10 Biggest PPC Changes in My (almost) Decade In The Industry

As I was trying to force myself to say “Microsoft Advertising” instead of “Bing Ads” on client calls recently, I got to thinking about all of the changes that have happened in this industry since I got started in 2010. There have been quite a few, but some stick out in my memory, either because of how large of an impact a change had or because of some small irritation I felt about a change.

Here are the top 10 changes that have stood out to me since in my, almost, decade working in the PPC industry.

1. Transition of Yahoo ads to Microsoft (October 2010)

When I started, the big three search engines each had their own advertising platform. There was a lot of shift before this (and continues to be) in the relationship between Yahoo and Microsoft advertising, but in early 2010 Microsoft announced it would be setting up a joint venture to sell its adCenter advertising on both Yahoo and Bing. The transition of all Yahoo advertising to adCenter was complete in October 2010, which meant that the majority of my first tasks in the PPC world was preparing clients for the transition from 3 to 2 search advertising platforms.

2. Microsoft Loses Yahoo Exclusivity (2015) and then Gets it Back (2019)

Look, most relationships are complicated and the one between Microsoft and Yahoo is no different. In early 2015, the partnership between the two was modified so Yahoo could serve up to 49% of the ads with their Yahoo Gemini system or any 3rd party they wanted to use. This meant the creation of Yahoo Gemini accounts for the majority of our clients.

As of this year, Microsoft and Yahoo made a new deal where Microsoft Ads will be the exclusive search advertising platform for Yahoo and other Verizon Media properties. This led to close monitoring in our clients’ accounts to see how the expected increase in Microsoft Ads traffic changed performance and reviewing our Oath (formerly Gemini) campaigns to see if anything needed to be transitioned.

3. Google Enhanced Campaigns (2013)

I will always remember that Enhanced Campaigns were officially announced by Google on a Wednesday. Why, you ask? Well I had just finished training AdWords 101 and 201 classes which always ran on Monday and Tuesday. Since much of what I had taught would be changing, I threw together some quick slides and stole some time from the Google Analytics 101 class to review the updates. Did my students have any idea why I was making such a big deal out of this, probably not. Did the GA students who were not signed up for the AW class care, also unlikely.

What I will also remember about this announcement are the very strong opinions from myself and other PPCers, specifically around Google taking away the ability to run mobile-only campaigns. This change effectively made mobile a must-do for advertisers and tablets were bundled together with desktops. Luckily, advertisers were eventually given back control of targeting devices separately in Google. For now.

4. Google Releases Remarketing to all Advertisers (2010)

In my opinion, Remarketing is one of the most important pieces of online advertising. The ability to show ads to people who had previously visited your website as the browse the content network (I do not miss that name) was game changing. Obviously remarketing has become much more advanced in the last nine years, from simplification of tagging to dynamic ads, and will continue to evolve.

I cannot imagine a world without people complaining of being stalked by a company’s ads online.

5. Google Launches Google Shopping Ads (2012)

Froogle was launched in 2002 as an e-commerce comparison tool that used Google’s web crawler to index product data from vendor websites. After a series of name changes, it was rebranded in 2012 as Google Shopping and changed to a pay-to-play model where all free product listings were removed and merchants would have to pay to list their products on Google.

There were concerns from small businesses that they wouldn’t be able to compete with larger merchants on the new platform. My experience though in working with e-commerce clients, including small businesses, is that results are overall really good, especially compared to search ads. These ad formats tend to have lower CPCs and better conversion rates when compared to text ads on the SERP. Shopping Ads have become an integral part of every successful e-commerce advertising strategy.

6. LinkedIn Launches Sponsored Updates (2013)

While search platforms are great for B2C businesses, they can be hit or miss for B2B. While advertising on LinkedIn started back in 2005, Sponsored Updates were launched in 2013 and are still on of the most popular ad formats today. Organizations with company pages could now pay to promote their content to specified LinkedIn users. It took another three years for conversion tracking to come to LinkedIn’s campaign manager, but today it tends to be one of the top spend ad platforms for my B2B clients.

7. Facebook Introduces Lookalike Audiences (2013)

Facebook Ads was launched in 2007 with all ads relegated to the far right hand side of the newsfeed. Six years later they released my favorite feature, Lookalike Audiences. Lookalike Audiences let advertisers target people who have similar characteristics to a chosen source audience. This allows for a relatively easy expansion of reach for advertisers. Let’s face it, Facebook knows a lot about you. That’s why I think their Lookalike Audiences have been so effective for my clients and are typically where most of my Facebook advertising dollars are spent.

8. Bing Ads Editor Available On Mac (2016)

Is this the change that had the largest impact on the industry, no. Is this the change that had the largest impact on my life, yes. I became a Mac lover in 2010 when I got my first post-grad job. It was sleek, it was beautiful, but it was non Bing Ads Editor compatible. At my first company, we all had to connect to the remote desktop of the single office PC if we wanted to use the Editor (and yell out loud to ask if anyone was using it so we didn’t kick them off). I held onto my pink Dell laptop for 12 years for the sole purpose of using the Editor. Finally, in June 2016 my dreams came true and Microsoft released a version of BAE for Mac.

9. The Day I Discovered Supermetrics (October 18, 2016)

I had been manually updating projection data for the first six years of my working life. When I got assigned to a client who had 30 different account projection spreadsheets they wanted updated daily, I thought “There has to be a better way to do this.” A quick Google search led me to Supermetrics and my life was forever changed. Being able to create a report once that automatically updates the data daily has saved hours of work time a week.

10. Google Ads Interface Update (2018)

I’m including this in my top 10 changes because I can admit when I am wrong. I don’t typically like change, which is a perfect quality for working with the Internet, so when I started seeing the option to try out the new interface in my Google Ads accounts I took one look and switched right back to the original. I hated it. They took away my beloved dimensions tab and I didn’t like the visual look of it. I didn’t end up switching to the new interface until I was forced to. Now… I can’t even remember what the old interface looked like and I’ve fallen in love with the reporting section that has saved me a lot of time conducting analyses in the interface.

What are some of the biggest changes in the PPC Industry that stand out to you? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’d like to keep journeying on the path down memory lane, check out:

The Evolution of Facebook Ads Over the Years

The Evolution of Google AdWords Over the Years