Editors Note: This post uses actual examples to draw conclusions. However, nothing is set in stone when it comes to Google and Bing, so keep that in mind when reading this post.
What is the Buzz in Paid Search These Days?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely noticed a lot of buzz around paid search. People are clamoring about the recent changes Google has rolled out and around Larry Kim’s recent article about rumors of [not provided] for paid search and what is really happening.
But even with all of the firestorm on social media around Google pulling search queries from the referer URLs, there is even more talk and speculation around what might happen on the 22nd of April. In case you missed it, Google has been pushing post after post trying to work everybody up about a new announcement. Larry Kim even hinted today that he knew what was going to be announced on the 22nd –
@LukeAlley @timothyjjensen @Matt_Umbro I know the April 22 thing haha
— Larry Kim (@larrykim) April 14, 2014
Of course Bing Ads has also done a few things (product ads anyone?), but that is getting overridden by the insane paranoia of PPC professionals, and their fear of losing more control.
To the outsider this may look like Chicken Little running around screaming “The sky is falling”, but for paid search professionals this is a big deal. PPC professionals love control! It’s one of the reasons they decide to go into paid search instead of SEO. So losing control is akin to messing with an OCD person’s perfectly organized bookshelf.
There is always a bit of truth in every rumor
Yes it may be funny to think about PPC marketers crying into their pillows at night, but there is always a little bit of truth in every rumor. If you will indulge me for a few minutes I will explain where I think the truth lies, and where the future of paid search is heading.
Google’s first announcement of coming changes happened on March 12th, a full month before the reveal. In that announcement they started with, “It’s an exciting time to be a performance marketer.” They didn’t say search marketer, they didn’t say AdWords marketer they said performance marketer.
If you look at the other announcements including that first one, there is not one mention of keywords! There are numerous mentions of context, devices & content as Google says:
- It’s no longer about devices. Consumers are constantly connected, and the average American today owns four digital devices and spends 60 hours per week consuming content across platforms.* In this multi-device world, the way people use desktops, laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones is blurring. This means people don’t think about which device they’re using, they just expect the right content to appear seamlessly wherever they are ready to engage.
- Context matters more than ever. The ways people connect — whether that’s on a computer, a mobile website, or an app — have become increasingly important in showing people the right content — and the right ads. With more insight into people’s contexts, we can make more meaningful connections and create better consumer experiences.
- Connecting people to content. With more consumer touchpoints than ever, it is becoming increasingly complex to reach people in the moments that matter. At Google we work hard to develop innovations that let technology do the hard work so that businesses can focus on reaching their customers.
Google also mentioned they were looking at ways technology could simplify, (their word was efficiency) marketing for businesses.
You could see why some PPC advertisers may think that we will be having less control like Ginny Marvin says:
@RichardFergie @I_Marketer @BryantGarvin @Mel66 @Matt_Umbro Agree on blurring=lumping. And on seeing more bid modifiers #ppcchat
— Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin) April 15, 2014
What do I think the future of paid search could look like?
I think it could look a lot like [not provided], in the sense that it won’t be so much about keywords, but about people, and the context of what they are doing (and have been doing).
Both Melissa Mackey and I saw an interesting blip in different MCC Accounts
For those who don’t know what doubleclick is, it is essentially an ad server (like Atlas) at its most basic level. It powers much of the ads served across the internet for both publishers and advertisers. Many of the ad impressions and clicks you get on the Google Display Network comes through doubleclick
It is also a tool similar in nature to Marin, Acquisio, or Kenshoo.
So back to our logic process…for something like that to happen once could be a blip, to have it happen multiple times usually means a dev got careless and let something slip. This led to quite a few people thinking maybe the announcement on the 22nd has to do with AdWords essentially being migrated to be managed/run through doubleclick.
@BryantGarvin @GinnyMarvin @Mel66 Very well could be. http://t.co/O3Zx7RCIW2 X-Devices, Context, Content.
— Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner) April 15, 2014
@IamCoy @SusanEDub yeah, after @BryantGarvin & @Mel66's Adwords screenshots, I'd postpone a DC decision until after 4/22 🙂 #ppcchat
— Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk) April 16, 2014
Why Would That be a Big Deal?
There are a few reasons why doubleclick becoming the defacto management tool for advertising through Google could be a big deal.
- You can access FBX inventory now through doubleclick. – This could be a huge win for Google to “connect with customers in more innovative and relevant ways than ever before,” anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
- Doubleclick is essentially a 3rd party bid management tool owned, operated, and developed by Google. Think Google could make managing PLAs & Shopping campaigns easier through their own tool?
- With doubleclick you essentially get AdWords on steroids combined with souped up analytics and automation
- What better way to connect consumers, devices, context, and content than a tool that runs on all of them and is owned by Google?
- They are only taking away search queries from third-party tools. So you could potentially still access them in doubleclick
That Being Said…
This is more than just a new platform to manage your AdWords or Display campaigns. Google has been trying to transition marketers into a different mind-set for years. Think about The Zero Moment of Truth which they launched in 2011 a whole two years before they pushed out enhanced campaigns.
The future of paid search is not going to be about keywords. In many ways it won’t even be about the SERP as we know it today. Think of the changes with images dominating the SERP, where they used to be an afterthought.
The first place I search is usually on my mobile, because I have it with me all the time. What about you?
Look to more of the announcements Google has made recently around things like:
- Search Network with Display Select Campaigns three posts in a week on the +Google Ads page
- Universal Analytics out of beta
- It’s customers that matter in Analytics
- Not to mention Google just announced +Post Ads are available to everyone
- And lest we forget, of course [not provided] for paid search
Put them all together and what do you get?
A future for paid search where it doesn’t look like anything we know today. Of course that is just my drop in the rumor mill bucket.
What do you think the future of paid search is going to be?
Featured Image created by Bryant Garvin
Image #1 by Bryant Garvin