We are creatures of habit. When we are told our habits will have to change, it’s understandable we might put off adapting “till tomorrow.”
March 2021 spelled the end of putting off evolving workflows and advertising till tomorrow when Google confirmed the first major migration to FloC will begin in Q2 of 2021, getting one step closer to their promise of a cookieless experience by 2022.
Many posts talk about what these changes mean and why this may be a good or bad thing. In this installment of Ask a PPC, we’re going to cover:
- Which strategies thrive & which are retiring.
- Mission-critical actions to take.
This post will focus on Google’s changes – we’ll do a separate post focusing on Facebook and the iOS 14.5 update.
Which Strategies Thrive & Which Are Retiring?
One of the best aspects of PPC is that there’s always something new to learn and try. The strategies that worked 10 years ago retired to the strategies that worked five years ago and so on.
These are the main strategies impacted by the change to cookieless:
- Vanity domains/brand-specific domains.
- Personalized creative.
Remarketing Will Thrive in a New Way
Most of us think about remarketing from a cookie-based perspective. User lands on a site, user gets tagged, user receives an onslaught of nagging/creepy ads.
Now that we’re evolving past cookies, first-party data (like emails collected from promos and form-fills) will ensure that remarketing is seen as valuable instead of annoying.
Brands earn the right for an extended conversation by creating great user experiences prospects want to opt into.
When we target users who’ve agreed to a conversation (as opposed to stalking folks who may or may not be interested in our goods and services), we see better cost per acquisition.
In short, remarketing will thrive as brands focus on earning their prospects’ trust and message mapping is driven by consent.
Vanity Domains Are Retiring in the Face of First-Party Data
Paid media often opt for vanity domains or subdomains.
Beyond ensuring PPC performance is not hurt by “bad” landing pages, dedicated domains/subdomains help keep the peace between PPC and SEO teams.
SEO has very specific rules of engagement that often run counter to PPC:
- No duplicate content, which means no templates to do variable testing against.
- Requires rich content to rank, which can get in the way of the user converting.
- Redirects are commonplace, which can cause ad disapprovals.
- Navigation bars and in-site links are helpful on the SEO side while they’re, at best, distracting to transactional PPC traffic.
Vanity domains allow PPC efforts to be wholly contained in separate domains without fighting for attribution or design choices.
Ginny Marvin, Google Ads Liaison, confirmed:
Good news: Vanity, subdomains, and country-specific domains count as first-party data!
Bad News: We have a five-domain limit.
For some brands, this will be easy to abide by. Others will need to consolidate domains.
Beyond the first-party data limit, vanity domains put brands at risk of account suspension. Google doesn’t allow the same company to have multiple spots on the SERP and, if caught, will suspend the account.
Great landing pages don’t need to be completely siloed from the main brand.
As we adapt to a cookieless world, we need to do better at collaborating with our SEO friends on the technical and design elements so our initiatives can co-exist.
Personalized Creative Thrives as We Focus on More Than Just Ads
Message mapping is a critical strategy for digital marketing. If we’re going to invest our marketing dollars in traffic, we better make sure the content is best suited to our target market.
The good news is that we still get to customize creative by audience and UTM parameter!
First-party data audiences can still be called on to adapt text ads.
UTM parameters remain one of the most effective tools for attribution and customizing landing page experience, yet they are often neglected.
As we venture into the new marketing world of earned trust and high-quality experiences, leveraging UTM parameters to customize landing pages is even more important.
Mission-Critical Actions to Take
First and foremost, you need to make sure any and all lead capture initiatives are compliant with Google’s first-party data standards. This means including language on how data will be used without getting in the way of user experience.
Brands also need to own whether they’re going with a subdomain or subfolder URL strategy. It’s crucial these conversations happen now so there’s time to develop and execute a migration strategy.
Beyond that, building in a lead capture mechanism is more important than ever. We see improved performance on campaigns that have customer list targeting. Website visitor data is going to be harder to capture, and relying on it may leave your campaigns blindsided.
Finally, be sure you’re communicating to your team/clients/boss what is happening and why. Ultimately, if you’re creating great customer experiences and driving tons of leads/sales from your PPC campaigns, you should still be doing that in a post-cookie world.
Have a question about PPC? Submit via this form or tweet me @navahf with the #AskPPC tag. See you next month!
- How to Leverage First-Party Data to Boost PPC Performance
- 10 Important PPC Trends to Watch in 2021
- PPC 101: A Complete Guide to PPC Marketing Basics
All screenshots taken by author, March 2021