Ask the Digital Marketing Experts: What’s Up in 2015?

2014 was exciting for search marketers wasn’t it? The rise of retargeting, mobile finally having its year, shopping campaigns becoming the top format in e-commerce, scripts, and so much more.

2015 is shaping up to be even more exciting. I connected with a few search marketing experts to get their take. Those on the cutting edge of biddable media are agencies and paid search tool providers. These folks work in the trenches of digital marketing every day, watching the trends in real time and adjusting to changes as they come. iProspect, Kenshoo, Acquisio, Performics, GroupM, AdStage, and Bizible – they all offered some insight into 2015 for digital marketing.

So what should we expect?

The Keyword Will Be Important, But Less So

With the advent of the search engine, marketers discovered that searches are signals of intent. Words in a search box are so much more than words – they’re clear instructions to marketers about what consumers are interested in. A fundamental tool for marketers was born, the keyword. Heading into 2015, what is the status of this venerable building block?

“Keywords will become less important for marketers. We’ll move beyond query-level targeting, reporting, and optimization and focus on the people and products behind the keywords. Savvy marketers will take search intent data and combine it with social signals and first-party customer data to create complete audience profiles.

From there, you can target those segments (across channels and devices) with customized ads and post-click experiences based on what you know about each individual, what they’re interested in, and how valuable they are to your business.” – Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer (CMO) of Kenshoo, @aarongoldman

“While some are predicting ‘the death of the keyword,’ I feel that’s a shortsighted and sensationalist view. Instead, we’re getting access to more and more signals of intent that enhanced each query — such as device, geographic location, past behavior via RLSA — and more ways to leverage these insights in real-time. There will be even more of these opportunities that smart marketers will leverage in order to hold up their end of the conversation in search.” – Jeremy Hull, director bought media at iProspect, @iProspect

Mobile Will Open Doors

Thank goodness the importance of mobile is no longer in question. Now the mobile conversation has shifted to how marketers are using the context that mobile provides.

“For mobile, constant connections drive the way we search, discover, and evaluate; context cannot be overlooked. As search breaks free from the desktop, there’s really no limits on where it can go. Mobile search marketing now includes developing a strategy for wearables, cameras, apps, maps, review sites, directories, in-car navigation systems and vertical sites.” – Leo Dalakos, vice president of performance media at Performics, @Performics

“Recent changes like Google’s “mobile-friendly” search result label and the arrival of the big-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will force marketers to redouble their efforts to optimize ads and websites for mobile experiences across multiple devices. Make no mistake, “mobile-friendly” no longer means what it used to. Consequently, marketers will need to watch their site analytics and campaign performance closely in order to catch evolving usage trends and optimize for their audience’s current needs. Fortunately, I also expect innovations in cross-device tracking to wean marketers off cookies and equip them with the data and insights they need to best capitalize on changing habits.” – Sam Mazaheri, director of marketing at AdStage.io, @sammmer

“The next year will bring more customized and hyper-targeted search and retargeting creative. The financial value of identifying high potential points of purchase throughout the consumer journey will push cross-device tracking and attribution forward, ultimately allowing much more hyper targeted messaging in search creative and search retargeting.” – LuRae Lumpkin, head of client and business development at WPP/GroupM, @GroupMWorldwide

Massive Data Will Continue to Worry Us

In digital marketing, we now have more data than we can possibly use in a lifetime. One of our biggest challenges is to manage this data so we can access what we need and make smart decisions about how we use it. Tools and expertise that helps us get the most out of our data will be more important than ever in 2015.

“Next year, things will only become more fragmented for marketers. Channels for reaching prospective customers keep increasing with marketers forced to utilize more and more tools/applications to attempt to keep up. The promises of big data will become harder to achieve with the fragmented market while dark data will be undiscovered and not utilized. There will be a struggle for marketers to leverage all of the data accumulated.” – Chris Doran, vice president of marketing at Acquisio, @acquisio

“In B2B paid search, I predict a new level of insights that was previously reserved only for large enterprises being attainable for medium (and even small) businesses. I think we’ll see this in two ways: First is the convergence of data across warehouses, where it is lagging B2C. One core example is connecting marketing, sales, and support data at granular enough level to enable optimization decisions across the entire lifecycle and all customer touch points. Second is making that data actionable and insightful with dashboards in the cloud, instead of data dumps and spreadsheets, to make it easier to find hidden gems and out-smart the competition.” – Aaron Bird, chief executive (CEO) of Bizible, @birdstweets

“For marketers to capitalize on these trends, it’s critical to have technology partners that can ingest and activate all this data at scale across your campaigns in real-time. But the first step is breaking out of the keyword mindset!” – Aaron Goldman, CMO of Kenshoo, @aarongoldman

Consumers Will Talk

Tools and marketing execution aside, the way consumers interact with search engines are changing as well. Siri, Cortana, and Google Now are changing a traditional text-based interaction, to voice. Voice search is in its infancy and this is a trend that we’ll all be watching as it unfolds.

“The real trend to watch in 2015 is our ability as digital marketers to become more personal and valuable to searchers. Search is a conversation, and our ability to market effectively hinges on our ability to listen to and understand each individual’s question and needs in the moment and provide personalized answers — and then manage this personalization at scale.” – Jeremy Hull, director of bought media at iProspect

“The SEM industry will feel this fragmentation while also dealing with the change of search. The growth of Siri and Cortana will continue to change SEM. Keywords will finally evolve into statements and questions changing how marketers find their audience. Broad targeting will replace explicit keywords matching intent as questions and queries will grow significantly during 2015.” – Chris Doran, vice president of marketing at Acquisio

“Consumer use of visual and voice search will further develop as voice technology further evolves and consumers use visual search to find products or snap in-store codes for product and price comparisons prior to purchase. And we will continue to see the splintering of traditional search share behavior across more specialty sites such as Pinterest, Reddit, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. Consumers are becoming much more savvy about how and where to get the information they want.” – LuRae Lumpkin, head of client and business development at WPP/GroupM

What Are Your Predictions for 2015?

Prognosticating is fun – you can do it, too. We’ve assimilated a collection of predictions into four trends, but search industry predictions don’t stop there. Let us know what you see on the horizon.

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