Moving Beyond Keyword Targeting In 2015

By Amanda West-Bookwalter | @Amanda_WestBook | Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

Series week continues at PPC Hero as we try to write about the same topic every day. This week’s topic is predictions for 2015. When I’m asked to think about 2015, the first area I assess is how keyword targeting seems like it’s becoming less relevant, and there are so many new alternatives to targeting ads. I fully expect all the new features in 2015 to follow suite.


Increased Keyword Competition


One reason other targeting methods are becoming so popular is because keyword competition is getting really crazy. Every year there is more and more competition, which leads to higher and higher cost-per-clicks (CPCs). It gets to a point that sites with lower conversion rates simply can’t bid on terms anymore, because their CPA or ROI goals won’t allow it. This means less bidding on broader terms, which means less traffic, and less revenue for many advertisers.


However, even the most expensive keyword accounts, like bankruptcy lawyers, can still get pretty cheap clicks with other targeting methods. We actually have a bankruptcy lawyer client whose average Search CPC is $12.68 while the average Display CPC is $1.79.


Feed-Based Advertising


Google Shopping, Bing PLAs, and comparison-shopping sites like all use a product feed to dynamically create ads based on search queries. This structure creates a highly relevant experience for the user, and lets them see product information without clicking, which saves you money. All you have to do is keep your feed updated, which is easy to do if it’s linked with your inventory database or whatever system you use.


There’s no need for keywords, since it’s all automatic and dynamic. However, it’s still a highly relevant way to target your ads since it’s based on your feed information, which you can customize.


In 2015, we’ll likely see this type of advertising for ecommerce sites grow since it’s so relevant to users and easy to set-up/manage.


Dynamic Targeting


We just covered feed-based targeting, which has a dynamic element to it. However, there are additional dynamic targeting options like Dynamic Search Ads and Dynamic Remarketing. While dynamic campaigns can take a lot of optimizing before it’s as profitable as your best search keywords, it can be a super valuable tool in filling gaps in your keyword and remarketing lists.


I have a client based in the financial industry, and there are simply too many relevant terms for me to know to target all of them, since my knowledge of the industry is pretty sub par. Dynamic Search Ads fill in these gaps and bring in a huge amount of conversions.


Since this type of advertising can bring in a lot of money for the platform by increasing impressions with relevant searches, I imagine this advertising will continue to grow in 2015. I think the ultimate goal of Google is really to run your PPC account for you, so this is one tool that lets them get closer to this goal.


Audience Targeting


One really amazing trend we’re seeing is the use of user behaviors and personas for targeting. For instance, in-market segments on the GDN. Google knows when you’re about to buy a house based on your browsing history and maybe some other data like scouring your emails in Gmail or whatever other terrifying amounts of data they have on you. That’s knowledge that we only hope to gleam in our keyword targeting by targeting “buy a house for sale” vs. “houses”. But, with this type of audience targeting we can have way more insight into the user’s stage in the buying cycle.


Again, this places highly relevant content in front of the user, provides advertisers with powerful lists and data, and gives the advertising platforms more chances to gain impressions and ultimately mula from the advertisers.




There are many ways to target your ads without keywords. The reason this trend will continue to grow in 2015 is a mixture of relevancy to the user, an increase in impressions, and cash for the advertisers.