Today, I will be sharing 3 predictions I have for the paid search industry in 2012.
My first prediction has to do with ad extensions, but let’s look back for a minute. In 2011 AdWords rolled out a couple new ad extensions in beta. The first feature is known as the communication ad extension where directly within an ad are 2 fields for you to enter your email address and name and subscribe to that site’s newsletter immediately. Alternatively, some ads show “Request Call” and “Request Email” links if you wish to be contacted by the advertiser. With the communication ad extension advertisers can capture conversions without a user clicking to the website, though, I’m sure a cost will be setup for this form of lead generation. James Svoboda of webranking.com does an excellent job explaining all of the details of the communication ad extension if you would like more information about this feature – http://www.webranking.com/blog/communication-ad-extensions-for-google-adwords
The second beta rolled out in 2011 was the offer extension where advertisers can put redeemable offers within search network ads including coupons, discounts and more. The offer can be redeemed online or in-store. With in-store redemption a user is taken to a Google hosted landing page after clicking the “View offer” link. The offer can either be printed or saved.
With the addition of these 2 extensions we’re now up to 9 AdWords extensions that can enhance your ads:
- Dynamic Search Ads
- Seller Ratings
3 of the extensions are in limited release (dynamic search ads, communication and offer) while 1 (the seller rating extension) is achieved through receiving at least thirty 4 or more star reviews in Google Product Search. I predict that as we progress in 2012 more of these extensions will be available to all advertisers while we’ll also see new extensions appear as Google continues to make ads more interactive and informative.
My second prediction speaks to Google’s Search Partner Network, which I wrote about in October:
Currently you cannot exclude search partner sites in AdWords. Sites like AOL, eBay and Amazon are all part of the Search Partner network. It is nice that your ads show on these sites, but it would be even better if you could pick and choose the sites you want to target. Instead, you either opt into the whole Search Partner network or none of it. In fact, Google does not share its search partners, thus negating any granular reporting. MSN adCenter does allow you the ability to run a publisher performance report to view data related to specific Search Partner sites. You can then exclude partners who are performing poorly. You can exclude these sites by going into your campaign settings and clicking the “Exclusions” link.
I predict that Google will relent and allow some control over the Search Partner network. I don’t believe Google will share its search partners, but I can see them segmenting by vertical. It may be that Google gives you the opportunity to opt into 10 verticals, but you can exclude your ads from showing on select ones. For example, if you sell televisions you can opt into the “Entertainment” and “Recreation” verticals, but not the “Home & Garden” network. There would be a bit more transparency, but Google does not need to reveal the specific search partners.
My third PPC prediction for 2012 is that we will see plenty of change and updates within the industry which will force us to adapt and adjust strategies as necessary, which is a good thing! On January 1, 2011 I had a different perception of how to create and optimize PPC campaigns than I do now. Granted, the fundamentals of PPC are the same as they were 365 days ago, but in 2011 we were introduced to:
- Extended ad headlines
- Modified broad match, which was technically introduced in 2010 but really took off in 2011
- Top vs Others report showing that top ads have much higher click-thru-rates than side or bottom ads
- Greater emphasis and features within the Display Network
More ad extensions
I can say with almost 100% confidence that we will all need to adapt our PPC strategy throughout the year to accommodate the ever changing PPC landscape.