The last 2 years have been eventful in every way and 2021 was no different, whether we are talking paid ads, digital marketing in general, or day-to-day lives, a lot has happened.
Orca was born as a result of the sale of two divisions of the 5 Rings Group to Babble Cloud and throughout the challenges and the wins, we have really enjoyed sharing our stories, journeys, and successes with our equally successful clients and partners.
In 2021 Orca added five members of staff to the 'POD' in various roles and guises. Three of them are in the paid ads team (one Development and one Content and Search). Why so 'paid-ads-heavy' I hear you say. Well, this is twofold:
- Growth in the division means we must expand the team (because when managed correctly, it really works!)
- Although there is a continued move towards automation on paid ads, we firmly believe that a human mind is very much needed (and we see no real signs of that stopping).
As a result, our paid ads function can now serve more paid accounts, react faster and get into more detail than ever before.
2021 saw us look after over £1.4 million of budget across our client accounts. We're going to have to work hard to beat that growth in 2022, but look forward to the challenge for sure.
In relation to us being Google Partners, you can be assured that we continue to work hard to ensure we remain just that.
We don't get nice gifts from Google for this I am afraid to say, but it certainly ensures you can remain confident in our ability and our direction. After all, if our client accounts do not perform we could lose our status, and aside from your ROI (which is more important), we want to prove that our team remains up to date and skilled.
So, onto the 2022 changes, adjustments, and roadmap.
Tracking and Privacy Challenges
Last year saw continued deterioration in data quality due to changes in the privacy laws (check this example article about IOS once you've finished reading here of course).
There is a plan to phase out third-party cookies by 2023 and we are certain that privacy will continue to be pushed going forwards. Massive changes like this mean that we always need to adapt the ways of working in order to continue understanding who our customers are and continue to grow our target audiences.
Headline: First-party data will continue to grow in importance and we should be capitalising on it.
For businesses inside the European Economic Area - including the UK - accounts should be using the newly available 'Consent Mode' which aims to recover conversion data that is lost due to protecting privacy. Through conversion modelling, Google states that around 70% of lost conversions can be recovered.
It is also important that we implement 'Enhanced Conversions' on accounts that have this option available (currently rolling out of beta). This new feature uses consented, user-provided data to give a more accurate view of what exactly is leading to conversions after initial ad engagement.
We should also be using as many customer lists as are available to us and we should update them regularly. This first-hand information on customer profiles is invaluable with the current and ongoing privacy issues. It allows us to build a customer profile based on existing clients which assists in many areas, not least in automated bidding.
The use of these features will allow higher performance from automated bid strategies and smart campaigns, which leads us nicely to the next big topic for 2022.
Automation - AI
With the growth of Discovery, Performance Max, Smart Shopping and Smart campaigns in general, we cannot ignore that automation is becoming a huge part of marketing with Google Ads.
We predict that advertisers that are reluctant to lean into machine learning will be the ones who see results suffer most in 2022.
But as suggested above, we won't replace the hard and detailed work with automation. We will in fact use human eyes to ensure the automation functions behave. We will identify in which areas Google’s software is terrible at automating and in which areas it is a winning strategy.
As paid ads marketing continues to develop, we are fairly certain we'll see continued growth in dependency on audience-building and understanding intention. Putting ads in front of the right people, with the right intent, at the right time is where we continue to focus efforts.
We'll continue to work alongside Google’s automated options, driving and building quality audiences, focusing on conversion data and success modelling.
More than anything, we and our clients need to be willing to embrace the automations now, and as new versions make their way through beta.
We will work with you to identify where they are the most profitable choice. We have in 2022 for example had campaigns turn on automation only to turn it off in three months, but turn it back on later in the year with great results. Proof that just because something doesn’t work well now, doesn’t mean that it won’t work if we try again in a few months. The automation pieces continue to improve in most cases.
Quality of those Leads
There is no doubt Google's success means that ads have become more competitive.
An auction that used to cost £1.00 for a click may now be three times more competitive and way more costly. It is an auction after all, and good leads are worth money.
This is where we like to shift our clients' mindset. The old mentality of buying as many leads as cheaply as possible is no longer holding up as a viable strategy. Instead, we are working with our clients on buying higher quality, converting leads (even if they cost more).
This really does make sense from an auction mentality perspective. The price of the lead represents the interest in it, so the higher the price, the more desirable it is to bidders.
Just imagine going to a car auction and nobody is bidding on the old banger because they don’t see the value in it. It’s the same situation in a Google Ads Auction; nobody wants that lead, so in most cases neither should we for our campaigns.
In order to really understand the quality of leads, we should be integrating our CRM systems into the Google Ads platform. If this isn’t possible, we can have the data passed back manually.
This is all related to Offline Conversions. It does involve a bit of setup on both our side and yours, but the importance of the data more than justifies this work. Talk to us about this when we discuss your campaign.
Ads are changing again, and it's time to sunset those expanded text ads.
In fact, after June 30 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to create or edit expanded text ads. The world goes responsive.
Google will help test over 44,000 different combinations and permutations of ads if you get a full suite of assets together.
As always, we are leaning into the new norm before it becomes forced on us by Google. This in many cases puts us ahead of the competition by having at least six months to build decent data to change assets until we have the perfect responsive ads. We can then keep these up to date by swapping out the less popular assets and including any seasonal or new information to attract buyers.
Google Analytics 4 - GA4
Google has made some major changes with GA4 and we can't tell you we've really fallen for it yet.
But it's coming and it should offer a lot more streamlining in understanding the user journey across different platforms and devices.
As an agency, we want to embrace GA4 this year, using our extensive knowledge of tagging. We will start with our lead generation accounts as the e-commerce tracking is still lagging behind UA Analytics quite significantly.
Paid ads are still very much one of the most important places you need to be spending money if want to drive growth for your business.
If you've tried before and failed, tried and not been convinced, or already have another agency working with you but feel it's gone a bit stagnant, then we'd love to talk.