Pay-Per-Click In 2015

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with another great question set titled “PPC In 2015.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What was the biggest PPC story in 2015? Why?

  • No clear cut answer for this question, but I would say the growth of audience based targeting was a major storyline. – Matt Umbro
  • AdWords Customer Match. First foray into using personal identifiers. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • Announcement of Bing desktop editor coming to Mac. Because reasons. – Matthew Poldberg (@NotSpamIpromise)
  • The continued de-emphasis on keywords. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • I would also say that I believe 2015 was actually the first legitimate “year of mobile”. – Matt Umbro
  • The continued march toward (a) keyword de-emphasis and (b) a lot more auto-pilot options. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Google’s “win” in the EU privacy cases was a big one. Had they lost that, 2016 would look much different on Search & display. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • It was that mobile searches was now bigger desktop. A lot of mobile optimisation needed. – Dean Marsden (@deanmarsden22)
  • 2015 was the continual progressive move to audience-targeting in PPC = customer match, Bing RLSA, GA audiences for RLSA, etc. – Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
  • Customer email list matching. This B2B guy loves it. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • First time mobile search surpasses desktop. – Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
  • When video finally integrated into the main UI alongside Search and Display. I was doing cartwheels around the office. No lie. – Colleen McCaskell (@ppccolleen)
  • Google replacing clicks with “interactions” signaling a more a big change to a more social model. – Steve Slater (@TheSteve_Slater)
  • Year of made up or very fuzzy data – Smart Goals, Estimated Conversions becoming just Conversions, in-store estimates, etc. – Julie Bacchini
  • AdWords Customer Match was BIG. Any feature where we can dive deeper into audience history, location & new channels is a plus. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • Not the biggest story, but the use of further dynamic copy was a highlight. – Matt Umbro
  • Customer match. But even that is probably not half as important as most people think. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)

Q2: What do you believe was the most underrated PPC change/update of 2015? Why?

  • I’ll stick with the change of the clicks metric to “interactions” this may signal a pretty big change. – Steve Slater
  • Bing/Yahoo split? Because everyone loves spending time setting up new channel accounts. – Gil Hong
  • Definitely think that some of the new extensions were great (structured snippets, callouts). More text to work with! – Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
  • Revenue and other more complex metrics available directly in AdWords Editor! – Matthew Poldberg
  • I think people are still having trouble loving the new AdWords Editor (I sure did), but I think it’s a big improvement. – Maddie Cary
  • Upgraded URL’s ftw! No more ad resets for LP or tracking swaps. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
    • I was hesitant at first about this update, but it’s made things a lot easier. – Matt Umbro
      • Yeah the “upgrading” part left something to be desired, but really like em now that dust is settled. – Aaron Levy
  • Has to be report editor for me. – Dean Marsden
  • Call Only Ads (They fully came out in Feb i believe) for B2B and some B2C we’ve seen some sizeable success. – Lawrence Jones (@HomeOfJones)
  • All the craziness with YBN. Landscape shifted nearly immediately, but everyone seems to be status-quo right now. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Transition of AdWords for Video to the main section of AdWords. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • The jury is still out with some of them, but the new extensions (structured snippets, actionlink, image) could be good. – Matt Umbro
  • And some sizeable fails. Agree, this is probably the most underrated for me. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • I think some of the Google shopping taxonomy changes back in Fall went under the radar. – Gil Hong
  • Possibly the ability to develop Instagram ads within Facebook Power Editor? It’s still quite recent, not a lot of chat yet. – Colleen McCaskell
  • I think the recent tests of 4 ads in SERP results are a big non-story. – Steve Slater
  • Yahoo shifts (search results for Firefox, serving Google results, etc.) *could* represent a big change in SOP for PPC. – Julie Bacchini
  • United UI is nice. No longer seperate UIs for Gmail Ads, YouTube, ect. – Mark Irvine
    • Yes, a huge time saver. I run a fair amount of video campaigns, and was always annoyed to switch back and forth. – Timothy Jensen
  • The launch of new channels (Gmail) and testing of others (SMS). Shows the growing expansion of where we can reach consumers. – Erika Schmidt
  • Bing copying Google’s ‘enhanced campaigns’ and no more true exact match. – Orlando Valencia
  • Lots of updates in paid social. Instagram ads, new ad formats in Facebook and Twitter too. – Joe Martinez
  • Facebook Dynamic Product Ads has gone somewhat under the radar…probably because setup is a bear! – Matt Umbro
  • Call Only Campaigns a big loser & loss of call only – call extensions. For companies living off of calls….big loss for them. – Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
  • Being able to use Twitter cards for free to your organic followers allows great testing. – Steve Slater

Q3: What do you believe was the most overrated PPC change/update of 2015? Why?

  • Call Only… so hard to get it to work. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • The Google reports interface. Wasn’t the game changer it was cracked up to be imho. – Melissa Mackey
    • I’ve barely bothered to use it beyond playing around once it first came out. – Timothy Jensen
  • A lot went down too when FB switched to the business editor rather than the old system and I feel like no one mentioned it. – Doug Thomas
  • Bing Ads announcing a Mac version of the editor for 2016. What is it now, 5 years overdue? – Jeremy Krantz
  • I honestly think the audience > keyword hype was a tad overrated. Still waiting for actionable data to tip the scales. – Gil Hong
  • Gmail Sponsored Promotions/Gmail Ads – A lot of build up/design for something that I don’t think works that well. – Matt Umbro
  • And what about Yahoo Gemini and Bing losing all their traffic? Hasn’t happened, really. – Melissa Mackey
  • Customer Match. RLSA-only and struggling to get client buy-in (disclosure of email addresses etc.) – Colleen McCaskell
  • AdWords Smart Goals & calling what are actually estimated conversions just Conversions. Hyping metrics based on magical data. – Julie Bacchini
    • Agreed. All those AdWords moments are just a bunch of fuzzy conversions. – Erika Schmidt
  • GSP, a lot of Dev time for something which can be a drain on your account if left unchecked. – Lawrence Jones
  • Reporting interface wasn’t all that exciting. I’ve also yet to feel comfortable relying on anything called “estimated convs”. – Maddie Cary
  • Another one – Bing Ads RLSA. Too low volume to be worthwhile IMHO. – Colleen McCaskell
  • AdWords pushed a lot of new app-promo features. I don’t work with any clients that have apps. Anyone see app promo improvement? – Joe Martinez
  • Also a lot of hype around advertising apps, which can require dev resources that most clients don’t have. – Gil Hong
  • Report Editor slightly overrated. You can’t compare more than two dates. – Sophie Howell (@SophieeHowell)
  • Does anyone remember the “Buy Now” button on the SERP. Fine print: US, Droid users that have Google wallet & your app already. – Mark Irvine

Q4: How did your perception of paid search change in 2015? In what ways and why?

  • More than any other year, I realized I have to become proficient in other platforms beyond Google and Bing. Google and Bing will always be there, but it’s now expected to advertise in more platforms. – Matt Umbro
  • Lots of shifts towards less control and more “machine learning”. – Gil Hong
  • The audience, rather than the channel, is king. Have to go where they are. – Melissa Mackey
  • Thinking a lot more this year (and next!) beyond what keywords tell me — and I want engines to give me more tools to do that. – Maddie Cary
  • I’m realising more and more that online is just press, radio & TV in a new guise. Same tenets apply and still work. – Steve Cameron
  • Cost management has become absolutely critical. The trend is lower cpcs, sacrificing position and trying to keep costs in check. – Jeremy Krantz
  • I need to learn how to write code! – Orlando Valencia
  • Changes are by and large minimal Holy grail is still accurate attribution. G seems no closer. – Steve Gibson
  • The era of “one-size-fits-most” PPC is ending. People want more personalized ads or they will just block it all. Must adapt. – Julie Bacchini
  • Another year past and yet even more competitive ad space. – Joel Neustaedter (@JoelNeustaedter)
    • Hopefully that’s the case, and its not just Google increasing cpcs. – Erika Valencia (@ppcErika)
  • SEO is slowly dying while companies keep adding more features to PPC to make it more attractive to use. – Erika Schmidt
  • Agreed. We’re still marketers. Focus more on ad message in 2016 then going after every keyword possible. – Joe Martinez
  • The amount of platforms we should be testing beyond AdWords e.g. Amazon, Instagram etc. – Sophie Howell
  • I am trying to grow beyond the limited scope of Google and hit people across new networks. – Colleen McCaskell
  • I’d say getting organic reach, anywhere, it a lot harder than it used to be. Using paid is just necessary for most now. – Julie Bacchini
    • Especially if Google keeps adding more ads above the organic results! – Matt Umbro
    • Yep, between testing 4 ads on top, a continuous loading SERP & new ad formats, PPC is pushing SEO aside. – Erika Schmidt
  • I started focusing much more on other networks and platforms. AdWords search network didn’t always deliver. – Dean Marsden
  • 2015 was the year I said “Work Smarter, not Harder” and Google let me. – Mark Irvine
  • For me, the lines between driving triffic by pure keyword-queries & more social forms has become mixed. – Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
  • Since I’m new to paid search, it actually seems a lot easier than when I first perceived it. – Erika Valencia
  • We’d all better get ready to be better prepared for voice searches. – Julie Bacchini
    • Yes, voice search is happening already in a big way. – Melissa Mackey
    • Yep. “Near me” and other variants like this are growing in my SQRs. – Joe Martinez
  • Search is continuing to be about context & customer journey more & more, and not ‘just’ about keywords. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)

Q5: What was the most important tip/tactic you learned in PPCChat in 2015? Why?

  • This is mostly personal growth, but I’m much more open to new changes than I was in 2014. I called RLSA a fools errand in 2014. – Mark Irvine
  • PPCChat is the best resource to learn PPC at a deeper level. I started this year & these dynamic discussions are SUPER insightful. TY! – Erika Schmidt
  • I’m still behind on scripts, but I got some great examples and starting points from fellow ppcchat’ers this year! – Joe Martinez
  • My biggest takeaway is the ability to discuss tasks I’m conducting on a daily basis and get input. Another big takeaway is how I can approach trying new initiatives. – Matt Umbro
  • It’s hard to zero in on just one, but general sharing of knowledge on what works & doesn’t is so fantastic. – Julie Bacchini
  • Learning about PPCChat. – Erika Valencia
  • It’s so many little things. Love having a group to bounce ideas/questions/problems off of. – Melissa Mackey
  • That PPC is an arm of a great branding/marketing plan, not the core strategy. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • The power of GTM. – Steve Cameron
  • Our chats about the searcher location misidentifications & your subsequent post was great this year! – Julie Bacchini
  • Another item I’ve learned over the years in PPCChat and through client work is to continually step out of my comfort zone! – Matt Umbro
  • Most of the time you can get a quick answer out of AdWords and BingAds for your questions/troubleshooting. – Gil Hong
  • That we all go through the same trials and tribulations in this amazing world of PPC. – Joel Neustaedter
  • This smart group’s PPCChat answers help me grow in communicating complex PPC ideas to clients & new hires. Thanks, 140 character limit!
  • I love PPCChat ..even when it’s not as applicable (B2B), it’s still applicable. – Coy Robison

Q6: How do you believe PPCChat can be improved in 2016?

  • I would to see some of the PPCChat rock stars host live webinars – at a time suitable to Europe! – Steve Cameron
  • Increased character limit. Editable tweets. Get on it, Matt. – Mark Irvine
  • Move it to Slack and make it ongoing all the time? – Jesse Semchuck
  • I dont know how many west coasters are on here, but making me get to work at 9am is tortuous! – Orlando Valencia
  • Edible tweets and merch are my votes! Where’s that “It Depends” shirt? – Melissa Mackey
  • Probably branching out into different forms of paid discussions more often. Native, programmatic, etc. – Jesse Semchuck
  • More memes and emojis! – Erika Valencia
  • I was thinking next year of starting an in-person PPCChat Portland chapter. So we can geek out in more than 140 characters. – Erika Schmidt

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Colleen McCaskell (@ppccolleen)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Dean Marsden (@deanmarsden22)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Erika Valencia (@ppcErika)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
• Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Joel Neustaedter (@JoelNeustaedter)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
• Lawrence Jones (@HomeOfJones)
• Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Matthew Poldberg (@NotSpamIpromise)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Sophie Howell (@SophieeHowell)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Steve Slater (@TheSteve_Slater)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Preparing for Holiday Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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