In the paid search world, 2013 was as busy at it gets. Major changes to Google included the Enhanced Campaigns migration and rise of Product Listing Ads (PLAs) not to mention the maturing of Facebook as an advertising platform.
However, one of the biggest shifts was outside of paid search with Google’s move to [not provided] on SEO keyword data removing visibility for advertisers in the SEO channel, boosting paid search in the process.
This is fantastic for those of us who work in paid search, but what is next? Looking forward I’ve been thinking about what will be the hot search marketing topics in 2014.
Tablet devices accounted for more than a third of conversions, revenue and spend from UK retail paid search on Boxing Day.
The data should come as no real surprise to anyone involved in ecommerce, however it is useful as further evidence of the continued consumer shift towards mobile devices.
It should also be noted that the festive period does present something of an anomaly in terms of site traffic, as data is skewed due to people being away from their work computers and also because tablets and smartphones are a popular Christmas gift.
Facebook and other social networks are re-organising how consumers experience the web, centring it on their personal connections and activities.
This is blurring the lines between branded content, paid advertising, and consumer conversations.
Marketers therefore need to integrate owned, paid and earned social media strategies.
2013 has seen plenty of changes to paid search, mainly driven by Google. For a brand in a competitive market like insurance, little tweaks here and there matter.
Changes include the addition of Google's own comparison products to the SERPs, meaning less visibility for organic results, enhanced campaigns, and changes to the style of PPC ads.
I've been asking Heledd Jones, head of search marketing at Confused.com (and an Econsultancy guest blogger), about the challenges presented by these changes, and her thoughts on how PPC will evolve in the next year.
A paid search algorithm update by Google has led to an improvement in the performance of PPC adverts that include an ad extension.
But overall the new AdWords Ad Rank update actually caused a slight decline in ad performance.
The update, which was announced back in October, altered the way that Google determines the order of paid search ads by adding in a third variable alongside the maximum bid and quality score.
This new variable is the expected impact of ad extensions and formats, and it has apparently had a notable impact on PPC results. So in effect, the use of ad extensions and formats can now influence ad position in the SERP.
The elements that are considered when determining the potential impact of extensions and ad formats include relevance, click-through rates, and the prominence of extensions and results on the SERP.
The results of the study are summarised below, but firstly here's a run through of the ad extensions that Google takes into account.
Last month, with the help of Dr Pete Meyers from Moz, we looked at how PPC ads are changing and what they will look like next year.
Some of these predictions have already happened, such as the yellow 'ad' labels and less obvious background shading.
One of the themes of that article was Google's efforts to make ads blend in more on results pages, something Dr Meyers referred to as 'ads in sheep's clothing'.
This is now happening in Google's UK results, with the top PPC ads on some brand searches resembling results more than ads.
Consumer reviews work. They have been shown to drive sales, and so now they are used by most retailers online.
The problem is, marketers know this too, and it's no surprise that reviews are used as much as possible, particularly to improve seller ratings for PPC ads.
Having looked into this recently, i wonder whether the sheer volumes of review gathered for some brands' seller ratings are diluting the effect and making the feedback less valuable for other customers.
For the forth year running, we’ve been asking search marketers in North America to give us their views of the state of the industry.
Previously we’ve covered a broad area of concerns, from how search marketers set objectives and metrics, right through to budgets, resourcing and the integration of social media.
This year while covering similar areas to the previous, there are a few differences. Below are some of the things we are looking for, but better yet, take our survey before the start of next week and you’ll get a complimentary copy of the report worth $695 before anyone else gets a look!
And do feel free to share the link: http://ecly.co/SEMPO-2013
Back in my early days of running websites and trying to forge a living online, I stumbled across PPC in the form of Google AdWords.
I liked the idea of driving traffic to a website nigh on instantly. That was until I ran a few of my keywords through the old Keyword Tool and saw exactly how much the estimated CPCs were: upwards of £5 per click!
I broke into a cold sweat because I knew all of my biggest competitors were using PPC, I just didn’t see how it could be profitable and I knew right there and then that my sites were going to fail.
I just couldn’t afford to pay £5+ per click.
Are you an advertiser running a PPC campaign? Is there something not quite right with your paid search costs? Does your performance data contain unexplained anomalies?
Have you heard the term ‘click fraud’ bandied around the internet and think that you could be its next victim?
I realise that while writing this introduction I was beginning to sound like a fear-mongering, consumer-based TV show that makes even the most rational people think twice about leaving the house after dark, so I'll stop here.
Is click fraud something you should be aware of, and if so, to what extent does it affect your PPC campaign?