The future of paid search and paid social advertising . . .

How we often wish we had a crystal ball and could look into the future! Especially in today’s turbulent times it would be fascinating to see how everything is going to go over the next few months and years. This applies just as much to a digital marketing agency as any other aspect of business or economic life.

Take, for example, the area of paid search and paid social advertising. Where is it headed? Imagine the advantage it would be to your digital marketing budget to be able to be confident of a sure fire strategy for success!

Well, we don’t have that proverbial crystal ball. But what we do have is some recent research that may help us! At the end of 2016, the State of Digital Advertising 2017 report created by ClickZ surveyed more than 500 digital advertisers around the world to discover how effectively paid search and social advertising are working for them, including what their future plans are in terms of targeting an increasingly mobile audience.

There are four particularly significant findings from the survey that have implications for the future of digital advertising.

1. Over a third of marketers struggle to replicate campaigns over multiple platforms

The multi channel and multi platform habits of customers can be a nightmare for marketers. Customers have the perfect right to visit different channels and devices as part of their journey from awareness to completion. But this means that marketers need to be able to consistently deliver their campaigns across these multiple media. 37% of marketers surveyed admitted to struggling with this but help is at hand. An increasing number of tools are coming onto the market which enable marketers to manage campaigns across a number of different publishers such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. This ability to cross publish is likely to make investment in search engines other than Google potentially more attractive.

Friends Connection Digital Devices Technology Network Concept

2. Is Google unchallengeable?

Google currently has over 1 billion active monthly users, and commands 80% of US desktop search traffic. However, Bing is stepping up to the challenge! According to James Murray – project manager for Bing Ads – “Bing is bigger than you think”. Indeed, Bing does already take 23% of UK desktop market share – with 32 million searchers undertaking 900 million monthly searches.

An interesting analogy is that whilst Google is used interchangeably with the verb “search”, that will not necessarily hold Bing back any more than Hoover was able to restrict the phenomenal success of Dyson! One of the significant factors here is voice search ….

xd - 3. google is king

3. By 2020, half of all search queries are predicted to be voice queries

Voice search is evolving rapidly and is predicted to dominate searching by 2020. The nature of search will change to become more personalised and will be a three way flow between the searcher, the digital assistant – powered by the search engine, and the bot. Bing search powers Alexa and Siri, and also Microsoft’s Cortana – which is another factor in its confidence for the future. This new way of searching will also generate vast quantities of data, but it remains to be seen how much meaningful insight will be able to be drawn from this. A world of opportunity potentially beckons here – with James Murray insisting that “Data scientists will be the new rock stars”.

Girl using a smart phone voice recognition on line sitting on a sofa in the living room at home with a warm light and a window in the background

4. ROI on mobile paid search is set to increase

The State of Digital Advertising survey found that ROI is harder to get from mobile than it is from desktop. Whilst 59% of advertisers rated mobile advertising as either good or excellent for creating brand awareness, only 42% gave the same rating to the ROI from their mobile paid search – as compared with 54% good/excellent ratings with ROI from desktop paid search.

One suggestion to reduce this discrepancy is to continually seek to make the mobile journey more instant for customers. On a mobile device, users are looking for the easy option so for example adding click to call extensions on ads and landing pages allows searchers to call you directly. This can have a dramatic impact on ROI as it accelerates the progress of the prospect along the sales funnel. Back in 2013 Google found that 70% of mobile searches used click to call direct from their search results and that figure is bound to increase.

XD - 5. mobile ROI

So, we may not have a crystal ball but hopefully have managed to give you some insight as to what potentially lies in the future for paid search and and paid social advertising. We will monitor these trends and will revisit this topic later this year to report back on progress and judge whether these predictions appear to be becoming reality.