Prioritizing 2018 PPC Trends

PPC becomes more complex every year. As humans, our ability to consume information doesn’t grow at the same pace, if at all. This creates an ever-growing gap between the number of potential PPC strategies and our ability to act on them.

This gap creates that overwhelming feeling you have every time you see a headline from Google/Bing/Facebook etc. that includes the word “update”. “I’m still trying to adjust to the last update. Could we just have 1 week/month/year when nothing changed so I can get caught up?” The answer is no.

ehh no

We have to adjust, so the key to not getting completely overwhelmed is this: prioritize. I don’t think this is a new idea by any means. Read any time-management article and some version of the word “priority” is included. Apply that same prioritization mindset to PPC trends. Figure out what really matters and focus on that.

How do I prioritize the latest PPC trends?

I look to the experts, especially those with a higher-level view of the industry. They have the best gauge of what’s actually going to affect us all, versus knowing which updates will affect 1 particular industry (you should know those too if they apply to your brand).

As with all research, you should look to a number of sources for your information. In this post, I’m only highlighting trends that are mentioned by our president, Jeff Allen, in this whitepaper. I’m putting the responsibility of checking other sources on you.

Jeff mentions 6 major trends that he advises CMO’s keep a pulse on in 2018. I’m going to further discuss the 3 trends in that list that affect my day-to-day work, as an account manager, the most.

Audience Targeting

As Jeff mentions, it’s NOT just Google rolling out new audience strategies and targeting options. I’d like to highlight some of the LinkedIn audience targeting tools that I anticipate will be incredibly insightful for many companies, specifically B2B.


I’ve spent a lot of time over the last several months working on LinkedIn ads. There are some new, informative “Website Demographic” metrics (released in July 2017) that I’m using to analyze and compare my audiences in 2018. (You can read the full update here.)

Where are these “Website Demographics”?

In the LinkedIn Campaign Manager, “Website Demographics” is the second tab at the top of the page.

LinkedIn Website Demographics

How are these different from site demographics in Google Analytics?

LinkedIn’s site demographics focus specifically on the professional targeting options that separate LinkedIn from other advertising platforms. Those include:

  • Job Title
  • Industry
  • Job Seniority
  • Job Function
  • Company
  • Company Size
  • Location
  • Country

How can this help improve my audience targeting strategies?

For B2B companies, this information unlocks a huge knowledge gap that we had previously. You can now bucket the content on your site into audiences and then analyze what kinds of companies/professionals are viewing that content. For example, I wanted to know if there are professional differences between our general PPC Hero audience and the PPC Hero readers that have visited our Excel posts. As I suspected, our Excel readers are more likely to be what we call “the doers” (often titled “Digital Marketing Specialist”).

Sample LinkedIn PPC Hero website audience comparisons

There are endless possible comparisons you can make. The only struggle is that your audiences need several hundred visitors before LinkedIn can populate these comparisons.

On-page Optimization

There are plenty of PPC posts about improving the pre-click conversion rate. If you’re an agency, that’s definitely a KPI that you’re reporting to your clients.

That being said, it’s important to not overlook the post-click experience. It’s not always easy to criticize your current site and PPC landing pages, but it’s NECESSARY! Like Jeff said, we make CRO changes weekly and monthly for our 3 brands. I’d recommend that every brand has someone (if not multiple people) on their team responsible for testing and changing the site.

I agree with Jeff that site speed needs to be our first priority. If you or your clients are still not prioritizing site speed above all else, in terms of site changes, I urge you to reconsider. Just think about your own personal experience: how quickly do you click the “back” button on your phone if a page isn’t loading, especially if it’s a site you’ve never been to before? I immediately wonder if a site is slow because it has a million spammy ads on it, which are slowing it down. If I clicked on a brand-specific site, I assume the whole site will be slow, making the purchase process annoying, so I just bounce. If you do it, chances are high that your potential customers do it too.

We (our Hanapin CRO experts, Kate and Sam) often write about the post-click experience. If you haven’t checked out their work, you should (all of their PPC Hero blog posts are in the links I included with their names). There are also a number of CRO resources in the Hanapin Marketing PPC Library.

Dealing With Amazon

To sum up Jeff’s thoughts and our company-wide results with Amazon: “If you can’t beat em’, join em!” (*most businesses)

If you’re an e-commerce brand and you haven’t tested Amazon, it’s time. You need to at least try! Many of your competitors are probably already there. As with all things PPC, it’s only going to get more complex, so you’d benefit from getting your feet wet now rather than 1-2 years from now.

In the same way that I recommend you look to someone else for CRO expertise, Get The Lowdown On Amazon Vendor And Seller Central PPC Advertising from one of my colleagues to understand the 2 main platforms for advertisers within Amazon. If you want to learn about Amazon Product Ads, check out A Step-By-Step Introduction to Amazon Product Ads by Kirk Williams.

Other Trends

Worried about some of the other trends that Jeff mentioned? The best first step is to educate yourself. Here are a few related posts that I think will help:

Voice Search: The Evolution of Voice Search (and what it means for PPC) by Purna Virji

Artificial Intelligence: AI is Giving Us Back What We Value Most – Time by Adrian Cutler

Chrome’s Ad Blocker Update: Google Will Turn On Native Ad-Blocking in Chrome on February 15 by Darrell Etherington

I hope this helps you focus on the PPC trends that matter most to your brand or your clients!