What You Can Expect From the World of PPC in 2011

by John Lee

Search Marketing Manager, Clix Marketing

Most would agree that 2010 was a good year for the PPC industry.

Google AdWords continued to innovate and lead the marketplace. The floundering Yahoo Search Marketing merged with Microsoft adCenter to form the stronger Search Alliance. Facebook continued to make strides in creating a substantial PPC-based social media advertising platform.

So where does that leave us for the New Year? What can we expect from the world of PPC in 2011?

Growth of Display Advertising

Formerly known as the Content Network, Google’s Display Network is like a sleeping giant. Google has always put some resources toward its development and it has continued to thrive despite a long-held sentiment by many advertisers that it’s an unwieldy marketing channel.

Throughout 2010, Google stepped up its game with enhancements to how advertisers interact with the Display Network. Developments from 2010 have built a foundation that will allow strong growth in 2011. New targeting options like remarketing, and betas for category and interest based targeting mean that it’s easier than ever to create targeted, well-performing Display Network campaigns.

Actionable Attribution

PPC managers have talked about attribution for years as an analytical data point — something to be discussed and shared with clients and stakeholders. In 2011 a new wave of insight will bring about actionable attribution.

Third-party tool vendors (and maybe even Google) are working out the kinks to enable PPC advertisers to make meaningful bid changes based on attribution data. Thank you PPC gods!

Death of the Keyword

OK, so maybe that is a bit dramatic. Keywords aren’t going away in 2011, but what will be making a quiet exit is extensive keyword management.

So many PPC managers are caught up in an endless cycle of micro-managing their keywords and keyword bids. Third-party management tools are allowing for increasingly more intelligent bidding rules and Google is working on their own automated bid rules, too.

In no way am I advocating ignoring your keyword performance. What these tools do is free up your time for other tasks. In the New Year, more people will realize that their time is better spent on tweaking ad copy/creative and landing pages for true conversion optimization.

Maturity of Facebook PPC

The Facebook PPC platform made huge strides in 2010 both in functionality but also in saturation to the PPC advertising crowd at large. More people are using Facebook (500 million and growing!). More advertisers are testing and getting good results from Facebook PPC.

These two elements combined are pushing the folks at Facebook to continue improving and innovating with their advertising platform. In 2011, look for capabilities to add new types of creatives, stronger reporting and analytics, and new controls a la ad rotation.

Compounded Complexity

And if your head wasn’t spinning already, the greater world of PPC is only going to get more complicated in the New Year. With each new feature or tactic comes a new set of rules that will rewrite your PPC strategy.

No longer is PPC as simple as loading a keyword, an ad, and a prayer. Ad copy/creative and landing page optimization are now taking a front seat in PPC management.

The Display Network is growing and requires your full attention. Bells and whistles keep coming into the picture (such as Product Extensions) that can improve your performance, but require your time, effort, and knowledge to employ correctly. Daily reading and study is just as important as active management for PPC managers to maintain their knowledge and skills.

Are You Ready For 2011?

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m super excited for the New Year — not only as a genuine PPC geek, but also for the potential to generate great results for my clients!

Although PPC is getting more complicated, information is out there to help guide you along in 2011. Take full advantage of the PPC platforms’ help sections. Read Search Engine Watch and other blogs or forums for new ideas and updates.

But most importantly, don’t get discouraged — it’s going to be a great year for PPC!

This article was originally posted January 5, 2010 on searchenginewatch.com.