I confess, I’m a little late to the party. I’d like to think this 2016 PPC predictions blog is “fashionably” late. Having never been the fashionable type though I’ll just admit that the day job sometimes gets in the way.
Excuses to one side, the delay has provided an opportunity to speak to our search engine partners and get a steer on their development roadmaps for 2016.
In part 1 of the following post I took a look back over how PPC marketing developed through 2015. In this post I’ll make some predictions about the changes we might see this year. Some are based on informal conversations with our suppliers, while others are purely speculative. I’ll let you decide which are which.
1. CPCs will increase.
This will be a consequence of improved campaign measurement, and more effective landing pages, particularly for Mobile customers. Higher conversion rates mean that Advertisers will be able to bid more while preserving KPI performance.
Expect search engines to promote measurement and attribution solutions heavily this year:
- Cross device conversion metrics will become default columns in the Adwords/Yahoo Gemini/Bing Ads UIs
- Google will bring in-store conversion tracking to UK Advertisers
- Attribution modelling will become easier to work with; data-driven attribution models will be adopted as the preferred model for effective decision making, dropping the alternative first-click/last-click/weighted/even-distribution models
2. Paid Search marketers will adopt techniques practised by email and social marketers
- Audience targeting will become as important to PPC campaigns as keyword targeting
- Customer Match and Custom Audience campaigns will grow in scale and significance as PPC professionals get to grips with audience segmentation and customised messaging
3. War of the (bidding) machines
Machine learning technology quietly made its way into PPC automated bidding in 2015, with Sibyl (now called “Advanced Prediction Engine”) helping Doubleclick and Adwords to make smarter bid changes.
4. The digital marketing community will talk about Customer journeys
Greater awareness of the customer buying cycle will see the uptake of Awareness and Interest metrics for PPC campaigns –on-site engagement, key page views and returning visits will start to matter, moving beyond the narrow last-click conversion view of success.
5. The end of Mobile bid multipliers in Adwords?
Mobile bid multipliers were introduced by Google in the Adwords Enhanced Campaigns update of 2013, with Bing following suit shortly afterwards. Since then an increasing number of businesses are seeing Mobile click volumes exceeding Desktop & Tablet – there will soon be a need for search engines to provide clearer, simpler bidding options for Mobile Ads. Will 2016 be the year we see the advent of Mobile bids with Desktop bid multipliers?
6. Bing Ads is no longer seen as an optional extra for UK PPC Advertisers
Bing search is now baked in to all Microsoft products, from Cortana to the Xbox. Microsoft’s free Windows 10 rollout continues to drive growth for Bing Search – Bing’s growing share of the search market will make the Bing Ads platform a must-have for all PPC marketing plans.
7. SEM platforms make linking of data sets easier for Advertisers
Options become available in Adwords for Advertisers to upload business revenue data directly, to link revenue back to keywords and Ads regardless of the source – this will include revenue data from call centres and even physical store locations.
8. With more linked data comes more automation
Behind the scenes at Google and Bing machine learning will supercharge automated bidding performance. Advertisers will overcome historical biases (e.g. “if it goes wrong how do we explain it”) and become more confident in using automated bidding – whether using a campaign management platform such as Doubleclick, Kenshoo or Marin, or the CPA bidding options available from the SEM platforms themselves.
9. We’ll start to see more “real time” PPC Ads, in both Search and Display environments
Early adopter Advertisers have already taken advantage of Adwords features such as Ad customizers, Local Product Inventory Ads and Adwords Scripts. Expect to see more ‘live’ data appearing in Paid Search and Display Ads from here on.
10. Tools to help Advertisers with Shopping feed optimisation will arrive in Adwords.
Since the launch of Product Listing Ads at the end of 2009 PPC Advertisers have struggled to easily access and optimise product inventory feeds, usually requiring access to the web developer team in order to make optimisations. Expect tools to arrive in the Adwords platform this year that will speed up optimisations by intercepting and altering feed data before the data is processed by Adwords – for example taking a product colour “magenta” and translating it to “red” in order to capture the greater search volumes.
11. Video Ads will start to appear in Search Engine Results pages more often.
Beta trials are already under way at Bing. Google have yet to announce any Ad feature along these lines, however the synergy between Mobile devices and Video content is so strong that we’d anticipate Video Ads being a good fit for Mobile SERPs.
12.Changing language in the field of paid media marketing.
As automation begins to relieve marketers of labour intensive tasks such as bid optimisation, we can expect to see Marketers looking for more sophisticated & creative ways to optimise campaigns. Understanding customers will become more important than understanding the Quality Score system. We expect the language of psychology and neuroscience to enter the marketing vocabulary. We may even see psychographic targeting options arriving alongside our current demographic targeting options.
In summary, I think 2016 will be a year of exciting changes in the world of PPC advertising. “Big data” will start to deliver on its promises, machine learning will take care of some of our more mundane tasks, and marketers everywhere will begin to embrace the truly customer-centric approach to marketing .
Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts – comment below with your predictions!