2023 PPC Recap: 30 Tips & Lessons Learned From 24 Experts

February 7th, 2024

What PPC lessons can we learn from 2023? 

It’s the year when Google rolled out Demand Gen Campaigns. The year when Apple introduced link tracking protection on iOS17 to enhance user privacy. And the year when reduced and flat marketing budgets put a strain on paid media teams across the globe.

Persistent demands to “do more with less” throughout 2023 required creativity and fresh strategies to try and reach revenue goals. Pumping more and more money into ad platforms until targets are hit simply isn’t an option. So in 2024, paid media efficiency matters more than ever.

With that in mind what processes, practices, and technologies can you put in place to deliver maximum value with your ad budget this year? 

To help you refine your strategy for Q1 and beyond, we reached out to 24 PPC specialists and asked them a series of questions about their wins, challenges, and lessons learned from 2022: 

  • What paid media strategy worked so well for you in 2023 that you’re planning to double down on it in 2024?
  • What was your biggest paid media challenge in 2023?
  • What emerging paid media trends will you be paying attention to in 2024?
  • The responses to each question are categorised under the 4 subheadings below.

Use the contents table on the left hand side to skip to the sections you’re most interested in and start making notes that will help you maximise your return on ad spend in 2024. 

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What paid media strategy worked so well for you in 2023 that you’re planning to double down on it in 2024?

Specific tactics may change with every new update from Google and the social platforms, but general overarching strategies tend to have a longer shelf-life. Here are the approaches that worked well for our experts last year.

Offline Conversion Tracking was huge for us in 2023 and will be again this year.

For B2B SaaS, you are often selling to a niche audience so the best way to make sure the algorithms optimize to your customer profile is to feed it in from your CRM.

Courtney Cirino

Head of Digital, Bloomreach

We work with a lot of B2B clients, and what’s been critical is setting up offline conversion tracking, and then running value-based bidding. That way, we can ensure that the ad platforms are optimising towards lead quality and sales rather than just form completions.

Jake Surrey

Head of Digital at Fountain

Realigning our audience data was key for us in 2023.

Assessing our best-performing campaigns, but also rethinking traditional remarketing vs. prospecting audiences by using our owned data. Taking this data forward will be an important strategy throughout 2024.

Hannah Grugel

Growth Marketing Manager at Ditto Music

Don’t sleep on A/B testing.

The way we approach it is this: Have a brainstorm, define a test backlog, prioritise your tests, set aside budget and make sure to book in moments to reflect and implement learnings.

Kayley Dempsey

Digital Marketing Operations Lead at TPXimpact

Advantage+ Shopping campaigns have been a beast for us in almost every account we manage.

It’s also been great to see some of the more useful creative enhancements coming into play recently such as dynamic media to bring more video into play.

Lewis Kemp

CEO at Lightbulb Media

Measurement and going beyond platform metrics.

With Brands trying to justify marketing spend throughout 2023 it felt like a natural fit. By investing in measurement, allowing us to go beyond platform metrics we’ve been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of media spend outside of platforms removing some ambiguity.

For Brands this has allowed them to scale effectively.

Nick Handley

Head of Paid Media at Impression

Doubling down on the strengths of each platform in targeting will help you reach a wider audience of interested potential customers – it certainly helped us.

The use of Advantage+ audience targeting for example resulted in lower cost per results, more leads and traffic to site.

Mucha Madavo

Digital Performance Team Manager at Dentsu Performance

Search journeys are more complex than ever, but thanks to the thorough research we’ve done for all our clients’ and their industries, we can better present the right message at the right time to the right people through all campaign types in Google and all other Paid Media channels.

Fuelling campaigns with the best creatives, alongside strategic budgeting, we will help our clients stand out from the competition.

Molly Watters

Paid Media Lead at Hallam

Know your customers!

In 2023, we spent a lot of time analysing the reasons for winning new clients: What were their pain points, and how did our company help them to overcome their challenges? When we identified the main pain points and desires, we incorporated this into our ad copy, landing pages, etc.

This helped us improve our conversion rates by 50%, positively impacting the overall cost per mil.

Avgustina Davidkova

Director, Performance Marketing at PayHawk

My focus last year was on enhancing the basics.

The game changer was one simple adjustment: creating a consistent but diverse reporting schedule. That adjustment has allowed us to enhance the consumer’s ad experience, as well as our client’s conversion rate.

In an industry where cpc was going up, ours went down while maintaining a 30% conversion rate for clients.

Megan Murphy

Senior Director at Melon Local

In 2023, we helped our clients grow by excelling in three things: creative excellence, conversion optimization, and incrementality tests.

On top of our regular post-click attribution, we doubled down on incrementality tests and observing the impact of paid channels on Organic and Direct traffic. It was a real game-changer.

Vedran Karaman

Founder and Growth Strategist at KARAMAN Digital

In 2023, we found success by partnering with sales teams and concentrating on a smaller inventory.

To tackle increasing ad costs, we prioritized teamwork, understanding different perspectives, accurately processing internal data, and improving CRO for greater efficiency.

Yoann Ferrand

Senior Paid Search Consultant at In-House Partners / Adellus

Here’s a huge thing we learned in 2023: Diversify your media channels!

We’ve seen many clients in recent years who have put the majority of their eggs in traditionally conversion-driving baskets (i.e. spend weighted heavily to Paid Search) beginning to fall behind.

Current trends indicate the conversion journey is no longer linear – multiple channels all operating across the funnel is the way to win.

Yasmin Burchill

Head of PPC at Impression

The strategy that stood out for us in 2023 was Modelled bidding.

We decided to revisit our spend strategy and focus on more important KPIs that are directly impacting revenue growth. We then tested a few bidding models under tROAS bidding strategy and found our winning mix. We’ll continue to expand on that and innovate campaigns to align with better AI models for 2024.

Prachi Bhatia

Senior Manager, Performance Marketing at Freshbooks

What was your biggest paid media challenge in 2023?

Extracting important insights from poorer performing months and failed experiments can stop you falling prey to the same PPC pitfalls in the future. Here are the things our experts worked to overcome last year:

Effective automation into Google Ads platform of conversion data/values from client CRM’s remains a tad challenging!

But the payoff at the end of it is well worth the blood, sweat and occasional tear.

Richard Russell

Company Director at UTDS Optimal Choice

Click fraud was our biggest challenge affecting our paid media in 2023.

We were targeted and attacked, luckily we had Lunio to help us combat the issue.

Chris Reed

Executive Director of Marketing at Protect Line

The automation Google keeps rolling out is proving to be a real challenge.

It has become very apparent to me that the various changes like PMax and “new and improved broad match” were done with B2C in mind so we were constantly pushing back on our Google reps who wanted us to switch because it didn’t work for our business.

Courtney Cirino

Head of Digital, Bloomreach

If anyone else has been struggling to help clients attribute sales data properly: we learned to work more with enhanced conversions to attribute first party data to the algorithm to learn from. It’s helped a lot!

Tyler Hanson

Founder at PPC Foundry

The biggest paid media challenge in 2023?

For me it was the never ending quest to educate businesses on why in-platform ROAS doesn’t actually matter. And to get them to focus on the metrics that will actually grow their business instead.

Lewis Kemp

CEO at Lightbulb Media

I think the biggest challenge for PPC experts right now is finding the right channel mix and scaling with limited insight into what’s working and why.

Boris Beceric

Google Ads Consultant & Coach, Freelance

Figuring out attribution and incrementality is a huge challenge, as always.

With CPCs going up year on year, it is more imperative than ever to nail down the true ROI. And of course, cutting unnecessary costs.

John Wanamaker said more than 100 years ago, ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.’ and it’s more true now than ever.

Uros Protic

Head of Marketing at Fishing Booker

What emerging paid media trends will you be paying attention to in 2024?

Meta Advantage+ campaigns are rapidly increasing in popularity. Google Consent Mode V2 is about to become mandatory for any brand advertising to audiences in Europe. And Google are (finally) set to deprecate third-party cookies in H2 2024 which will cause conversion tracking chaos for some. With such significant changes on the horizon, what things were on the forefront of our experts minds as they look to the future?

Not a trend as such, but getting our clients prepared for a cookieless future and improving our conversion tracking accuracy as much as possible, that’s going to be my focus for 2024.

Chloe Varnfield

PPC Manager at Atelier Studios

The emergence of AI means more and more can quickly generate content.

In 2024, good content will not be enough to stand out in saturated world of ‘good enough’ content.

Kevin Mitchell

Head of Social at BIG Partnerships

Here are the trends I’m keeping a close eye on in 2024:

1) third party cookie deprecation and how to maintain data integrity where poss;
2) data collection and privacy (IE consent mode V2 etc) and
3) what happens with generative search

Jake Surrey

Head of Digital at Fountain

The increase in “zero click” SERPs as AI plays a greater role and Google becomes more personalised.

Also the need for first party data in targeting as Google sunsets third party cookies is definitely a focus for us this year.

Kayley Dempsey

Digital Marketing Operations Lead at TPXimpact

Without sounding like a broken record, the rise of Social is a really interesting trend, with younger generations valuing social as a means to find new trends, products and consume content over traditional formats.

This further bolsters the importance of measurement being a focus in 2024. I wouldn’t keep talking about measurement if it wasn’t so important!

Nick Handley

Head of Paid Media at Impression

Increasingly, short-form video is taking up more of our audiences’ screen time across the usual platforms like TikTok, Reels – but also in new interesting places (e.g. Spotify video takeovers, youtube shorts). This is definitely something to keep an eye on this year.

Amy Stamper

Head of Paid Social at Impression Digital

Training the new PPC generation will become critical as external factors such as privacy, rising ad cost, and generative AI/Search will challenge our way to move forward.

Measurement, Copywriting, CRO, and marketing mix modelling will be vital to understanding the impact of media efficiency. We won’t stop learning this year!

Yoann Ferrand

Senior Paid Search Consultant at In-House Partners / Adellus

My focus for 2024? The messy middle!

I’m intrigued to understand more about changing trends in user behaviour leading up to conversion, particularly that of younger generations who have grown up with a much better understanding of what digital advertising formats look like. They’re a savvy bunch and we need to adapt!

Yasmin Burchill

Head of PPC at Impression

The disruption caused by the offsetting of 1st party cookies will have a substantial impact on the traditional method of tracking feedback signals on advertising platforms.

Adhering to the best practices suggested by ad platforms and depending on multiple reliable sources for tracking will be crucial for media buyers like us in 2024.

Arun Easwaran

Lead Google Strategist at Webtopia

2024 PPC: Making Your Budget Go Further

In a recent webinar, we spoke to Abraham Moreno-Riano, Paid Media Manager at DeVry University, about maximising performance marketing efficiency. You can watch the recording of the session below.

Over the course of 2023, Abraham and his team achieved a 13% increase in conversion rate, 11% decrease in CPA, and a 7% decrease in cost per lead. In the session, he outlines the tools and approaches that helped deliver these results. Expect to learn:

  • Tips for landing page and conversion rate optimisation
  • A/B testing best practices
  • How to enhance your exclusion targeting criteria
  • How to cut LinkedIn CPCs in half
  • How to allocate your budget for maximum ROAS
  • And more

If you’d prefer to read a written version of the webinar, check out the blog below, complete with a TL;DR section of key takeaways if you’re short on time.

PPC Budgeting Guide 2024: Stop Wasted Ad Spend [Webinar]

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