3 PPC Strategies That No Longer Work & What To Replace Them With

This post is sponsored by Adzooma. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the sponsor.

Running successful paid media campaigns requires a synergy between your brand’s needs and the rules of engagement in the advertising platform.

For a long time, the rules of engagement remained unchanged.

However, over the past few years, some of the most obvious pay-per-click strategies have become outdated.

In addition, new obstacles have emerged, such as automatic campaign delay rejections.

These changes created new challenges for old, previously reliable technologies.

It is important to understand which rules have changed and which ones continue to influence the success – or failure – of the campaign.

These are three PPC strategies that no longer work:

  • Bid for each keyword in each match type.
  • Manual bidding for large spending accounts.
  • Remarketing based on site visitors only.

Let’s explain why these strategies are not sustainable, and find out how you can adapt your approach for better profitability and increased success.

Don’t: Bid on all forms of keywords. Do the following: Bid on keyword champions.

In the old days (when AdWords and Bing Ads were a thing), advertisers needed to bid on all forms of keywords.

If you want to generate leads for your dog training client, you will need to bid on individual keyword variants such as:

  • “dog trainer”
  • “dogs training”
  • “train my dog”
  • “trainer for my dog”
  • And much more.

In addition to these single keyword bids, advertisers will also need to leverage multiple match types in order to influence how closely or imprecisely a query matches the keyword structure.

In 2016 and 2017, close variants began to take hold; The need to bid on every variable has become obsolete. Account structures that thrived on thousands of keywords are starting to see budget allocation and performance issues.

Campaigns and ad groups that previously focused on match types, rather than strategic goals, have lost their efficacy. These old practices no longer provide the same return on investment.

How to bid on keyword champions

Instead of clinging to old practices, successful advertisers turn to keyword champions (a variant of the keyword concept used to catch everyone) to represent all the variables they are looking to capture.

Keyword champions work because they:

  • It can save you money. Choosing one of the cheaper variants will sometimes give you access to the more expensive variant, so don’t always commit to paying a premium.
  • Eliminate time-wasting steps that don’t provide value. Negative keywords have no close variants, so it is neither profitable nor practical to perfectly protect each keyword.
  • Ensure that a higher percentage of ads lead to conversions. It allows the budget to focus on the strategic intent of the campaign, rather than supporting a lot of keywords that may not deliver.

To bid on keyword champions:

  1. Limit your ad groups to no more than two to three exact match keyword concepts.
  2. Have at least one ad group with one long-tail keyword that uses broad match in order to ramp up the campaign and capture insights you may not have considered targeting.
  3. Convert exact match keywords into negative keywords in the broad match ad group.

Using the original example, we’ll bid on:

  • Exact match (to capture all of the original variables): “dog training” / “dog trainer”
  • Broad match keyword: “dog trainer price near me”
  • Exact match queries that give a high value in a statistically significant way

By following this strategy, you will free yourself from keyword bloat and ensure that your campaigns are able to deliver your desired results while adhering to the current rules of engagement in advertising algorithms.

Don’t: Take advantage of ineffective manual bids. Do the following: Take advantage of automated bidding.

One of the hardest things to do as a marketer is to give up control. We are keen to know every detail of where our budget goes and how it is applied.

This clear line of sight is likely why so many marketers have clung to manual bidding for so long (to the detriment of their campaigns).

In the past, manual bidding performed objectively better because advertisers could use their business acumen to set reasonable bids and not rely on limitations, such as conversion rate requirements.

At the time, Smart Bidding, a type of automatic bidding, required between 50 and 100 conversions within 30 days to run meaningfully. This is no longer the case.

Today, these lower bounds have been greatly reduced or disappeared altogether. The biggest barrier to taking advantage of Smart Bidding has been removed, making it one of the more profitable bidding technologies.

Additionally, managing micro bids across an account for more than one or two campaigns takes a very long time to become profitable.

How to take advantage of automated bids to increase profits

To see the maximum return on your PPC campaigns:

  1. Build automatic bids into your strategy. Automated bids use more than 60 signals to manage bids; This is not available or accessible by manual advertisers.
  2. Implementation of texts and rules. This can be a powerful way to maintain some level of control, while still benefiting from automation.
  3. Use time-saving workflow tools that get you involved in the process. Adzooma opportunities And the automation Allowing accounts of all sizes to efficiently manage bids and other account maintenance without completely handing over control.

If you’re ready to take the lead in automation, consider leveraging maximum conversions with a CPA target, or targeted impression sharing with a bid cap to teach yourself/your team reasonable auction prices.

Source: Adzooma

Don’t: Engage in remarketing. Do: Engage in consensual conversations.

One of the oldest tricks in the digital marketing book is following someone who visits your site and doesn’t make a purchase.

Remarketing has traditionally targeted all non-converting people who interact with your site.

These visitors will receive dynamic ads (showing the product based on the shopping feed) or display ads and search ads that pop up to follow them around the web.

Privacy has grown primarily on the Internet, and so has the importance of building first-party data.

It’s not enough to direct the user to your page – there has to be enough to justify giving you their information.

How to engage in consensual conversations

Connecting with users who have interacted with you in a meaningful and reciprocal manner has a higher chance of leading to conversions.

In order to increase your PPC campaign conversions:

  1. First party data capture. Try to build an email capture experience into your landing pages. Email addresses and other first-party data, given directly to you, have a higher chance of conversion.
  2. Build audiences from your curated first-party data. These tend to perform better than just site visitors. This makes sense, as the client has chosen to engage with you, rather than accidentally placing themselves on your list.


Using outdated strategies just because they are convenient will hurt your campaigns and your brand in the long run.

Make sure to automate as much as possible so you can save your strategic energy for tasks that require more attention. Tools like Adzooma can help facilitate that.

While nothing is ever completely certain, building processes that make you own your data and empathize with your customers will set you up for long-term success.

Image credits

Featured image: Adzooma image. Used with permission.

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