What's next in search marketing? Considering how often Google updates the AdWords platform and how many new ad products we see unleashed on the industry each year, the only thing certain is change!
However, while no one knows exactly what's next, we can certainly look to the predictions and educated guesses of PPC industry leaders to help keep our focus in the right areas.
End-of-year is a fantastic time for marketers to take a step back, review the year gone by, and plan for what the future has in store for us. Acquisio recently compiled an awesome e-book packed with predictions from 15 PPC thought leaders on what may be next for the industry in the coming year.
Top marketers like David Szetela, Lisa Raehsler, Marty Weintraub and others shared a ton of useful info in their predictions – a lot of which you could use right now. Since there's literally an entire e-book full of their insights, you'll find the highlights here but will need to download the full guide from Acquisio for maximum benefit.
Here’s a preview of what the best and brightest in PPC have to say about the coming year in search marketing:
David Szetela: Get Mobile-Ready – and Ready for More Mobile Clicks
"In 2014, many advertisers saw huge increases in impressions and clicks from smartphones. This trend will continue through 2015. Mobile clicks will often represent the majority of clicks available to advertisers." Szetela also offers a 7-point plan for taking advantage of the mobile trend, after which he offers this tip: "…watch the search engines for mobile-specific features they’re already beta-testing!"
For more info: 5 Mobile Ad Strategies You Need to Be Using
Lisa Raehsler: Mobile Is Going Mainstream
In her response, PPC consultant Lisa Raehsler notes, "Mobile PPC is nothing new, but the majority of advertisers have not upgraded their websites for mobile devices. Most landing pages do not present a useful user experience and make conversions difficult. Mobile PPC will go mainstream in 2015 because advertisers will start to see the upswing in mobile traffic."
For more info: How to Build the Perfect Mobile Landing Page
John Gagnon: It's All About Persona Targeting
Bing's John Gagnon spilled the beans about a few things we can expect from Bing Ads in 2015, but this was particularly insightful: "Right now if you look at search it’s historically been based on keywords. Now we’re starting to add a layer of persona targeting. In the case of search, personas are built based on how a person interacted with a website (did they watch a certain video, abandon their card, or are they an existing customer). With retargeting we are able to build a bigger pool of people based on site activity. Persona targeting allows advertisers to look at what makes the person special in real life, thanks to social media data, and relate that information to both how they acted on the webpage and what keywords they used.”
For more info: Try the new Bing Ads Performance Grader
Matt Van Wagner: Expect Trouble in Native Ads Paradise
Matt Van Wagner boldly predicted the demise of the native advertising craze: "I predict that in 2015, you will start to hear the phrase ‘native advertising’ at more cocktail parties – especially Yahoo-sponsored ones. You will hear that it creates the ultimate in contextually relevant advertising and optimal user ad experience. However, I also predict that once the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) discovers how exploitative advertisers completely trample the lines separating editorial from sponsored content, they will issue new disclosure guidelines that will be a total buzzkill for native advertising and it will disappear as quickly as it emerged."
For more info: Native Advertising Examples: 5 of the Best (and Worst)
Larry Kim (that's me!): The Rise of People-Based PPC
For my part, I think that in 2015, we’ll see the rise of Facebook Atlas and other people-based marketing solutions that will dramatically change how we think about PPC marketing. The ability to upload emails/phone numbers of specific people and connect with them on different devices makes PPC marketing feel much more like email marketing and will open up online advertising use cases that were simply not possible in PPC ever before.
For more info: Facebook Makes Bold Power Play Against Google with Atlas
Andrew Goodman: Collapse of the Content Equilibrium
Page Zero Media's Andrew Goodman warns marketers of the danger of falling in love with content as an idea, without having a solid marketing arsenal to back it. "In 2015, online ads will drive more revenue than ever. A lot of the content that generates revenue comes from plain old regular people. Every day, hundreds of millions of us feed the digital information beast with our photos, shares, recommendations, and tweets. More content can support more ads, which leads to the growth of profitable platforms that help people connect with businesses and to find what they’re interested in. We’ve attained a pretty sweet equilibrium. Hearing of this exciting trend, companies will also want to add content strategies to their arsenals. And that’s where the wheels will come off. Many will do a poor job of turning into chatty publishers. Worse, focus may get diverted from core customer acquisition strategies."
For more info: What Makes ‘Great Content’ Great?
Marty Weintraub: Death to Keywords
Say it ain't so! AimClear's Marty Weintraub predicts Google will phase out keyword targeting. He predicts: "Google will quietly and methodically phase out keyword targeting, the traditional targeting mechanism of paid search. They’ve taken steps in this direction with alternate targeting methods such as psychographic audience targeting (which INCLUDES search data), product feeds and page crawling, not to mention introducing untargeting methods like replacing exact match with close variants."
For more info: RIP Exact Match and Phrase Match in AdWords!
Elizabeth Marsten: Say Goodbye to the 'PPC Strategist'
While Portent's Elizabeth Marsten agreed with Weintraub about the death of keywords, she also predicts a shift away from PPC as a discipline. "First and foremost, get more used to being a 'digital marketer' and not a 'PPC/SEM strategist-analyst-specialist.' We’re moving into a multi-channel world, while in some cases staying within the same platform, and adding in multiple ways to engage with audiences in ways that require us to drive and work with an overall online (and in some cases offline) marketing effort. We’re so much more now. And, a more dynamic world. We’re going to experience a loss of control and visibility like never before. We’re targeting audiences, groups and behaviors that require us to rely more on machine learning, dynamic values and privacy issues that can feel like a hindrance to us control freaks out there."
For more info: Multi-Channel Marketing 101
Brad Geddes: New Priority on the Marketing Message
Industry legend Brad Geddes predicts, "We’re starting to see a very small shift from a single ad tactic to marketers considering and testing the actual message, either by tactic, by device, or – in the best case scenarios – by both. This shift is essential to maintain and grow a profitable PPC campaign. While this trend to create ads by tactic is still small, it’s going to grow into a large trend by successful advertisers in 2015. Tactics decide where and how your ad is displayed. Metrics determine your budgets and what you are willing to pay for any one click. The actual message tells the user about your offer, qualifies the user, and starts the engagement process that can lead to a conversion. In 2015, we’re going back to the basics of marketing – consider and test the creative."
For more info: Hook, Line, and Sinker: 7 Tips for a Killer Call-to-Action
Frederick Vallaeys: PLAs Take Over Where Keyword Ads Left Off
After speaking to the growing importance of dynamic ads, Frederick Vallaeys predicted, "2015 will also be a big year for e-commerce advertisers. Product listing ads, which used to be difficult to manage and didn’t get great exposure on the search results pages, now often trump keyword-targeted ads and are getting wider exposure through syndication on the search partner and display networks. E-commerce advertisers will need to shift their focus from primarily keyword ads to primarily product ads to drive sales growth. Eric Schmidt said Amazon is Google’s biggest competitor and for several years, more product searches have happened on Amazon than on Google. Knowing this, it’s clear why Google will continue to roll out Shopping Express in additional markets throughout 2015: it draws product searchers back to Google."
For more info: Do AdWords Shopping Campaigns Work?
Bryan Eisenberg: The Rise of Video Ads
Industry vet and bestselling author Bryan Eisenberg predicts growth in video advertising, but a fundamental change in the way we use video, as well. "As more traditional advertising moves towards digital advertising, advertisers are comfortable with telling their brand story using video. I have seen predictions of YouTube revenue rising from $4 billion last year to $31 billion by 2024 and Facebook video ad revenue rising from a mere $151 million this year to $7.2 billion by 2015. Plus we all know that over 50% of traffic is becoming mobile, so we have to count on a lot of mobile video ad inventory. The best part of it though will be the personalized and localized nature of these videos.”
For more info: How to Advertise in YouTube Videos
Mona Elesseily: More Blending of Organic & Paid Search
Mona Elesseily sees more of what we think of as organic becoming paid. "In the past, Google has converted organic results into paid results by moving what once was organic info to the paid search side. A very good example of this is Google Shopping. Those results used to be free, up until late 2012, when Google made it a paid product. I could see Google local results on a SERPs page becoming local paid results. With enhanced campaigns, there’s certainly been a big push by Google to get advertisers to bid by specific geographic location. This is some of the biggest real estate on the page (as was Google Shopping) so there is significant opportunity for Google to make a lot of money from this change."
For more info: Google Testing Paid Local Search Ads?
Melissa Mackey: Greater Focus on Call Tracking
Melissa Mackey' writes: "I see two trends coming on strong in 2015. The first is call tracking. Call tracking has been around for years via tracking providers, but these solutions are cost-prohibitive for most small businesses. With Google’s launch of Website Call Conversions earlier this year, all businesses can now take advantage of free call tracking on their website. Once they see the value that call tracking data can provide, I expect to see a huge increase in the number of businesses using some type of call tracking solution. Businesses who drive sales over the phone and don’t use call tracking will be left in the dust." (What was Melissa's other awesome prediction? You'll have to check it out in the e-book!)
Aaron Levy: 2015 Will Be the Year of Automation
According to Elite SEM's Aaron Levy, "It’s become clear over the years that the masses are not doing what the engines believe are best for the user. Advertisers are still rebelling against rise of tablets (even though tablets are now replacing laptops). The past 10 years have each been the year of mobile in some way or another, but companies still believe just porting their site over and calling it ‘responsive’ will give users what they want. Look at the recent changes in mobile ads – Google forced our hands by chopping ads in half, as they know users on the go don’t want to read 70 character ads. This will expand even further in 2015; we as advertisers will need to focus immensely on the end user and their needs rather than trying to pinpoint the language they’re going to use. A lot of the time, this may mean giving up control to The Machines, and that’s okay (as long as you understand the context)."
For more info: What You Need to Know About Google’s New Mobile Ad Format
Marc Poirier: Full Automation for SMBs
Acquisio co-founder Marc Poirier feels that as an industry, search is at a stage of maturity where complete automation is highly likely, especially going into 2015. His prediction: "As a PPC tool vendor we’re asking ourselves, ‘how much automation have we built already and what’s left.’ At this point, there is very little left to automate. At the rate at which we are able to automate all of the features important for success in search for SMBs, we’re getting close to having fully automated solutions in place. SEM is getting more and more sophisticated and that means it’s increasingly difficult for humans to master everything. That means the role of machines is of paramount importance. In 2015 we are going to see significant growth in both adoption of automated technology but also in the sophistication and the degree at which campaigns are automated, and it’s going to be more and more available."
The Future of Digital Marketing: 15 Expert Predictions for 2015
There's so much win here, right? But like I said, there's a ton more in The Future of Digital Marketing: 15 Expert Predictions for 2015. Download your guide from Acquisio.