Paid Search Predictions in 2016

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With search engine giants all feverishly competing for revenue and users constantly shifting methods of searching for what they need online, the paid search world is constantly evolving. Screen resolutions throw a wrench in plans, too, as technology giants continue to follow Moore’s Law, churning out cheaper, smaller, and more powerful devices every couple of years.

However, moving parts aside, here’s what the paid search team at Red Ventures predicts as the most important trends to watch in 2016:

1. Targeting Becomes More Powerful – Google’s release of Customer Match last year is a powerful new tool to help advertisers get more granular in their advertising. Facebook and LinkedIn have offered high-level targeting for a while now, and we’re excited to see this type of targeting roll out on Google.

  • Implications:
    • Keywords are becoming less important. If we can identify the right customer, we’re willing to expand the number of points of connection with them. What comes next is the exciting question.

2. Sharing data across platforms/mediums will become essential. Advertisers will start to combine social, display, and other less transactional advertising media with AdWords to build powerful databases of high-value potential customers. This will allow direct-response marketers (like Red Ventures) to be able to tie together loose ends within these worlds.

3. Cross-device tracking & optimization – Mobile searches now surpass desktop searches in the US (source), and our industry is still struggling to figure out how to provide the best experience for the mobile user. We expect that to change in 2016. Here at RV we’ve long been investing blood, sweat, and tears to really nail down cross-device tracking.

  • Implications:
    • One hypothesis we have is that mobile users tend to be more interested in gathering information than making a purchase. We plan to test redesigning our landing pages to be more educationally focused and less transactional. We’ll then retarget them with transaction-focused experiences once they switch to a desktop or tablet computer.

4. Voice-recognition Adaptation – As voice recognition becomes more intelligent and adoption rates continue to rise across smartphones and other devices, it will change the way in which people search.   Searches will become longer strings of text rather than a short text query. Google will undoubtedly shift to help capture these types of searches, but it begs the question: Will keywords become obsolete?  We think that shift begins in 2016.  As far as what we predict to replace them.. that’s the million dollar question. (Virtual reality search engines?)

Want more? Meet members of our Paid Search team and read more about their work here.

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