2018 is quickly coming to a close.
So what’s in store for PPC marketers in 2019?
We made a list of 36 possible trends and changes to look out for in the world of PPC in 2019.
Read on to stay informed.
1. Google updates exact match, no longer exact
Google has updated its exact match algorithm to include close variants of keywords.
Now the keyword “luxury hotels New York” could match with “5-star hotels New York” and vice versa.
The result: PPC marketers will have less control over which queries their keywords get matched for in 2019.
With this change, Google Ads is becoming less about keywords and more about user behavior and intent.
2. The rise of smart bidding
Smart bidding is an automated bid strategy that takes advantage of machine learning to optimize conversions in auctions. Examples of smart bidding strategies include Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions and Enhanced CPC.
Smart bidding strategies will continue to grow in 2019, taking the grunt work off of the Google Ads account manager.
The result: manual bidding may soon become a thing of the past. Instead marketers will have time to focus on more creative areas of their work, like strategy and analytics.
3. The premiere of Google Responsive Search Ads
In the first half of 2018 Google announced it was launching Responsive Search Ads which would make it possible to create one ad with several headlines and descriptions.
Up to 15 headlines and four descriptions can be included in Google Responsive Ads which Google then tests to see which combinations perform the best with particular sets of users.
Now available in 10 languages and with added reporting features, responsive ads will be a significant tool for marketers to utilize in 2019.
4. Voice search to go mainstream?
Smart homes, smart speakers and personal assistants seemed like science fiction five years ago.
But from 2016-2020 the percentage of people in the United States that use a voice assistant will nearly double.
Although no mainstream paid voice search advertising options have become available yet, we could begin to see them arise in 2019.
In the meantime, there are strategies PPC marketers can adopt to prepare for the inevitable rise of voice search.
This includes adapting online content to match the more conversational tone used in voice searches.
“New York DC bus” is acceptable as a Google search.
But with voice search, people would say something like:
“Siri, what buses go to DC from New York this tuesday?”
Updating FAQ pages on websites, using long-tail keywords and making ad copy as short as possible are all ways to optimize for voice searches.
5. The emergence of visual search
Hand in hand with the rise of voice search is the rise of visual search.
In visual search, an actual picture is taken as the search query instead of text.
For example, you take a picture of a table you like in a restaurant and then get results of the exact brand pulled up to your phone with a purchase link.
While the technology is still in its infancy, we could see major advances in 2019 as brands actively battle with each other to become your go-to visual search app.
In 2018 we saw Pinterest launch Pinterest Lens, Snapchat partner with Amazon and Instagram launch a shopping service all of which include various aspects of visual search technology.
What’s the driver behind this?
It’s the fact that typing is archaic.
People are lazy and want results fast. The cameras on our phones make that possible.
PPC marketers and businesses can prepare for the rise of visual search by creating a picture catalogue of their product range and adding meta data to the pictures to make so that they are easily picked up by search engines.
6. The dominance of video
Video is dominating in 2018 and will only grow in 2019.
Play buttons are increasingly being used as a call-to-action.
Open rates on emails with the word ‘video’ have been shown to go up 20%.
YouTube has cemented itself as the second largest search engine after Google.
Performance marketers are being told they need to become video marketersin order to not limit their careers.
All this highlights the important role video will continue to play in 2019.
According to eMarketer, 25% of US digital ad spend will come from video in 2018, up nearly 30% year-on-year, with video dominating revenue on Snapchat and Twitter.
7. Targeted Audience Search will become the norm
When we think of targeted ads, we usually think Facebook.
But other platforms are catching up, notably Google.
Previously wary of using the personal data of its users due to privacy restrictions, Google now lets you add target audiences to narrow down who your ad will be shown to.
Marketers will increasingly take advantage of these advanced audience targeting settings in 2019 to maximize ad spending.
LinkedIn is also jumping into targeted ads as the go-to platform for B2B marketing in a professional context. Which leads us to the next point.
8. LinkedIn ads may start to look cheap
With Facebook clicks moving into the $2-$3 range, LinkedIn ads are starting to look more and more worth it, especially since B2B marketing on Facebook has become notoriously more difficult following upgrades to Facebook’s algorithm earlier in 2018.
LinkedIn ads hover around $7 per click, which is very high. But they have the advantage of being super-targeted.
For B2B marketing, the premium price might become worth it in 2019 if Facebook continues to hike prices.
9. More and more personalization
Artificial Intelligence is making it possible to personalize the customer journey more than ever before.
Customized emails and push notifications with emojis, for example, have been shown to boost open rates by 66% and a whopping 254% respectively.
Companies that effectively utilize push notifications in their marketing can establish that personal touch that customers are yearning for.
2019 will see a renewed focus on brand building and connecting with customers.
10. Collaborative filtering
Collaborative filtering is a recommendation system whereby users are grouped by their shared preferences or tastes. If user A likes the same subject as user B, then they most likely have similar tastes and preferences on other issues.
Companies are increasingly using collaborative filtering to tailor their website content to different groups of site visitors based on their age, interests, location and more.
But collaborative filtering takes this one step further, showing you different content altogether based on recently liked articles or trending topics.
In this way, the content a website shows you can remain fresh and customized toward individual site visitors.
11. Amazon emerging as major threat
Amazon has become the third largest and fasting-growing advertiser following Google and Facebook.
Consequently, Amazon’s own ads, typically called sponsored product ads, are becoming very attractive for online retailers.
The biggest advantage that Amazon ads have over Facebok and Google ads is strong buyer intent.
When someone views products on Amazon, they are most likely contemplating making a purchase.
In contrast, while Facebook and Google may give you access to a large audience, users usually are not looking to make a purchase.
The result is that advertisers end up spending more for less conversions on Facebook and Google.
12. Ad blockers to push back against marketer attacks
There is blowback to all this online marketing though.
Internet users are getting sick of seeing ads all the time, especially ads that are irrelevant.
As a result, people are increasingly using ad blockers, with 30% of internet users set to use them by the end of 2018, twice as much as in 2014.
Big tech companies are paying attention. Wary of alienating users, Google now gives people the possibility to mute ads across Google devices, and also to see which brands are targeting them with repeat ads.
In 2019 we are likely to see more major platforms follow in these footsteps and hand back control to users. .
13. Remarketing to get even more freakishly targeted
AI and machine learning are improving remarketing options to creepy levels.
With more and more people using adblock, marketers will have to create high-quality, personalized content to target customers, especially repeat customers who already made a purchase.
And while personalized content done right will likely connect with customers, done incorrectly this retargeting looks more like stalking.
Businessess will have to walk a fine line in 2019 between attracting and alienating customers when adopting advanced retargeting techniques.
13. PPC goes social
Social media is the second biggest segment for PPC marketing following search.
With 70% of US internet users checking at least one social media website per month, and this number only set to grow, PPC marketers that ignore social are doing so at their own peril.
Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, most people have at least one social media platform they check daily, and frequently they have several, especially younger generations.
PPC marketers should therefore be spending a significant amount of time on ads for Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and multiple platforms. Especially since these smaller social media sites often offer paid advertising options that are cheaper than Google and Facebook.
14. Ads are getting expensive
Just like you have penny stocks, at one time you also had penny clicks.
But those days are gone.
The price of clicks is only set to grow going forward.
CPMs that today cost $100 were only $10 just five years ago.
As ads get more expensive, profit margins go down.
To battle against high CPCs, marketers will have to improve their CTRs.
One way to do this is to focus on remarketing, since remarketing campaigns typically have higher CTRs and conversion rates. But again, not at the expense of alienating the potential customer.
15. The importance of structured data
The rise of online shopping and visual search has brought with it a renewed focus on structured data.
To better rank on search engines, marketers will want to upload detailed product information like product titles, images, descriptions and key features which search engines will then use to create a product catalog.
This is especially true as visaul search slowly goes mainstream. The only way for search engines to pull up images of products similar to other products that a picture was taken of is by providing detailed info of the products for search engines.
16. Multichannel Advertising
We are moving into a multi-platform world.
People no longer have only one social media platform, they use several.
They check Instagram on their phones, have Facebook open at work, and go home to watch YouTube in the evening.
Multiple platforms means marketers need to diversify their PPC efforts away from the big two Facebook and Google and target customers on these other platforms.
17. Bing, the newcomer
B2B marketing was effectively killed by Facebook earlier in 2018 when the platform updated its algorithm to favor posts from friends and groups.
In 2019 we are likely to see Bing and LinkedIn step in to fill this void.
LinkedIn has added new audience targeting features which are currently in beta but soon to be rolled out over the platform.
On the back of B2B sales, Bing and LinkedIn may end up seeing major growth in digitial ad revenue in 2019.
18. Google’s new audience insights tool
Google has rolled out a new audience insights tool designed to help marketers target specific audiences with their ads instead of just reaching customers through keywords.
The tool allows you to create segmented audiences of past website visitors or past purchasers.
Once these lists are built, the new Google Insights interface can look for closely related in-market and affinity audiences associated with those audiences to find new suitable audiences for further testing.
19. Time to dump search for lower cost alternatives
There were many changes to matching options in 2018.
In 2019 it will therefore be useful to take a step back and see where you are compared to your competitors.
With the rising costs of search ads, you may find that you are spending too much on Google without good results.
If this is the case, it may be worth considering lower cost alternatives, such as display advertising and remarketing.
As mentioned earlier, advertising on social media could be a good alternative to search, especially if there is prior familiarity with your brand.
20. SEO and PPC integration
SEO and PPC complement one another.
Marketers that integrate their PPC and SEO campaigns often see better results, and this will be no different in 2019.
There are several ways to integrate SEO and PPC. You can start by analyzing the top performing ad copy that generates clicks, then incorporate that copy into meta data and create blog posts based on those words to boost organic ranking.
This goes beyond just settling for high search volume keywords. Longer tail terms that you can rank for organically could also be used in your paid search bidding strategies.
You can also target competitor’s keywords by analyzing the PPC Auctions Insights Reports, use CRO testing, prioritize Google My Business optimization and more.
21. Cross channel advertising options
With users increasingly switching between different devices and channels, marketers that can offer cross channel advertising and reporting options will thrive going forward.
Cross channel advertising bridges the gap between paid search and social media, with retargeting campaigns allowing marketers to follow customers as they weave their way through the internet.
In a world where users check Instagram and Snapchat by morning, Facebook by day, YouTube by night, effective PPC marketers will create campaigns that address all of these channels.
22. Cross-device attribution
Similar to users constantly switching from channel to channel, users likewise are using multiple devices.
They view desktop at work, check their phone during their lunchbreak, and with YouTube increasingly integrated on television sets, advertising on YouTube is now becoming what television ads used to be.
Marketers need to be ready to launch cross-device campaigns as we head into a multi-polar device world.
Source: Google, “The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behavior”
23. Ad copy will change
Google’s responsive search ads means that the copy you got used to writing for your ads may be outdated going forward. You can now include up to 15 headlines and four descriptions with responsive search ads.
This means that when writing ads, new questions like whether to include RSAs, Text ads, a third headline and how many different descriptions will have to be addressed in the upcoming year.
24. ROI no longer the benchmark
ROI used to be the the most important figure measuring campaign success.
In 2019 this is no longer the case.
Now the emphasis is on launching different kinds of campaigns with different kinds of goals.
This means that low-performing keywords may be kept running becauase the goal is not to make a profit but to build brand awareness.
Effective advertising on Amazon involves building brand awareness for repeat purchases over one-time conversions.
Going forward, campaigns where you lose money may increasingly be considered okay, since brand building will become more important.
25. Connected devices mean new ads in new places
We have smart homes and smart speakers using voice assistants like Alexa and Siri.
This is creating new ad real estate where none existed before.
But don’t hold your breathe on this going viral in 2019.
Just as it took a while for advertising options to develop for mobile phones, so too it will probably take a while for advertising options to develop in smart vehicles, wearables, homes and other areas.
But we may begin to see moves in this direction in the upcoming year.
26. Increased reliance on big data
In 2019 marketers will become ever more dependent on data provided to them by advertising platforms as they slowly lose control over who exactly they can target.
Such services include Bing’s In-Market Audiences and Google’s demographic targeting and dynamic prospecting.
Third party data will also be utilized more frequently, including its integration with first-party data collected through CRM efforts.
27. Leveraging recommender systems
Companies with a large number of products (Spotify, Amazon, Netflix) use recommender systems to help show customers the most relevant content.
The rise of online retail means that having an effective recommender system could be the distinguishing factor determing success or failure in 2019.
Recommender systems that take advantage of big data, AI and machine learning by analyzing individual user behavior and then recommending items to customers based on that data will be what wins going forward.
Good recommender system often include item-based filtering where customers are shown items similar to previous ones they purchased, as well as collaborative filtering where customers with similar preferences are given recommendations based on similar tastes and behavior.
28. Re-evaluating account structure
2019 may be the year for marketers to stand back and reflect.
There have been so many match type changes over the past year that it is time to re-evaluate old structures to make sure they are still effective.
The biggest change in search is the switch toward behavior based advertising over keywords. Old scripts may no longer be effective and need to be scrapped.
29. Wrapping extensions (structured snippets, callouts) may go out of style
The traditional text ad is starting to look pretty bland with the switch to mobile and video. We could see text-only ads disappear as Google toys with adding images, logos and videos to text ads to boost user engagement.
Snippets, callouts, wrapping extensions are all starting to look archaic in 2019.
30. Facebook Click-To-Messenger Ads
Facebook’s rolling out of click-to-messanger ads offer several advantages to PPC marketers, as they provide contact info for everyone who clicks an ad (i.e. 100% conversation rate). They also make it possible to send push notifications or connect directly with a chatbot.
Click-to-messenger ads give advertisers and businesses a wide array of flexibility to start conversions at scale tailored to specific goals, such as generating leads or raising brand awareness.
It will be interesting to see how PPC marketers take advantage of these ads going forward in 2019.
31. Local Services Ads to roll out nationwide
In 2018 Google announced it would roll out local services ads nationwide.
Local Services Ads cater toward professional services in specific industries that are traditionally needed for local markets, such as plumbers, electricians, movers etc.
Local Services Ads aim to take the global reach that Google has and bring it back to the neighborhood level. These ads could represent a big opportunity for PPC advertisers aiming to double down on local markets.
32. Instagram to take chunk of ecommerce
Earlier this year Instagram announced that it would create Instagram Shopping, letting users easily shop for products in Stories and the Newsfeed.
Instagram has already become a go-to platform for brands looking to advertise their products on social media. Instagram Shopping is a natural extension in this direction.
Businesses should begin exploring using the visual search features Instagram Shopping offers to promote their products.
33. Managing online reputation
It’s easier than ever now for people to look up your business and see five dreaded stars next to your business. If you have five then that’s good, if there are only three, then this could be doing enormous damage to your business.
More and more people use online reviews and ratings to evaluate whether to trust a business or not. Think of how important seller ratings are on eBay and Amazon. Brands would be wise to focus on their online reputation going into 2019.
34. TV ads making a return…on YouTube
Google recently added Screens Device as a Google Ad category on its platform.
The reason? More TVs are coming with YouTube embedded in them, which means that ads on YouTube are essentially now becoming what television ads used to be.
The much bigger display size of TV screens means your ads need to be optimized for the new screen and incorporate more visual.
35. Negative keywords to become even more important
While marketers no longer have as much control over who their ads are shown to, they still have complete control over who to NOT SHOW their ads to.
Utilizing negative keywords effectively will be the last means of manual control marketers have as machine learning and AI takes over traditional tasks that marketers used to manage manually.
36. Blockchain technologies could change online marketing forever
Finally, we’d like to end with blockchain.
2018 saw the rise of cryptocurrencies and a bitcoin and blockchain craze that had some people screaming ‘scam’ and others insisting this was the technology of the future.
While the debate over whether blockchain is legit or not is still up in the air, there are nevertheless many companies applying blockchain technologies to digital marketing which could fundamentally change the relationship between users and advertisers.
This includes changing the way in which data is collected. Currently the only way to access the internet is through ISPs and web browsers, all of which then keep our data. Blockchain could create an internet browsing experience whereby personal data remained secret and encrypted and up to the user to sell himself without Facebook or Google taking a chunk of the revenue.
These are just a fraction of the trends and changes that we expect could take place in the upcoming year for PPC marketers. We are sure there are plenty we didn’t mention.