10 PPC trends for 2014

By Paul Morris

Note: This article is aimed at intermediate-advanced level PPC practitioners

Well 2013 turned out to be a pretty interesting year in regards to PPC with some excellent developments from Google. There was the major development of Enhanced Campaigns of course but then other big improvements such as RLSA’s, cross device tracking, PLA/Shopping improvements, map targeting developments and image extensions also took place.

Whilst I don’t see 2014 dropping something on us as big as Enhanced Campaigns I do still see 2014 being a good year for SERP development hence here goes with my 10 PPC trends for 2014:

Google snuggles up to Brands

Google will obviously continue to develop it’s DR credentials however in 2013 I have definitely seen a transition to more Brand ‘smoozing’ (this is not meant as a ‘dis’ to Google et al) and I see this continuing into 2014.

Google SERPS were ugly a few years ago (see my Shed example) however with the introduction, and eventual 2014 refinement, of image ad extensions + Google’s Brand lab development I see the SERPS becoming more aligned with wider Brand KPI’s e.g. Brand awareness, ROPO impact and further Halo effect demonstration.


Due to ever improving targeting relevancy and PPC real estate e.g. PLA’s and image extensions; PPC will continue to take CTR market share away from the natural search results

Google+ rules

Google is forcing integration with Google+ (e.g. see the YouTube integration from November)

Google will continue to integrate Google+ in 2014 via imbedded Social Extensions and Location Extensions.

Note: I’m playing around with this blog in regards to these extensions at present (e.g. see my Google search result) hence will update in due course after more tinkering.

FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ruling + I’m an ad button = a drop in CTR

Google et al Search Engines have been fighting the FCC where they are being made to label ads as ads (If you haven’t seen the beta yet watch out for little orange Google “Ad” images next to each PPC ad). As these are further tested, refined and rolled out we are likely to see (like for like; you can bet Google will continue to work its magic on getting more people to click on paid ads) a drop in PPC Search ad CTR as people are more likely to trust natural results versus labelled paid for adverts.

The law of un-extended consequences

(note: I stole this excellent expression from a PPC blog however for the life of me I cannot find out from whom to give the credit ;)

…. If your ads aren’t suitably extended…there will be consequences!

Basically ad extensions are now playing a much more important part in QS (see my intermediate PPC blog for more info) hence companies will fall behind (Increased CPC’s. Lower CTR. Minimised QS) if they do not utilise extensions available in their vertical.

Shopping/PLA development

…And linked with the above; PLA’s/Shopping will further evolve in 2014 meaning they become more advanced, take up more retail estate and play a bigger part in QS (Quality Score) due to their ability to engage/aid CTR.

I saw some great planned beta PLA/Shopping developments (I particularly liked the way Google is going to frame the shopping results within different verticals e.g. apparel versus technology) when I was over in Google’s Dublin office a couple of months ago and I see these being rolled out for the UK market in 2014.

Consequences: PLA traffic increases at the expense of other text ads, CPC’s increase (though I will come onto that shortly) however generally Google will simplify the current complicated feed management process (again something Google testified to when I was over in Dublin) to make the process easier for SME’s in particular.

Increase in micro-targeting

A more sophisticated approach to geo-targeting will take place in 2014 where increasingly advertisers will apply dynamically calculated bid modifiers at an unprecedented scale/minuscule level within Google Enhanced Campaigns

Whilst I’m not sure we will see the following much in 2014 we might start to see genuine utilisation of BIG data within PPC.

Few advertisers still know how to access, organise or utilise big data, particularly within PPC, however some might start to figure out advanced targeting based on data sets e.g. weather patterns not only affect ad copy but bid multipliers by location and happenings in the market (such as competitor pricing) affects the price you are willing to pay per click at a per SKU level.

Cross Device Tracking

Cross device tracking within analytics and multi click attribution will be utilised more in 2014 and help advertisers understand customer journeys across devices (AAA = All Screens. Always open. Audience Engaged) better and thus help advertisers justify and optimise mobile advertising more intelligently. This in part leads to the next 2 points…

Device CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) & Active Design

A/B and MVT has been around for years however we will see some companies start to become smarter in 2014 by combining MVT with device CRO and active design (for details see my active design post) .

….In particular this will affect the content we see on mobile from PPC ad traffic as advertisers optimise the journey for consumers across devices.

CPC inflation

Due to several factors e.g. a rebound in the economy, studies show companies set to increase PPC spend in 2014, more clicks going to PPC vs SEO due to improved targeting and more real estate, mobile clicks continuing to rise due to cross device tracking and enhanced campaigns, etc we will see CPC’s, pretty much across all industries, rise far above offline inflation in 2014.

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