Google, Marketing, and PPC Predictions For 2021

As our marketing agency closes the chapter of 2020, it feels like flipping through the last couple of pages at the end of a long trilogy. It’s been a wild ride, but we made it.

We didn’t quite get flying cars this year, but we’ve come far from the beginning of the decade. We now have communication devices on our watches, voice-activated home systems, virtual reality – we live in a future that could only be dreamt of by a pre-internet generation.

We’re big fans of reading at our agency – not just marketing, business or self-help books, but fiction and murder mysteries as well. Recently I’ve just finished the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood and while reading a post-apocalyptic novel during a global pandemic may seem like an odd choice, I thought it was prudent to look to the past in order to strive for the future.

Throughout Atwood’s novel she does not make guesses at what the future may look like, but rather, predictions based on existing technology and trends during the early 2000’s.

Did you know that just this month, Singapore’s first restaurant will be serving lab-grown meat? 

Just as how Atwood could research and correctly predict the implementation of scientifically grown meat (affectionately-named “Chickienobs”) in her 2003 book Oryx and Crake, we also have a wealth of digital advertising information around us that give us hints towards future predictions.

At our digital marketing agency in Vancouver, we’re at the epicentre of information regarding Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, and we’re happy to share our observations with you. So, strap on your seatbelts and get ready for a wild ride as we unveil our own predictions for the digital marketing space.


As of July 2020, Google has an 86.9% market share on online search engines, and has thrived through a long history of change and SEO algorithm updates over the years.

While the technicalities of their search engine have changed over time, their M.O has stayed the same: help the end user find the best results on the internet.

Thus, even though Google is in charge of the changes, they react to the changing needs of the market. And boy, did 2020 change the market.

The impact of the novel coronavirus resulted in winners and adaptors – those that prospered in the face of changing societal trends, and those that had to adapt in order to survive.

We saw a couple of new factors take place during the pandemic:

  1. Businesses realizing their ability to have their workforce work from home
  2. Consumers relying more heavily on physical delivery of goods and services
  3. People spending even more time in front of the screen consuming digital media in the form of video and audio (podcast) content.

As one of the most prominent companies in the world, Google has always aimed to evolve and adapt to an ever-changing society. Whether it’s by taking strides in video advertising or machine learning, Google is always adopting new methods to cater to consumer needs.

As a digital marketing agency, we see these changes in Google offerings first hand – here’s what we have to share:

Chapter One – Broad Match & The Recommendations Tab

Broadly speaking, Google has been pushing their machine learning capabilities across most, if not all, of their digital products. 

In an effort to help advertisers and new clients with their advertising platform, Google offers helpful tips in the form of a “Recommendations” bar within their ads management interface. They also provide service calls by Google agents to new clients who are looking to set up a Google Ads account.

Our marketing agency has personally received dozens of such calls – this isn’t a novel event – but what’s interesting is the newest type of recommendation that Google is promoting.

Google wants new advertisers to try adding more broad match terms to their ads.

At our agency, we tend to suggest against the heavy use of broad match in favour of more targeted keywords. Instead of using a broad match term for “slippers” which may trigger on searches for “summer slippers” or “nighttime slippers” or “slippers video game”, we prefer to use a more targeted combination of match terms to generate the highest quality leads from our campaigns.

Now, Google is recommending the opposite. Try opening up your keyword parameters, let our algorithms take care of the rest. Google has also been promoting Smart Bidding and automated bidding strategies where possible.

To clarify; we don’t stray away from broad matches, but we use them sparingly as a research tool rather than an end conversion method.

Taking these trends into account, where are we headed? 

Chapter Two – The Disappearance Of Search Terms

Did you know that in Q3 of 2020, Google started to remove keywords from Search Terms Report?

From Google:

“Starting September 2020, the search terms report only includes terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. You may now see fewer terms in your report.”

This results in reduced visibility for search terms even if they resulted in a click and/or conversion. What this means for your business is that there is less information about the type of clients that your clicks are attracting without further research being done.

The impact of this change depends on how niche your product is. Nearly a quarter of all searches for some clients, while others have been largely unaffected.

This calls back to when Google removed search term visibility altogether from Google Analytics, while retaining search term data within Google Ads. Now that they are removing search term data from Google Ads, we can predict that their next biggest push will be within a couple of their newer products:

  • Google Local Service Ads (LSA) are ads that are tied to your business profile
  • Dynamic Search Ads, which auto-generate ads based on your website content
  • Smart Bidding across all platforms to take advantage of machine learning

Do you see a trend in any of Google’s new products?

If your answer is “Yes” followed by “they’re trying to promote automation” then you’re absolutely correct!

Chapter 3 – Machine Learning

As noted in our 2020 PPC Advertising Predictions post, Google is indeed pushing machine learning.

For us digital marketers, this provides us with an exciting opportunity to marry powerful technological capabilities with our capacity to drive ambitious, human goals.

Think of it this way: a well-oiled machine needs competent instruction in order to generate the best results.

Your tools at hand should not only answer “How” but also Who, What, When, Where and Why

As Google continues to push new products fueled by their machine learning capabilities, we see endless possibilities to tweak and test new opportunities. Is it worth getting a  Google Guaranteed badge to support your Local Service Ads for $50 a month? Will Dynamic Search ads help drive new leads with unique ad copy, or will they drive away potential customers with vague phrases?

We are entering an age where technology is not only accessible, but abundant, and the opportunity at hand will be to choose and execute the best options at hand.

2021: The Age Of Options

We see 2021 as a year with endless opportunities for advertising, across all platforms on the internet. As our reliance on technology strengthens, so too will our ability to reach and engage with customers.

Do you want a first mover advantage? Or will a reckless change be a shot in the dark?

This is where we come in. At Cucumber Marketing, we see all of these technological changes as potential marketing opportunities. If automation eventually becomes a sharpened tool, we want to be the first to use it properly. If the competition stagnates on poor-performing automated ads, we want to stand out with engaging, human-oriented content.

At the end of the day – decisions are made emotionally and rationalized logically. To get the best of both worlds, you need to have a team that understands both – the Yin of writing human-focused copy, and the Yang of developing copy that works best for algorithms.

Google PPC Optimization with Our Vancouver Marketing Agency

When faced with multiple platforms and various optimization tools, it all comes back to the importance of marketing strategy. No automation can replace a business strategy (otherwise we’d all be using the same A.I.) so you’ll want to rely on a solid team to keep tabs on your performance.

Don’t switch gears. Add opportunities to test. Iterate. See results. Improve. Add opportunities to test. Iterate. Improve. Repeat.

If everyone else is forced to purchase junk traffic and yours is the only one that is clean, shaven, neat and trimmed – you’ll win the marathon.

And that’s our not-so-wild perspective on PPC changes coming in 2021.

Looking to get started with PPC? Not sure where to start? As a full-service digital marketing agency that provides PPC advertising, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and more, we would be happy to help! Contact our marketing agency in Vancouver for a fresh marketing strategy.