Hands typing on a laptop with a screen that shows a search engine and the word Advertising typed into the search bar.

Top Paid Search Marketing Predictions for 2023

Aron Butler
Digital Marketing Associate
Nov 9, 2022

Some major changes are coming to the paid search landscape. As paid search marketing continues to grow year-over-year, it’s more important than ever for businesses to plan ahead to stay competitive.

Paid search spending trends 2019-2026
Total spending on search ads is growing YoY. Image source.

Here are four PPC tips based on trends you can expect to continue into 2023.

Tip #1: Test Multiple Responsive Search Ads

Responsive search ads (RSAs) are now the only option when it comes to Google Search campaigns.

Example of responsive search ads for Search Discovery's Privacy Solutions to overcome ITP restrictions.

Since Google has transitioned away from expanded text ads (ETAs) in favor of RSAs, it’s clear that automation in search engine marketing (SEM) remains an important trend. RSAs allow for Google’s machine learning to test different combinations of headlines and descriptions provided by advertisers to show the best ad to the right person at the right time.

How it works

With RSAs, Google takes care of the “where” and “when” of ad placement, as well as who sees the ad, so search engine marketers usually see a lower cost-per-click and higher click-through rates thanks to RSAs. That engagement is Google’s goal, but you should always test different ad copy to learn what works best for your business.

The good news is that your testing doesn’t have to be comprehensive, since you can provide Google with up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions per individual RSA. Google will then combine those ads to ensure they’re not redundant, then select promising combinations to deliver, then learn over time which combinations are most relevant to your audience.

Benefits of Ad Automation

The automation of these ads allows advertisers to reach more customers when they are ready to buy.

Tip #2: Leverage Performance Max Campaigns

In addition to making RSAs the norm, Google Ads’ Smart Shopping and Local campaigns will be replaced by Performance Max campaigns by next year. Google’s objective here is to improve performance by increasing conversions and reaching new customers.

This move has been criticized by some search engine marketing professionals, who claim that Google’s heavy emphasis on automation is taking control away from advertiser capabilities. Nevertheless, if you’re not familiar with Performance Max already, we recommend testing it out and getting comfortable with it, since it creates opportunities to increase conversion value, and improve transparency into automation and brand visibility.

How it works

Performance Max works by allowing advertisers to access all the Google Ads inventory (Search, Display, Youtube, Discovery, Gmail, and Maps) from a single campaign.

Performance Max campaigns help you increase conversions across Google’s full range of advertising channels and inventory.
Performance Max campaigns help you increase conversions across Google’s full range of advertising channels and inventory. Image source.

Performance Max uses data attribution and user signals, rather than traditional search campaigns centered around keywords, to determine user intent and optimize campaign inventory to deliver the most value possible.

Benefits of cross-channel tracking with Performance Max

Google estimates that 54% of shoppers use five or more channels to shop over a two-day period—so tracking across channels matters, whether your goals are to increase online sales, generate leads, or grow offline sales. Also, Google claims that advertisers who use Performance Max see a 13% increase in incremental conversions on average.

Tip #3: Mitigate Third-Party Cookie Loss

In the constantly changing privacy landscape, marketers who will set themselves apart are those who can adapt their martech stack, analysis techniques, and marketing approaches to the new realities of signal loss, especially the loss of third-party cookies.

This timeline marks the flurry of browser tracking prevention activity and subsequent third-party cookie loss over the past two years.

This timeline marks the flurry of browser tracking prevention activity over the past two years.

These kinds of cookies track user behavior online, a practice already banned by Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge, not to mention the entire European Union by its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Google will remove third-party cookies from Chrome by 2024.

A cookieless future means that companies will no longer be able to track customer activity from one site to the next, a nightmare for those building remarketing campaigns since they won’t be able to recognize the same user across websites. Learn more about how browser privacy changes may affect your digital marketing program.

Cookies disappearing doesn’t mean that tracking will totally vanish from your website. You will be able to use the revamped Google Tag (previously called the Google Global Site tag), which is more in line with recent regulations regarding privacy.

How to mitigate third-party cookie loss

International data privacy laws are still changing and restrictions on paid search are tightening, so it is critical to stay informed and start implementing first-party data—data that comes directly from your customers – into your marketing strategy if you haven’t already. Your company will need reliable first party-data to target new and existing customers, whether you are using Google Ads or another platform.

Google has methods to improve the accuracy of first-party data. Their Enhanced Conversions feature can capture customer data, including names, emails, or phone numbers, when someone completes a conversion on your site. The data is hashed and securely transferred to Google in order to improve conversion tracking and measurement. Read more about data privacy in GA4 in this chapter from our Complete Guide to GA4.

These changes to data privacy have major implications for paid search advertising, and they will likely impact the everyday operations of your organization. Further works to chart the best course of action for your specific needs to help you reach your business goals.

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Tip #4: Migrate to Google Analytics 4 ASAP

The free version of Universal Analytics will sunset on  July 1, 2023. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest iteration of the tool, and if your company is using the current version, you need to start thinking about migrating over to GA4.

You will not be able to import your historical data from the previous version of Google Analytics to GA4. That means, in order to salvage as much of your precious customer data as possible, you will need to begin the transition ASAP.

We recommend that brands start the transition as soon as possible, even with the deadline being next year, because of how important it is to have year-over-year data within one system. Ideally, businesses should be migrated to GA4 by the start of the holiday season to ensure they have their seasonal data to look back on next year. Learn more about historical data transfer here.

How it works

GA4 has a vastly different data collection structure than Universal Analytics. In fact, this is the biggest change to the analytics platform in Google’s history. The update to GA4 switches Google Analytics to an event-based model rather than the traditional session-based model.

Basically, this means that the platform will now count each user interaction as its own separate event, which in turn provides better predictive power to the advertiser.

Benefits of switching to GA4 sooner rather than later

  • A robust solution to enable cookieless measurement for users who have opted out of cookies
  • Built-in predictive audiences to help you identify your most valuable customers
  • Cross-platform customer journey analysis for brands who deploy both web and native mobile applications
  • Direct integrations to media buying platforms

Maximize Your 2023 Digital Strategy

The digital marketing environment is constantly changing, refusing to evolve with the times is a sure-fire way to get left behind by your competitors.

The major things you should be considering right now are:

  • Google’s shift towards automation means RSAs and Performance Max will be instrumental in successful future ad campaigns
  • Privacy concerns regarding data can’t be ignored, so determine how you will need to tweak your strategies to be compliant with regulations
  • Migrate to Google Analytics 4 sooner rather than later

Further remains committed to helping businesses navigate changes like these.

Aron Butler
Digital Marketing Associate

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