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PPC trends to look out for in 2020

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For PPC advertisers, 2020 is going to be a pivotal year. Technology will be driving all the key PPC trends at the start of the decade and advertisers are going to react to this in one of two ways.

Some are going to sit back and wait for the technology to progress. Others will take the tech available to them right now, grab it by the horns and use it to drive innovation on their own terms. These are the advertisers who will be setting PPC trends in 2020 and beyond, while the rest play catch-up.

Here’s what matters most for the year ahead:

Taking control of PPC automation

Marketing automation has progressed a lot in recent years and we can now rely on software to handle a wide range of repetitive tasks. This isn’t specific to PPC but paid advertising arguably has the most to gain from automation due to the time-consuming nature of managing and optimising campaigns.

Google Ads has introduced a string of automated features recently, including smart campaigns, smart shopping campaigns, Dynamic Search Ads and a growing list of automated bidding strategies.

Google Ads has even been pushing advertisers to let it manage campaigns for them.

Well this is new. @GoogleAds basically saying “we’re gonna start messing with your accounts in a week unless you explicitly say no.” pic.twitter.com/zShgxKH62i

— aaron levy (@bigalittlea) January 24, 2019

Advertisers need to decide how much they’re going to allow tech giants to automate their strategies. Keep in mind that Google’s priority is to maximise clicks, which is at odds with the aim of most advertisers. Thankfully, you don’t need to give PPC platforms a free license to manage your strategy. You can create your own automated workflows to optimise bids, budgets, marketing lists and a range of other key PPC performance tasks.

PPC automation doesn’t necessarily mean surrendering control; 2020 is the year advertisers can take it back.

Artificial intelligence & machine learning become accessible

For the average business or advertiser, matching Google’s data-driven ability to automate might sound crazy. And, until recently, it would have been. However, artificial intelligence and machine learning are now accessible to everyone, which means advertisers can build their own algorithms to automate highly specific tasks on their own terms.

Instead of relying on generic automations, built for the masses by the likes of Google, it’s never been easier to address the specific needs of your own advertising goals.

Are your sales affected by weather patterns? Then, you can automate bids to match the weather conditions in each of your target locations, all in real-time. Are your remarketing campaigns failing to engage with B2B leads over weekends when their mind isn’t on work? Then, automate a delay on remarketing campaigns triggered by site visits on Fridays and public holidays.

Rising CPCs in Google Ads

The unwelcome PPC trend for 2020 will be rising CPCs and this will be most evident on Google Search. With the SERPs becoming increasingly competitive and organic results falling further down the page, brands with big budgets will simply increase ad spend and this drives up the cost for everyone.

Hello, higher CPCs.

More budget-conscious advertisers will need to spot new opportunities outside of simply increasing ad spend. This may involve analysing SERPs in real-time to find missed organic spaces, ploughing through campaign data to lost leads or using third-party data and AI to create predictive analytics models that can deliver more relevant messages.

Either way, the answer is going to lie in data science and technologies like AI and machine learning.

Rethinking your PPC platforms of choice

Moving away from the algorithmic side of technology, advertisers will also need to rethink their PPC platforms of choice in 2020. The obvious option for retailers is Amazon Ads, which offers a powerful addition (or alternative) to Google Shopping campaigns.

For local businesses, Google is also providing a new channel aimed at smaller businesses. Waze Local allows businesses to target drivers as they’re travelling through their immediate location – ideal for people on the move who need to teak a break from driving and make spontaneous purchases on the way home.

Quora Ads is making big progress in a number of areas, too – especially in the B2B, software and consumer electronics niches. Meanwhile, the big rising star of 2019 has been Chinese social media platform TikTok, which has just embarked on its own advertising adventure that could give the likes of Facebook and Instagram a lot to think about – one to watch for 2020.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s reduction in News Feed ads will likely push more consumer brands over to Instagram and B2B advertisers in search of other options.

Callum Coard, PPC specialist at Vertical Leap.

GOOGLE

Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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