Because 2020 did not help you for 2021.

Hello, my colleague looking industry friend. It’s already November 2021, which means that if you haven’t already, you’re behind schedule for 2022.

I know most of us haven’t gotten off the Dumpster Fire of 2020 yet (just look at my beloved NY Jets as an example).

But 2020 also left us with another small PITA Easter egg: the failure to properly use last year’s historic annual data to plan for 2021 or 2022.

Take a deep breath and accept that you are well behind the 8 ball here. Let’s discuss how you can do this.

This is how strategic planning usually goes in search marketing.

First, an important note: this process applies if you are working on the same game plan as last year, without dramatic changes.

It does not apply if you are moving towards a lead generation awareness approach.

The most common way to plan a New Year’s search is to check the historical data. Here, you take a look at YoY growth per click cost (because let’s be honest, it’s rarely low).


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All of this is done through the engine, so you get the attitude of Google ads, Bing ads, and (for some advertisers) even Yelp.

You review seasonal, monthly, and even weekday behavior across all parts of your campaign, including PLAs, brand, non-brand, high volume, etc.

Once this is done, you look for back and forth traffic variations over the last 2-3 years.

You are looking for heights or shortcomings due to time or macro factors that often recur annually, or another complete scenario.

You may be keeping a close eye on impression share data (especially impression share loss).

You then apply the expected growth, cost overruns, etc. in 365 days, turning up or down for seasonal, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily events.

And boom!

You’ve got your expected needs and delivery for 2022, all packed together in one nice clean package.

It did a great job – it didn’t come together until 2020.

What made 2020 a nightmare for SEM professionals?

Well, if you are thinking, either you have a unique and varied form of planning, you live in a hut without internet off the grid, or you are only a year deep in the industry.


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These are all acceptable answers.

Multiple factors played a major role in the chaos of 202:

  • Epidemic: It completely eliminated some of the vertical issues (ie travel), crushed others (ie retail banking), and was a “golden age” for others, such as consumer goods for direct consumers and Home improvement
  • Election season: This affected some verticals more than others because politicians ran advertisements that targeted key terms in the adjacent / halo categories such as Medicare / Insurance, Healthcare, and Law.
  • Unemployment: Rising unemployment affects the vertical in different ways. You often find that long shopping cycles, high price points, and luxury items are badly affected.

SEM planning for 2022, step by step

So, what do you do now?

Well, the first thing is to take it seriously but avoid panic.

Depending on your vertical, your activity may have returned to normal before the outbreak.

For those who have seen a return to “normal”, this will be a little easier.

Here’s what you’re going to do, as long as you stick to it.

1. Draw data from January to September.

2. If you have lost the Impression Share due to budget;

Identify which campaigns, and months, and determine if you were underfunded (fun little equation below).

Calculation of actual impression share dataAuthor, Calculation of Original Impression Share Data for the November 2021 Budget

3. Take it further.

Now if you want to take it one step further, you can calculate the opportunity lost due to the impressions share due to the loss of rank.

I first learned about this formula in PPC Math Made Easy by Rachel Law in 2019, and found it quite accurate.

Calculation of actual impression share data for rankOriginal Impression Share Data Calculation for Rank Author, November 2021

4. Add total opportunity. If you are paid less to lose an opportunity because of rank.

You got what you deserved for this year.


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5. Look at average CPC growth. Monthly for last 2-3 years.

Apply this improvement to your CPC and cost (though not impressions or clicks).

I used to have an annual growth rate of 3% -5%.

6. Review the development / activity changes of the previous 2018 and 2019 Q4.

Compare to Q3 and apply this demand / CPC / traffic etc. to your current Q4 budget and forecast.

Boom, you have a plan for 2022 that is filtered out for our election season, unemployment, and epidemics.

Tips for SEM planning in specific situations

Now, all this is fine and good unless you are handling one of the verticals that took the hammer or had the golden age.

Your process will be the same, but not completely the same.

If your performance has not been reset, or at least in the last 3 months has returned to pre-epidemic levels, follow this procedure – and remember, this is for advertisers who have the same goals. Maintain.

If your geo target is anywhere outside the Asia / Oceania region;

Start by dragging 12 months of historical data from February 2019 to January 2020. It’s as real as you can get realistic before you get to the fans in most parts of the world.


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If you are running ads targeting Asia / Oceania, pull the data from November 2018 to October 2019.

Determine the overall opportunity that should have been with Impression Share Lost.

Then measure CPC for 2 years.

This is based on a 2-3 year historical growth (ending in the last month you pulled), including Q4.

Note: If you are growing at 3% -5% per annum, be sure to scale year after year (ie a compound 5% CPC for 2 years yields 10.25% growth rate).

Now for the key part – macro factor based flexibility, including:

  • Supply chain limits: Decrease by product level until you can predict proper delivery.
  • Extraordinary lift from epidemic halo (ie DIY products): Start with a low budget and keep a test reserve as more and more customers are returning to normal life.
  • COVID Affects Sales (ie Gym Membership): Plan for average demand between regular and peak seasons.
  • Holiday Wholesaler: Summarize for 2022, assuming holiday shopping starts in mid-November instead of October, but keep emergency budgets in place.

The list of factors continues, but the fact is that you need to take into account the fact that your extreme downtime (ie, out of character) or rise is based on a macro factor, and unexpectedly it Will finally come back

This means you need to play conservatism with the budget, and add a surplus / surplus to the reserve test budget.


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What should I do now that I have my traffic numbers?

Well, there was nothing you could do. But that would be a terrible idea.

Instead, apply post-click performance data such as conversion rate (CVR), cost per acquisition (CPA), etc. to your delivery numbers historically normalized (follow the data history above to find “normalized”). Do This will give you the expected back-end performance for the year.

But remember to be careful here.

Your severe loss of positive performance may only be temporary, so do not use COVID numbers to predict positive performance. At the same time, if you have a shortage, use this data and hopefully it will be positive.

If you remove just one thing from this column, I hope 2022 is the year of careful broadcasting.

Do this, and you will either live up to your predictions or go beyond them.

And cross your fingers so you don’t try to get the murder back.


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More resources:

Featured Image: Shutterstock / NE on NE

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