PPC Chat Streamcap – The Future of PPC

Our host Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) put together another set of intriguing questions on this week’s pay-per-click topic “The Future of PPC “. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:


Q1: Earlier this year Alex Cohen (@digitalalex) wrote The Dawn of Paid Search Without Keywords. What were your thoughts?

  • Google is going after those who don’t have time/knowledge to manage paid search, but want to be on “the intertubez.” – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Have too admit it’s scary to let Google decide what are the best terms, but with niche products it could be helpful. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • It is another way for Google to get small businesses easily on to adwords and get them spending money. I wouldnt be surprised if the new Topic Targetting from the GDN rolls over to search. -Justin Freid (@Justin_Freid)
  • Alex’s post was very informative and thought provoking. Made me think about how PPC strategies might be modified going forward. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • I’ve found Google thinks too ‘global’ when it comes to search terms. WHen it’s a local company you need to be in charge. – Aaron Robb (@aaron_robb)
  • It can only work for clients who are comfortable with less control and or don’t understand PPC. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
  • If there’s control I think it will open doors- you cannot possibly uncover every term someone may type-most queries are new. Personally I can’t wait to test Keyword Less Beta! – Crystal Anderson (@CrystalA) +
    • At first I was skeptical but it’s growing on me. – Matt Umbro
  • Not sure how radical or futuristic it really is…sure, it’s getting pushed this season…but non-kw contextual has been around. – James Zolman (@jameszol)
  • Alex’s idea is very possible with better tracking of who is who on computers. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • PPC will be slowly merging with other types of advertising IMHO. Soon we’ll have universal ads paid for conversion etc. – Sergey Smirnov (@Smirnovi4)
  • Some of us have been using categories, lists of urls and cpm OR cpc for years. – James Zolman
  • Good idea, but high risk. Relies on accuracy of data collection by Google. (Fox in charge of the hen house). – Robert Brady (@robert_brady) ++
  • Used the right way, keywordless targeting can work great, especially product listing ads, seen great success with these. – Matt Umbro
  • PPC is a changing industry-compared to 5-6 yrs ago, we are now in a whole new ballgame! Adapt, test, kill what doesn’t work. – Crystal Anderson
    • And it seems likes the rate of change is increasing more lately. – Mark Kennedy
    • True for PPC, life and cooking! – Aaron Levy
  • Tons of great info, could be broken into Series. New practices should be utilized. – Tropik Media (@TropikMedia)
  • Will be a mixed bag. End of day Google could start people on phrase match, but they don’t for financial reasons. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Seems like a step back, hope to see PPC evolve towards covnersions, not towards unqualified (or loosely qualified) traffic. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos) +
    • Bingo! Definitely like the direction but still can’t compare to search. – Matt Umbro
  • I worry about search engines ability to match products to all the relevant search queries. – Dennis Petretti (@Denetti)
  • It’s scary but .. with some solid changes.. it just might work! – Amy Hoffman (@Hoffman8)

Q2: Why do you believe the last couple of years have brought so much emphasis to demographic/audience based targeting?

  • I think because users are learning that search is better when they use geo keywords. – John Lavin (@johnnyjetfan)
  • It’s the evolution of ppc morphing into something traditional media ppl can understand and buy into. Expands the playing field. – James Zolman
  • That’s the future of display and what will drive the next growth business for Google. More data = better targeting. – Jeremy Brown
  • I believe it’s a volume issue. If people aren’t doing more searches, how do you expand? Audiences & demographics. – Robert Brady
  • Cause Segmentation lies in the core of success? – Sergey Smirnov +
  • A way to sync search w/ traditional mktg mindset. PPC is about intent, vs. just hitting an audience (old school). – Aaron Levy
  • Speaking as a relative newcomer to #adwords, I’d say it’s at least partly the facebook effect. – Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet)
  • Search will wane as web develops, already seeing Social pull audience away, need to stay relevant while audience fragments. – Chris Kostecki
  • The more data we receive the better we can target. Which leads to bette performance which leads to more spend. – Justin Freid
  • Ideal customer and life time value models took time to integrate into PPC strategies but in the past few years it has been done. – Harris Neifield
  • FB & LinkedIn needed a way to advertise, thus audience/demographic targeting to the extent it’s at. Google trying to keep pace. – Matt Umbro
    • Agreed, FB & LinkedIn need a way to advertise and audience/demographic targeting is their best bet. – Harris Neifield
  • Definitely preparing us to loosen up on the reigns – so long as we think Google has put us in the right pasture. – Amy Hoffman
  • Where do people spend most of their time online, not sat looking at SERP but on webpages. – James Hume (@zerospin) +
  • Google have pushed us that way as they realise that search will one day be saturated & they need to keep growing $$$. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • Also more complicated sales/sophisticated competition, more savvy customers, need to keep up with our markets. – Chris Kostecki
  • Its not new emphasis, its new tech that allows for better targeting. Demo targeting has always been king for reach. – Tropik Media
  • It’s due to the increased presence of social signals. And is the reason Google launched Google+. – Dennis Petretti +++
  • Not just social…display also driving. I’ve seen some amazing demo targeting in display. – Jeremy Brown
  • Sarcastic answer – It’s a way for SE’s to play in the emerging media realms, blur lines of all online adv., make more money. Serious answer: w/all the demo data out there, it’s a way to refine campaigns to KNOW you are reaching your target audience! – Crystal Anderson
  • Even though search is still keyword based, we definitely see more “display” features in ads (product feed, +1, etc). – Matt Umbro
  • It also reflects the borderline absurd amount of information these companies have on all of us. – Aaron Levy +
  • Clients are definitely focused on audience/demographic targeting because it fits with LTV models. – Harris Neifield
  • Search is very narrow, requires the user to act to target (a benefit & limit) demo lets them be themselves & we can still target. – Chris Kostecki

Q3: Aside from remarketing, how will demographic/audience based targeting continue to shift from brand awareness to actual sales?

  • Maybe more cost per acquisition bidding from Google. – Luke Alley +
  • Ok, not to be too critical here…but these are all addressing media buying…been going on for ages. – James Zolman
    • Hence, future of PPC, not future of advertising. – Chris Kostecki
  • By getting more sophisticated in the relationship of different audiences to one another. Creating waterfalls, etc. – Chris Kostecki +
  • Google are just finally figuring out how to integrate into the traditional AdWords platform in a way…imo. – James Zolman
    • Google has been slow on the attribution train, but that might be changing. – Jeremy Brown
      • I agree. i think they have the data – or at least they have the capabilities for it no doubt. – James Zolman
        • No one has a network like Google does and even that data is not sophisticated. – Chris Kostecki
  • Customer response and lifetime value models built from mail & TV data will be applied (not always successfully) to online with the hope that online responses and sales mimic offline behavior. – Harris Neifield
  • I’m wondering if somehow sites will share your purchase history with FB, LI & Google so you see better targeted ads. – Matt Umbro
    • I can totally see that happening. – Aaron Robb
    • If you purchase thru FB they have it. – Chris Kostecki
  • There’ are TONS of “audience exchange” businesses out there, they just aren’t out in the open. – Aaron Levy +
    • Might be something which becomes more public and common place. – Matt Umbro
  • As people better understand their target markets, they will use RTB and technology to focus on conv. segments. – Jeremy Brown
  • In the Time “Person of the Year” article on Zuckerburg, he mentioned that he sees all shopping becoming social. If FB allows. Advertisers to see what people are buying, then that will change the landscape completely. – Luke Alley
  • Data being gathered on social websites will let marketers more accurately target their products, reducing wasted impressions. – Dennis Petretti
  • More smart ecommerce remarketing ads like the criteo.com style. – James Hume
  • Either cookie laws shut it down & we go back to boring display, or things get more complicated- don’t know how that’ll turn out. – Richard Fergie
    • Doubt it will shut down. Might be more forced transparency however. – Jeremy Brown
  • With Google’s push into display & audience, I bet we see more attribution models (view through, search funnel). – Aaron Levy +
  • The more tightly themed demographics you can target, the better you can focus your messaging and build relationships. – Amy Hoffman
  • Seems like a “Do Not Track” type law could sink this battleship fast. – Robert Brady ++

Q4: What do you feel the negative ramifications are (and will continue to be) with demographic/audience based targeting?

  • My biggest concern is accuracy of the data on the user. – Mark Kennedy
  • Personally I have no problem w/ it. I don’t want Lisa Frank or Polly Pocket ads. – Aaron Levy
  • People lie all the time in their settings. Scary to think of all the people you could be including that aren’t your target market. If based upon demographic bidding alone, that is. – Amy Hoffman ++
  • Some people will always be creeped out by the accuracy, others frustrated by lack thereof. – Robert Brady
  • Is ad overload a concern? – Matt Umbro
    • Definitely, the same ad gets annoying. – John Lavin
    • Nope – Ad Overload kills sites. Ref: MySpace. – Aaron Levy
  • Not enough segmentation coming from the marketers. I call it lazy marketing…I’ve blown $5k in under 1hr on FB because of that. – James Zolman
  • Some people definitely bothered by ads that ‘follow them around’. There will be some push back. – Jeremy Brown +
  • Take for instance, the ad I received about ‘taking time to be a dad’ this is my personal computer – no guys use it regularly. – Amy Hoffman
  • There has to be a balance, too few ads, businesses fail, too many ads, businesses fail. – Chris Kostecki
  • How about the lack of education regarding audience/demographic targeting. Just like AdWords it might be too complicated for the average user where he/she is just throwing money away and doesn’t see the value…just a thought. – Matt Umbro
    • Just more reason for working with professionals. Too much to keep track of to be an Adwords amateur. – Jeremy Brown
  • More users disabling queries because it’s too creepy for them. – Harris Neifield
  • However, people recognize that ads necessary if they want free content. More transparency and being able to choose ads. – Jeremy Brown
  • Excuse me, disabling cookies. – Harris Neifield
  • Accuracy is always an issue in demographic/audience targeting. Not just PPC. – Cassie Lee (@_CassieLee_)
  • Adds dimensions for testing as well. How many ads are too many, when does it get creepy & hurt branding etc. – Aaron Levy
  • If they see too many ads, they are no longer qualified as when they first entered the audience…freq caps are important. – Chris Kostecki
  • It is kind of job security because it is a lot of information to understand and keep up on. – Amy Hoffman

Q5: What new PPC metrics need to be rolled out (created) in order to keep up with all the new AdWords/MSN/FB features we are seeing?

  • Quality of conversion. Not sure how though. – Luke Alley
  • Call tracking in AdWords has improved, but still needs more granularity. – Matt Umbro
  • Ad path, have camp, ag, & kw paths, I need creative paths (incl text & banner). – Chris Kostecki
  • Better assist/funnel metrics, conversions by demo. – Aaron Levy
  • Attribution – first touch, last touch and anything in between. – Amy Garden (@Amy_Garden) +
  • Advertising Analytics ๐Ÿ™‚ Referring ads, ad bounce rates, etc. – Chris Kostecki
  • Exact Match Impression Share at keyword level!!! Also, attribution and variable cookie length. – Jeremy Brown +
    • I think Google does this to keep us guessing which KW Bids to raise. – Luke Alley
  • Do we really need MORE data? Or just better analysis of current data? – Robert Brady +
    • Both. – Matt Umbro
    • Give me the data, and I’ll analyze it! – Chris Kostecki
  • Variable cookies would be freaking amazing. – Aaron Levy
  • +1 & specific sitelink data, not just headline or sitelinks. – Katie Saxon
  • Better attribution – especially better clarity around View Through Conversions. – Amy Hoffman +
    • VTC Insight would be HUGE. – Chris Kostecki
  • I think professionals can use more data. Avg. users are already drowning. – Robert Brady +
  • Inherently they are tied. Shift is relative. Tactics engaged should be based on advertiser goal: reach vs engagement. – Tropik Media
  • We just need to be able to link it with rev/profit. More stuff like bid simulator would be great. – Richard Fergie
  • Fair points, I for one would like to see better call metrics and going back to a past topic, better KW tool. – Matt Umbro
  • How about some sort of relevance tool? For example, if you want to bid on a KW Google will tell you based on your products how much revenue you should expect to see. Something along those lines to help you bid more efficiently, or am I just dreaming? – Matt Umbro
    • Too many factors for google to predict. They don’t have a magic AOV machine. – Aaron Levy +
      • Understood, but would be nice if Google gave us more relevancy factors than just QS. – Matt Umbro
      • They have a magic revenue machine for them: broad match. – Jeremy Brown ++++
    • Dreaming a bit. That really depends on brand, landing page, other media, etc. – Jeremy Brown
  • I would like to see more holistic search data, paid & organic… @RavenTools launched something this week, or search & social. – Chris Kostecki
  • Google said they could estimate X amount of revenue. sad but true. – Amy Hoffman
  • Linked to display in gen, ad desensitization. CPMs shld be lower as traffic #s & impressions to grow w/o engagement til 5+ Imps. – Tropik Media
  • Google’s tools operate on trends/comp data. When they get to projections that require thinking. – Aaron Levy
  • Stuff more tightly connected to conversion. – Tropik Media

Q6: How has remarketing changed the landscape for display advertising?

  • Qualified Content Network – what else can you ask for! – Chris Kostecki
  • We can follow them around now. and that’s fun. – James Zolman +++
  • I believe remarketing is almost a must for AdWords campaigns at this point. – Matt Umbro
  • Biggest impact: it’s a gateway drug. Many companies don’t do display. Once you power of retargeting = want more. – Jeremy Brown +
    • I’ve also seen remarketing provide stellar CPAs and conversion rates. – Matt Umbro
      • Yup, those stellar results show people that display can be profitable. – Jeremy Brown
  • 1: run re-marketing 2: stalk 3: run placement report. 4: build placement campaign 5: profit! – Aaron Levy
    • If it was so easy… – Sergey Smirnov
  • More specific targeting options = More potentially inaccurate data to complain about? – Cassie Lee
  • I don’t know that it impacted display much except for more awareness. I haven’t seen much lift in overall costs on account of it. – James Zolman
  • Once you *show* the power of retargeting, they want more display. – Jeremy Brown
  • Display bids are no longer based on how relevant page content to advertiser. remarketing most be pushing up the avg. cpc. – James Hume
  • It further helps us understand users’ online mannerisms. Combating shopping cart abandonment one session at a time. – Amanda Nelson (@mileigh13)
  • Google loves it. More competition for Display placements = higher bids. – Robert Brady
  • Remarketing & Product Feed campaigns = great keywordless ways to do PPC. – Matt Umbro
  • Remarketing is forcing campaigns to compete with themselves = more money for google. – Amy Garden
  • Helps drive conversion and sales as the stats confirm. I think it should be incorporated into any decent media spend. – Tropik Media

Q7: How confident are you in PPC’s growth over the next several years from both a spend and career standpoint?

  • I think it’s going to explode. Google is pushing hard on organic results w/ more local, more ad space, display is huge. – James Zolman
  • Very, or else I wouldn’t be in the field ๐Ÿ™‚ Google made a model that works like a charm. Others will copy & space will grow! – Aaron Levy
  • I’m confident. It may not be #PPC as we know and love today but it will continue to grow and evolve. – Amy Hoffman +
  • SO much more room to grow. Hasn’t even come close to peaking imo. – James Zolman
  • As complexity rises, so does demand for experienced pros. More budget going online. – Robert Brady ++
  • We are all just going to have to learn to roll with the changes. – Amy Hoffman +
    • We just have to continue adapting! – Matt Umbro
  • Scared because of government wanting to get involved. – Luke Alley +
    • Can’t run from them, need to work with them. – Chris Kostecki
  • It’s continuing to evolve, so as long as you keep up, you’re ok. I think we are going to see a huge privacy backlash at somepoint. – Chris Kostecki
  • Search will continue to see steady growth (esp. with mobile). Display the next giant as data/demographics improve. – Jeremy Brown
  • Very confident. Where and how the ads are placed will certainly change, but ppc isn’t going anywhere. – Dennis Petretti
  • PPC with experience in FB/LI/Analytics/Landing Page dev. gives more confidence. – Luke Alley
  • I think we also have to realize PPC is still in its infancy compared to other types of marketing & there is huge potential to grow. – Matt Umbro
  • Privacy is going to be a big factor though. The more people that find ways to block ads on any webpage, the less jobs we have. – Luke Alley +
    • What about giving people the ability to ‘like’ or ‘approve’ ads that will build a database on what they are ok to see? – Aaron Robb
    • I believe the market would respond w/ lower costs for less precise targeting. could be good on all sides. – James Zolman
    • If they havent installed AdBlockerPlus yet, im not worried! – Chris Kostecki
  • Still #PPC is relative to things like #mobile that have worlds to grow. We won’t be out of jobs, we’ll just have new descriptions. – Amy Hoffman +
  • Spends will continue to grow, see emarketer charts on digital media growth. – Tropik Media

Additional Resources

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About the Author

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Manager at WebRanking in Eden Prairie, MN, #PPCChat Streamcap putterer togetherer, rarely an seo blogger, SEO Padawan, Tweeterer @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’er PaulKragthorpe.

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