2015 was an exciting year in paid search, and at the start of another new year it feels like that excitement will continue into 2016 as well. There looks to be an abundance of new features arriving throughout the year, as each advertising platform attempts to improve their worth amongst their peers.
Google Shopping received a lot of love from Google developers this year, with plenty of pretty UX updates to make that shopping experience even better. As long as Amazon continues to grow as a place users begin their search for products, Google will continue to improve their Shopping product in defence. I think this will be mean more integration with other areas of the web, along with UX elements such as easier purchasing and an emphasis on reviews.
There have been clear indications from Google suggesting they see a huge future in video and growing YouTube advertising. This continues with the theme that users will eventually move away from making searches to find what they are looking for, and gives advertisers an even stronger opportunity to push their messaging onto relevant consumers. We saw some cool updates last year with the long overdue redesign of annotations, and with the rise in Google Shopping happening as well, we expect to see further integration with the rise in Shoppable cards and annotations.
It goes without saying that we will see more new ad extensions coming onto the menu in 2016, however the interesting thing to consider now is the rise of industry, event and seasonal specific ad extensions. In 2015 we saw the release of structured snippets, which gave us ad extension options based on the relevant industry of our businesses. This went even further in November, as Google gave us the option to use specific Black Friday and Cyber Monday structured snippet headings.
We all know that programmatic has been the next big thing for a while now, however it really came into prominence last year, with almost every advertiser wanted to get involved. In 2016, I think it will be the year we start to realise we have all been doing programmatic already. If we look at the definition of programmatic as “advertising that is aggregated, analyzed and optimized via demand side software”, we can start to understand the similarity to what we have all been doing through Google AdWords for a while now. To blur the lines even further, I believe advertising platforms (especially Google) will continue bringing in targeting options outside of what we have available now, bringing us closer in line with the understanding of what programmatic advertising is.
Becky and George, one of our many powerful paid search duos, are most excited about the rise in Gmail Sponsored Promotions. When you consider the low CPEs we have been seeing with our clients, along with how wide the creative scope is for advertisers, it is an extremely impressive tool. Overlay this with customer match data, and Becky believes this format can start competing for Email marketing budgets.
George also believes that now we have had time to get to grips with using GA based remarketing lists, the industry will start utilising Universal Analytics more to inform our remarketing and targeting strategies in 2016. For example, using sales funnel data more effectively to build remarketing lists that will enable us to give users different messages depending on the stage they are at.
To summarise, the most important point is that all of these changes point to the fact that we have to continue getting better at our jobs. Targeting is becoming more and more refined as Google attempts to close the gap on the USPs of social media platforms, and as a result users are becoming more demanding in the advertising they expect to see. Smaller advertisers are going to have to implement new techniques faster, in order to stand out from the noise and successfully challenge the big boys who have cash to splash with much wider net advertising.
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