Google issued the following statement: “In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for.”
The effect of this change will primarily depend on how Google defines ‘significant’. This will surely affect the campaigns and budgets of many advertisers. The range of impact is yet to be ascertained. Currently we can see search terms with only one impression or click present in the search term reporting. This is a common sight but we can guess that this will not continue in the near future. All we can do now is wait and see how Google approaches the change to the search terms report.
We have to respect the fact that Google wants to protect user privacy but we also have to consider the impact once the data is withheld. The purpose is clear, Google wants to prevent misuse the access of personally identifiable information which users may have included in their search queries. It is also to prevent advertisers from exploiting query data to identify users.
Google already has a limit in terms of query data in their Search Console for this particular reason. A users’ query triggers ads and whenever a user clicks the advertiser has to pay for that. Now if this data is taken away, advertisers won’t know what we can’t see.
If the change is limited to only sensitive queries which trigger privacy issues then it is fine. Our main worry is that the statement has a different essence and there are thousands of low-volume queries with absolutely zero privacy risk. We hope Google will take the best course of action as far as this change is concerned.
The main challenge will be in the area of negative query management. Advertisers will have far less control over the queries that trigger their ads. Over the period of time advertisers have gradually shifted their focus a lot from positive keyword management to negative keyword management approach to their keyword optimization. Search terms reports play an important role nowadays because of this.
Limiting access to this data will create problems for advertisers. They will not be able to determine which queries should be added to the negative keyword lists to make their campaigns more efficient. A single low-volume keyword will not have much impact but in aggregate the costs will add up. Advertisers will not be able to understand which words or phrases are working and which ones are not.
The marketing and advertising world has also come to a standstill with the spread of COVID-19. The recent outbreak created a massive impact on both the real and the digital world. The majority of businesses and firms have shut down all over the world. Many people are suffering from the drawbacks of this situation.
Freelancers and agencies have suffered huge losses and many businesses have pulled the plug on their advertising campaigns. It is time for advertisers to adapt to the situation and be more creative and understanding without losing their cool. We have put together a list of things which you can do to manage your PPC better in this period of time:
- Reiterate messaging and values to align with the current situation: Companies have to shift to promoting those products and services which have higher demand right now. The main trends that are hot in this hour are:
- Working from Home
- Social Distancing
- Family Time
- Essential and Medical Services
- Online tutoring or HomeSchooling
- Streaming services and VoDs
Ifyour product or service be can be associated with or can be modified to fit into one of these areas, shift into a temporary plan to promote these initiatives.
Businesses may also try and shift into virtual services or virtual consulting and provide online workshops or webinars.
All active campaigns must be reviewed and see if the messaging still fits the current environment, for example:
- Review CTAs like “Visit us in-store” and revise
- Display and social ads images which promote people in groups or touching
- Add outdoor pickup information
- Include detailed shipping information with benefits like free, fast, etc
- Hours of operation and any deviation from the normal services
- Your company’s response to the virus – a quote or messaging
Though it is fruitful to use some of these messaging in the primary ad copy, we also recommend that you shouldn’t forget to fully utilize Ad extensions such as site links and call-outs to convey the information.
Retaining a minimum brand presence is crucial and continue to feed the upper funnel because it may be harder to recover later after losing momentum. Though it is evident that the situation needs to be acknowledged and a softer sales approach is recommended.
- Change in Search Behavior: Though people are staying at home and maintaining social distancing they are more active online. They are still searching and researching their areas of interest, making purchase decisions and they continue to live their lives online for the time being. Communication about services that can be delivered virtually and delivery schedules for the same is very important. Ad copies orAd extensions communicating benefits like free delivery, door to door pick-up, contactless drop-off, etc. should be used.
- Negative Keywords: You are likely to see major or minor shifts in search queries triggering your Ads irrespective of the industry. The following approaches are feasible:
- Review all search terms and display campaign placements in real-time for keywords and content related to COVID-19
- Try and predict searches that may trigger your ads and create a consolidated negative keyword lists that can be shared among all campaigns and easily updated
Try and excludes keywords related to COVID-19 like:
Google trends are the best tool which can provide you with the latest information on search behavior
- Revise Budgets and spending: Take a look at your budget vs. spend and shift it towards products or services that have more popularity and relevance now.
Depending on the platform, instead of setting up daily budgets try experimenting with monthly or lifetime budgets. This will save a lot of valuable time for other important account management tasks. It is advisable to really focus on improvising and finding a balance between multiple campaigns so that you can identify gaps and allocate budgets that have not been utilized throughout the year and apply it to the important ones.
- Focus on the right channels: With the current lockdown and #stayhome trending people are spending most of their leisure time on social media. People are engaging more with content like news and videos.
Facebook and WhatsApp have reported an increase in usage of their messaging, voice, and video calling services.
As mentioned earlier, many businesses have stopped or rather paused their marketing initiatives. This means there is an opportunity for advertisers because they will now face less competition and increase market share easily without making any changes to their current budgets. This is the moment to reach and connect with people at the top of the funnel through PPC and paid ads on social media.
Some opportunities worth mentioning are given below:
- In-video ads and YouTube Ads
- Pinterest for those groups who are discovering new products for purchase
- Expansion of display ads on the Google Display Network and Microsoft Audience Network
- Twitter is also a great option but there are repercussions with brand reputation issues arising from negative feedback and activities