing your pic­ture.

Keep it to about 120–140 char­ac­ters, which allows the search engine bots to under­stand what your image is about. Make sure you’ve got your descrip­tive sen­tence in with­in this lim­it.

On top of this, use the key­word you want the image to appear for, but don’t stuff it in, make sure it flows nat­u­ral­ly with­in the descrip­tion. Usu­al­ly, one or two men­tions of the key­word are enough. Remem­ber, con­tent is king, read­abil­i­ty is more impor­tant than vol­ume.

And also, don’t describe the image as an image. Use alt text that just describes what is in the image, do not start it with “image of…”, that would just be a waste of char­ac­ters.

SOURCE: Search Engine Jour­nal