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Peak Ace on Air #33: Latest PPC news from Google and Microsoft

Welcome to another edition of Peak Ace on Air! This was a jam-packed episode – a former Peak Acer described it as “8 months of PPC in an hour”. And that’s completely accurate! A lot of important changes have happened or are about happen in the pay-per-click world, so we were glad our Head of PPC, Julia Riml, could come give us the lowdown. Her slides are attached below!

Digital PR Summit recap

But before we get into PPC, it’s worth mentioning Digitaloft’s recent Digital PR Summit, where Domi gave a talk on content localisation. She covered aspects of localisation like strategy, the kind of team you need and market evaluation.

Latest PPC news from Google: Broad match modifier being replaced by the phrase match

The first and most important topic on Julia’s list was the biggest change to PPC in years: Google’s decision to replace the broad match modifier (BMM) with phrase match in 2021. (If you’re not aware of these match types, or don’t know what match types even are, don’t worry – Julia explains in her presentation!)

In a nutshell: the phrase match will now show the ad with broader keywords than before, or it will match with more search terms than it used to. However, it will not match exactly the same keywords that were covered with BMM before, such as search terms which totally change the meaning. One example: when moving services from one city to another, it’s important to keep the “to” and “from” cities exact, as Julia also shows in the presentation. This change is especially significant because phrase match is not really used that widely anymore, especially in agencies, as you can manage accounts well with the exact match and the BMM.

The change will roll out from mid-Feb until July, and you should be notified when it reaches your accounts – but you never know. Watch out for it!

After July 2021, it will no longer be possible to add new BMM to accounts but old legacy BMM keywords will stay and work like the new phrase match. The roll out will only affect major languages like English, German and Spanish for now, and will come to more marginal languages later.

Google has made other improvements to the broad and exact matches, which Julia presented, alongside an interesting test done by our PPC team last summer regarding mixing exact match types with phrase match in an ad group.

This new phrase match change is another push from Google in the direction of automation, and away from control and transparency, to increase their bottom line. We are concerned that this will drive people to use more broad match types, which we don’t recommend; they’re just too – well – broad.

Julia put together a nice list of suggestions to better prepare for the change:

  • Use phrase match and skip adding BMM from your accounts for now
  • Analyse performance and monitor search terms reports with extra care
  • Don’t cut all of your old BMMs however
  • Use a different word order in a phrase match if already using the opposite as a BMM, to avoid losing traffic
  • Adapt your Bing/Microsoft Ads imports from Google
  • Use a waterwall model for your match types: mostly exact terms, then the phrase match to catch the search terms you aren’t aware of and can’t include exactly, and only use broad match if the volume is really low.

There are some other rare cases where BMM might fit, which Julia also presented.

Auto applied recommendations: 35 AI-based suggestions

Yep, that’s the number of suggestions Google wants to auto-apply to your accounts, without you needing to do anything. Excuse us? PPC managers are already aware of the auto-suggestions to ad level, which would basically allow Google write your ads. What could go wrong?

For the auto-applied suggestions, there will be a separate dashboard to manage these new recommendations, and to refuse them or allow Google to implement them. We of course recommend you not to let Google do anything automatically to your accounts without you checking it first. There might be something you can let Google doing it for you, but updating ad copy is not one of them.

Please also note that not all of the dashboard changes might be shown in your edit history.

This is of course again another push from Google for more automatisation and less control. We at Peak Ace use a lot of automation and scripts in the campaigns we run – but these moves from Google are clearly an attempt to take control away from the PPC managers. And less control can easily lead to more money for the search engine.

Responsive search ads are now the default

Another move towards more automatisation: responsive search ads are now the default ad setting, and the expanded text ads can only be accessed via a little link in the corner.

Lead form extensions are now out of beta

Already in use for a while but now finally out of beta, B2B companies in particular can use lead form extensions in their search ad extensions. So, for lead gen companies this is definitely an extension worth using. And without added manual work, as the leads can also integrated to your CRM with tools like Zapier.

Display ads attribution now in beta

You can now access the attribution of your display ads by following the Tools-Settings-Measurement-Attribution path.

Insights in beta

This is a beta function, so if you’re not seeing it yet – don’t despair. Or maybe do, because the insights report is a great new feature! You can explore the search trends for your business, combined with account data. So you can see how people’s searches for trending topics might have had an impact on their account behaviour. Now this is a beta we could welcome with open arms!

Microsoft Bing updates: Manual CPC replaced by enhanced CPC

Microsoft has announced that manual CPC will be replaced with enhanced CPC, so also on the Bing side of PPC, there will be more emphasis to automation. This was also not something Julia was exactly thrilled about, as she said smart bidding might work for some clients but not for all. That means forcing it on all companies might not always work. We recommend you put max cpc limits on your campaigns and monitor your accounts carefully.

Filter link extensions

These new extensions to Bing will give users more info about the business’s services, similarly to structured snippets. Bing has also been launching quite a few new extensions over the last few years, like action extensions, multi-image extensions and most recently, the promotion extension last November.

Now, that was TRULY 8 months in one hour. Thank you Julia, for getting us up to date!

And speaking of updates, if you haven’t yet watched our episode about the iOS 14 update, what have you been waiting for? Our Head of Paid Social, Paul, gave us some very hands-on tips on how to handle the update.

For Julia’s full presentation, see the slides below.

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