As a digital advertiser, you know by now that SEM is a fast-paced, rapidly evolving industry — and that the amount of change that happens in one year can easily equal more than a decade of development in another industry. To that end, it’s not surprising that 2018 saw significant changes across the entire advertising landscape, with everything from the emergence of new data and privacy legislation, to new ways to target audiences and acquire insights — and looking ahead, it’s safe to assume that none of these things will experience a slow down anytime soon. If you’re wondering what new digital advertising opportunities to watch in the New Year, here are our Top 9 PPC predictions for 2019.
1. More advertisers will start using Bing PPC
Back when Bing first started developing PPC advertising capabilities, the company created a platform completely unique from that of Google’s. The strategy didn’t work, however, and most advertisers ignored Bing as an advertising option.
Now Bing has revamped its strategy yet again, making it as easy as possible for advertisers to import their campaigns to its platform directly from Google Ads, while continuing to make improvements, and launching new features like dynamic search ads, automated bidding, and in-market audience targeting.
While Google still holds the lion’s share of the search market, Bing’s user base has some unique characteristics that makes it attractive for advertisers. For instance, Bing users tend to be wealthier, and spend 32% more shopping online than average internet searchers. Since Bing minimized the hassle of importing Google Ads campaigns and maximized the potential to reach target audiences, we can expect that more advertisers will launch Bing PPC campaigns in 2019.
2. More cross-channel marketing
Advertisers have been aware of the importance of cross-channel marketing for a long time. But it’s been very difficult to deliver the same marketing message across channels and accurately measure the impact of these efforts — that is, until now. And it’s getting a lot easier. Google’s automated bidding strategies, for example, make it possible to attribute across devices and platforms. And Google’s multi-channel funnels can include paid and organic search, referral sites, affiliates, social networks and email newsletters.
Google is just now waking up to answer this long-awaited need. And there are also a variety of third-party tools that advertisers can leverage to manage cross-channel advertising initiatives. As more options make it easier to launch, track and attribute multi-channel campaigns, businesses will be more inclined to pursue a comprehensive cross-channel strategy for advertising.
3. More advertisers will use chatbots to drive conversions
Chatbots have been around for several years now, but most still see them as a futuristic marketing tool that only the most competitive digital marketers develop, deploy, and use at scale.
In 2019, more marketers will realize that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Creating a chatbot for your brand is easy and relatively inexpensive. And the opportunities to integrate them into your marketing strategy are abundant.
Chatbots can interact with members of your audience just like a real customer service representative in many ways, such as:
- Fielding FAQ inquiries and suggesting relevant content
- Learning more about your customer’s needs and interests
- Capturing their contact information so you can continue to market to them
- Dynamically suggesting products or services based on their needs
- Helping customers narrow down and discover exactly the kind of product they need
Consequently, chatbots represent a huge opportunity for PPC advertisers to optimize their campaign performance and drive conversions. It’s possible to include a chatbot as a widget on your landing page as an optional element. Or you can go all out and turn your entire landing page into an active chatbot. But undoubtedly, including them as part of the landing pages for your ads offers your audience a customized experience that no other content can deliver.
4. Automation as a key strategy element
Automation isn’t a new trend in 2019, but it’s a PPC standard that’s here to stay. And to this end, Google Ads have rolled out a variety of new features that encourage advertisers to take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to optimize their campaigns.
So instead of “adopting automation” — which just about every PPC advertiser has already done — automation will become more integrated as an an integral component of strategy for PPC managers. While initially many PPC managers saw automation as a tool that made their role redundant, it’s now being looked at as an opportunity to supplement human intelligence — and making PPC managers much better at their jobs in the process.
Among other things, automation can take over tedious manual campaign management tasks, freeing up managers to focus on new growth initiatives. It minimizes busy work and helps uncover new opportunities for marketing managers to pursue. Thus, instead of seeing it as an intrusive technology that threatens employee value, marketing managers will soon embrace automation as the powerful tool that it has come to be.
5. More ad types
2018 saw a growth of new ad types as platforms like Google and Facebook continued to develop new ways for advertisers to strategically target their audiences. Here are just a few examples of the many new ad types that came out in 2018:
- Google Showcase Shopping Ads
- Google Shoppable Image Ads
- Google Maps Promoted Pins
- Facebook Stories Ads
- Augmented Reality Ads
- Playable Facebook Ads
- Shopping in Instagram Stories
While it might seem like advertising platforms would likely run out of new ad types, that eventuality never actually occurs. Instead, more ad types emerge every year that make it easier for advertisers to target and capture their audiences’ attention. And 2019 will be no different. (Plus, even with traditional ad types, Google, Facebook and other platforms are constantly adding new features that change the way they work.)
6. Audiences over keywords
Historically, keyword targeting was the one best way to reach specific audiences. Search queries reflected user intent, and can tell advertisers a lot about the person behind the keyword. Now, however, PPC targeting has become more advanced, making audience targeting a more critical part of the strategy.
Google’s in-market audiences, for example, draw on user search history and sites they’ve visited around the web to identify individuals who are researching to buy in certain niches. And targeting audiences that have already shown purchase intent is more valuable for PPC advertisers than traditional keyword targeting.
Up until now most advertisers have relied on audience targeting as a way to refine their keyword strategy. But in 2019, more advertisers will start to realize that it should be the other way around — audience targeting will be an opportunity to reach the right customers as well as make ads more relevant and personalized for users’ interests. Keyword targeting is still important, but it doesn’t offer the same advertising potential as audience targeting leveraging online behavior insights.
7. More targeted video marketing
Video is one of the most powerful types of content on the web — and businesses who invest in video marketing are positioned to reach new, broad and diverse audiences, especially on mobile devices. In fact, by Cisco’s estimates, 80% of all internet traffic will be video content by 2019 and global video traffic will increase threefold between 2016 to 2021.
It stands to reason then that advertising platforms are following these trends and continuing to develop their video capabilities as a result. Google Ads, for example, recently released the option to create vertical video ads for TrueView and Universal App campaigns on YouTube.
Looking ahead in the near future, advanced video advertisers are sure to take advantage of these nuanced campaign optimization opportunities in 2019. Meanwhile, those that were slow to enter the video advertising arena in the past few years are bound to finally start.
8. More interest in predictive advertising
As a digital marketer, you know that Google Ads is consistently pushing AI and machine learning as a standard part of modern day advertising, and many marketers are already using these advanced technologies to act on data insights and optimize their campaigns.
But as more marketers adopt AI and automation, competitive advertisers will start looking for new strategies to stay ahead of the competition, giving rise to significant growth of predictive advertising in 2019.
Like most automated advertising technologies, predictive advertising tools leverage AI and machine learning to drive nuanced performance insights, as well as vast amounts of behavioral data from various web platforms. From there, advanced statistical models rely on real-time data and historical performance insights to effectively predict future ad targeting opportunities. Instead of reacting to big data insights, advertisers can subsequently make proactive campaign adjustments based on future market changes.
In the past few years, advertisers have focused so much on AI and the current opportunities it creates, that the value of predictive statistical modeling has stayed a well-kept secret. But as AI and automation become status quo, advertisers who take advantage of predictive advertising will have a huge opportunity to gain a competitive edge and carve their own space in the market.
9. Search PPC will be more important than ever before
Most marketers who use search engine PPC do so as a way to supplement their organic SEO efforts, as it’s well established that creating a comprehensive SEM strategy is the best way to maximize visibility in search engines, and drive more clicks, conversions and sales.
That said, Google is constantly coming out with new ad types and features to help advertisers expand their PPC efforts. In August 2018, Google launched Expanded Text Ads, an ad type that enables advertisers to specify three headlines and two descriptions to convey more information in their ad, ultimately giving them more real estate for their marketing message.
Meanwhile, it’s well known that Google prioritizes paid advertising over organic search results, and the latest addition of Expanded Text Ads goes to show the extent of its plan for PPC ad growth. Forward-thinking advertisers recognize that Expanded Text Ads will likely become the PPC norm before long — so expect to see many more advertisers using the feature and other new ad extensions in 2019.