How advertisers can stay ahead

Major shifts in 2024 will disrupt the PPC industry. Third-party cookies will be retired, accelerating privacy-focused measurement. Meanwhile, automation through AI will transform campaign types, creative, and search engine results pages.

This article outlines seven key areas to evolve your PPC advertising approach in 2024 so you’re better prepared for what’s ahead.

1. Evolve your measurement 

The time is finally here. The deprecation of third-party cookies is imminent in 2024.

Google Chrome is already restricting cookies for 1% of users, as noted in recent reports. Many advertisers have been putting off the heavy task of restructuring their measurement frameworks to be privacy-centric, but now is the time. There is no more waiting.

Projections show that cookies will be retired around Q3 of this year. Advertisers need to establish new measurement practices right now.

Developing these practices will require time. You’ll generally need at least two quarters to build and test new measurement frameworks, which might include:

  • First-party data tracking.
  • Enhanced conversions.
  • Google Analytics. 

2. Establish value-based bidding

Once you have established privacy-safe measurement, you must revisit your value-based bidding strategies in your paid search program. 

We have found that value-based bidding drives revenue and sales, which is now standard practice in our campaigns.

If you need a system for tracking dynamic values and multiple actions, tracking these elements and parameters within your paid search campaigns will take some time. 

Dig deeper: How non-retail advertisers can embrace value-based bidding in Google Ads

3. Experiment with broad match 

Full disclosure: I have been skeptical of broad match for a long time. Historically, this match type would generate significant irrelevant traffic, and performance was usually poor. However, I have moderately changed my point of view over the past two years.

With value-based bidding, unwieldy broad match can be moderately controlled. And this will be necessary to evolve paid search campaigns. 

The search engine results page is evolving, which is why there is a push into broad match by Google and Microsoft. Search Generative Experience (SGE) will operate differently, so this needs to become a focus for advertisers.

If you are not running on broad match right now, add it to your testing roadmap for 2024. However, I recommend reestablishing your measurement and structuring value-based bidding beforehand.

Dig deeper: Google Ads broad match: What the data reveals for PPC marketers

4. Take control of Performance Max

Google and Microsoft are placing their bets with Performance Max. 

I could describe why this is the case, and it’s good for them but not always great for advertisers. However, this proverbial ship has sailed. 

This is the direction Google and Microsoft are headed, and advertisers need to test and figure out how to make these blended campaigns work if possible.

There are still many things that could be improved with Performance Max. Lack of transparency, lack of control, and the list goes on. 

Additional control layers were added over the past 12 months, which is a good sign. Advertisers can now search themes for better targeting and other audience signals. 

The recent changes in topic, placement, and keyword exclusions are heading in the right direction regarding advertiser control. Brand exclusion is a massive win, so Performance Max isn’t entirely propped up by brand search.

We have seen positive results with Performance Max. We will continue to test it over the coming year to see how we can best bring creative strategy to these blended campaigns.

There are still many shortcomings with this campaign type, but you would be remiss if you didn’t put your best foot forward to master it.

I don’t endorse migrating your entire search budget to automated blended campaigns. But it’s always good to prepare for the direction of the industry, and if this is where we’re headed, you want to be included.

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5. Get familiar with Demand Gen

We have been testing Demand Gen campaigns for the past quarter. The results are mixed, but I am intrigued and skeptical of the product.

While it’s beneficial for paid search to deliver ads across the entire buyer journey, I still wonder if there is too much overlap between Demand Gen and Performance Max at placements. Both products target the same inventory but through different tactics.

However, the best way to determine what works is through testing. That should also be your plan for 2024, since Discovery campaigns will transition to Demand Gen by the end of January.

As measurement gets trickier and channels consolidate, paid search marketers must adapt. Challenges persist with limited control and visibility, making it tough to swim against the tide.

Dig deeper: Google Demand Gen campaigns: Migration and best practices

6. Lean into generative AI creative

Generative AI appears to be everywhere. And paid search is no different.

Google introduced genAI for asset creation within Performance Max last year. I have not had a chance to use these tools, but they could be a game changer.

We often want to test multiple add iterations and upload new videos and Performance Max, but there’s usually only so much creative bandwidth. Generative AI will allow you to generate personalized assets for the rest of your campaigns quickly.

You can see a theme emerging in this article: this is the year of trying new things. The new asset-creation tools in Google Ads should be beneficial. Let’s try them together this year!

Dig deeper: Why strong Google Ads creative is THE priority for advertisers

7. Sync paid and organic to navigate SGE

Google added SGE on SERPs last year, and it will likely impact how users interact with search results.

SGE appears above the organic listings, which can impact traffic from that source. Also, AI-generated content can display shopping ads and other paid placements. Advertisers must understand how their campaigns show on placements and content. 

Too often, paid and organic teams need to collaborate more closely. This needs to change in the upcoming year.

SGE impacts both placements. Companies can navigate the sea change occurring on the SERPs when they take a holistic view of search.

Dig deeper: What is SEM – Search Engine Marketing?

Bring a holistic view to your PPC program

Automation and artificial intelligence can streamline paid search operations. However, this doesn’t mean managing PPC campaigns takes less time. The time spent on paid search campaigns will be just as valuable but different.

Embrace a holistic approach this year, exploring tactics beyond traditional PPC platforms such as Google and Bing. Despite potential challenges in PPC, effective preparation can help navigate upcoming changes smoothly.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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