Paid Search in 2013: Predictions for the (Near) Future of Paid Search

by on January 24, 2013

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PPC-Paid-Search-2013-Predictions
Update:
 Since this post was written, Google AdWords has unveiled “Enhanced Campaigns” which has changed many of the paid search predictions we previously had.  For more information on enhanced campaigns check out our Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns Resource List (updated daily) or one of the following posts on Enhanced Campaigns:

Brave New AdWords: Google Announces Enhanced Campaigns
What Makes the AdWords Enhanced Campaigns “Enhanced”?
Are You Ready to Go Mo with AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

In 2012 the paid search channel has seen significant evolution.  The biggest changes in paid search have less to do with the way paid search ads function and more to do with the evolving mobile device landscape. 

In the graph below from comScore you can see that over the past few years monthly US desktop searches have plateaued and in recent months have begun to actually decrease.

Monthly-US-Desktop-Searches-2012

Why is this happening?  Well, because mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have begun to be more prominent players in paid search advertising.  As you’ll notice in the graph below from Search Engine Watch, not only are more people using mobile devices to search for solutions, but the return on investment for mobile devices is significantly higher than paid search for desktop as click-through rates of paid search ads on mobile devices are higher while the cost-per-click (CPC) tends to be lower.

Mobile-vs-Desktop-CPCs-&-CTR

And so what does this trend toward increasingly becoming more mobile mean for you?  Three predictions:  

Paid Search Prediction #1) Device Targeting

Because people are using so many different mobile devices to search, it’s important that we begin to design ads specifically targeted at reaching people on their phone, tablet, etc.  Expect to see ad formats and functionality evolve greatly this year.  

Paid Search Prediction #2) Increased Difficulty Tracking Off-Line Conversions

As we wrote in the previous blog post, measuring ROI in paid search can be difficult especially when it comes to tracking offline conversions.  Because we are adding more ads to target devices specifically that will mean we will also have to develop new ways of tracking offline conversions for those ads to measure ROI in paid search.  We’re excited to see what people come up with for tracking these conversions in 2013!  

Paid Search Prediction #3) Improved Mobile Search Infrastructure

Due to the fact that so many people are now using their mobile devices for search, we will undoubtedly be seeing huge changes in the infrastructure of mobile search.  Making it easier for people to search for businesses and information via their mobile devices will make it easier for them to become your customers.  So make sure you are structuring your advertising campaigns and designing ads that are keeping up with the evolving device landscape.  

The bottom line is we don’t know what to expect for the future of paid search, but we do know that the increasingly mobile search trend cannot be ignored.  Start making preparations now!  

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