Online search is an exceedingly complex playing field for marketers and advertisers alike. With hundreds of features being added to AdWords and Google Shopping with each passing year, search marketing campaign managers now have a number of tools at their disposal. However, getting an edge on the competition is not getting any easier so it’s important to stay ahead of the game. So what are the key tech trends on the horizon for 2016?

Search Marketing: a multi-billion pound industry

Online advertising has now become so exceedingly valuable that according to a recent article by Search Engine Watch, of the US $17.3bn Google made in Q1 2015, $15.5bn was from advertising sales. While online retailers understand the value of this industry, search marketing and display platforms are becoming increasingly complex to manage and make profitable. There is an ever-increasing volume of variables to take into account when predicting the value of a click in a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign: Keywords, user segments, landing pages, device used, time of day, previous purchase behaviours. In the past, marketers used to adjust their campaign settings and bids a couple of times a day but software-based campaign management is enabling a new paradigm: ‘high frequency bidding’.

Scaling your search to greater heights: when PPC meets RTB

Software has been slowly taking over the stock market for years and “high frequency trading” is the weapon of choice in a fund manager’s arsenal. Marketing technology companies have been developing their own armies of software robots for some time as well. In the programmatic ad sector, real-time bidding platforms use audience segmentation and context to sell ad space to the highest bidder in nanoseconds.

Search marketing platforms have finally caught up and the most advanced tools now also bid in real-time on AdWords and Google Shopping. Armed with finely tuned segmentation, user intent data and product intelligence, 2016 is where we will finally see PPC meet RTB.

Predictive search: how do you increase your search volumes in 2016?

Three key enablers will drive the next few years of Ad Tech and search marketing campaign performance, as we see it:

  • Audience segmentation is now ‘the norm’: Search marketing campaigns maintain their effectiveness simply because keywords allow advertisers to develop an understanding of a user’s behaviour when online. With the addition of segmentation features in search through Google’s RLSA, campaigns can now take it one step further and target the user behind that intention based behaviour.
  • Effective product data is the difference between a sale lost and won: Gaining access to product trend data is crucial. Best selling products constantly go up and down and companies that have access to a great amount of shopping information have an edge. Advanced tracking also allows us to interpret ‘weak signals’ at user level along the purchase funnel and optimise campaigns accordingly: has this user visited this product a few times already? Did they add the product to their cart but not finalise the purchase? What is the affinity of users with this product category?
  • Automation means bidding is now in real-time: Combining search intent, user segmentation and product data allows advertisers to make the best bidding decisions instantly. The most advanced adtech search platforms can adjust their bids in real-time and their pricing engines assess the value of each click based on the predicted conversion.
It’s my belief that adtech acquisition and segmentation tools can significantly augment traffic managers and agencies’ capabilities, and their ability to convert. That’s why we’ve added real-time bidding (RTB) features to our latest product feature set, an addition we hope will allow our customers to benefit both from real-time search as well as SEO.

Highly skilled marketers can move forward confident that by allocating more time to setting the right campaign objectives, coming up with creative multi-channel approaches and piloting their business strategy, software robots can operate background bids on their search ads in real-time to maximise their profits, lessening the need to constantly monitor sales dashboards and make unnecessary adjustments.

By Herbert Knibiehly, VP, Marketing, at traffic acquisitions specialist Twenga Solutions