5 Important Google Ads Trends Paving the Way for PPC Marketing in 2021

Published: January 26, 2021

Brady Heid


Now that the exhausting year that was 2020 is finally over, we can now prepare for the new pay-per-click (PPC) marketing trends that started at the end of last year. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the globe, people were forced to interact differently on the Internet. For PPC digital marketers all over the world, 2020 was a year of adaptation, flexibility, and change, as it brought about a massive shift in consumers’ online behavior. 

The same is to be expected in 2021 as new trends in Google Ads take shape. This makes it just as important to adapt and be flexible this year as it was last year.

  • The loss of critical data  will continue into 2021.
  • Automation is becoming even more critical to Google Search campaigns.
  • Google rolled out its new Discovery ads.
  • PPC marketing now allows voice search optimization.
  • Strategy and diversification are essential in the age of no third-party data.

1. Loss of Critical Data

For starters, Google now limits the search term report on the Google Ads platform. This reduces visibility in user searches that leads to ad impressions. On September 1, 2020, Google released a statement that read:

“Starting September 2020, the search terms report only includes terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. You may now see fewer terms in your report.”

What this means for marketers is that it will be more difficult to optimize keywords in our Google Ads accounts. Plus we will be limited with what is shown to us. This update has been widely criticized. Many marketers use the search term reports to add in negative keywords and find new high-intent keywords that may have been missing from the Ads account to improve spend efficiencies.

To make matters worse, when talking about campaign optimization and spend efficiencies, we are getting closer and closer to the death of the third-party cookie (the process commonly referred to as the “cookiepocalypse”). The third-party cookie allows us to track ad clicks and gives us the ability to create retargeting audiences based on actions taken on the website, such as a purchase or cart abandonment. 

The reason that this is so important is because we can make sure we serve only the most relevant ads to the right users. Safari and Mozilla have already blocked the use of third-party cookies, and Google Chrome plans to block these cookies by the year’s end.

The data loss that PPC marketers see will only increase in 2021. This will make it difficult to optimize Google Ads campaigns. This highlights the importance of a strong digital and pay-per-click marketing strategy. In addition to the ability to be flexible and try new things.

2. Google’s Automation

Another unpopular trend among PPC advertisers is the importance of embracing Google’s automation and machine learning technologies. Many paid search marketers like to have maximum control over campaigns and use manual bidding strategies. 

However, with the loss of some important targeting data that’s integral to those who use manual bidding strategies, it’s  more important than ever to maximize Google’s machine learning technologies.

The next actionable steps is to utilize Google’s automated bidding strategies to best optimize who sees our ads.

Now that we can’t rely on manual bidding to target as accurately with the loss of critical data, utilizing Google’s automated bidding strategies is vital as we head into the cookiepocalypse era. 

We should first understand the reasons that automated bidding can be and will be essential in 2021.

  • It maximizes the conversion potential. Some bidding strategies allow you to bid on the most qualified users by matching users with prior converters on your website and bidding up on those users to make sure an ad is shown to them.
  • It maximizes the return on ad spend. Allow Google to bid on inexpensive clicks, which can lead to conversions or increase your conversion value.
  • It maximizes clicks. Let Google attract as many clicks as possible to bring the most traffic to your website within your budget.

While allowing Google on the highest qualified users through the use of machine learning might not be the most popular change, it’ll be a change that greatly impacts how Google Ads campaigns are structured. It also puts an extreme importance on tracking conversions and the structure of your ad copy.

3. Google Discovery Ads

Not all of 2021’s trends are negative. Although Google Ads is taking away important data and making us use machine learning, Google has still rolled out some pretty cool things that’ll be essential moving forward. One of the most recent updates was the introduction of Discovery ads.

Discovery ads let advertisers create ads with multiple images and headlines. Google then will display this to users in a swipeable carousel format (similar to Facebook and Instagram’s format) on the Google Discover Network

Discovery ads utilize machine learning in the same way that automated bidding strategies do for text ads. However, Discovery ads are more visually appealing than a regular text ad and reach a broader audience. Google Discovery ads serve across YouTube’s mobile feed. This also includes Gmail’s social and promotion sections, reaching a global audience of nearly 800 million users.

Although this might be a bit backwards for most PPC marketers, as we think in terms of keywords, ad copy, clicks, and conversions, Google Discovery ads align similarly to social ads. The idea here is to drive product and brand consideration and improve overall brand awareness, which is becoming more and more important in today’s society. In 2020 alone, we saw nearly 90 percent of consumers express loyalty to brands they had good experiences with. Google Discovery ads present a huge opportunity for forward-focused PPC marketers in 2021 to create the strongest brand identity with maximum exposure.

Over the last few years, the number of natural language searches, or voice searches, has increased exponentially. This causes concern for PPC marketing, as voice searches are a lot longer tailed than search-related keywords. 

In 2021, we can only expect more voice searches. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly three-quarters of households in the United States have one or more smart speakers

With so many households owning a smart speaker in this day and age, it’s imperative to adjust to what these voice searches might look like. This means how we get our ads to be the most relevant. First, we need to make sure we include long-tail keywords. 

I’d consider it a best practice to make an ad group specifically for voice search. For example, someone typing in “lawn care service near me” would most likely never speak that. If they were to conduct a voice search on a smart speaker, they would probably say something like: “What are the best-rated lawn care services in my area?” 

Creating a voice search ad group with long-tail, phrase-match keywords may not yield many impressions, but we know that if our ad is structured correctly, we’ll see a good click-through rate with how accurately our keyword phrase matches the voice search. 

5. PPC Marketing Diversification and Strategy

Diversification is another important trend as we lose that ever-so-precious data. This makes it even more crucial to design campaigns with a full-picture PPC strategy. 

No matter how much success you’ve had with Google Ads campaigns in the past, it’s time to diversify with other forms of advertising. This is not to say you should stop all Google Ads campaigns, but rather, invest in other platforms as well. In this day and age, video has become the most popular and successful form of advertising. 

58 percent of people say that they trust brands with video ads more than brands without them. With that being said, it is a no-brainer that, if the budget allows it, a digital marketing strategy needs to include both paid search marketing and video ads.

Wrap Up

In 2021, you must adapt on the fly to be successful in PPC marketing. When talking about data loss, the automation shift, the introduction of new products, the growth in natural language search, and the ability to diversify and create a successful digital marketing strategy with a fair share of video ads, we’re talking about a lot of change. 

Without the right Google Ads experience, navigating this space during a time of so much change can be daunting. Hiring a digital advertising agency and video team might be just what you need to meet your marketing goals in 2021. 

Whatever you do in the new year, understand that the PPC industry is changing. There are still more than enough opportunities to capitalize on the potential of a Google Ads search campaign, but it’s now vital to have a full-scale digital marketing strategy, focused on brand awareness or conversions. 

Need a local digital marketing agency with video marketing capabilities and a solid PPC strategy? BrandCraft has your back. Call us today to discuss your options. 

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