Paid Search in 2020: what's happened?

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Laura Davies, Paid Search Manager at Visualsoft, reviewed the developments seen within Paid Search over the course of the year

The year of Coronavirus, toilet paper shortages, and incredible increases in eCommerce. It will be a time that none of us will ever forget and will go down in the history books. Not only has the world seen vast changes, the landscape of PPC has also had to adapt to the situational challenges the year has provided.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. As marketers, we have had to evolve in order to be forward-thinking and pioneers in our area of expertise; including, but not limited to, automation, display and international expansion.

So, what happened, and how have we adapted?

COVID - 19

COVID-19 was the catalyst for significant shifts in user buying habits due to the effects the pandemic had on brick and mortar stores. We saw an incredible boom in sales at the beginning of the year, which then snowballed into the most significant Black Friday’s in the history of eCommerce.

Another notable impact we spotted was the increase in traffic and conversions from the older generation - who would typically have not used or trusted internet shopping before 2020.

Display Advertising

This year, we have seen a documented shift in display advertising. With consumer habits being much more online-focussed this year, brand awareness based campaigns have become noticeably more advanced in their design, content and targeted focuses and have also been encouraged more.

In 2020, due to the release of the Performance Planner, we have also been able to plan display campaigns and manage budgets far more effectively - it’s our new favourite thing!

With this in mind, our team has really ramped up our Display offering for our clients throughout the course of the year. Our partnership with Google has enabled us to trial new and innovative strategies, which have already generated incredible results for a number of clients in 2020.


Automation was a key trend throughout 2020 and as a team, our PPC specialists have listened, tested, and implemented all advice we have had access to as part of our partnership with Google.

We have worked together to test new strategies, working collaboratively and sharing the positive results with each other to encourage new and innovative ideas across the various verticals within our accounts.

By implementing a big push on bid strategies across our accounts, we have been able to improve results for our clients through Smart Bidding (including further development to Smart Shopping including an increase of the number of signals available, and updated asset usage).

Maximise Conversion Value has also been made available to search campaigns, along with new best practices being rolled out for campaigns to utilise different bid strategies.

We are thrilled to report that throughout this challenging year, we have seen our clients adopt Smart Shopping at an increasing rate (rising from 38.5% to a whopping 94.3%!), yielding some fantastic results:

  • Through implementing a Smart Campaign, a client within the Gifts, Gadgets and Gaming industry saw a 118% increase in revenue and 112% in conversions in just 3 short weeks - improving ROI by 145%!
  • In just 2 weeks, a client within the Lighting industry increased conversions by 32%, revenue by 31% and ROI by a fantastic 38% by shifting to a Smart Campaign from a standard campaign.


59% of the entire world’s population are active internet users (with the most active users coming from China, India and the US) - and this is only going to increase. Cross border shipping has already been reported to be increasing year on year, and we truly believe that the events of 2020 will only accelerate this growth even further as consumers continue to search for the best deals.

In 2020, we were delighted to announce that we became one of the first agencies in the UK to gain Google Export Partner Status, which has helped us provide an even deeper level of strategic insight to our clients throughout the year. As a result, we have been working on further developing our International export process throughout the year, in order to adapt with these global developments and ensure our clients can capitalise on the number of worldwide users shopping online.

2020 has been a strange old year, however with our growth into Display, Youtube and International projects, we have adapted to provide our clients with the best service possible and have been thrilled to watch the growth of our clients... roll on 2021!!!

Want to find out more about how the Paid Search team could help you? Simply give us a call on 01642 633604 or fill out the form.