The State of PPC in 2018


The Latest in What’s Happening in PPC

Keeping up with the ever-changing digital marketing opportunities is part of who we are at Top Floor. And part knowing what’s changing is understanding how the PPC community views these changes. Recently, we dived into Hanapin Marketing’s latest State of PPC report, and two things jumped out for us: Attribution and Machine Learning.

The Importance of Attribution

We strongly agree with the statement “Search is a powerful channel, but it needs support.” Because it needs support, attribution is very important. A single channel isn’t driving all of the results, so knowing which channels are strong at assists and driving conversions are essential. According to their report, 69% of brands view attribution as important, and 25% view it as somewhat important. These numbers vastly changed from 2 years ago when only 31% of companies were carrying out attribution. If your brand is struggling with attribution (where to start or how to implement), our recommendation –  start small.

Google Ads for Attribution Reporting

If you’re using Google Ads, they offer a search attribution solution. It’s a great resource for determining the path to conversion, device type used to convert, and the amount of time in between someone seeing your ads until they convert. However, these reports are limited to the Google platform and only focuses on paid search, but it’s a good place to start. Once you’ve gained some confidence in how to read attribution data, investigate all-encompassing platforms that will give you a ‘bigger picture’ view of your marketing efforts.

Google Analytics for Attribution Reporting

Your web analytics tool is a significant next step. If Google Analytics is your tool of choice, the Multi-Channel Funnels suite of reports will give you a full picture of the user path to conversion. You will be able to see which channels assisted in conversions, time lag, path length, and the top conversion paths. This report is my favorite within the suite, because not only does it tell me the top driving channels but how often those channels were visited before a conversion occurred. If we use the report below as an example, the first top conversion path is, “Paid Search x2”.

Meaning that potential customers are more likely to convert after clicking on two paid search ads. The next most reliable path to conversion is Organic Search -> Direct.

Reviewing this data gives us insight into which channels are assisting in conversions, which could get lost if we are using a last-touch attribution model. Last-touch attribution, a popular attribution model, gives all credit to the last channel in a consumers’ journey.

By using the Multi-Channel Funnel report, we have a deeper insight into what channels are assisting in conversions. These attribution reports can help you to learn and know what is contributing to your success and inform your next business or marketing step, some of these channels are always-on and need more frequent optimizations.

The Importance of Machine Learning

Another powerful asset, Machine Learning, can aid you in achieving your marketing goals. Machine Learning makes assumptions based on previous data sets (you may hear people refer to this as algorithms). In its purest form, it could be used to apply bidding models to your marketing efforts. For example, you have had a campaign running for the past six months. Within this time, the ‘machine’ has learned which impressions have led to clicks and which clicks have led to conversions. Allowing the ‘machine’ to optimize toward conversions ensures that you will be present for impressions with the highest potential to convert.

In its more complicated form, Machine Learning can also apply to multi-channel optimizations. Meaning that budget support can shift between marketing channels based on which of those channels are driving conversions and which are assisting in conversions. It requires a single platform that has access to all digital marketing efforts to gain multi-channel results and be able to implement multi-channel optimizations. For example, your marketing calendar includes social posts, paid search ads, display ads, and video ads. A single platform gathers data from all these channels and optimizes toward the channel that is assisting or driving the most conversions. In addition to managing budget allocation, the platform can test multiple variations of creative. Continually testing copy/image variations allows for optimal campaign performance.

Why You Should Utilize Attribution & Machine Learning

At Top Floor, we use machine learning within our accounts to ensure that our clients are present during peak hours of the day and to test creative messaging. Also, utilizing machine learning for testing empowers our clients for future decision making.

So, how has your company used attribution or machine learning to drive results?