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PPC trends we’re likely to see in the retail industry in 2018

Last year, there were many changes to paid search, including a change to the AdWords dashboard and the rise of voice search, the latter we’re likely to see a lot more of over the course of the next 12 months.

But what about other aspects of PPC? Will robots take over our accounts? Will it become smarter? Here are some thoughts for the year ahead:

1) Increased focus on audience

Ensuring that you correctly target your audience is vital for the success of your PPC campaigns. Targeting the wrong demographics will result in your campaign falling flat, but set-up your targeting correctly and you could see a significant improvement to your return on investment (ROI) and cost of sales.

It’s likely that we’ll see more focus being shifted towards audience targeting this year, and by using similar and in-market audiences, as well as retargeting based on integrated data from search, display and video, you’re more likely to serve ads which are relevant to the end user.

2) Keywords

Keywords will always be king, but the key to a good keyword strategy, aside from that all-important keyword research, is recognising inferred intent. In simple terms, what does the user want from their search?

Is the user researching “bridesmaid dresses” or “school shoes” or are they looking to buy at that time as well? If someone searches for “the best 4K TV’s”, are they simply researching and looking for reviews, or are they going to purchase wherever they find the best deal. Or are they doing research to then go and have a look for themselves in store rather than online?

By understanding the user intent, you’re more likely to be able to provide better ad copy and in turn, serve more relevant ads which provide a greater CTR. The rise of voice search, which we’ll come on to shortly, will also have an effect on the keywords that your target audience use. Keywords and phrases used when typing are likely to be different to those used with voice search, and so there’s likely to be a shift in the keyword data. By monitoring these changes, you’ll be able to see whether voice search is influencing the top keywords, and be able to tailor your ad copy.

3) Shopping Ads

2017 saw new shopping campaign formats, and it’s likely that we’ll continue to see changes to the shopping channel as Google finds ways to make it both more profitable and increasingly end-user friendly. However, many PPC managers have the mind-set that shopping campaigns take care of themselves – this simply isn’t the case. It’s just as important to optimize your shopping campaign, including your feed, as it is to optimize any other channel.

Another thing to remember is that Google Merchant Centre is your friend. By submitting your entire product inventory to it, you stand greater chance of getting your products in front of potential customers. Also, make sure you use the new features in Google Merchant Centre such as feed expansions and rules and overrides and you will find it a lot easier to manage your shopping feeds.

Follow this advice, and you could find your shopping campaigns outperform text ads. We have found that many of our retail clients, such as Kiddies Kingdom, see more than 50% of their online revenue come from shopping ads.

4) Automation

Automation is likely to play a part in your PPC strategy for 2018, with Google already moving away from manager control, instead bringing in automated ad rotation and even creating ads for you. We prefer to give the accounts we manage the human touch, and have people monitoring them and looking for ways to improve them at all times. The danger with automation is falling into the trap of letting the account run itself, which can potentially pose problems. Of course, automation has its advantages, but the strategy needs to be driven and updated by a PPC Manager to ensure the account run smoothly and effectively.

5) Voice Search

It’s no secret that voice search is on the rise, with Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices becoming increasingly common in peoples’ homes, and Siri, Bixby or Cortana found on nearly every smartphone.

The question is ‘how will this affect PPC campaigns?’. The behaviour from a voice search is likely to be very different to that of a typical mobile user, and so your strategy will need to change to try and capture traffic from voice search. If you look at your search queries in more depth, you can work out which queries may have come from voice search. But unfortunately, at this stage, there is no other way to differentiate between voice searches and more traditional searches, neither is it possible to serve ads specifically to voice searches.

Having said this, it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a possibility, and 2018 maybe the year where steps are taken towards making this happen.


Rick has been involved with Circus PPC since 2004. After managing departments in two of the UK’s biggest agencies, he decided to set up a specialist PPC agency that could focus on delivering the right strategies for his clients.

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