We met up with Navah Hopkins from WordStream at Pubcon, Las Vegas, and asked her a few questions about the future of paid advertising. Watch our full interview below.

Naeem: “Where do you think PPC is headed in 2018?”

Navah: “Audiences.

One of the most common uses of audiences has always been in display. And traditionally, search has kind of shied away from it, in favour of keywords.

I can tell you that Google is making a really big push on audiences, and we’ve already started to see it in the RLSAs. You can definitely expect to see audiences, ie, interests, folks who visited your site, similar folks who have visited your site – that’s really what you want to pay attention to.”

Naeem: “What’s the most common mistake you see SME’s make in PPC?”

Navah: “So this is kind of interesting, because you have to know the symbols for each of the match types. The most common mistake I actually see is broad match duplicates, because folks forget that broad match allows for synonyms to match and only one word has to be there so if you take all the keywords that you get out of the city keyword planner and plug them in but don’t edit the match types you could actually be bidding against yourself driving up the cost of your clicks.

And you may have had an incredibly clever idea of your structure but it suddenly kind of goes down the hole because you’re now making your clicks really expensive. So broad match duplicates is probably the most common mistake.

I’m going to sneak in one additional one, not having negatives at the right level, so folks sometimes

forget that negatives are not just eliminating wasted spend but they also can be used directionally so it’s really important to bear in mind that you want to use your negatives to not just eliminate waste, but to also direct budget and direct impressions and clicks where you really want them to go.”

Naeem: “How much of a role do you think AI will play in PPC in the future?”

Navah: “So I believe, going back to the audience’s comment, it will play an incredible role. Google is really trying to get us to trust in their machine learning – and to be fair, the machine learning has grown in leaps and bounds, as seen by the close variant changes in match type – so singular plurals like misspellings like that all get matched together in terms of AI. I truly believe automated bidding is going to become much smarter.

Traditionally you’ve had to wait until you had say 100 conversions or 200 conversions to make use of it. I truly believe that AI will help bring that barrier down so that most SMEs will get access to it rather than just the big players. That’s really where I see the big opportunity for AI; making the really effective automated bidding strategies available to a little guys.”

Naeem: “What is Wordstream going to focus on in 2018?”

Navah: “So we’re gonna definitely be doubling down on two things. Number one is making our platform more accessible.

So we rolled out this program called Light: Traditionally we actually wouldn’t sell to you unless you had at least 750 dollars worth of spend, and we rolled out this new platform that’s much more self-serve. And it has a price point of only $99, so we’re really doubling down on opening ourselves up to the smaller guy who can start getting their feet wet and not get as intimidating as they used to.”

The other major thing is our cross-platform ethos.

So this past year we made big bets on Facebook, and big bets on display. And in 2018 you should definitely expect to see a lot more tools there, both on the advertiser and agency side. So our suite is growing for our agencies, our suite is growing our cross-platform particularly on Facebook and display, so definitely for those of you that are Wordstream customers – definitely expect to see a lot more fun tools. And for those of you who’ve kind of maybe held back because we didn’t necessarily support all the features for Facebook and display – expect to see some really cool features in 2018.”

Naeem: “What are your thoughts on AMP and PPC?”

Navah:  “So it’s really funny; AMP is traditionally an SEO field, however there are some betas coming into play that are for paid search. I genuinely feel that if someone is our customer they traditionally don’t need to worry about it.

For folks that have already leveraged AMP or crafted AMP pages, it definitely is something that we can explore but I don’t have strong feelings about the paid search implications. There’s not enough data to indicate that it’s good one way or not good. I’m excited to see it.”

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