Thought Leadership

POV: Q4 Paid Search Trends Report

Last year, we predicted that 2015 was the year the scale would tip – the year more search queries would come from mobile devices than desktops. We were right. We also predicted that mobile traffic would be a little ahead of the tracking systems needed to assess mobile data, as not all queries could be monetized and paid search impressions are harder to assign a value.

Well, the 2015 Q4 Paid Search Trends report reveal that mobile is officially here to stay. We started seeing trends play out in Q4, especially with click volumes in certain verticals like retail. As this starts happening across the market in early 2016, we will enter into a new landscape, one in which a mobile-first strategy will be the only way to win in this ever-crowded, competitive, and at times confusing marketplace.

Google has worked to bring much of the developed desktop to the small screen, including product listing ads (PLAs), valuable site links, and review extensions. In addition, mobile-only features support extensions for mobile app downloads and deep linking. Advertisers can count phone calls as valuable with improved call tracking integration. We can now optimize campaigns based on call data from either a click-to-call text ad or a number on a business website. And, Google made it easy for advertisers to make a phone number dynamic with just a few lines of code, helping marketers to understand which keywords drive calls from potential new customers.

What’s more, Google is now showing preference to three ads on mobile search results, instead of two. This will give more advertisers a piece of the coveted real estate above the organic search listings. While this should increase paid search clicks on mobile, it will also lead to more competition and increased CPC prices. The heavy discounts granted to a mobile click will be a thing of the past, as prices between desktop and mobile reach parity in specific verticals this year. The price of a search click will continue to be influx.

The other big trend in 2016 will be audience-specific campaigns, rather campaigns solely driven by keywords. Last year was a big year of solutions, like Google’s Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSA) and Customer Match, a logical evolution of RLSA and a strong move to compete in CRM/DMP based marketing circles. Customer Match has the potential to be used in many ways, and because it’s not pixel based, it has the flexibility that RLSAs couldn’t conquer. First party data is likely just the beginning. As the product continues to evolve, look for the ability to build new audiences based on attributes of your customers by leveraging list expansion and lookalike audience targeting.

While keywords will still be the cornerstone of search marketing in 2016, the contextual relevance around time, place, intent, likes, and rich demographic data will propel campaigns past being a faceless transaction, toward being a nurtured conversation with a cultivated, specific audience.

To read more about our Q4 findings and insights, click to download iProspect’s Q4 2015 Paid Search Trends Report.