Is it me, or does it feel like 2024 will bring a lot of change to how we use Google Ads? And probably not only Google Ads. Many platforms are on the verge of change as well.
Generative AI, automated bidding strategies, Performance Max, Google Analytics 4, end of cookies, and more. These things excite and scare at the same time. As humans, we don’t like change; once we get used to something, we tend to resist any changes. I’m no exception, and I feel conflicted about some of the things in Google Ads.
Anyhow, this is my last post this year as I’m taking some time off to plan for the next year. I want to update my book to include recent changes (like AI); I want to finish my course, increase my posts to two times per week, and probably create my YouTube channel.
Having said that I think it would be good to look at what 2024 could look like from the Google Ads perspective.
(post image is generated by AI, but I think you noticed that).
Table of Contents
The use of AI in marketing
AI took a lot of areas by storm, PPC included. If you look around, it seems that everyone is using and praising AI, at the same time shouting that it is the death of marketing agencies, the times have changed, etc.
Very dramatic, but only partly true.
Yes, AI is here to stay. I think in 2024 we will see a lot more uses of AI in paid advertising and marketing in general. Even Google announced that they will push AI tools to help advertisers. You can’t avoid and AI can be a great help to reach your Google Ads goals in 2024.
In most cases, the AI in today’s advertising uses your assets to generate ads and variations as a form of highly efficient A/B testing. It’s much less likely that this scenario it removes thee need of a human. It can elevate productivity by converting time spent on split testing into time spent on the next campaign.
That’s why Today, most experts can say that generative AI (chatGPT) is not a replacement for creative professionals.
This means it can’t replace you. Yep, you are the person behind each campaign. AI can’t identify new trends. It can’t understand your business or your audience. It cannot connect on a human level with audiences or create exceptional, unified messaging across platforms for increasingly complex consumer journeys. But if you use it carefully and in the right way, it can really help make things work better.
You have to integrate AI into your daily life, helping you to do tasks that can be automated. It will free up your time to do things that bring more value to your business.
Also, don’t go chasing every new shiny toy. Make sure you test its impact on your business, and not just blindly follow trends. 2024 will see a lot of tools, apps, whatever. Not all of them will be a good fit for your business.
Even I recently launched a beta of my AI tool, that helps write better Responsive Search ads. It’s called AdWrite.ai. I created it because I have to write a lot of ads in different languages. And this tools just saves me a lot of time. I input few keywords, get 3 ads and with one click import into my account. But should you try it? Maybe. If you have a small account, this tool is useless to you no matter how I present it.
I don’t think there was ever a time when advertising costs decreased. Sure, there fluctuations due to seasonality, like Black Friday week, when the costs increase. But in general costs increase year over year.
Between 2022 and 2023, the average CPC increased by approximately 5% and cost per lead (CPL) by about 20%.
We’re all tied here. Costs increase everywhere due to many reasons: cars, groceries, supply, manufacturing. Advertising can’t be an exception. So you have to communicate that to your company or your clients. You have to take the CPC increase into account when planning budgets for next year.
But how do you fight this?
First, focus on the website (business). If CPC is getting higher, so will your CPA (cost per acquisition). What you need to do is work on your website to convert more people (increase your conversion rate). This might be challenge for smaller business who can’t afford to do these kind of optimizations. But there are plenty of blog posts, courses, and videos on best practices. Not all best practices are best, but you have to make sure you’re avoiding the common mistakes, that damage your conversion rate.
The users journey doesn’t end with a click on the ad. It only starts there and your website is responsible if the user will actually finish his journey by converting.
Second, increase your value. You need to clearly understand which of your campaigns bring the most value. Tracking your conversions is a must, but you will have to focus on revenue and, most importantly, lifetime value (LTV). You will need to understand how much value each users brings to your business within a month, 6 month or 12 months. And track it back to a keyword, ad, campaign.
I say that to a lot of clients, CPC is not a good performance indicator. It’s not about how expensive is your click is how much value you get from it. You can pay $100 for a click if a customer purchases a product worth $4000, right? Then why obsess with CPC. Obsess with value from the click (or users).
Tracking, cookies, analytics
Honestly, I hate GA4. And I’ve spend years analyzing website with Google Universal. The previous version was so good and easy to use. But that’s the reality we have. GA4 has a lot of downsides and Google is still working on it. It’s not a finished product. You have to embrace that as well. I think that next year we might see more Analytics tools getting adopted or created.
Your job is to adopt. Don’t stop learning, don’t stop investing in courses. They pay out is a lot greater than you think.
Not only the Analytics platforms might change, but to get the most of your ads, you might need to integrate several platforms. Getting data is key for a good performance. Tracking just leads is not enough, you need to understand if they buy, how much they buy and how often they buy. Only this way you will stay ahead of your competition.
And Chrome will disable third-party cookies for 1% of users from January 2024. Gradually ramping up to 100% of users from Q3 2024. This is Google’s approach to cookie-free advertising. Which sounds great, but on the other hand raises concerns that the company might have an unfair advantage in selling its own ads. How it will affect the market is still unknown. A lot of ad tech companies rely on 3rd party cookies, so they will have to adopt or stop advertising.
On the other hand, take a look at Brave browser. They have a cool browser with privacy stuff and they have an ad network. I think it’s an invite only. I did sign up but haven’t heard anything back. Maybe you will have more luck. I do recommend to sign up.
Conversion data and AI
I mentioned above that conversion are and will be a crucial part of your campaign optimization. I want to emphasize conversion data here even more.
AI needs data to make decisions. The more data you provide the more accurate decisions can be made. By tracking how people react, AI can decide better on budgets, who to target, and how to bid. This data helps see the whole customer journey, so AI doesn’t just look for quick results, but also long-term interest and loyalty. With more detailed data, AI becomes really good at planning strategies.
If you want to utilize AI in your Google Ads campaigns you need to understand that several conversions is not enough. I tell that a lot but Google recommendation of just 30 conversion might not be enough. Sure, there are cases where AI picks up things faster. But in most cases it either explodes with high CPC, high costs and no results or just doesn’t spend at all.
If you see your campaign is underperforming on automated bidding strategies or Performance Max. You need to increase conversions to a couple of hundred per campaign per month. This way you increase your chances at a better performance. You need to teach AI what keywords, ads, and other assets bring value to your business.
Your goal in 2024 should be getting more data into your Google Ads account. I have this post on micro conversions, that could be a great start for you.
Automated bidding strategies and campaigns
With the success of Performance Max, rise of generative AI and machine learning and recent update to Demand Gen campaigns, it is obvious that Google will not stop here.
Even though I’m not a big fan of back box campaigns, where you don’t have a lot of control, that might be our new reality. I hope that Google Ads will not evolve to a point where you only give it a budget and a conversion and it does the rest. There is so much bad things that can happen. Worst is probably you not knowing how to optimize campaign or not being able to leave Google Ads since your business depend on it. Being “hooked” on a platform is not a good thing.
But let’s leave grim scenarios for the sci-fi writers.
My advice is to test everything. A campaign type by it self is not good or bad, it’s how you use it. If it generates value for your business, it’s great. But you need to see the bottom line. Don’t forget that each ad platform tends to be biased towards it self. Having accurate data, understanding attribution will be key.
The less control over campaigns you have the more creative you will have to become. Take Performance Max, for example. There is not a lot you can do. You can play with creative ad sets (products), audiences, bidding and budget. That’s basically it. That’s Facebook ads for you. You will have to better understand your audience and be alot more creative with your assets.
And since you don’t have a lot of control, making your website convert better will become important (mentioned that already).
You want to know a secret? I’m kinda anxious. As I said we’re humans don’t like changes. I have been doing Google Ads for the last 14 years, hands on. I’ve seen it evolve, but what is happening now it’s something different. Is it just a hype? Maybe.
But we should be prepared. I say we because I will be right here by your side, tackling things as we go. I will be learning, testing and sharing everything with you.
If you’re reading this sentence I assume you read the whole post. In this case, write me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what will be your biggest challenge. I will try to help you.