Our Experts’ 2023 Predictions for Paid Search
Welcome to the year 2023! As we begin unrolling our new year strategies for our partners, Booyah decided to turn to our experts to look at what the Paid Search landscape may look like over the next 12 months.
Whether it’s making sure our clients get the most bang for their buck or anticipating the various whims of our fickle friend Google, our paid search team stays on top of all the shifts.
Below we asked Director of Search Kevin Tancredi, Group Director Kaitlin Williams, Paid Search Strategists Tana Noble and Kate Miller, Search Manager Devin Rafferty, and Senior Coordinator Jacob Wolfe to lend their predictions for paid search in 2023.
What Predictions Do You Have for the Search Channel in 2023?
Kevin Tancredi: Last year, we told you that Google was slowly depreciating keyword targeting and the need to think strategically about audiences in search is growing. This ultimately proved to be true and I believe this will continue into 2023.
I think that match types are a thing of the past and we are not far off from a world that has one (broad) match type or no match types at all. We’ve already seen this begin to happen with the introduction of Performance Max campaigns (technically Nov 2021). This “new” campaign type does not contain any keywords. Instead, it uses automation and machine learning to determine the queries your products or services serve for.
I predict that Google will continue to lean heavily into automated features. PMAX will continue to take center stage along with features such as auto-apply recommendations. We may even see forced adoption of these features. These types of features will take the heavy lifting off day-to-day account management and allow account managers to spend more time on strategy and moving up the funnel.
Kaitlin Williams: Paid search is going to move more towards automation. There will be less and less control and fewer opportunities to lean into keyword targeting – it’s all going to be about audiences and machine learning.
Tana Noble: I think the Search channel will approach a new wave of automation. We have already seen it with the expansion of performance max leaning on machine learning for audience insights, consumer search patterns, and creative recommendations to better understand the user and generate goal-based results.
Kate Miller: Automation, automation, automation! Google has been heavily pushing campaign types like Performance Max & replacing Phrase & Exact keyword match types with Broad. Quality creative, copy, & landing pages will become more crucial than ever.
Devin Rafferty: Last year I predicted search would become more visual, and it did. This year, I think search will become more encompassing and inclusive of other channels. Google unveiled multi-search earlier this year which uses audio, video, images, etc. just about anything you can think of to search.
Previously, search was text-based and keyword based. It still is, but now these other formats complement the way people search to have a more rounded search experience. The analogy google uses is that imagine you ask your friend a question, it’s very conversation based. The way people have used search in the past is very intent-based. I think search will start to move up the funnel faster.
People use search as a form of discovery and advertisers need to use every possible format, channel, etc to get in front of these users. PMax is a great example of this, it puts ads in front of people wherever they are and finds the best possible format to resonate with them.
Now, you can see “search ads” on maps, Youtube, and partner sites, places that in the past were not available to searchers because they weren’t on the Google results page.
I think search will continue to move up the funnel and use other complementary formats and channels to create a more robust search experience. These new ads and experiences people have will start to change the way people use search.
Jacob Wolfe: Following the push by Google to implement Performance Max, Google will likely increase performance visibility, customization options, and targeting options for this tactic. Google is also likely to increase its push towards automation & launch similar automated tactics, as well as beef up its current products.
With the removal of “Similar To” audiences announced for Summer 2023, Google is likely to provide additional Prospecting targeting options, perhaps leaning into their “Topics API” Privacy Future initiative that was announced and pushed back this Spring.
Looks All About Automation and PMax, What Kind of Strategies Should Clients Adapt in 2023?
Kevin Tancredi: Exactly. Start Performance Max. This is the future of Paid Search.
Kaitlin Williams: Leaning into the automation/black boxes (e.g. performance max on Google, broad targeting on Meta, programmatic). These strategies often perform better than the more “controlled” strategies (like keyword targeting).
Clients should also lean more into creative that is native to the platform. For example, don’t only run static assets on TikTok, utilize UGC content that feels native and not like an ad. These assets always outperform assets that are built as ads.
Tana Noble: Clients should explore Discovery, as automation is taking over all the tactics. Discovery is a tactic that allows Brands to drive awareness at a high return, growing their business while allowing Search to play a role in the upper funnel alleviating some of the pressure from social and using Google’s own resources to fuel the funnel.
Clients should explore the new campaign type in Discovery that uses a catalog feature to help identity what products new consumers are engaged with and use this as leverage to drive net new growth. We can also continue to test into Pmax while new opportunities come up including segmentation, goal setting, and creative learnings.
Kate Miller: Clients should invest in visual formats more than ever before. Having video assets, especially short form, is crucial. One huge hurdle for advertisers in the future is going to be the rapidly decreasing attention spans of consumers.
The question when evaluating media plans & creative decisions in the future should be “How do we grab attention as quickly as possible while making sure we communicate who & what we are? And how quickly can we be found on the web once the consumer’s interest is piqued?”
Devin Rafferty: Performance Max. This is relevant for all clients, big and small, and allows a way for ads to get in front of people where they wouldn’t have reached them in the past.
I also think adding more channels like Youtube, Discovery, or display is something to consider as well because everything plays a part in reaching these searchers.
Pmax may just be the beginning also, with all the multi-search initiatives Google has mentioned it seems like this campaign type is only the start.
Jacob Wolfe: Performance Max. Our team has seen immense success with this tactic and continues to expand support across our other accounts.