Search marketing has evolved rapidly in the past 12 months. This trend will likely continue to accelerate over the next two years.
Automation and AI have already revolutionized the search industry, and it’s worth considering what other changes could be coming our way in the future.
Based on recent history and other indications from platforms like Google and Microsoft, here’s what might be in store for our PPC campaigns.
1. Match type consolidation into broad
Google and Microsoft want advertisers to migrate to broad match. It’s no secret.
Eventually, phrase and exact match will likely be phased out in favor of broad match.
PPC platforms have augmented these match types’ functionality in the last three years. No longer the stalwart of search query control, the operation of exact match may show on searches that have the same meaning or same intent as the keyword.
When Google retired modified broad match in 2021, it also augmented the functionality of phrase match. Phrase match may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. The purpose of the keyword can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning, according to Google.
The changes to exact and phrase have weaned advertisers away from the theory of total control. Advertisers now use a broader range of queries matching their targeted terms.
Historically, advertisers have not preferred the lack of query control with broad match. Google has updated its broad match keyword program for 12-18 months.
Automation is changing everything in paid search, and match types will be impacted. Within the next 12 months, Google will announce the retirement of another match type.
Given the advancement in automated bidding and the pairing of “Search + Performance Max,” I think phrase match is the next to go the match-type graveyard. When making large-scale changes, Google will give advertisers 8-12 months to adjust their accounts. We still have time before this change, but time is not on our side.
Exact match may survive the consolidation steamroller. Advertisers will still have control over their high-value, mission-critical keywords.
Dynamic search ads (DSAs) will eventually migrate to Performance Max. Their functions overlap and may deliver against each other, especially when advertisers run broad match, PMax and DSAs. One of them will have to go.
This evolution will continue as we march toward a broad-match-focused world.
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2. Channel consolidation into blended campaigns
Performance Max has been a hot topic in the PPC industry since its launch in 2021.
However, many search marketers have hesitated to adopt this new campaign type due to valid reasons:
Despite these challenges and concerns, Google remains committed to improving its capabilities and offering advertisers more control and options. Microsoft has announced its own version.
Many advertisers need help optimizing their campaigns and achieving better results due to cross-channel attribution and optimization challenges.
Google recognized this and has addressed the issue by increasing investment throughout the marketing funnel and introducing data-driven attribution.
In September 2021, Google launched data-driven attribution (DDA) for Google Ads. It is an intelligent machine-learning system that analyzes historical data to determine how much credit each ad interaction should get for a conversion. Google Ads has made DDA the default attribution setting for new conversion actions since October 2021.
DDA is the key to unlocking the power of Performance Max. By taking into account all ad interactions before a conversion, DDA provides a more accurate understanding of how your ads impact conversions.
This new approach to measurement will also lead to the consolidation of channels across the Google ecosystem. Performance Max is just the start of a new era of blended campaign types.
Google Marketing Live unveiled exciting developments in their ongoing efforts to consolidate channels. Two new blended campaigns, demand gen campaigns and video view campaigns, are now available to cover the entirety of the buyer’s journey.
Video views campaigns are designed to increase brand awareness, while demand gen is focused on driving mid-funnel consideration and discovery through discovery and YouTube placements.
Finally, PMax will capture demand at the bottom of the funnel, generating sales across all Google properties. These new campaigns and Google’s data-driven attribution system are ushering in a new era of more intelligent, more effective advertising.
While discovery campaigns are a separate product, their inventory delivers across all three blended campaign types. This suggests it may eventually become integrated into the broader campaign structure, streamlining the process further.
Google’s commitment to consolidating channels and optimizing its data-driven attribution system is paving the way for more effective and efficient advertising strategies.
As a result of consolidation, campaign types may eventually look like this:
- Video views to drive upper-funnel awareness.
- Demand gen to drive mid-funnel consideration.
- Performance to drive bottom-funnel performance.
- Search (broad match only) to cover Google’s largest property.
- Universal app campaigns because this network is unique.
3. Optimization score suggestions into auto-applied recommendations
The last area of disruption due to automation and AI is optimization scores (or OptiScore) within Google Ads.
Currently, Google provides auto-generated optimization ideas within the Recommendations sections of their ad platform. Advertisers can choose which recommendations they want to activate or dismiss these suggestions.
In April 2021, Google Ads launched auto-apply recommendations (AAR). This feature allows advertisers to automatically apply recommendations to their accounts without manually reviewing and approving each.
Advertisers remain mixed on AAR. Advertisers I’ve spoken with do not want to relinquish even more control to automation. We’ve heard stories of when AAR changes resulted in accounts going haywire in some fashion.
Google continues to invest in and promote the AAR product. It’s only a matter of time before AAR is folded into the core automation feature set for Google Ads. By this, elements of AAR may apply directly to accounts without being able to turn them off.
This prediction is based mainly on the fact that Google promotes AAR frequently, often indicating their focus and direction. They may not require every AAR feature, but a subset of features could exist.
Automation and AI will continue to transform PPC campaign management
Automation and AI are driving significant evolution in the industry, potentially leading to the consolidation of broad match and the retirement of other match types like phrase match.
Additionally, Google’s commitment to optimizing its data-driven attribution system is fueling channel consolidation into blended campaigns like Performance Max, which provides advertisers with more control and options.
As automation progresses, auto-applied recommendations may become mandatory in Google Ads, further altering the dynamics of paid search. The continuous integration of automation and AI technologies will undoubtedly shape the future of PPC campaigns.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.