Trends come and go in every industry, and it’s no different for paid search. This year, we saw brands adopting more methods and AdWords releasing a laundry list of features (including a place where you can view said laundry list at any time).
But I want to cover three specific areas in paid search that advertisers should definitely consider in 2016, and I’ll also share what we learned about them in 2015.
1. Your Ad Messaging Strategy
It used to be you could slap 95 characters on a PPC ad, give the client a few good options to choose from and call it a day. All that has changed.
And no, it didn’t just change this year. It gradually crept up on us as AdWords released more and more ways to jazz up our ads with its goodie bag of ad extensions.
Pretty soon, it became less about those 95 characters and more about designing a strategy — almost like you would with a website — carefully crafting the overall messaging using all the features available.
Consider this: There are seven manual ad extensions to choose from, including the latest withstructured snippets.
That means new ways to combine and highlight key aspects of the business, including features, benefits and differentiators of a company.
Let’s look at a couple of examples so you can get an idea of just how much space you have to create a strategy…
- For this one, the free/no-fee aspect was important to the client, so we mentioned it twice, in the text and via sitelinks. We highlighted the types of legal representation through structured snippets. We also showed that they have 24/7 assistance and are board-certified in the call outs.
- On this one, FEMA compliant was the main message, so we mentioned it twice, once in the text and once as a sitelink. This company only sells certain sizes, so we outlined that via structured snippets. Other important attributes include the warranty and that the install is easy, and we used callouts for that.
It used to be that we had limited space to get the message across, so we wanted to be sure we didn’t have redundant text or include info that wasn’t the most important.
Today, we approach that differently by highlighting the key aspects of the business in different ways through all the ad features available.
2. Video Ads: A Must-Watch
Video campaigns are not new of course, but 2015 felt like the year they came of age. In other posts this year, I discussed important developments in video ads like:
- Why video ads in the search results are closer than ever.
- The massive opportunity for engaging, low-cost ads on YouTube.
In the past, we were focused on the Google Search Network only, then it evolved to be search ads plus remarketing and display ads. Now, when our clients have the budget, we layer video ads on top of it.
With Google integrating TrueView video campaigns into the AdWords interface, it won’t be long before advertisers catch on.
We think adopting this strategy now will allow you to be more prepared when video campaigns explode in the near future.
3. Remarketing Lists For Search Ads
If you feel that you’ve mastered the Search Network, go ahead and take it one step further with remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA). While this feature is nothing new (In fact, it launchedofficially in 2013), a lot of advertisers still aren’t reaping the benefits from it.
RLSA effectively lets you modify search ads, bids and keywords when past site visitors are searching on Google for products and services similar to yours.
This was the first year my agency religiously applied RLSA to all Search Network campaigns, and it allowed us to do some cool things.
First, we can review the returning visitor data right in the AdWords interface to see how they are behaving.
If returning visitors are converting at a higher cost per acquisition than new visitors, we can lower the bid on our search ads for this audience. If they are converting at a lower cost, we can increase the bid for that audience, too.
- WordStream has an in-depth article that goes into everything you need to know about RLSAhere.
- For more inspiration on how other businesses are using it, check out a few examples here.
Beyond these three trends, there are, of course, many avenues to explore in paid search. I like to follow the paths that offer the most return for each individual scenario.
But figuring that out takes testing, so I urge you to pick at least one paid search tactic you haven’t tried yet to test in 2016. Without that first step, you’ll never know how good (or bad) it can be.