A PPC Carol: The Ghost of PPC Future

PPC ReaperEbenezer Scroogle had been incredulous during his visit from the Ghost of PPC Past, but during his visit from the Ghost of PPC Present he began to see the error of his ways. His tightfisted approach to his PPC was costing him dearly and he knew that his next visitor, the Ghost of PPC Future, would only bring more clarity to his realization.

The Ghost of PPC Future

While the Ghost of PPC Present was gregarious and loud, this new specter entered the room silently and did not speak a work. He simply gestured for Ebenezer to follow.

The first visit was to the home of John Lee. A wise PPC practitioner, Ebenezer had heard his name mentioned as a speaker at many PPC conferences (though he was too cheap to attend.) They arrive during a telephone conversation where John seems to be talking about a competitor that recently went out of business. He had the following to say about it:

Remember what I said back in 2014? Those 3 trends I mentioned?

Facebook ad spend, and social overall, will become a significant portion of digital ad spend across small, medium and large businesses. As an agency we’ve seen this trend growing for sometime, but 2nd half of 2014 has seen a very high % of our client base utilize social.

More shifts in the SERPs that will directly affect PPC and PLA performance. Bing has been testing showing the same ad above and below the organic listings. Both engines consistently shifting things around and test how ads interplay with the knowledge graph, PLAs and other SERP elements.

Bing will continue to grow and deliver on their promises of innovation. BUT… there’s trouble brewing because I don’t feel like the Search Alliance with Yahoo! is going to be around much longer. Yahoo! is actively growing their native ad and mobile search platform in Gemini. The fact that Yahoo! is now the default search engine in FireFox is a clear sign that Yahoo! is fighting to reclaim relevancy (and therefore rights to their own advertising revenue).

I know he saw the post about them, but he obviously didn’t pay attention and look where he’s at now!

The scene slowly fades away as they are off to another destination.

More Predictions

The next scene is two young ladies talking at a Starbucks. Again Ebenezer joins mid-conversation and it seems their topic of conversation is the same competitor John Lee was talking about. They seem to be having a lively discussion about what he did wrong and they really know their PPC:

Amy Bishop: Back in 2014 it was pretty obvious to see the writing on the wall. More innovation in Remarketing and RLSA. Bing entered the game, pushing Google to continue to be creative. During a #PPCchat, Matt Umbro brought up the ability to use Google Analytics audiences for RLSA. A great next step that kept Google out front.

Michelle Morehouse: Exactly. And remember Bing and Yahoo growing apart in 2015? The bridges between them eroded and Yahoo split itself from the Search Alliance in 2016, but 2015 was when advertisers felt the pains of working on one platform with two companies in the middle of a break up.

Amy Bishop: And all the while there was paid social. As businesses began finding paid social success, they began testing additional platforms. Facebook social took off pretty quickly and those advertisers began to bleed more and more into Twitter and even +Post ads. Plus, it was only a matter of time before Promoted Pins took market-share. Competition is good, it fuels innovation.

Michelle Morehouse: We all agreed that social would continue to grow, but I think specifically within that we saw the number of Facebook only advertisers increase. Google kept getting more expensive and Facebook allowed for slightly more specific targeting despite being closer to display than search. Whether small business or larger business’s who are in incredibly competitive spaces, a larger number of marketers (nowhere near the majority, but still a good volume) started putting all their budgets into Facebook.

Amy Bishop: And don’t forget Youtube to continually added more targeting features. As with social ads, once people started to find success in non-traditional digital advertising, they were more comfortable venturing further out, including Youtube. It kicked video remarketing up a notch when you could import audiences and then you could create videos specific to a subset of customers, relevant to their interests – either to upsell current customers or to continue to lead potential customers down the funnel.

Michelle Morehouse: Along those same lines, third party display/remarketing providers (AdRoll, Perfect Audience, etc.) became standard (and assumed) offerings as clients continued to look outside Google (but not leaving it behind) for display and remarketing opportunities.

Amy Bishop: Unbelievable he missed all of that!

The scene again fades as the Ghost of PPC Future leads Ebenezer to another site.

The Final Nail In The Coffin

The last scene is an empty office. Looking around the room he sees newspaper clippings about the success of the company with mentions about how they are an industry leader. This person loved pinning things on the wall. Among the clutter he notices a paper with dog-eared corners, highlighting and comments written in the margin. It appears to be a blog post that was printed and hung up for further reference. It was written by Robert Brady and was titled “PPC Predictions for 2015 & Beyond”. Ebenezer browses over the most marked sections:

  • Bing will continue to catch up to Google on features and will continue to see gains in search volume. This will come mainly from large partnership deals and less from consumer-based advertising like their previous efforts. This will lead more companies to push budget from AdWords into Bing.
  • The migration of budgets from traditional media to digital media will accelerate. As traditional media (radio, newspapers, television) goes digital with their offerings and as smartphone penetration finally reaches even technology laggards, the digital avalanche will pick up speed and size.
  • Facebook Atlas will be huge. They will be able to follow a user across devices, thus maintaining relevance and delivering better results on ad dollars. With their massive user base and increasing global presence Google will finally have a foe with equal firepower and determination. Also, “zuck” will become a curse word in Mountain View.

As Ebenezer reads he can only believe that this has been important to the success of this firm. Then, he sees an alert come up on the monitor. The only part he reads before the scene fades away is this, “Ebenezer Scroogle Declares Bankruptcy.”
Ghost of PPC Future


Ebenezer now found himself back in his office, shaken by the revelation that his business was destined to go bankrupt. However, he knew that he still had time to change his direction and stay in front of the many changes constantly shaping and reshaping the PPC industry.