I read a lot of marketing articles and books and continually learn from industry experts. Marketing is exciting in this respect as there is no manual, there are various guidelines but there is definitely no “one size fits all” marketing strategy. To stay ahead of the competition I enjoy the process involved in learning about new methods and tools, testing them out and then implementing, analysing results and continually improving thus adopting a “Kaizan” approach to work.

The Kaizen method of continuous incremental improvements is originally a Japanese management concept for incremental (gradual, continuous) change (improvement).

Never before has there been so many changes in the Paid Advertising world as there has been in the last 12 months. These “game-changing” features have been beneficial to the businesses I manage paid search and display campaigns for.

This industry is moving fast and PPC managers have to be quick to evolve and adopt new ways of managing marketing initiatives otherwise their clients will be left behind.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest changes to rock the PPC world in 2017 (in no particular order)…

      • Promotion Extensions – We can now attach promotions to adverts using an extension. This gives us the ability to allow ads to do their work and the attached promotion extension to take visitors to a separate landing page
      • Exact Match Close Variants – Matching keywords for close variants — plurals, typos, abbreviations, adverbs and so on have been broadened to include variations in word order and function words.
      • Gmail Remarketing – We have been able to retarget website visitors via Google Display / RSLA / Facebook & LinkedIn for some time now, but now we have the ability to retarget in Gmail
      • Similar Audiences for Search – We can now target search visitors through similar audiences who have not yet connected with a brand.
      • IF Functions – We can now change advert text based on the user device, allowing specific messaging for mobile or desktop.
      • Google Optimize – We now have all the power of testing different landing pages from within the Google AdWords interface. Any PPC manager can send visitors to a website page but they cant make them convert without making continual improvements to that page. Well, now we can; fast and effectively and without even touching any code!
      • Quora Ads – One of the largest Q&A websites now allow us to create adverts and promote towards specific audiences.
      • Facebook Power Editor and Ads Manager Merged – There are now additional features available as a result of this, with the most useful being improvements to workflow and ad creation.
      • Facebook Community Tools – New features include groups insights, membership request filters and improved clean-up, the ability to schedule posts and group to group linking.
      • Life Event Targeting – A BIGGIE for businesses to take advantage of, we can now target the following: students who have just graduated, people who have just been or are planning on getting married and people who are planning on moving home.
      • Attribution modelling – Previously we could only see conversions attributed to the last click, which limited us to the entirety of the customer journey. Now we can credit conversions to various keywords, ad groups and campaigns in AdWords.
      • Google AdWords AI – With the likes of bid management and ad creation now being an option for advertisers to be automated there are certainly some good signs that their AI will free us PPC managers up to focus on other things, whilst of course reviewing and assessing campaign AI effectiveness.
      • Google AdWords Interface – Last and by no means least was the introduction of the new AdWords manager platform. A completely new look was applied with some great new features which allow for an easier workflow. Well, some would argue that and they still have some way to go before it fully works.

    A few of our regular tasks like bid management and ad creation can now be automated. Handing a task off to a computer is a dream of every PPC marketer, as it saves time, however only if it is managed effectively.

As a PPC freelancer based in Bristol, I am lucky to have the opportunities to connect with some of the best marketers in the industry. I regularly visit networking sessions and attend events like Measure Camp in Cardiff.

I’ve rounded up here some of the top 7 skills every PPC marketer should develop in 2018...

1. Voice and visual search

Whilst there are no immediate opportunities for paid campaigns to take advantage of, we have seen voice search emerge. This has brought full sentences to both the way we query and the responses we receive from the engines. With a visual search, for example, Pinterest Lens and Google Lens, we query with our cameras.

>>Read More – What is Google Lens and How To Use It?

With millions of smart speakers having been sold, there’s a lot of hype around voice search. However, there’s been much less made of visual search. I’d say this is the one to watch during 2018 as it’s as Leonardo Di Caprio said in the film “The Aviator” it’s the way of the future. Advertisers should be watching how search behaviours change and the kinds of results the platforms deliver.

2. Automation Management

Now that Google’s AI can manage many parts of a Google AdWords account, we as PPC managers must manage the machines and results effectively.

We can program the algorithms, we provide the structured data from which the machine can learn from. AdWords Quality Score only works because of all the manual ads we’ve created thus allowing a benchmark to work from.

We should be aware of new automation opportunities and keep on testing until we find a formula that works best for our clients.

3. Cross-channel expansion

It’s Google’s aim to provide a searcher with the best result to their query as fast and effectively as possible and on the whole, they do a great job. However, searchers now have more time to ask questions and find out a whole wealth of information such as the Who, What, Where, When and How queries.

This has lengthened the customer journey as searchers become savvier and need a whole wealth of confidence touch points before making a purchase decision. What this means for marketers is there is a much wider range of marketing platforms and tactics we can utilise to connect with potential customers.

4. Fluency in visual language

Campaigns and content that works for one market often don’t resonate with another. To best engage consumers, brands need to find fluency in visual language.

For example, once an advert is clicked on Google AdWords it will lead to a landing page – there should be a fluid relation as to not surprise or upset the potential customer. If they leave the website without connecting or interacting then remarketing adverts will need to display a different language, perhaps an emotional or time-related message which aims to re-engage. Furthermore, ads and language on social media, blogs, direct emails, newsletters all need to be fluid with the messages they provide.

5. Structured Data

Used in the past primarily for optimising SEO campaigns, the structured snippets will play a massive part in the effectiveness of PPC campaigns as mobile first index rolls out.

If you’re running a PPC campaign for selling products, be sure to optimise for the product knowledge panel in 2018.

6. Fast and Effective Landing Page Tests

Anyone using Google or Bing AdWords can send as many people as you want to any landing page on your website. But – and it’s a big BUT – does that landing page work? A PPC manager worth their weight should be continually testing and developing landing pages to make sure that visitors take the action you want them to take, like a phone call or fill out a contact form.

Google Analytics is an essential tool which provides valuable data about your website visitors, such as pages visited, conversions goals made, revisits, pages that work and also that don’t to name but a few. This data, if interpreted and valid (your account has been set up correctly) will help any business grow their business online.

7. Instant Videos on Facebook

Instant Videos will soon allow Facebook users to download and cache videos to their phone while connected to WiFi for later viewing without wasting cellular data. Speculated by marketers to be a game-changer for advertisers in the developing countries with a slow mobile Internet connection.

Here’s to a great year ahead working with all these tasty new features and becoming the boss of artificial intelligence so that we can learn from it and evolve together.

Happy 2018 Everyone!

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