Paid search is a valuable marketing channel that will amplify your messaging and effectively grow your business. This proven tactic is a long-time favorite for many advertisers and continues to grow in popularity. As the year comes to a close, initial reports show an 18.6% increase in paid search spending in 2021. Given the competitive landscape, brands need to use every tool and tactic available to win.
We surveyed Booyah experts to find out what’s most important for brands to know about paid search in 2022. Here’s every tactic and rising trend that should be top of mind.
Prediction #1: Audiences take center stage
Search Strategist Kevin Moss predicts that the most impactful trend ahead is shifting to an audience-first mindset. “We have been feeling this coming for some time, but with all of the recent changes to match types and keyword mapping through Google, it’s less about what is being searched but WHO is searching.”
When developing a digital marketing strategy, it’s crucial to have your audience clearly defined. Kevin continues, saying, “Google is rolling out more and more audience-centric capabilities like feed-based ad copy rules that can apply unique messaging to unique audiences, as well as increased targeting options.” He adds, “Here at Booyah, we’ve been making a big push in the search channel to lean more into audience strategies.”
Prediction #2: Keyword targeting starts to fade
As the audience-centric approach to PPC becomes more popular, the importance of keywords will decrease. Lynn Fowler, Director of Search, explains, “There will be a strategic focus shifting to audiences and auction signals and away from keyword selection and consolidation.”
This trend is becoming apparent with the types of best practices that Google promotes and the kind of new features that are released on its platforms. Google wants to streamline and improve the user experience, and they want to present more relevant ads to its users. As paid search becomes more and more centered on audiences, Lynn forecasts that keyword optimization will eventually fade away.
Ultimately, brands will need to make this shift sooner rather than later, or they risk wasting ad spend. Tamara Reyes, Senior Paid Search Manager, emphasizes, “If we stay with the typical keyword approach, we will miss out on reach, which will hurt our campaigns’ performance.”
Media Supervisor Kevin Tancredi also sees evidence that Google is slowly deprecating keyword targeting. He explains, “Over the past few years, they have regularly loosened the constraints on which searches can match to which keywords. Therefore, the need to think strategically about audiences in search is growing.”
Prediction #3: Search expands into all stages of the marketing funnel
While paid search is most commonly used as a lower-funnel tactic, Lynn predicts we’ll see more brands use search as an upper-funnel tactic, too. “Paid search capabilities are shifting away from keywords and towards behavioral signals that are proving to provide better insights into the overall customer journey.” Because of this, paid search is evolving into a channel that can impactfully drive more awareness and consideration similar to traditional forms of digital prospecting.
Prepare for these changes now by learning everything you can about your target audience, so you can understand how to reach them using paid search during every stage of the customer journey.
Prediction #4: Visual ads will take up more space
Brands can also expect the use of visuals to become more frequent. Devin Rafferty, a Senior Coordinator at Booyah, explains why. “With the rise of discovery and now image extensions, it seems like people are more engaged in these types of ad formats as opposed to search results. Even with search results now, they are more in-depth than just the headline and description—with elements like site links and other extensions—that users engage with differently.”
He adds, “If Search was a mature medium, it wouldn’t be evolving like we are seeing. It is moving slower than other paid media forms. However, it’s still moving. The way people search and use Google has forced the paid search industry to modernize.”
Devin adds that applying these visual elements in campaigns is a worthwhile endeavor because they’re likely to improve user engagement and performance. “Already with our clients, we are seeing image extensions perform very well, and with the addition of Microsoft video extensions, I think there is a lot of room for search to grow here, and it will continue to do so.”
Kevin is also excited about the inclusion of more visual elements. He brings up Google’s recent introduction of Discovery ads and image extensions for search campaigns. While he recognizes this big change will be slow to gain traction, it is definitely a trend to keep an eye on. “Google is making these changes fast. It’s best to apply, become early adopters, and get valuable insights early on. Google will start to sunset more and more things and begin to unveil more, too.”
Prediction #5: Automation goes mainstream
2022 will be a big year for automation, and it’s at the top of Account Manager Annie Miller’s mind. She’s predicting that “a lot of accounts are going to really start relying on automation for search ads. Automated personalization for the user within search ads will become very big, so will the continued growth of automated bid strategies and auto-apply suggestions.”
Kate Miller, Senior Search Manager, also recognizes how automation is taking over in paid search. “Every Google tool coming out right now aims to take more control away from the account managers and rely on the Google algorithms.”
Less control doesn’t mean lesser results, though. Tana Noble, Search Manager, explains, “As automated strategies and machine learning become more and more backed by data and testing, we can rely more on Google’s recommendations to increase our visibility and competition.”
While automation may make paid search management faster, it isn’t going to replace search managers. Kate tells us, “The word ‘automation’ seems to delegitimize the work we do in the eyes of some clients, but just as there are wrong ways to manage an account manually, there are wrong ways to utilize these algorithms. Knowing what tools are available and how best to use them is the key to an account’s success.”
Get started with paid search in 2022
Between automation, visual ads, and strategically tuning into your audience, we predict there will be some significant changes to paid search in 2022. To learn more about Booyah’s paid search capabilities, get in touch with our search team.