Franchise Marketing Review: David Sparks Talks PPC Trends to Watch in 2021 and Beyond

Paid online advertising is changing, and Brand Journalists can lead you through it

At Brand Journalists, we spend a lot of time following the trends and changes in pay-per-click technology and practices, or PPC as it’s called, and I have to tell you, it’s been a year.  Paid online advertising is changing rapidly, and the changes we’re seeing aren’t necessarily the best news for an industry already reeling from the pandemic.

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After the year franchising had in responding to, coping to, adjusting to, and recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, it almost seems like things are getting back to normal. The challenges our industry faced were staggering on multiple fronts.

Not only did franchisors have to radically transform the manner in which their franchisees delivered goods or services, but they also had to bear tremendous expenses associated with internal responses to the pandemic, and they did this while suffering staggering shortfalls in royalty revenue in almost every franchising sector. All the while, franchising itself became a lynchpin of the economy.

So at a time when PPC advertising is more vital than ever, it’s important that you understand the changes that are happening in it and how you can maximize the impact of the dollars you invest, one mouse click at a time. Here are the big trends I’m seeing in PPC and how they’ll impact your sales.

Google is changing the kinds of data you can get

It used to be that you’d go to Google or Facebook, input some demographic goals and run your campaign. You knew who you were targeting down to their age, their gender, their street address, their income level.

We’ll call those “the good ol’ days” from now on.

That’s because Google made a major change in its privacy and security policies that will tremendously restrict the kind of information you can access from search queries. At the same time, the power of tracking cookies has been nearly wiped out.

That’s the bad news.

The good news, though, is Google has greatly expanded access to data in the Google Ad Hub, and it will still be possible to create targeted ads. But the strategies will have to change, as it will become increasingly difficult to know the browsing habits of the individuals moving from site to site to site.

Diversification will expand your reach – and maybe save you some money

With the changes over at Google, other advertising platforms and the web sites that rely on the revenues they receive from those platforms are trying to fill the gap. Put simply, I think Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook are all about to have a field day.

That means you’ll need to diversify where you’re spending your PPC budget. The changes at Google will mean big opportunities for competing platforms to lower prices, improve engagement and conversions, and place a lot more ads.

Over the coming months, I anticipate we’ll see a lot of discussions about conversion rates and which platform performs the best. And, I expect we’ll notice some significant cost savings in the price per click, too.

A renewed focus on mobile advertising will drive strategy

Don’t get me wrong. Mobile browsing is already the “where it’s at” of online marketing. But in the past, it’s been mostly driven by two PPC channels: Google and Facebook. We’ve already talked about Google and how changes there will mean developing new strategies. But what about Facebook?

You probably read earlier this year about the court case Facebook fought (and lost) against Apple over the proposed “opt out” feature to be built into iOS. Well, that feature went live and is now the standard on more than half of all smart phones in the world, which means Facebook ads won’t generate the targeted, intensely personalized placement of the past.

That’s where audience targets will become a critical component. Previously, PPC ads on social media relied on cross-browser tracking to provide “people interested in hamburger joints” with that hot new ad from the burger franchise. A new focus on developing tightly honed persona marketing identities will be necessary if you want to keep prospects clicking away on those banner ads, especially considering our final big trend of 2021.

Automation strategy is more important than ever before

Remember those “good ol’ days?” The ones with a bunch of data and the ability to build ads for “people interested in hamburger joints?”

When that was the norm, we were able to build a campaign based solely on a few key words and the demographics we hoped to target. We were able to rely on Facebook or the other cross-platform tracking systems to say, “Hey, this person searched for how to start a burger joint. They may like this ad from your franchise. Here it is!”

That’s not going to be the case anymore. The tracking pixel is pretty much dead, thanks in part to Apple and Google. Facebook can’t rely on its app on every mobile phone to track the users, either. This means you’ll need a new PPC strategy that focuses more on bidding strategy and persona marketing than in previous years.

The brave new world is exciting, but it’s not scary

There’s always going to be a give and take between privacy of users and the value of advertising data in the online advertising space. Having a PPC strategy that addresses this flow is vital to saving you time, money, and missed opportunities.

At Brand Journalists, we’re innovating every day to make sure we’re delivering quality leads from ads that work. Whether it’s Facebook, Google, or some other platform that hasn’t been invented yet, we’re on the forefront.

And if all the privacy changes mean our news feed won’t get cluttered with ads for Alpo the next time we say to a friend that food truck taco we just ate tasted like dog food, then the extra time it takes to get the ads right will have been worth it.