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6 Ways to Pack a Punch with Paid Search

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Arnold Sandoval

VP of digital strategy and agency GM


Paid search marketing has come a long way from keyword searches. Thanks to advances in technology, brands are shifting from targeting keywords to targeting people at key moments. Additionally, Google recently made significant changes to its search engine results pages. Right-rail ads have vanished and Google Shopping ad units are displayed more prominently on mobile. Other innovative changes are also on the horizon.

Here, we identify six key areas of paid search advertising that are positioned to upend the marketing landscape and offer suggestions for how to take advantage of those trends.

1. Growing Video’s Capabilities

Prediction: In 2015, Google migrated TrueView ads to the main AdWords interface, making it easier to manage these types of campaigns and budgets, so we’ll see video ads continue to gain momentum and more innovative ad formats in 2016.

Tip: A smart way to use video ads is to integrate first-party data into the ad. For instance, a car company could serve targeted ads on YouTube to customers whose leases are about to expire by identifying them via their email addresses.

2. Keeping Up With a Mobile-First Audience

Prediction: It’s unquestionable that mobile-first experiences have become table stakes. As mobile usage continues to rise, expect to see more experiences that are tailored specifically to mobile behavior, such as swipeable or click-to-call ads.

Tip: Understand where your audience is coming from. For example, consumers who contact a business from a mobile search tend to be higher in the funnel than those who come from a desktop search and therefore require different types of information. Make sure you offer information that matches the expectations of customers throughout the customer journey.

3. Ramping Up on Remarketing

Prediction: Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) have been around for several years, but expect to see advertisers get savvier at using them to tailor search campaigns for users who have shown intent. And with Remarketing in Bing Ads now available, advertisers have more opportunities to make efficient use of their ad spend.

Tip: Create a list of previous buyers to avoid sending ads to customers for products they already bought. Also consider adding tertiary keywords to your remarketing list. A beauty school, for example, may want to serve ads to consumers who have clicked on its website as well as searched for less obvious terms like “hair design.”

4. Diving into Artificial Intelligence

Prediction: The explosion of data is making it easier to tailor experiences and messages to the individual in an automated and scalable manner. For example, it won’t be long before consumers may see digital billboards that can access their recent search history and body temperature from their smartphones and/or wearable devices. An automated system will then use that data to serve up an ad to the nearest department store when a customer appears to be in the market for a new coat.

Tip: Make sure you have a comprehensive view of your customer data that allows you to efficiently identify patterns and insights. Consider investing in tools for data cleaning, visualization, and analysis.

5. Searching Outside the Browser

Prediction: The rise of personal assistants like Siri and Google Now is creating a new way for people to search outside of a browser. Look for more searches to take place outside of traditional keyword searches.

Tip: Begin thinking about strategies for voice-activated searches, such as how to deliver creative that complements voice-activated searches and analyzes the different intent levels.

6. Being Relevant With Location-Based Marketing

Prediction: Search engines are showing location-based results more and more as they provide greater relevancy. Expect to see more advertisers leveraging location-based marketing to bridge the gap between their online digital marketing and in-store digital marketing.

Tip: In paid search campaigns, the first tool to try out is ad customizers in Google AdWords. Leveraging the user’s IP address in real time allows marketers to deliver unique messaging or promos to each geographic location a user may fall within. Similarly, creating a campaign around a user’s precise location on mobile can also be advantageous. Setting a radius target around a particular retail address combined with bid boosting can ensure marketers they are aggressively reaching users who are in their store or a competitor’s store while they search for information.

There are many ways to explore these paid-search trends along with other marketing trends. Finding the best approach for your audience requires a lot of experimentation though, so test as many paid search tactics that you haven’t tried yet. Otherwise, you’ll never know how useful (or useless) an idea can be.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Read this eBook.