2016 brought about some game changers for paid Search – right hand side ads were removed; Expanded Text Ads were introduced and for many of our clients it was the year that mobile overtook desktop traffic.
So, what PPC trends will 2017 bring about and in the context of increasing CPC inflation how can search marketers continue to drive more traffic, conversions and stay ahead of the competition?
I have pinpointed four trends that we think will be significant for search marketing in Ireland:
- Google Shopping Will Finally Launch
This is going to be huge for all e-commerce stores in Ireland as it will mean they will be able to feature Rich Media ads on the search engine results page which display an image of the product as well as pricing and other specifications instead of just text ads. They will look something like this:
It is still unknown when exactly in 2017 Google Shopping will become available in Ireland but our advice is to get setup with Merchant Centre and prepare your product feed so you’re ready to advertise as soon as it is announced. Google Shopping has been massively successful in other markets so should be a significant introduction to Irish advertisers.
- Growth of Audience Targeting
Facebook advertising revenue continues to grow (especially through mobile, with 84% of ad revenue coming from mobile in Q3 2016) due in part to innovation in ad formats but mainly because it remains the best digital channel through which to use demographic targeting to target your ideal customer.
Google have begun to combat this with the introduction of demographic targeting in 2016 where you can overlay your search campaigns with age and gender targeting. We trialled it across several clients here in Mediaworks and found the results to be underwhelming, due to the high proportion of users who remain in the ‘Unknown’ category.
Without a doubt, Google are working on improving this functionality so that Facebook-style audience targeting becomes increasingly accurate. For advanced PPC advertisers, this could mean that campaigns will become as much about audience targeting as they are about keyword targeting. This means search advertisers can continue to reduce wasted clicks by further embracing products such as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads to exclude irrelevant audiences and bid higher for audiences comprised of highly qualified and more profitable leads.
- Adopt a mantra of Mobile First.
Don’t worry, I don’t mean that 2017 will be the year of the mobile as has been touted every year for the last few years but more so that clients and search marketers need to be thinking about landing pages, content and campaign set up from a mobile first perspective. 2016 is the year where we saw mobile traffic overtake desktop for the majority of our clients. We also saw a definite improvement in mobile conversion rates, indicating that users are happy to complete forms on their mobile devices.
Into 2017 that means that it is going to be important to build accounts with the knowledge that most traffic will be coming from mobile devices. There have been some recent developments to further cater to this, Extended Text Ads mean that mobile specific ads do not need to be written and using Google’s device-specific bid modifiers, it’s now possible to run mobile-only campaigns.
For companies, it is going to be key to speed up slow mobile site performance, simplify mobile page content and ensure that online forms and check-out processes are as streamlined as possible. Adhering to these practices will mean that you can take advantage of the shift to mobile first.
4. Voice Search
One last prediction is around voice search. There’s been a lot of speculation that in the coming years voice search will replace keywords with ComScore predicting that 50% of all searches will be ‘voice searches’ by 2020. But keywords aren’t going anywhere in 2017. The percentage of voice searches will certainly increase, and I expect to see voice search campaigns begin to be monetised in 2017 but overall, people will continue to type search queries.