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3 Paid Search Trends to Watch for in 2014

  |  November 20, 2013   |  Comments

Mobile, conversion and measurement and bidding options will have huge effects on PPC campaigns in the coming year. Are you ready for the paid search landscape in 2014?

2013 was the year mobile was added to many advertisers' accounts without many options for optimization with the release of Adwords enhanced campaigns. Ready or not, here it comes! Let's look at mobile and two other trends that will affect PPC marketers in 2014.

Mobile Is King -- Again

Mobile is recognized as part of the consumer's journey to purchase by the major players. Google research shows that over half of consumers want to make a purchase within an hour of conducting research on their smartphone. Consumers want to purchase, with 93 percent of people who use mobile to research going on to complete a purchase. Most of these purchases happen in physical stores, making them harder to measure.

According to Bing, consumers are plugging into the purchase funnel at many points through mobile, from searching for what brands to buy (56 percent) to using mobile store coupons to buy (57 percent). Bing's mobile marketing offers complete control over targeting devices. Advertisers can select smartphones, tablets, and even operating systems.

Look for companies to optimize and improve the mobile shopping experience (and talk about it). Retailers launching improved shopping experiences just in time for the holidays includes Macy's and Blue Nile, who promoted the improved mobile experiences through email campaigns. This type of promotion increases awareness of the mobile purchase capabilities and could be a competitive advantage.


More Conversion and Measurement

Let's face it, advertisers are still having a tough time measuring their online advertising and how customers are converting. Considering the mobile research just mentioned, we see a big disconnect in how devices relate to the ultimate purchase. In October, AdWords rolled out a major reporting update to conversion tracking called Estimated Total Conversions. It provides estimates of conversions that take place across multiple devices and adds this data to the conversion reporting we see today.

In 2014, look for an expansion of measurable conversion types related to proving value of mobile and display, and even linking back to in-store purchases. Not only are advertisers looking forward to this insight, but Google is eager to prove advertising effectiveness beyond the last click.

Flexible or Complex Bidding?

In the second half of the year we saw Adwords and Bing ads release more flexible ways to bid across their PPC platforms. This includes bidding per a "bid strategy" or modifying a bid based on a percentage. The ability to bid differently for locations, time of the day, or device can improve efficiencies. Some of the new options are automated, so advertisers don't need to think about or manage bid strategies.

Even Facebook is getting into flexible bids by differentiating types of goals, by launching a "Manually Set CPM Bids for Desired Actions"  feature, which allows different bids for clicks, reach, social, or actions data points. While this is only available as an advanced feature in Power Editor, it hints to the potential opportunity for action bidding in this platform.

Granular bidding options are most helpful to small or medium advertisers, since large advertisers are likely using a third-party PPC management platform for bid management. Though this customization is helpful, we haven't heard any major news that it saves advertisers on media spend. Some of the bid settings, when layered, can be counterproductive to the campaign goals.

Unfortunately, all signs are pointing to this becoming even more complex in 2014, with layer upon layer of bidding options. In 2014, advertisers will need to unwrap the complexity behind how the bids are calculated and impacting other settings to truly get a measureable benefit in their paid ads account.

What trends will directly impact you in the new year and how you are prepping for that now? 


Lisa Raehsler

Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, she writes on the topic of paid search. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRocksSEM.

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