Paid Search in 2020

Posted by Dave Hatton
Last updated 7th February 2020

Our Head of Paid Media, Dave Hatton, shares his thoughts on how he believes paid search will look in 2020.

I have a feeling this year will zoom past quicker than 2019 did. The month of January has already flown by – does it still count to write an article on how I see 2020 looking for PPC when we are already a month in? I’ve decided… Yes, yes it does. Here’s how I see things this year.

Audiences & Automation

In 2019, the focus of utilising audience data across campaigns had already grown – in 2020 it should be the standard, best practice approach. There is still the threat that keyword targeting will be abolished soon, since even further tweaks to match types and how they function were made in 2019. I don’t know about you, but to me, Exact Match really needs a name change by now… or Google just needs to kill it off already and do what it clearly wants to do: leave us with Broad Match options until keywords are removed forever.

Just an opinion, of course! Perhaps ‘Exact-ly what Google think you meant and could have meant variants of, Match’ is a more accurate name. Plus, are you seeing good results from Phrase Match anymore? Or even using it at all?

In preparation for that less-control/Google AI future-which-is-now, you need to be nailing how best to utilise audience data and targeting if you aren’t already. No excuses. It still amazes me when I audit accounts for potential new clients and I see no audience data or targeting being used, or worse: not even a list being collated for potential remarketing campaigns/audience exclusions etc. It’s been a feature of search ads for years now, but it really does seem like it should be the first thought for your campaign thinking in 2020, keywords second.

I’ve gotten over the idea of losing keyword targeting now – I’m being reassured too frequently by data driven/machine learning campaigns, and let down too often by the now-nerfed* traditional methods.

*I’m confident I’m the first person ever to use that word in a PPC article.


I’ve been a big advocate for Google AI in the past, and I still am until Google proves me wrong. At Reddico, we are still seeing great performances from different types of Google AI driven strategies, especially for Google Shopping Ads. For example, Smart Shopping campaigns are working much better than I thought they would. I was worried they would run amok like a badly managed DSA campaign, but instead, CPCs are much cheaper and sales are being achieved at a higher rate than standard shopping campaigns. 

Google have recently announced that standard Shopping Ads will be reaching users on Gmail in March; going where the audience goes. It makes sense – another chance to showcase your products to relevant users on their journey, and of course another opportunity for Google to cash in… everyone’s a winner… yes?

I’m not saying automation is foolproof. You may have spotted a slight dig earlier pointed at DSA campaigns… well, can you blame me? If you’ve tested them out before then I’m guessing you’ve run into the same problems as we’ve experienced, including random, irrelevant URLs being used as landing pages, despite negatively matching them, or pulling in info from pages completely against the purpose of the campaign and even having our Google Account Manager left scratching her head to why. I think DSAs are an example of a work-in-progress/tread carefully option.


Of course, you can’t talk Automation without mentioning scripts and automated campaign rules. This isn’t something new or something just for 2020 – like Audiences, they should be standard as part of your campaigns. How grateful would you be if you were alerted that your landing pages are suddenly 404-ing? Products are out of stock? Or perhaps alerts that your ad copies have all been suddenly disapproved because some little sh*t has hacked your client’s website and filled it with banned pharmaceutical keywords…? (True story.)

Why make your job harder for yourself when there are solutions in place with just a few clicks. You don’t need to learn code or even understand what it all fully means – there are hundreds of scripts out there, all for free, to simply copy and paste into your account. Brainlabs are an excellent source for these, as well as this handy list of 100 scripts from Koozai.

In my opinion, automation isn’t anything to be scared of – it’s just another thing to test, analyse and tweak to your advantage. I said this in 2019, and in 2020, I feel like it shouldn’t even be up for debate. Maybe we still fear change? After all, I’m still not used to saying ‘Microsoft Advertising’ instead of ‘Bing Ads’. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily…

Posted by Dave Hatton