How PPC Has Changed In 2018

As we approach the end of 2018, we can’t help but look back at all that has happened in the PPC world over the last 12 months. 2018 saw some of the biggest changes to PPC, especially in Google Ads, and we are here to talk about some of the best changes and some of the worst.

The Best:

#1 - Expanded Text Ads (Google Ads)

In August, Google finally realised that the limited 170 characters for text ads simply wasn’t enough and so released the option for new and improved expanded ads that allow for a grand total of 300 characters. This new change saw on average a 15% increase in clicks than the other ad formats, and is definitely up there for being one of the best updates in 2018.

#2 - Ad Position Metrics (Google Ads)

Another one from Google, as in November they updated the position metrics for understanding where your ads show on the search results page. While you used to be able to see simply an average position to indicate where your ads show, Google has now introduced four new metrics to help you better gauge your ad’s position and performance:

•    Impressions (absolute top) %

•    Impression (top) %

•    Search (absolute top) IS

•    Search (top) IS

#3 - Bulk Editing (Bing Ads)

Bing finally listened to everyone’s prayers and announced the launch of audience segmentation at the beginning of the year. This update allows you to delve deeper into the insights for your audiences from remarketing campaigns, in-market audiences and custom audiences.  Plus, you can see all this in one single view. This feature means you can segment your ad group performance either by audience category or audience name, allowing you to review how each audience performs without having to download multiple reports which proves very helpful if you manage lots of accounts.

The Worst:

 #1 - The New User Interface (Google Ads)

I think most PPC’ers will agree with us here that the new Google Ads interface may just have been one of the biggest and most frustrating change in 2018. Those who considered themselves experts in Google Ads have suddenly become beginners again with the new update, and we found that getting around the interface was taking longer, making even simple tasks just that bit more difficult and time consuming. However, while the new user interface has been hard to wrap our heads around, it has included some shiny new features such as being able to make quick changes in the Overview page, as well as all new demographic targeting. So it’s safe to say, it’s not all bad…

#2 - Customer Match (Google Ads)

In October, Google updated their policy on using customer match so that only accounts with a $50,000 total lifetime spend would be able to use the feature, therefore putting smaller accounts at a loss. Customer match allows you to upload your own data files of customers, and when those customers are logged in to their Google accounts they will see your ads on the search network, Gmail and Youtube. This feature was a great way of targeting your own customers directly, similarly to remarketing campaigns, but you can use your own data.

For most small businesses with a smaller budget, spending $50,000 lifetime spend is near impossible, making customer match off limits. This could have a big affect on those who might not get enough traffic to be able to use remarketing lists, which means using their own customer data would be a way around this problem. However, Google’s update to the policy has sadly taken this great feature away from smaller accounts.

#3 - Exact Match Updates (Google Ads)

For us, one of the worst changes was the update to the exact match keyword type. We’ve seen a number of updates to the exact match type over the years but this one may just be the biggest. The new update means that exact match keywords now use machine learning to trigger ads on search terms that match the meaning and intent of the keywords.

 While this update means that we might not have to create exhaustive lists of keywords and Google has said it will continue to prefer the actual exact match and identical keywords, it does mean we’ll need to do extensive trolling through search terms to make sure the machine learning is behaving and not matching to any old search term.

And so, as 2018 comes to a close, it is clear that Google has by far had the busiest year for updates, with Bing not far behind. While some of these updates have been great and have brought new features for PPC’ers to enjoy, others have not been so great. But with all hope for 2019, all these updates could spark a year of interesting trends.