The world of PPC is never dull and 2016 was no exception. Right-side text ads were removed and standard ads had their character limits increased. Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Yahoo and Facebook all added new and promising features to their paid advertising services and other social networks began stepping up and joining the PPC bandwagon.
There is absolutely no doubt that 2017 will be another rollercoaster year for PPC changes and emerging trends. As a performance marketer, it is critical to stay ahead of the game to continuously have fresh, high-performing campaigns that drive traffic, online lead generation and most importantly, conversion. As with anything, knowledge is power and in the PPC world, that translates into making the most out of your marketing budget and staying ahead of the competition.
One thing is certain and that is PPC will continue finessing better audience targeting and connecting advertisers to the right audience at the right time. Facebook and Google will still rival each other as the top channels, and we may see some major developments in voice search through the evolution of artificial intelligence.
Several months ago, Google modified its conversion attribution setting. The upgrade introduced a data-driven attribution model which allowed a complete analysis of a searcher's path towards purchasing a product or service. For a user that frequently clicks on AdWords results (at least 800 times per month) marketers are now able to scan the path of that user through multiple ad interactions, searches and business listings.
Interestingly, this will change how paid search marketers will attribute clicks, and the ‘last click’ attribution strategy will quickly be replaced by one that recognises day, weeks or months of attribution clicks before a conversion. The beauty of data-driven attribution is that you can come to understand the common paths your users take before purchasing your products. With this information, marketers can refine their sales funnel and strategically target customers.
One of the more interesting predictions for 2017 is that paid Facebook ads are going to become increasingly similar to Google’s format and likewise Google will be adopting Facebook features. Facebook currently sees over 2 billion searches per day, many with commercial intent. CEO, Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the opportunity this provides businesses in his 2016 Q3 announcement, touching on the fact that with increased searches geared at businesses and brands, that advertising via Facebook will continue to provide organisations ‘tools to reach more people.’
With this in mind, some leading marketing managers are predicting that in 2017, Facebook will incorporate bidding on a keyword level to display ads alongside search results on their platform. Patrick Hutchinson, Search Product Marketing Manager at Marin Software anticipates that Facebook will move to keyword targeted search result advertisements and that Facebook will ‘diversify its revenue stream with the launch of search ads.’ Which basically translates to going head to head with Google. On the flip side, predictions are swirling that Google will continue to model Facebook’s best practices, primarily by as Hutchinson predicts, by ‘bolstering its audience buying and visual shopping capabilities.’ Wordstream founder Larry Kim agrees, stating ‘Facebook-like audience targeting options’ will be ‘integrated into Google Search Ads.’
If Google goes down the path of implementing more audience specific targeting, like Facebook does into their PPC platform, marketers will see a shift in search ads being not only about keyword level targeting but mixed with audience targeting as a major component.
With the two-horse race between Google and Facebook PPC advertising continuing full steam ahead in 2017, these two channels will continue to dominate the market. Hutchinson predicts that between the two, they will capture $0.73 out of every $1.00 in digital advertising spend.
As 2017 brings more cohesiveness between Facebook and Google PPC campaigns, we will see advertisers that leverage the unique strengths of these channels being the ones that will flourish with a competitive advantage. Attribution, Google and Facebook are the buzzwords for PPC 2017. It will be interesting to watch advertisers embrace hybrid campaigns and maximise their overall ROI. Of course, these are not the only predictions for 2017, but they are estimated to be the most transformative and pivotal.
Plus, we never know what surprise may come our way. Both Facebook and Google are notorious for keeping major changes and initiatives top secret until they launch, so there is always a chance that one may throw a big wrench into the world of PPC that no one saw coming. But one thing is guaranteed, and that is PPC will continue to be a rapidly evolving marketing channel.