Few areas of digital marketing move faster than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and one trend you're unlikely to witness in 2022 is the demise of Google as the market leader. Google Ads remains the dominant PPC platform for advertisers and consumers alike, and even the most prominent competitors like Facebook and Bing will struggle to come close. It all comes down to reach.

Google itself is comfortably the world's most visited website, and it's not shy about combining search with ads in increasingly ingenious ways. While Facebook cracks the top 10, there's the small matter of the two million websites and 650,000 apps that also rely on Google Ads for monetization. As the company itself says, there aren't many better options if you want your ads to appear where your customers are.

However, while continued Google and YouTube dominance are all but inevitable in 2022, that's not to say that there aren't some critical trends that could potentially define an entire year of marketing. So whether you contract out your PPC advertising to a specialist Google Ads agency, keep it in-house or even do it yourself, here are the eight most important trends to keep an eye on in the coming year.  

1. Businesses are Prepared to Spend More Per Click

Conventional PPC wisdom in recent years has been all about keeping costs as low as possible. It makes sense, too, as it goes without saying that the less it costs to acquire customers through this form of marketing, the better. However, 2022 will be the year when businesses are less concerned with attracting clicks and instead focus on the actions taken.

There's enough data, talent, and experience out there today that there's no need to spend on ad clicks to get someone to a website. Instead, what they do when they arrive becomes the priority, and businesses are more prepared than ever before to spend bigger for more fruitful results.

Of course, those who choose to stick to lower bids might be squeezed further down the results. Money talks and the more you're willing to pay for a click, the more prominent your ads will be. There'll still be room to work smarter rather than harder, but many advertisers will need to head into 2022 with one eye on ramping up their bids.

2. Ad Targeting is Destined to Change Unrecognizably

It won't have escaped anyone's attention that privacy is one of the hottest topics in the online world. Businesses are increasingly concerned about cybersecurity, while individuals are coming around to the idea that their personal information does indeed have value, and they're willing to take steps to protect it.

As discussed later in this feature, customers want to see positive values from the companies they shop with. As a result, large tech firms, especially those that don't rely heavily on data, have recently taken steps to improve their credibility through support for consumer privacy. Apple is among the most prominent proponents, such as through a recent update to its email apps that may change that branch of digital marketing forever.

Cookies are scheduled to disappear in the next couple of years, and individuals get closer to the control over the data and privacy they desire, often through legal intervention. As a result, the data on which marketers have come to rely could become less accurate or incomplete.

Of course, there are many other ways to target an audience, often with their permission, but targeting techniques that may have worked before may not continue in a position of strength in 2022.

3. Keyword Research Isn't Going Anywhere

As the years go by, the relevance of keyword research often gets called into question. However, its position does continue to weaken to an extent, especially as artificial intelligence and machine learning have an increasing impact on how and where ads appear.

Nevertheless, when advertising on Google, keywords still matter. A lot goes into interpreting search intent and getting people to the results that meet their requirements, but the words they use remain the best source of deciding what they want to find.

In short, keyword research remains every bit as vital to PPC campaigns today as it has been for over a decade. But, crucially, marketers need to keep a close eye on trends and developments in those keywords. Whether that means going for low competition, high conversions or any other metric will vary from business to business, but it matters as much now as ever before. It also applies to different types of social ads, like great Google Shopping campaigns.

4. Artificial Intelligence is Here to Stay

You might have heard a lot about artificial intelligence recently. If you haven't, expect it to be one of the hottest topics in the marketing world for many years to come. Most agree that it's not yet time to expect AI to replace humans in just about any role, but when marketers face new challenges, AI is one way in which to overcome them.

Ironically, one of the biggest strengths for marketers in this area involves processing data. However, at a time when that data isn't necessarily as readily available as it once was, AI can represent the difference between getting the most from what advertisers can access and leaving opportunities on the table.

Another hot AI topic involves software that will write ads for you. With software writing blog posts, product descriptions, and more, it can even extend further than that. Opinions are mixed, and skilled copywriters aren't likely to be out of a job any time soon. However, smaller companies with limited resources can benefit, while their larger counterparts can invest heavily in technology to carve out an advantage of their own.

5. Buyers Increasingly Appreciate Values

As touched on in the Apple example previously, a company's reputation and profitability don't necessarily only hinge on the best products and the lowest prices. Instead, consumers want more from their preferred businesses, and much of it comes down to social responsibility.

Sustainability, a focus on the environment, charitable contributions, and more are all critical components of a business in a socially aware world, representing opportunities. Companies have carried out entire PPC campaigns on the basis of what they do differently from their closest competitors, in a way that makes them look better.

It applies to businesses of all sizes too. For example, marketing messages can incorporate shopping locally or supporting small businesses. In addition, we can expect to hear plenty about their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and other attempts to change the world for more prominent brands. Essentially, being positive and wholesome for society is a selling point of its own, and it's worth considering as part of upcoming marketing plans.

6. YouTube Will Take a Chunk Out of TV Advertising

Cord-cutting is yet another hot phrase in the advertising world. 2022 is unlikely to mark the end of television or TV advertising as we know them, but the sheer number of people consuming their entertainment media online is growing rapidly.

That begs the question, what's the alternative to TV advertising for those that might consider it? You can't advertise on Netflix, Prime Video, or Disney+ right now. However, you can advertise on the world's second most-visited website that fulfills a similar purpose. More importantly, you can do so through Google Ads.

Of particular benefit to some businesses is the fact that it's a relatively untapped market. Depending on what you sell or provide, you may have the rare opportunity for a first-mover advantage should you decide to deploy video ads. They're not for everyone and may require an additional up-front investment, but these opportunities don't come along every day, and they're certainly worthy of further consideration.

7. Companies Need to Fairly Collect Their Own Data

And so, we return once more to the concept of data. People want more control over their data, and they're no longer prepared to go out of their way to do so. Instead, they expect it from businesses, advertisers, social networks, and more, and all as standard.

We've already discussed the fact that platforms like Google Ads may have fewer data points to draw upon when targeting campaigns. However, that, in turn, makes it all the more imperative to focus on internal data collection. 2022 is the year in which businesses need to focus on collecting data about existing and prospective customers purposefully. Most critically, they have to have plans in place to do so ethically and in a way that respects their audiences.

There are numerous potential approaches. Perhaps the most obvious involves the creation of dedicated data collection campaigns. A well-designed campaign encourages interaction without necessarily pushing sales. As per the earlier tips, this should be executed as cheaply as possible as it won't immediately impact the bottom line. However, as long as it's treated as targeting a different part of the sales funnel, it can reduce reliance on external data sources. From there, they can craft campaigns that they know were designed with their audience in mind, not what a PPC network estimates their audience to be.

Of course, that data won't just disappear overnight. Instead, the trend will be combining internal and external data sources and connecting them to keep costs down, improve ad performance and ultimately make every campaign profitable.

8. Mobile Is Still Growing

It's not for us to say when a trend becomes a fact. Nevertheless, for almost a decade, most PPC trend articles have noted the importance of mobile, and that trend is only going onwards and upwards. It's a generational consideration as much as anything – potential customers that are more accustomed to a phone than a laptop are on the rise and will be indefinitely. In addition, an estimated 70% of Google Ads in 2021 were served to mobile devices, so they must perform.

There are numerous benefits for advertisers, although some may be short-lived. An estimated 27% of desktop web users in the US use ad blockers, although some estimates place that number at closer to 40%. Many of the same calculations place that number at around half for mobile users. Ad blockers are a relatively recent phenomenon on Apple devices, and while Android users are better equipped, the concept hasn't yet caught on in quite the same way.

Of course, there's more to getting a PPC campaign mobile-ready than the ads themselves and relevant targeting. Landing pages, signup forms, and everything else that forms a part of this particular marketing mix need to work on all screens and work well – otherwise, paid clicks can be wasted, and that's not a trend; it's a fact!

Wrapping Up

In the ever-evolving world of PPC marketing, it's hugely important to stay on top of what's happening lately as that's what the competition is doing. Fortunately, 2022 will be essentially transitional overall, and the skills built up over years of experience won't suddenly become worthless!

Privacy and artificial intelligence look set to be the biggest ones to watch in the coming year, but a broad understanding will inevitably lead to the best possible chance of success.