The annual end-of-year brought in flurry of predictions and forecasts for the search industry and had some clear themes last year. Everyone gave the impression to have an opinion upon voice searches and the array of algorithm changes accompanied in during 2018. We put some thoughts about the ongoing trends in SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and came up with five, which we thought would be genuinely influential over the next 4 months. Surely Google would definitely throw us a few curve balls, but there are some things we could probably count upon.
Change in the roles of Humans
AI is continuing its march towards being omnipresent in every possible sector. Just look around at all the automated features and bidding strategies that Google has introduced in 2018. But the human vs. machine conversation is puffed up. Automation has displaced the need for some human functionality, but it has also created more space for human ingenuity. We are all cool with AI taking on grinding manual campaign management tasks, and it is certainly the ideal mechanism for monitoring brand breaches in the market, thus leaving the more valuable aspects of analysis and judgment to warm bodies. Granted, the role of the account manager in PPC is in transition, with managerial value driven by how good organizations are at segmenting data, how well they apply automation, and how good they are at knowing when to ignore AI’s recommendations.
Change in the roles of Keywords
While audience targeting in search is clearly growing in importance these days, we could certainly not share the view that it has been an end for the keywords. Keywords would definitely remain a vital tool to understand who is looking for the specific products of the companies and it has also been mentioned in SEM techniques for better returns. Moreover, the expansion of Google’s exact match criteria and now its launch of responsive ads would help keep keywords relevant. It is unlikely that Google would retire keyword match types any time soon, given that the value of advertisers who adopt broad match or near exact match off the bat. We also speculate that the importance of Amazon Sponsored Product Ads would only grow.
The inflating role of Amazon
Amongst the array of new opportunities and alternative channels emerging in the market today, Sponsored Product Ads would be most influential for helping marketers create new reach. Google is no longer the automatic first stop for search and has received competition, which means most brands get their benefits from an Amazon presence. Moreover, Amazon’s bidding tools now include more flexibility, including the ability to manually set own bids or apply a more automate dynamic strategy to attract audiences.
Brand safety- the need of the hour
Many a times, attention brand safety measured a display advertising problem and got neglected in the PPC world. But as keyword pirating and other types of brand infringements become more rewarding these days, brands would begin to feel more pain in the form of lost sales, disrupted buying journeys, and customer confusions. More brands would be seeking ways to incorporate brand and trademark protection into their search strategies.
Channel based thinking might come to an end
Thinking about search as part of a cross-channel strategy has become deeply rooted in the digital marketing’s tree growth. As more tools become available for true cross-channel attribution and reporting, the borders between channels would continue to blur, as they already have for consumers, who move fluidly among social and e-commerce and search platforms as part of a single journey. Ultimately, marketers would plan their search campaigns holistically and without reporting or other organizational silos.