On the research team at Econsultancy, before we put together our guides we often seek the input of professionals working at the sharp end of their field.

This was no different for our Paid Search Agencies Buyer’s Guide, where we asked leading specialists from paid search agencies to contribute some of their thoughts as to what has been happening within the industry. 

As is always the case, we received far more input than we could put in our report, so we would like to share some of it here.

One of the questions we asked this year included, “What or where are the biggest opportunities for both clients and agencies within the paid search market?” With such an open-ended question, we received a variety of responses. The thoughts of some of those working in paid search are below.

Hannah Kimuyu, Director of Paid Media, Greenlight

The two biggest opportunities are definitely in mobile and performance display.  With almost 30% of searches coming from mobile and tablet devices in late 2011, we have seen this trend continue since.  This increase in traffic is clearly part of the multi-device/screen evolution.  Users aren’t just viewing or searching though, tablet devices are seeing better conversion rates (almost 20% higher than desktop) and higher average basket values.  So for any e-commerce brand, taking advantage of the mobile and tablet opportunity is crucial, and should result in incremental revenue.

I also mentioned performance display, which has made some incredible advances for the past two years.  Google has definitely had a hand in this with its acquisition of Invite Media (Demand Site Platform) and Teracent (dynamic retargeting technology) back in 2010.  Again the opportunity in performance display is about performance, real-time management, intelligent customer driven strategies and scale.

Melanie Mack, Search Director, MediaCom

The biggest opportunity is in making search as personal as possible with a device-specific, time-based, and socially-amplified local strategy. The differences in modes of usage from mobile on 3G to tablet on Wi-Fi mean the advertiser has to provide for vastly different needs, intentions, and resulting response mechanisms.

Getting these right, and cross referencing with ever more accurate geographical targeting and social approval makes a truly personal experience, whether using online, phone or store conversion methods, and reinforces the branding and impression of ubiquity with national campaigns. The positive impact that these factors make to a campaign are overwhelming, and more than cover the effort of building out at such a granular level.

Steve Baker, PPC Chief Analyst, Epiphany

Whilst there are new features and upgrades being rolled out across all of the search engines’ advertising platforms all the time, it is likely that for the majority of advertisers, the bulk of click spend will be on core search terms, and the opportunity hasn’t really changed significantly. By understanding the value of the clicks that an advert generates and adjusting your bids to reflect this, and writing compelling, targeted adverts, the opportunity to generate large volumes of sales profitably via paid search exists for the vast majority of advertisers.

I think it’s also worth adding that PPC advertisers can also be creative with how they strategise campaigns by making the most out of current events or capturing the zeitgeist. For example understanding what videos are being heavily shared and viewed on YouTube could have relevance to clients’ campaigns as a vehicle for ads.

Kelvin Newman, Strategy Director, SiteVisibility

We see the biggest opportunity for both clients and agencies in the expansion of mobile, which not only allows PPC to reach a new segment of an audience, but creates the requirement for creatively designed strategies and campaigns for mobile users.  Location targeting and retargeting through paid search continue to boom as targeting becomes more relevant.

Another big opportunity is the use of creative as well as text on the GDN. Creative attracts a greater audience as it stands proud compared with that of text ads.

Sam Fenton-Elstone, Head of Media, iCrossing

The paid search market is developing into a “performance media” market. Success in PPC and the lessons that come with it are being used in the performance display and affiliate spaces.

Clients should look to place their media with one agency, taking advantage of a centralized performance media strategy.

Duncan Parry, COO, STEAK

Mobile and tablets are undoubtedly the biggest opportunity for paid search advertisers at present. Screen proliferation means that consumers have access to search engines wherever they are.

Brands need to ensure they are visible in this expanding marketplace, but many are still behind the curve without sites and customer experiences tailored to mobiles/tablets. As that changes, so more will launch campaigns tailored to these devices. This is especially true outside of the big retail brands and in industries where mobile penetration has been slower to make its affects known – but it now is; the mobile is becoming ubiquitous in many markets.

Sophisticated campaigns are already using advanced targeting mobile and tablet targeting options – for example showing different messaging to consumers connected via WiFi (e.g .in front of the TV at home) compared to those on the move (e.g. commuting with variable data speeds).

The increasing rate of new features and beta tests on search engines also provides an opportunity. The rate of AdWords product releases accelerated in 2011 and looks set to continue throughout 2012. We’ve already seen Search Companion Ads, Communication Extensions and Offer Extensions this quarter.

Product releases offer alternative solutions and tactics to advertisers, often raising conversion and click-through rates as well as addressing other marketing needs such as data capture or branding through rich media. The pace of their development and the advanced options that they present to paid search advertisers make them potentially one of the biggest opportunities in the market place.

Nathan Wood, International SEM Director, NetBooster

For me, one of the largest growth areas is international expansion. Increasingly UK businesses are looking further afield for growth, and paid search offers a cost effective in-road without necessarily needing to invest fully in an overseas operation. Achieving a good search presence internationally is far easier with paid search than for organic, and this level of ease enables business to test a market for interest and profitability before committing.

Localisation, not translation, is key. Translating English ad copy into a local market language won’t always have the desired effect. Understanding the market behaviour and the marketing messages that tend to work well are essential to building effective ads and campaign management. Search behaviour does differ from country to country.

Your thoughts?

Are there any other opportunities that you think search marketers should be building on? Have you faced any new challenges? What do you think will change most rapidly within paid search?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.