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new year resolutions for paid media success in 2020

Paid search still dominates digital advertising, commanding 39 percent of total budgets. Whether you’re creating Facebook ad campaigns, optimising your shopping strategy and feed management or initiating creative display and remarketing campaigns, paid media is an effective tool to scale marketing efforts fast and cut through the online noise.

As 2019 draws to a close, we’re getting ready to welcome a whole new decade - the ideal time to reflect and set ourselves new year resolutions for 2020 success. Take a read of our top tips to find out how you can bolster your paid media efforts from 1st January and beyond…

tidy up your ad accounts

New year, new you! There are many reasons to clean up your ad accounts and the start of a new year is definitely one of them. For better paid results, it’s important to bid on the right keywords, but this process needs regular management and refinement for optimal results. Follow these pointers to ensure your accounts are ready for another year of activity:

  • Clean your account structure: Examine performance of your ad groups and campaigns. If you find that some are underperforming or not bringing any value, stop them. Then, reorganise the campaigns you have left and categorise your groups. Ensure that each ad group has appropriate and matching keywords so when they are used in search, the matching ad shows.

  • Organise your keywords list: Remove keywords that are outdated, underperforming, receiving low traffic or low impressions. After removing unnecessary keywords, start testing new keywords with the help of competitor research.

  • Remove seasonal keywords: Clearing seasonal keywords is very important. If you allow them to run outside the seasonal period such as Black Friday or Christmas, they will likely drain your PPC budget.

  • Remove duplicate keywords: Duplicate keywords create internal competition, decreasing the performance of your PPC campaigns. You could even end up bidding against yourself, increasing cost per clicks (CPC) and reducing Quality Score. Pause or remove the keyword with the lowest conversion out of the two. It’s important to note that although duplicate keywords are usually a burden to your account, there are certain instances when they can be used, such as when serving ads across different locations, match types or networks. Consult your agency or if you need support here.

  • Delete low-quality score keywords: Quality score has a significant impact on both the success and cost of your PPC campaigns. The higher your ad relevance, the higher your quality score. Carefully analyse the performance of your keywords to understand which are the low-quality scoring ones so you can remove them from your campaign.

  • Group keywords: Grouping keywords can result in a higher click-through rate (CTR), increased conversions and a higher quality score, all of which boost your ROI. When keywords are grouped, targeting the audience becomes easier as specific keywords have a higher probability of reaching the target audience. The best way of doing this is organising and segmenting keywords into small but significant groups.

  • Refine high performing keywords: These are the ones that generate the most for your business, so it’s worth refining them. Some advertisers may believe that leaving the high performing keywords to run on their own is a good option, however, we believe they should still be optimised to increase performance further.

promote the right content through paid channels

Reflect and re-examine the content you’re promoting. What format is it? An article, video, whitepaper or infographic? Is it the kind of content that will resonate and engage your target audience? Will it add value to them?

Considering these types of questions helps you determine what content should be amplified. Don’t waste your budget on content that your audience isn’t going to be interested in. Analyse the performance of content from 2019 and use this insight to inform your 2020 plans. Consider what this data tells you about the kind of content your audience wants and needs. With video forecasted to be the next big growth driver for digital advertising, could this be the format of choice for your brand? Promoting the right content at the right time can help to increase your paid media results and ROI.

keep an eye on your competitors

Generating successful paid media campaigns involves not only the knowledge and experience of your team, but also the monitoring of your competitors too. Every business should keep one eye on their competition to see what they offer and to identify gaps you may have. Monitoring your competitors should be part of your strategy. Here’s how it can be done:

  • Use SEMRush: The data provided by SEMRush allows you to track what your competitors are doing and avoid their mistakes. Using this tool, you can gather insight into what keywords competitors are bidding on, what the highest performers are and how much money is being spent on these keywords. It also allows you to see your competitor’s ad copy generating new ideas and variations to test. With so much data available, tools like this make it easier for you to optimise your campaigns and make the most out of your advertising budget.

  • Review metrics using Auction Insights: Through your AdWords dashboard, you can review the Auction Insights report to give an accurate understanding of your competitor’s average position, impression share and other helpful metrics to show where you rank. The information from this report can help identify opportunities and understand which advertisers you are competing against the most. Once these have been implemented, you can test and analyse the changes to monitor how well you’re performing compared to the competition.

  • Use Ahrefs: This is a great tool if you want to conduct a comprehensive backlink analysis of your competitor’s domain. The features provide an in-depth look at traffic and backlink profile of any website allowing you to discover new words each month. With the help of the ‘Content Gap’ tool, you can identify the keywords your competitors rank for, but you don’t.

move away from manual bidding

If you haven’t done already, the time has come to move away from manual bidding and start using automated smart bidding. In recent years, Google has implemented a range of machine learning features such as Smart Bidding. This tool optimises your bids to maximise conversions.

The set of automated bidding strategies in AdWords looks at historical search behaviour and contextual data. Using this insight, it predicts the likelihood of conversion before increasing your bids where appropriate to capitalise on this opportunity. The contextual data can include factors such as location, time of day, device and user’s historical ad performance. Using automated strategies helps to save time and increases efficiency, allowing you to set campaigns and let them run while using Google’s vast amount of data to target relevant people. Manual bidding still has its place in some scenarios, but Smart Bidding can be highly useful and convenient when you want to raise brand awareness, increase traffic and conversions.

set up responsive search ads

2020 is the year to use Responsive Search Ads if you aren’t already. As Google’s largest and most flexible search ad format, you can create and serve the most relevant, engaging ads to your audience.

Unlike traditional search ads where you write a headline and description together to create one text ad, with Responsive Search Ads, you have the ability to write up to 15 headlines and four descriptions. Together, these variations can be arranged into a staggering 43,680 different combinations. Google will then automatically test these combinations to learn which ones perform best. Over time, your Responsive Search Ads will serve the best message to users dependant on the keywords they are using along with their device and browsing behaviour.

measure performance accurately

It’s important to measure your paid campaign performance accurately but, with so much data provided, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. Use these top tips to measure performance effectively:

  • Cost Per Action (CPA): Once you decide on your campaign objective, whether it’s generating clicks to your website, increasing your social media following or boosting content engagement, you’ll need to measure how much it costs each time the user takes this action. Pay close attention to the CPA but always remember, what’s considered a ‘good’ CPA can differ based on platform, objective, target audience, budget and more. Set benchmarks, optimise your campaigns, monitor their performance and make small changes to improve performance.

  • Engagement rate: Engagement with your paid ads is an important indication of your audience’s response to your messaging. Understanding the rate at which they clicked, commented and shared your content helps determine what worked best for future plans.

  • Web traffic and conversions: Maybe your objective is to increase website traffic and therefore conversions? How many people clicked through to your website from your ad and did they take the action you wanted them to? Using Google Analytics data, you can understand how people entered your website, where they came from and how they behaved once there.

use split tests and personalised landing pages

Test, test and test some more! Use split tests for your landing pages and ad copy to understand which are driving the best results. Continuous reviewing and iterative improvements ensure your paid media efforts are fully optimised for your user’s changing behaviour. Ideally, you should test combinations of different split tests. For example, take the headline that has performed the best and place it with various descriptions to determine the optimum description. Then, place the highest performing description with different headlines to see if their performance improves. You won’t be able to generate this understanding unless you take the time to test, review and improve your campaigns.

try something new!

The new year is the best time to try something new. In the competitive and fast-paced world of digital advertising, it’s easy to get left behind. Keep on top of trends, techniques and new tools to bolster your paid media efforts and take your results to the next level. Platforms are providing new ways for businesses to advertise such as Pinterest Ads, Amazon Ads, Sky AdSmart and even the rise of audio advertising. And, with 60 percent of advertisers saying they will increase spend on platforms such as Amazon, it’s essential to capitalise on this growth opportunity.

work with an expert

The list may seem endless, but that’s because it is! To really reap the awards of paid media, it requires a substantial amount of time and resource. Paid media is a matter of fine-tuning. Getting your campaigns in place is one thing, but tracking, measuring, reviewing and improving them is the key to boosting performance and reaching those all-important goals.

As a result, these processes can be pretty labour intensive and time-consuming. Working with an expert can reduce these pressures, after all – it’s what we do! Paid media specialists are at the forefront of the industry, learning new tactics, techniques and tools which can be applied to your brand when relevant.

And on a final note…take the time to learn from 2019. As with most things in the world of digital marketing, a bit of planning and structure can go a long way. Reflecting on what has already passed can help gain insight and see what needs to be improved moving forward.

With our top tips, you can go forth and prosper in the world of paid! Interested in finding out more around creating a paid media strategy for 2020? Talk to our team of paid media experts today.