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How Paid Search is Evolving: 4 Trends to Look Out For

How Paid Search is Evolving: 4 Trends to Look Out For

Starting back in 1996, with Google AdWords launching in 2000, paid search is the most evolved digital marketing channel. Since then, the launch of many key initiatives such as product listing ads, seller ratings and expanded text ads. Paid search is still digital’s most evolving channel. Here are 4 evolutions to look out for and keep in mind when creating a robust marketing strategy: 


  1. Changes to responsive search ads as Google focuses on automation

In August 2021, Google announced that automation should be a key focus for businesses. From June 30, 2022, responsive search ads (RSAs) will be the only search ad type that can be created or edited within standard search campaigns. Expanded text ads (ETAs) will no longer be an option. RSAs allow multiple headlines and descriptions for ads. Google uses machine learning (ML) to automatically test different combinations to find the highest-performing ad.

There are a few clear benefits for advertisements using RSAs v ETAs:

  • Increased engagement from customers due to improved click-through rates
  • Lower costs due to improved ad copy
  • Testing in limited volumes: higher click-through rates and lower cost-per-click

Prepare your business by ensuring RSAs are in every ad group, and review performance of these ads to ensure they’re of the highest quality in line with Google’s scoring.


2. The start of keyword-less world: Performance Max

Google announced that Performance Max will replace Smart Shopping and local campaigns by the end of Q3 2022. Rather than the usual keyword-based search campaign, Performance Max uses:

  • Your creative assets alongside business goals and automated bidding
  • User signals and data-driven attribution to tailor ads to potential customers across the Google ecosystem (search, display, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery)

This goal-based format helps target customers at the right stage of their purchase journey, depending on the goal of the campaign. Performance Max campaigns will be built from any existing smart shopping and local campaigns. Existing settings will remain, but they will be automatically upgraded from July onward. Create new campaigns and pause any relevant activity (such as Smart Shopping), then start working through the new additional creative assets. Have clear units of measures of success with GA4 that provides the most detail on performance. 


3. The re-introduction of broad match

Google has been changing keyword match rules since 2014. This always brings unpredictability around budget and performance. Previously, broad match meant that if the search query was contextually like the keyword being targeted, your ad could show. Modern search is an evolution of broad match and focuses on the meaning of your keyword and the intent behind it. This can include searches that don’t contain the original keyword terms.

Google’s BERT algorithm technology helps interpret queries, language, and search intent. It also makes keyword matching behavior more closely aligned Broad matches more relevant. There have been great results from testing, with important to web traffic and revenue. Ensure you’re live with automated bidding, as the new broad match needs this to work effectively. Start by testing any previous broad match modifier keywords. Choose campaigns to switch to broad match and run a test. Test this on stable campaigns, using robust testing methodologies such as Google’s built-in testing functions.


4. The removal of third-party cookies and the influence of audience

Brands have used cookies to help them target ads to the right audiences. With the removal of third-party cookies, Google is now focusing on the intent of people’s searches rather than audiences. This will capture people on the likelihood that they will meet a campaign’s objectives.

Measurement and optimization will be impacted. Review your platform’s initiatives to mitigate and understand whether they align with business goals and objectives.

Google recently announced that it will be sunsetting Universal Analytics from July 1, 2023. Think about the way you’re tracking to be able to capture and measure effectively moving forward. Find out what the platform you use is doing to enable continued measurement and reporting. 

First-party data also becomes important in targeting an engaged audience. Contextual targeting will again rise to the frontier for display/programmatic activity. Make sure you’re working closely with your provider and review targeting options for future activity and how to capture your target audience. Loss of third-party cookies and how to combat this should be a key talking point across all brands to make sure you’re not left behind when the change is made.


Update your paid search strategy now. Call 248.528.360.

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