Q&A: Experts dish on the future of paid search
by Chelsea Huston, 06 Mar 2018
Within the past 12 months, new SEM tactics have appeared or become more prevalent in the marketplace as well as within search engine UIs. Tactics such as in-market audiences and RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) are helping businesses target the right audiences, optimize search budgets, lower cost per clicks and cost per acquisitions, and maximize profit. To find out more about the continued innovation of search, we conducted a Q&A with some DRUM-mers and other industry experts.
What are some of your favorite new tactics/ technologies in paid search? How have these tactics/ trends impacted your accounts?
Dani & Molly, Agency Account Strategist and Agency Development Manager – Google: We’re suckers for Smart Bidding, especially for shopping campaigns. AdWords’ machine learning is able to make auction time decisions to predict not only the likelihood of conversions, but even average order value. The system knows what people want before they do; if only boyfriends could do "smart shopping" the same way.
Kim, VP, Paid Search Director, DRUM: I believe that one of the greatest advancements in search has been the emergence of audience targeting: RLSA, Similar Audiences, In-Market and Customer Match. I believe that audience targeting options and features will continue to grow over time, essentially layering on many of the targeting options available in display to the paid search landscape.
It’s just the tipping point when it comes to audience targeting in search – but having the ability to bid up for certain segments, ages, HHI and by male and female has resulted in increased conversion rates and improved efficiencies.
Additionally, recent testing into visual sitelinks is also a key indication that search ads may become more visual as time passes. The success of PLAs and the popularity of Pinterest and Amazon are also indicators that searchers are looking for not only the most relevant listing, but a visual one as well.
Ryan, Assistant Search Planner, DRUM: Some of our favorite tactics are RLSA and Customer Match. One of our accounts saw great performance for the month of November with audience lists, which accounted for 44% of all net revenue.
For this same account, in Bing, we also added apparel and beauty in-market audiences to our campaigns, which allowed us to bid up on searchers who were already in-market for the products we are selling. Bing now recommends adding all in-market segments in order to determine which segments have the highest propensity to convert. For example, you may find that searchers in-market for a product type completely unrelated to your business may, in fact, have a high inclination to purchase your products. This is yet another way people-based marketing is finding its way into the world of paid search.
Margaret, Search Planner, DRUM: One of my favorite new features in search has been the introduction of Similar Audience lists in Google. These are look-alike audiences consisting of people who are similar to current site visitors for which you can boost you bids. By doing so, we’ve been able to improve performance and reach new customers. For one of our accounts, Similar Audiences saw a 313% higher ROAS, and an 11% higher conversion rate than the rest of the account.
Hailee, Senior Search Planner, DRUM: I love using Google's Promotion Extensions for retail accounts. Unlike featuring promos in an ad that searchers may or may not see (assuming you're running more than one ad per ad group), Promotion Extensions guarantee that almost everyone will see your offer since they have dedicated real estate within an ad.
What tactics/technologies would you like to see on the market in the future (near or far)?
Debra – Associate Media Director, DRUM: I love how partners are continuing to challenge us and our clients to shorten the path to conversion. We’re already seeing features like visual sitelinks, price extensions and promotion extensions adding to the existing ad copy structure, and I hope to see us continue to shorten the path, like Amazon’s 1-Click purchase button! Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a similar button within a search ad?
Kim, VP, Paid Search Director, DRUM: It likely goes without saying that reporting and bidding strategies tied around data driven attribution should continue to evolve – with interfaces like Google AdWords eventually accounting for not only Google Search, but also other engines, in addition to other digital channels. The overall success of optimizing toward data driven attribution will only truly be impactful when a variety of media channels can be part of the mix.
Katherine, Group Media Director, DRUM: I think Shopping/PLAs will change. I'm not quite sure how, but the way we view them will likely change. As Amazon is starting to steal share from Google, perhaps Google will learn something from how Amazon is set up.
Hailee, Senior Search Planner, DRUM: I hope that a next step is an offering for voice search. While I don't yet know what this would look like, I do know that it's needed. In 2016, 20% of mobile queries were made by voice and ComScore is predicting this to grow to 50% in the next three years. Pair this with the fact that Amazon's Echo Dot was the best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across Amazon on Cyber Monday 2017, and things start to add up. Consumers have already embraced voice search to make their daily purchases, and more and more are going to jump on the bandwagon. If search engines don't provide a viable option for targeting and reporting in the near future, we'll be missing out on a large portion of the market.
Kelsey, Senior Search Planner, DRUM: I believe location targeting is an area of opportunity, since people are always switching from one device to another. For example, you could be on one device at the office and another at home. If you’re targeting down to the zip code, this could impact whether a searcher is even served an ad. For instance, if you were a lawn care company looking for new customers in a 10 mile radius of a city, you may be targeting the zip code of a searcher’s home, but if they are searching from the zip code of their office (which you aren’t targeting), you could be missing out on a potential conversion. Technology that could solve for this, without blowing through a client’s budget, would be beneficial to overall account success.
Where do you think the future of paid search is headed? Why? You can use examples of tactics/ technologies that already exist (visual search, voice search, etc).
Debra – Associate Media Director, DRUM: The paid search ecosystem is diversifying and with it will come changing search behavior. For example, searchers know YouTube will deliver the best video results, Pinterest will highlight the most inspirational visual results, Facebook will connect you with friends or local events, and Amazon is quickly imbedding itself as the benchmark for in-store and online price checking to ensure you’re getting the lowest price. Similar to what cable television did to broadcast, we’ll find ourselves in a much more fragmented ecosystem with different strengths and weaknesses to reach different audiences.
Dani & Molly – Google Representatives: The future of paid search is all about relevance; the value is no longer simply about reach. In today’s world, mass messages are meaningless, and we believe this will only become truer over time. With better attribution, we can meet users wherever they are and offer the best and most customized messaging. With better audience signals, we can provide customized content that appeals to your interests and intent. We are developing these solutions across search, display and YouTube, and using the best features from both branded and performance-focused channels.
Katherine, Group Media Director, DRUM: I've been saying it for a few years now, but I believe search will continue in the direction of programmatic display. Just in the past year or so, we've seen search engines add the ability to target in-market and similar audiences, which were previously only display options. And Google is already using machine learning to operate bidding for clients through Smart Bidding. It will be interesting to see if any of the third party bid optimization platforms, such as Marin and Kenshoo, will be able to offer the same real-time optimization capabilities.
Ryan, Assistant Search Planner, DRUM: I think the future of search is going to be – and already is – all about automated, real-time bidding. Google already offers these automated strategies through Smart Bidding, but Bing is starting to add automated bid options into their UIs as well. These new bidding options are tied to maximizing conversions and hitting targeted CPA goals.
Margaret, Search Planner, DRUM: I expect to see the rise of Amazon Search Ads as every retailer is rushing to not only have their own Amazon Storefront, but to also advertise on Amazon. Amazon isn’t going anywhere and with its constant growth, retailers need to have a strong presence.
Caryn & Robin, Senior Account Manager and Strategic Account Executive – Bing: As we think about the future of AI, machine learning and natural language processing producing new voice-enabled applications and services, we expect search to become much more personal, pervasive and predictive.
Personal: Consumers today have an expectation that the digital experiences they have are much more personal, which certainly extends to search results. Search is becoming more context-aware than ever – understanding location, past behavior, demographics and more. Based on the explosion of digital data from smart devices, search will deliver more personal results and allow for more natural ways to interact with computing.
Pervasive: Search technology will continue to permeate our world, seeing as it’s already available on our wrists, in our appliances, in our cars and in emerging technologies like mixed reality.
Predictive: Search will be able to predict what consumers want next and will empower organizations with predictive analytics. As predictive search becomes more powerful, assistants will be the embodiments of what search can be. These assistants will deliver important information about the traffic on your morning commute, your updated flight itinerary and the results of last night’s football game on your phone, without you even asking.
As e-commerce continues to evolve, it only makes sense that search engine marketing will keep up with new and innovative tactics; there is no other choice. At DRUM, we know we constantly have to test and adapt to these new technologies and strategies to help our clients reach their business goals.
Here’s to a successful 2018 in paid search!
Need SEM specialists who are not only up to date with new digital marketing trends in search, but can use their own innovative ideas to help you exceed your goals?Contact us!
Get updates; just enter your email below. Simple as that.
Content Tells. Direct Sells.
by Rosann Bartle, 21 Feb 2019
Behind the Click: Five Cognitive Biases That Drive Action
by Michelle Gunn, PhD, 12 Feb 2019
The Real Game: Google vs. Microsoft
by Jana Ferguson, 05 Feb 2019
Did the Super Bowl Ads Live Up to the Hype?
by Steve Steger, 05 Feb 2019
Super Bowl Quick Takes
by Lesley Goldberg, 05 Feb 2019
Ten Emails I’m Glad I Didn't Have to Read Last Month
by Stephen Steger, 28 Jan 2019
The Top Three Tips to Make You King of the SERP This Black Friday and Cyber Monday
by Margaret Davis, 20 Nov 2018
Voice applications and natural language are bigger than the kitchen.
by Bryan Knouse, 29 Oct 2018
Are you ready for Amazon advertising?
by Debra Wang, 25 Oct 2018
Even Mighty Amazon Can’t Deliver on Grocery Delivery
by David Randolph, 15 Aug 2018
Google’s ready for Its face-lift
by DRUM Media, 25 Jul 2018
Why it’s important to invest in non-branded paid search
by Kelsey Chadwick, 27 Jun 2018
Why paid search should be your go-to media
by Katherine Jianas, 18 Jun 2018
Why Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal makes me thrilled for the future of content marketing
by Ben Heiser, 21 May 2018
YouTube for Nonprofits
by Virginia Doty, 15 May 2018
Takeaways from MarTech 2018
by Michael Cruz, Chief Content Officer, 15 May 2018
Which do your consumers prefer? Inbox or Mailbox? (Infographic)
by DRUM, 14 May 2018
Get smart with Google smart bidding
by Hailee Sosnowski, 27 Apr 2018
The amazing power of personalization
by DRUM, 19 Apr 2018
Beyond once upon a time: dialogue and the art of storytelling 2.0
by Michelle Gunn, PhD, VP/Creative Director, 17 Apr 2018
SEM 101 for Nonprofits
by Jay Reyes & Chase Bender, 12 Apr 2018
How to inspire workplace creativity
by Stephen Steger, 03 Apr 2018
Local SEO for brands and franchises: Top 3 tips from 15 SEO experts
by Greg Lee, 02 Apr 2018
Next steps for advertisers after the Cambridge Analytica Facebook breach
by Traci Hendrix, 26 Mar 2018
Are you ready for the GDPR? A guide for advertising agencies
by Jerelle Gainey and Debra Wang, 15 Mar 2018
Why content moments are the key to understanding content marketing
by Ben Heiser, 28 Feb 2018
Why bad advertising is a form of bad manners: lessons from a Ugandan storefront
by Scott Johnson, 20 Feb 2018
Retailers and the lower funnel trap
by David Randolph, 06 Feb 2018
What’s the body language of your content really saying?
by Zoë Courtman-Smith, 31 Jan 2018
10 things to look for in enterprise SEO software: 2018 tool review
by Greg Lee, 30 Jan 2018
The top 3 PPC marketing search engines of 2018
by Debra Wang and Vladimir Bradic, 26 Jan 2018
How new changes to Google Grant will affect your nonprofit
by Shelby Huckeba, 19 Jan 2018
Latest Giving Tuesday campaign ideas from marketing-minded nonprofits
by Adam Binkley, Jay Reyes and Ruby Wustrak, 18 Jan 2018
State of Social in 2018
by Ashley Reed, 17 Jan 2018
Top 7 posts of 2017
by Jamie Wigington, 17 Jan 2018
How should SEM experts prepare for voice search? [INFOGRAPHIC]
by DRUM, 17 Jan 2018
7 Digital trends that will change how you market in 2018
by DRUM Media, 17 Jan 2018
What advertisers need to know about Apple's intelligent tracking prevention
by Jerelle Gainey, 06 Oct 2017
Using direct mail to reactivate online customers
by Rosann Bartle, 22 Sep 2017
Bing shop ‘til you drop
by Hailee Sosnowski, 14 Aug 2017
Finding a web design process that works
by Todd Chambers, 02 Aug 2017
3 Commandments for creating incredibly engaging content
by Ben Heiser, 02 Aug 2017
Twitter ads and targeting techniques that work
by Annie Green, 27 Jul 2017
5 benefits of paid social advertising
by Karina Khemani, 14 Jul 2017
Oh snap! Snapchat just upped their ad game
by Traci Hendrix, 12 Jul 2017
Dying is easy, comedy is hard
by Scott Johnson, 10 Jul 2017
Marketing and the meteor test
by Scott Johnson, 05 Jul 2017
The value of local SEO (Even when your customers aren't)
by Gregory Lee, 23 Jun 2017
The best Facebook ad types and targeting options for driving sales
by Annie Green, 15 Jun 2017
Linking online marketing to offline consumer behavior
by Heather Roach, 08 Jun 2017
To push a nonprofit's mission, you have to push with passion
by Nicole Bendel, 05 Jun 2017
7 ways B2B marketers can find success in social media
by Traci Hendrix, 31 May 2017
Google’s data-driven attribution: what you need to know
by Kimberly Honore, 23 May 2017
The skinny on Yahoo's native search retargeting feature
by Shelby Huckeba, 15 May 2017
Why you should always include brand search in your digital strategy
by Katherine Jianas, 04 May 2017
How to use content marketing to finally unify marketing strategies
by Gregory Lee, 16 Apr 2017
5 things we learned at Google’s “Search in 2017 & Beyond” event
by Kimberly Honore, 05 Apr 2017
To sell to the ego, you gotta talk to the id.
by Zoe Courtman-Smith, 04 Apr 2017
Social listening inspires smarter business strategies
by Alicia Trahan, 03 Apr 2017
Brand safety: how programmatic partners protect our clients' brands
by Brittany Altman, 31 Mar 2017
How inactive subscribers can affect deliverability
by Billy McNair, 27 Mar 2017
5 reasons to insist on 1st party data for CRM targeting
by Samantha Halpin, 22 Mar 2017
Conversation, not content, is king
by Scott Johnson, 15 Mar 2017