2020 In PPC. What The Dickens Went On ?

Forget the big talking point of the year, there will be no mention of a pandemic here. What you ALL really want to know is ‘what nuggets do I need to know about PPC in 2020’

Sorry, What’s Your Name Again?

I am including this in 2020. But it happened in 2017, or 2018 or 2019 – I really cannot remember exactly when, but it definitely occurred at some point in my adult life. I still regularly refer to them by their old names, so I’m not surprised clients do as well. But in the interests of clarity – 

AdWords is now was rebranded in 2020 / sometime in the last 5 years to be known as Google Ads.
Bing Ads is now was rebranded in 2020 / sometime in the last 5 years to be known as Microsoft Advertising.

If we ALL make an effort and pull together we may adopt their new names into common vernacular by the time of the next rebrand. I’m doing my bit by highlighting it here.


Google Taxes The UK

Was it a penalty for leaving the EU, or was it imposed for being part of the EU. Do the legalities really matter? What does matter is that Google slipped out a new 2% digital tax on all UK advertisers (also Turkey and Austria) starting November 1st 2020.


This will be billed monthly and clearly shown on your statement or invoice. You know, the statement or invoice that is REALLY HARD to find in the AdWords Google Ads interface.


Missing In Action – Google Search Query Data

For years, this report was where it all happened for PPC practitioners. Forget keywords, this showed the actual search queries used to find and click on your Ads. Work through the report and add negatives / add exact match keywords where appropriate. It was literally GOLD DUST. (Note – if you do work in PPC and don’t know about this report, it’s time to find a new career, or at the least a new agency) . 

Then in Q3 we find that not all search queries are going to be included in the report anymore. Estimates vary, but something like 20% are not being shown right now. Why you may ask? Well there are all sorts of theories out there, but I’m not going to cover them here. If you want to know why then the Godfather of Google Ads, Brad Geddes has published an article on it here.

New Campaign Formats

Announced in 2019, but rolled out in the UK in 2020 one of our favourite new campaign types are Google Discovery campaigns.  These are suitable for top of the funnel campaigns and work best (in our opinion) with aspirational, lifestyle type brands. If your business manufactures micro-widgets in an industry no-one can spell they probably aren’t for you. 


Time To Stop The Manual Labour

Automated bid strategies are not new. But in 2020 they suddenly seemed to get REALLY GOOD. Target CPA / ROAS seem to be working particularly well for a large number of our accounts now. 

A side effect of this and something that seems to be a general trend for search is campaign consolidation. For years, search has meant segmentation and isolation – keywords in SKAGs, single products in Shopping campaign AdGroups etc, you know the drill. Now, machine learning requires big chunks of data, in one place. So forget everything you knew, forget everything you broke down – it’s time to start putting it all back together again.


Who Sold That?

Bid automation needs accurate tracking of sales or enquiries through a website. It needs those data points to learn and optimise bidding. And yet so few websites have this set up correctly. This goes beyond installing Google Analytics. It means using GTM (generally) to track forms, calls and transactions and this is not straightforward to configure for the average Joe. Without it, all the data being collected is limited in its usefulness – even once it has been setup correctly (there’s no hindsight option available in GA yet).

Our big hope for 2021 is that aside from all the money Google and Bing invest in their Ad platforms and Analytics, they develop an easier way for anyone to implement tracking systems that include the GOAL.

Gerard McHugh Posted by Gerard McHugh

Gerard McHugh - PPC Expert based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire UK

Gerard has spent over 15 years working on Pay Per Click campaigns for companies operating in the UK, Europe and USA. He is Google Ads Certified in Search, Display and Shopping and a Microsoft Certified Professional

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