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Interview with Google: How the Paid Search Landscape Will Change in 2017

As any avid reader of our blog will know, 2017 is set to be the year of audience. But how will all this focus on audience affect the world of paid search, and how can you make sure your paid search campaigns pull in effective results?

As a Google Premier Partner, we wanted to give you the freshest insights we could get our hands on, so we had a natter with Google’s Agency Development Manager, Joseph McEntee.

Joseph is part of the Google Marketing Solutions team, helping Google Partner agencies like us with new business proposals, agency level trainings, support with high priority accounts and access to Google Betas. We asked him all about showrooming, his trend predictions for 2017 and how to create ads that deliver killer CTRs.

Here’s how our conversation went:

Firstly, I know Google like to start meetings with an ice-breaker, so here’s one for you: if Google was an animal, what would it be?

I think it would be a barn owl. They have absolutely great sight, quite like Google! Our engineers at Google constantly have a 360-degree view of the marketplace. Owls also have great vision – at Google we try not to look at just a couple of months down the line, but a couple of years down the line too. They’re always trying new things, and though they don’t always catch the mouse first time, when some of their big bets come off, the results are outstanding.

We know 2017 is Google’s Year of Audience. What insight can you give us on how this will affect the paid search landscape?

A couple of years ago, when you wanted to find somebody in search, all you would do is simply hope that when you bid on a keyword, they would then go and search for that keyword. You didn’t have any insight into who they were, how they actually performed or how they behaved, and I think this behaviour (past behaviour in particular) is a really good indicator of future behaviour.

So we’re really betting on audience going forward. We know that by open-airing past behaviour, we can enable our advertisers to capture users with the highest intent and make sure that every penny of their budget is going to qualify users with the highest purchase intent, or a high transaction intent, whatever that may look like!

‘Showrooming’ is a growing trend. Could you explain what it is, and what brands should be doing about it?

Showrooming is the process of going into a physical store, taking a look at a product, feeling that product, trying it on, getting advice from the store clerk, then actually leaving the store and purchasing online.

showrooming and online shopping

Now, there are many reasons why people may showroom. They may want more variety online, they might be price conscious and feel they’ll get a better deal online, or simply feel that there’s no urgency to buy it now.

Brands have to be very conscious of this and I think they have to take more of an omni-travel approach. It’s no longer enough to consider your online and offline stores as two separate entities that do not collaborate and do not share data. Companies now need to start looking at a sale as a sale, rather than just an online or offline sale. Internet users don’t approach online shopping in that way. They expect that if they go into a store, they’ll be able to complete that transaction immediately online, so they’re happy to switch from online to offline, and across different devices. So, if you’re creating your own marketing strategy, you have to be aware of this behaviour.

What insight can you give us on creating ad copy for delivering the best click-through rates?

Google recently introduced larger text ad formats called expanded text ads. We’ve increased the amount of space we allow advertisers to use by almost 50%. This allows them to tell as much of their story as possible. We encourage advertisers to use this space. It’s still limited, you only have a certain amount, so you must use it to the best of your ability.

Make sure that your main USPs are getting out and being communicated in your ad copy. It sounds simple, but don’t rely on one style of ad copy only, try a couple of different styles. We have really great insight and reporting capabilities, and you can allow the system to start to show the ads that perform the best, either on clicks or conversions, more often.

It’s also useful to remember that internet users can be very impatient! People come to Google to search and find information, not to browse. So make sure that you are specifically addressing the search term by using simple things like dynamic keyword insertion and ad extensions.

We’ve got some great ad extensions, from ones that can take you to specific pages to others that will call out specific messages or USPs or names of brands, and even a couple that will start a communication, allowing customers to text or message your business from the actual app itself.

What other trends will drive successful paid search campaigns in 2017?

Video is going to be massive. By far, video is the format that we see consumers have been most interested in consuming information, and brands can provide video content, which is what we know consumers want, when they want it, when they need it, so I think it’s going to be very useful.

video marketing

I suppose we categorise video content into three different categories – education, inspiration and entertainment. So making sure that your ad is either one or more of those things makes a lot of sense.

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