The New Year has been upon us for a while now, so it’s probably a good moment to take a look at some possible PPC trends for 2012.

First of all, how do we even know this? How does anyone know what’s going to happen in 2012 in terms of PPC trends? Is anything a given? Well, the truth is obvious – nothing is a given, and we can’t be sure what’s going to happen exactly. However, there are some things going on right now that make us somewhat confident in our future telling skills.

Starting with:

Seasonal Trends (aka “The Obvious Element”)

No matter what year it is, there’s always a certain range of trends that are bound to show up. What we mean here are things happening in all the seasonal markets and niches. If you’re a PPC affiliate taking part in any of them then you can be sure to notice some CPC fluctuations around certain parts of the year.

Seasonal trends are most common to fields like: weight loss, personal finance (saving money), coupons (gift coupons), vacation trips, Christmas gifts, Halloween, etc.

For niches like weight loss, the busiest times of the year are the early months and the months prior to summer, that’s when everybody wants to get in shape. Personal finance niche seems like a evenly spaced out throughout the year, but actually it has its peak somewhere around January and February – that’s probably when people realize that they’ve spent too much money during holidays. All kinds of coupon craze usually starts to happen around the end of the year. People are searching for all kinds of Christmas gifts for their friends and relatives, and Groupon-like sites have been really popular lately, which makes the whole craze even bigger.

What does all of this mean to an average PPC marketer? The simplest fact is that CPC prices will go up. But what will also go up are the conversion rates. Those niches are not popular in those specific times of the year for no reason. As a PPC marketer you should really consider going into them during those peak times. Even though it will be more expensive (due to high CPC prices) it might still be worth the effort.

Panda Kicking in Into Other Places

The January of 2011 was a good month. Panda bears were still cute and everything was fine. But Google had other plans. That’s right; Google has ruined the panda bear experience for everybody.

What does it have to do with PPC? Well, “the Panda update” of Google is only the beginning. This is something that’s sure to come to the PPC realm too.

Google is constantly working on improving its services to provide better experience for their customers (aka you). That’s what Panda was all about. And no matter what you say, Panda made the internet better. Not when you want to sell something, obviously, but when you want to buy.

The Panda update has shown every webmaster the path they need to follow if they want to keep their websites at high ranking spots. The next obvious step for Google is to show all the AdWords advertisers the same thing. If your site is not doing well with the Panda guidelines you can be sure that your quality score is about to go down very soon.

Long Tail and Tracking

Long tail keywords have been known for quite a while now. The times when you could just bid for “weight loss” are long gone. Well, it all depends on your budget, but anyway. Let’s say they’re gone, just for the purpose of this article.

For a number of years now, PPC marketers have been pursuing what they call “long tail keywords,” which basically stands for “keyword phrases containing many words.”

This trend is only going to strengthen. New marketers are constantly joining the space, and all the short keywords are getting incredibly more competitive each day. For many marketers without big budgets behind them long tail is the only way to go.

The fact is that there’s truly no end to long tail. What we mean is that people are searching for thousands of completely new keywords every day, which creates great opportunities for creative PPC marketers. However, only for ones who are willing to track their results.

This sounds obvious, but tracking is actually a lot more than just looking at your AdWords, and observing how much you’ve spent this week comparing to the last week.

If you’re a small budget PPC marketer then the only way for you in 2012 is to be vicious at tracking and creative at long tail keywords.

Software Use and Education

The market is constantly changing. With all the Pandas, long tail and other things, education is becoming more important than ever. And by education we mean education that’s actually up to date.

Other thing that will help you in keeping your finger on the pulse in 2012 is software. Software is what allows you to do certain tasks more effectively. That is why PPC marketers will continue to use software for tasks they used to do by hand.

Various PPC marketing software (and affiliate marketing software, in general) can really give you the edge you need. Of course, it requires some investment, but it’s surely worth to just be aware of the possibilities, and get to know what various pieces of software are about.

For both software and education you can go ahead and test these: Commission Blueprint 2.0, Keyword Elite 2.0, Instacash Keywords, PTC Referral Secrets 2.0. You can find more about them here: Top PPC Tools for Affiliates.

And since we’re talking software…

Ad Blocking

Ad blocking is a trend that strengthens every year. Every major browser now has an ad blocking plugin. And the general public is becoming more aware of such things every day.

This results in “only” one thing. Your display/content network ads are bound to bring fewer results every day. Sadly, it’s not a trend you can fight with.

We’re not mentioning this just to end the article on a bad note. On the contrary. We’re doing this so you don’t get a bad impression when managing your campaigns.

The fact is, just because your campaigns are getting slightly less views than usual may not necessarily mean that people are no longer there. There are always more factors to look for. One of which are all the plugins and software that have been created to make your life harder.

The trend of making all kinds of content ads less effective is an unfortunate one. The only thing we can hope for is that Google, and other ad networks manage to find a way around this type of software.

Finally, a question for you. What do you think is very likely to sprout in 2012 for PPC marketers? What trends are you observing right now that we’ve missed?