Adapting To PPC Growth in 2021

Here are a few paid search trends that will continue to grow in 2021. We, as advertisers, must adapt to these if we wish to maximise client results.

These trends have already seen growth in 2020, and this blog is an introduction of what we can expect over the next few years.

I strongly believe that the Google Ads we know today will evolve greatly over the next five years into something much more AI-driven and automated. The importance of your PPC staff staying ahead of the curve grows more important with every new update to the platform.

Below are a few tips and observations from working with the platform in 2020 and what myself, and my PPC team, can expect in 2021.

1 – Automation

It goes without saying that in 2018 I would have scoffed at the majority of automation techniques; much preferring the ‘hands on’, manual approach to account management. The trust given to Google automation in letting them handle features of my accounts was very limited to say the least.

Coming into 2021, with correct account foundations, setup, and data automation will be vital for improving KPIs, managing large-scale accounts, and for continuous testing.

I strongly recommend a manually-controlled approach as a foundation for automation testing, then layering automation on top in suitable increments, and then further testing will improve the performance of almost any account.

Automation does not mean set it and be done with it, there are so many opportunities, experiments, and testing you can do based on the data of your automation, the key is that you can do large-scale testing faster.

The biggest improvements in automation –

Dynamic search ads have greatly improved, I recall when DSA campaigns first went live and I built one such campaign for a client, spending budget for diminishing returns. Now DSA growth can be utilised both conservatively and aggressively. The key strengths are utilising DSA campaigns with content-rich landing pages to discover long-tail keywords that have higher propensities to convert, increasing your conversions and expanding keyword profile.

Bidding strategies are such a large subject matter on their own, so they actually own their own spot on this list, they have grown monumentally as you will read further along in this blog

Automated Shopping Campaigns – Smart & Showcase

With the growth of automated shopping campaigns, targeting the correct consumers, and using real-time auction bidding via machine learning has been a large increase in Embryo’s client’s accounts. With automation comes responsibility, however, as this relies on a solid merchant feed for performance. For example, a full revamp of a client’s feed resulted in a 200% increase in ROAS from one particular automated shopping campaign.

2 – Smart Bidding

This has been a feature for a long time but I believe only in the past 18 months has it added new capabilities, Smart bidding has since become a fundamental part of optimising PPC accounts and driving performance growth.

I still maintain that the introduction of smart bidding must only be done after you have collected data, with your campaigns having positively converted and conversion goals having been accurately set up.

Below are a few of my recommended smart bidding strategies to increase your PPC growth.

Manual Bidding – Maximise Conversions – Target CPA bidding

The above strategy is perfect for core search campaigns and dominating competitors provided you build the conversion data at each stage, I personally recommend accumulating a minimum of 50+ conversions before moving to automation, then adopting target CPA to drive down your cost per conversion. Smart bidding is so driven by the algorithm and conversion goals so more data is better. Do not be afraid to retry bidding strategies that did not work in the past.

Target Search Page Location –

With specific industries that rely on being an early touch-point in the chain, before they comparison shop or apply with competitors target search page location can maximise your ability to be the first visited.

I have created success using target search page location within industries such as finance and insurance. This method helps users get a quote with them firstly, ensuring they are quicker to react to the lead and of course, this will increase the likelihood of a lead converting.

Always set bid caps so that your cost-per-click doesn’t explode. This method will ensure that your ads start pushing the top three ad results as much as your budget allows for.


3 – Audience Targeting & Depth

Google has recently released ‘custom affinity’ & ‘intent audiences’ based on search data they are accumulating, which is strongly closing the gap on Audience use from Google & Facebook advertising.

You are now able to group and collate audiences based on a user’s browsing behaviour, interests, and specific URLs.

However, it does not stop there. You can target competitor’s URLs or relevant industry websites that allow Google to determine your target audience.

For example – if ads are running for a new women’s clothing store that is environmentally and socially conscious, then I could add Dancing Leopard’s URLs to find a relevant audience that they are already attracting. It is, and will grow to become one of the greatest PPC display features that Google has released.


4 – Relevancy is Vital (even more than ever)

This may sound like a moot point, as quality scores and being relatable to a search query has always been important for success, but quality score affecting visibility and performance is more important than ever.

I have found that my search campaign structure has become more detailed than ever before, with extremely granular builds to maximise quality scores. This ensures that search queries are matched with mirrored ad copy, and landing pages also reflect this.

Another success has been to implement dynamically-changing page titles. Utilising code to mirror website headlines on your PPC landing page with the search query they entered, will increase conversion rates and quality score

In using the above tactic make sure to block misspellings and or move such queries to a non-dynamic page.

Not only that, guidance from Embryo’s content & SEO team’s on landing pages is positively influencing quality scores. We have implemented quality score scripts that monitor quality score changes and I have seen direct increases from the introduction of high-quality keyword-rich content written by our content team.

5- Platform & Network Expansion

Google Ads, Microsoft ads, and Facebook ads are the ‘bread and butter’ of pay per click, with almost all account managers within agencies actively managing each platform.

The next two platforms to exponentially grow will be Amazon and Tik Tok. These platforms dominate the retail and social sectors. With $17 million generated an hour on Amazon, and over 800 million active users on Tik Tok, they are the flagships of their sectors.

Amazon ads have existed for a while now, so you may be wondering why I’m talking about it as something new, The reason is that they have stepped up their game in 2020, introducing more analysis and optimisation features and the platform is generally much more reliable than before.

Amazon has introduced improved segmentation, negative keywords for automated campaigns, larger ad carousels, and more suggestions when it comes to bidding and optimising.

Amazon has a long way to go, even now, with it still being unrefined in various areas of the platform, but with their huge budget and a mission for the sales team to get more retail giants using their platform, you can expect huge growth of the platform in 2021 and beyond.

Tik Tok is new to the scene of advertising, but is already resulting in extremely high view rates and engagement. The current most cost-effective bidding method on the platform is CPM bidding, which is currently at £6.50 per one thousand views. I have seen, even in this very initial raw stage of advertising ROAS values of 5-10+ already.

As the Tik Tok paid advertising platform grows (as will the CPM unfortunately), we can expect to see more optimisations and targeting values with more brands adopting Tik Tok ads and influencers to drive sales.

There are also much larger much more expensive options listed to advertise on Tik Tok.


2021 will be an exciting year for all PPC account managers. Those that keep up to date with the emerging and changing platforms, such as those listed here, will be primed to perform excellently for their clients.


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