PPC Trends 2016: 24 Expert Predictions On Paid Search, Display & Retargeting

The key PPC trends brands need to know for win­ning paid media strate­gies in 2016.

Danny Goodwin By Danny Goodwin from Momentology. Join the discussion » 1 comment

As anoth­er excit­ing year of PPC mar­ket­ing nears its end, it’s time to look toward 2016. As you pre­pare your PPC mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy, here are some key areas of focus for brands and busi­ness­es to suc­ceed with paid search, dis­play, and retar­get­ing in 2016.


Clear­ly, mobile was a big PPC trend for 2015 that couldn’t be ignored, and con­tin­ues to be – because con­sumers are mobile. But as the New Year approach­es, one PPC trend is clear: 2016 will be more about tar­get­ing the right peo­ple at key moments of the con­sumer jour­ney.

The shift from tar­get­ing key­words to tar­get­ing peo­ple and intent is get­ting increas­ing­ly pre­cise and sophis­ti­cat­ed, thanks to tools such as Cus­tomer Match and Remar­ket­ing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA).

Tech­nol­o­gy is also get­ting bet­ter – machine learn­ing and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence might just give your brand the edge in ad copy and land­ing pages.

Anoth­er key for PPC suc­cess will come from com­bin­ing and mak­ing sense of the insane amounts of data to tru­ly under­stand the con­sumer jour­ney and then use those insights to dri­ve more rev­enue.

This year, Momen­tol­ogy has col­lect­ed insights from 24 PPC experts:

Here are the PPC trends you need to know for 2016.


Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners

Tim AshMobile con­ver­sion will be key. Many peo­ple are using their phones for Inter­net brows­ing and research. If they click on your ad and it is not mobile opti­mized, you will lose that impa­tient and kinet­ic vis­i­tor (prob­a­bly forever).

Make sure that you do not sim­ply cre­ate a “respon­sive lite” ver­sion of your desk­top land­ing page – rear­rang­ing the con­tent into a sin­gle column and resiz­ing the text to be more read­able. Mobile land­ing pages require a clean-sheet approach, and often very dif­fer­ent calls to action.

Also con­sid­er the fact that you may not have a land­ing page, and opti­mize your call-cen­ter expe­ri­ence for click-to-call mobile vis­i­tors.


Laura Collins, PPC Team Leader, Periscopix

Laura CollinsIn 2016, audi­ence tar­get­ing will become more impor­tant than ever for PPC mar­keters. In the last cou­ple of years we’ve already seen a notice­able shift in focus from key­words to audi­ences, but the recent release of Cus­tomer Match by Google will rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way we’re able to com­mu­ni­cate with our users.

We can final­ly tap into a wealth of cus­tomer infor­ma­tion that’s been locked away in CRM data­bas­es for years to cre­ate tru­ly bespoke, tar­get­ed cam­paigns.

Search cam­paigns will be freed from the shack­les of the 180 day mem­ber­ship dura­tion for RLSA audi­ences, bring­ing a host of oppor­tu­ni­ties for sea­son­al prod­ucts or sub­scrip­tion-based ser­vices. We’ll be able to seg­ment audi­ences in ways that sim­ply weren’t pos­si­ble before.

Our cus­tomers may be liv­ing an increas­ing pro­por­tion of their lives online, but what they’re doing in the offline world is just as impor­tant for deter­min­ing their inter­ests and poten­tial future shop­ping behav­iors. In 2016 Cus­tomer Match will play a piv­otal role in bridg­ing the gap from offline to online, get­ting us closer to our audi­ence than ever before.


Bryan Eisenberg, Founder & CMO, IdealSpot

Bryan Eisenberg2016 is going to the year where we begin to see brands use machine learn­ing or arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to enhance their ads, land­ing pages, and fun­nel com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

I am see­ing com­pa­nies like PhraseTech (A.I. rewrites retailer’s pro­duct page copy) and Per­sado (A.I. writes dis­play ad copy, emails, SMS, etc.). Com­pa­nies like PhraseTech will allow brands to com­pete on fac­tors no one could man­u­al­ly.

They will be able to pro­duce at scale, fresh (changed fre­quent­ly), rel­e­vant and per­son­al­ized pro­duct copy that no team of humans could ever do. We all know how the search engi­nes love fresh con­tent on the organ­ic side, what makes most of think it does not impact Qual­i­ty Scores on the paid side?

It is time to wel­come our machine assis­tants.


Justin Freid, Vice President of Emerging Media, CMI

Justin FreidThere is no doubt that dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing received some feed­back this year that we are not doing our job cor­rect­ly. This rise in ad block­ing should make us, as mar­keters, shift our focus from pro­mot­ing a brand to pro­vid­ing our audi­ences with a solu­tion or answer.

As more data becomes avail­able from a myr­i­ad of sources, we’ll con­tin­ue to mold our cam­paigns and respons­es to the indi­vid­u­al. From wear­ables and social demo­graph­ic data to your search his­to­ry, the amount of infor­ma­tion adver­tis­ers have about a speci­fic indi­vid­u­al is astound­ing and will be uti­lized to cre­ate a tru­ly cus­tomized expe­ri­ence.

Imag­ine a sce­nar­io where you are walk­ing down the street, through blue tooth near field tech­nol­o­gy, a dig­i­tal bill­board access­es your recent search his­to­ry, your body tem­per­a­ture and steps walked today from your smart watch and phone. Through this infor­ma­tion, the auto­mat­ed sys­tem can deter­mine you have a cold with a fever. The dig­i­tal bill­board puts your impres­sion up for auc­tion into a pro­gram­mat­ic trad­ing deck, hav­ing the likes of CVS, Wal­greens and oth­er phar­ma­cies bid for your impres­sion. Based on your loca­tion, CVS deter­mi­nes they have a loca­tion two blocks from where you are locat­ed. They deter­mine you are a tar­get worth pay­ing for and you are shown an ad, with cold med­i­cine and direc­tions to their loca­tion on the dig­i­tal bill­board.

This is just one exam­ple of how I see the way ads are served chang­ing over the next year. Huge, annoy­ing ris­ing star ads or mobile screen takeovers will begin to stop, and adver­tis­ers will begin focus­ing on deliv­er­ing a solu­tion to the con­sumers ques­tion or need.


John Gagnon, Bing Ads Evangelist, Microsoft

John GagnonIn 2016, we’ll see inter­est­ing trends in PPC due to the rise of per­son­al assis­tants and machine learn­ing becom­ing more eas­i­ly avail­able.

Expect more search­es out­side the box in 2016. Think about Siri, Google Now, or Cor­tana for a moment. As per­son­al assis­tants grow in pop­u­lar­i­ty, it cre­ates a new way for peo­ple search­ing out­side the browser.

The­se per­son­als assis­tants are baked right into the lat­est oper­at­ing sys­tems. Cor­tana is already on 110 mil­lion Win­dows 10 devices (with more than a bil­lion queries) while Google Now is on a huge num­ber of Android devices – the search trend will con­tin­ue!

The vol­ume of data is explod­ing for mar­keters to ana­lyze and tar­get from! Pio­neer­ing dig­i­tal mar­keters are now using Ama­zon and Microsoft Azure Machine Learn­ing ser­vices to begin to uncov­er their most valu­able adver­tis­ing seg­ments in a sea of data. There is a big oppor­tu­ni­ty to get ahead of the pack in 2016.


Daniel Gilbert, Founder, Brainlabs

Daniel GilbertFor me, this is the year that peo­ple-based mar­ket­ing will explode. Espe­cial­ly in paid search, where Google have intro­duced the abil­i­ty to upload email address­es to cre­ate audi­ence tar­gets. This is prob­a­bly the biggest sin­gle change since the dawn of AdWords – and we’ve already seen game-chang­ing results by build­ing strate­gies off the back of this new capa­bil­i­ty.

With Atlas becom­ing more acces­si­ble as 2016 pro­gress­es, I imag­ine we’ll see sim­i­lar improve­ments in the Pro­gram­mat­ic space – which is cur­rent­ly bro­ken by cross-device, cross-browser move­ment.

Final­ly, when it comes to automa­tion I expect to see the top 5 per­cent of the mar­ket invest­ing in cus­tom-dri­ven algo­rithms rather than rely­ing on third-par­ty bid man­age­ment tech­nol­o­gy. In the same way that no world class ecom­merce retail­er uses out-of-the-box soft­ware like Shopi­fy (a superb pro­duct for mid-mar­ket), I think adver­tis­ers will start to see how one algo­rithm or tech suite that’s designed and built for them, rather than the mass­es, can rev­o­lu­tion­ize their PPC efforts.


Zvika Goldstein, VP of Product Management, Kenshoo

Zvika GoldsteinIn 2016, mar­keters will seek to bet­ter align their mobile app mar­ket­ing strate­gies with key cor­po­rate busi­ness goals by lever­ag­ing audi­ence data and automa­tion to max­i­mize cus­tomer life­time val­ue and exceed rev­enue goals.

The intro­duc­tion of CRM-based audi­ences on Google (cus­tomer match) togeth­er with the pro­gress Google made in RLSA open more oppor­tu­ni­ties for mar­keters to strate­gize around audi­ences more than before. The abil­i­ty to con­nect the­se audi­ences between the pub­lish­ers will bring new effi­cien­cies and opti­miza­tion capa­bil­i­ties that haven’t been explored pre­vi­ous­ly.

Mar­keters will need stronger automa­tion tools to max­i­mize oppor­tu­ni­ties as a grow­ing num­ber of pub­lish­ers should deliv­er robust results, increas­ing the size and com­plex­i­ty of cam­paign port­fo­lios. In addi­tion, emerg­ing ad types like Dynam­ic Search Ads will bring new oppor­tu­ni­ties to grow adver­tis­ers’ foot­print. On top of which, strong cross-device mea­sure­ment capa­bil­i­ties will inform mobile bid adjust­ments, which will be key for dri­ving suc­cess.

By lever­ag­ing audi­ence data and automa­tion, mar­keters’ app install efforts and con­tin­ued engage­ment there­after can be opti­mized in con­cert to achieve sin­gu­lar mar­ket­ing goals and max­i­mize the life­time val­ue of a cus­tomer.


Andrew Goodman, President, Page Zero Media

Andrew GoodmanHere are a cou­ple of trends I’m see­ing.

1. ‘Black Box Automa­tion’

Increas­ing­ly, PPC plat­forms offer tempt­ing forms of “black box automa­tion,” from full-on bid opti­miza­tion to “lite ver­sions” such as Enhanced CPC. It pos­es a chal­lenge for PPC man­agers, not because their jobs will become obso­lete, but because they tru­ly need to come to grips with when it’s appro­pri­ate to use an automa­tion tool, and when it is not.

Man­agers will also need to under­stand which of their own analy­sis, strat­e­gy, and hands-on man­age­ment plays nice­ly with the­se black box­es. I still tend to favor a hybrid approach that uses some of the­se baked-in tools, and eschews oth­ers.

If you have strong opin­ions about how you’d appor­tion clicks across dif­fer­ent match types and forms of intent, and are like­ly to see bet­ter Qual­i­ty Scores and ROI because of your deep­er under­stand­ing of how your ad groups func­tion, then con­tin­ue being a con­trol freak! Con­ver­sion Opti­miz­er will have you stand­ing idly by, poten­tial­ly, as too many impres­sions and clicks are being mapped to your broad­er key­words. “Just trust us,” right?

2. More Tools to Stream­line the PLA Process

Speak­ing of things that scale, the oth­er big sto­ry in many accounts, in terms of spend, is shop­ping feeds (PLAs). Remem­ber a few years back when there were all the­se active “com­par­ison shop­ping engi­nes,” and as a result, “feed spe­cial­ist” com­pa­nies were pop­ping up? It feels like we’re com­ing back to that place again.

Even if you have to con­sid­er only Google, Bing, and Ama­zon, that’s rea­son enough to go out and seek solu­tions to stream­line the process. I’m hop­ing we’ll see a more active and robust ecosys­tem of third-par­ty tool providers in this area. The few that are out there now seem to be on the pricey side, cher­ry-pick­ing the largest accounts. A tier below that, we need to see more solu­tions.


Pauline Jakober, Founder & CEO, Group Twenty Seven

Pauline JakoberIn 2016, we’ll see a final push to con­vert all land­ing pages and web­sites to mobile-friend­ly ver­sions. We’ve been talk­ing about mobile for years, but tran­si­tion­ing to mobile-friend­ly isn’t easy (or cheap) when you have large, com­plex web­sites that sup­port mul­ti­ple lan­guages.

Many sites start­ed this process in 2015. But hope­ful­ly, in 2016, we can final­ly put this one to bed!

In addi­tion, I pre­dict that video ads will be the next major ad for­mat to dis­play on Google search results pages. We’ve seen a few clues to sup­port this, the main clue being that in 2015, Google migrat­ed True­View ads to the main AdWords inter­face, mak­ing it eas­ier to man­age the­se types of cam­paigns and bud­gets.


Jennifer Johnstone, Associate Director of Biddable Media, Piston

Jennifer JohnstoneThe most notable trends we’re going to see in paid search for large adver­tis­ers in 2016 are more mean­ing­ful insights into the full cus­tomer jour­ney through micro-con­ver­sions, and a bet­ter under­stand­ing of cross-device and online to offline activ­i­ty.

In 2016, adver­tis­ers are going to max­i­mize their paid search efforts to gath­er more insights than just sales and leads. Whether in their accounts or through anoth­er source, adver­tis­ers are going to start track­ing more micro-con­ver­sion actions.

Doing so will give adver­tis­ers the abil­i­ty to bet­ter under­stand which “micro-moments” or sig­nals ulti­mate­ly lead up to a con­ver­sion action. Under­stand­ing which sig­nals are more valu­able will allow them to take a sec­ond look at cam­paigns that may appear to dri­ve poor per­for­mance on the sur­face, when they are actu­al­ly dri­ving many of the micro-moments that assist lat­er in cus­tomer jour­ney.

Cross-device con­ver­sions will also play a big­ger role in how adver­tis­ers man­age their cam­paigns in 2016.

In 2015, we were able to imple­ment user-lev­el track­ing through data that we sup­plied and sub­se­quent­ly pro­duce cross-device report­ing. Now that we’ve com­piled our 2015 cross-device data, it’s time to start ana­lyz­ing to under­stand how the cus­tomer jour­ney takes place with mul­ti­ple ses­sions and across mul­ti­ple devices. Orga­niz­ing this data will allow us to see how touch-points that may appear unre­lat­ed are actu­al­ly con­nect­ed.

Also in 2016, we expect more of this cross-device infor­ma­tion to be shared by our ana­lyt­ics providers instead of rely­ing on our devel­op­ers to make that infer­ence.

The online to offline gap has been bridged quite a bit in 2015 and this will con­tin­ue into 2016. Through many chan­nels, it’s been via bea­cons, coupon down­loads and the like. How­ev­er, Google is also work­ing on under­stand­ing foot traf­fic dri­ven by online media through their new Store Vis­its beta.

Though still ear­ly to see imme­di­ate val­ue, the beta will esti­mate store vis­its dri­ven by our paid search efforts using anony­mous, aggre­gat­ed user data and extrap­o­lat­ing it to a broad­er pop­u­la­tion. With oth­er met­rics fac­tored in man­u­al­ly, like aver­age order val­ue and in-store con­ver­sion rate, we may start to be able to pro­duce more refined assump­tions about the impact our dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing dol­lars have on our brick and mor­tar stores.


Larry Kim, Founder, WordStream

Larry KimPPC in 2016 will be increas­ing­ly:

  • Peo­ple-cen­tric: Tar­get­ing ads to peo­ple (i.e., demo­graph­ics, behav­iors, inter­ests and actu­al iden­ti­ty) vs. just tar­get­ing search key­words.
  • Brand-focused: We need to be more open to using PPC for more than just direct respon­se mar­ket­ing – but also as a valu­able tool to build up your brand and cre­ate new demand for your prod­ucts using the lat­est video, email, and social ads.
  • Mobile: There’s still a huge between how peo­ple access the Inter­net and where PPC bud­gets are being spent – this gap will need to close.

John Lee, Managing Partner, Clix Marketing

John LeeData. Big data, small data, first-par­ty data, third-par­ty data… you name it. Of the many trends to fol­low in 2016, how dig­i­tal adver­tis­ers lever­age data should be at or near the top of the list.

What about data? The myr­i­ad ways adver­tis­ers use first-par­ty data real­ly took hold in 2015. Face­book and Twit­ter per­fect­ed their custom/tailored audi­ence fea­tures. Google added their weight to the fight with the release of Cus­tomer Match in Sep­tem­ber. In 2016, first-par­ty data will take front seat in many adver­tis­ers’ tar­get­ing strate­gies and the ad plat­forms will con­tin­ue to inno­vate how we apply that data.

On the flip-side, the dis­cus­sion of ad block­ing, cook­ie usage and track­ing on the Inter­net will only get loud­er. I just read about a new (free) app by Mozil­la that will block ads, cook­ies and more for iOS devices. Google AdWords just announced their new “smart goals” which count con­ver­sions not with cook­ies, but machine learn­ing instead. Dig­i­tal adver­tis­ers rely on data to opti­mize and scale cam­paigns, the lack there of is a poten­tial trend to keep a very close eye on!


Melissa Mackey, Search Supervisor, gyro

Melissa MackeyUp until now, there has been a dichoto­my of search options avail­able to busi­ness­es: tar­get­ing by intent (key­word) with lit­tle to no idea of who the user is; or tar­get­ing by audi­ence (social, remar­ket­ing) with no idea of the intent of the user.

Remar­ket­ing lists for search ads changed all that, and in 2016 we’ll see RLSA become an inte­gral part of the adver­tis­er arse­nal. With the launch of Bing Ads retar­get­ing, adver­tis­ers will be tak­ing advan­tage of RLSA in the major­i­ty of their PPC cam­paigns.

Social PPC will also con­tin­ue to grow with the advent of cus­tom audi­ences on Face­book and Twit­ter, enabling adver­tis­ers to com­mu­ni­cate with their cus­tomers and prospects across mul­ti­ple online touch­points.

Cross-device track­ing and attri­bu­tion will also become more impor­tant. To tru­ly uti­lize RLSA to the fullest, it’s crit­i­cal to track users across devices. Track­ing tech­nol­o­gy will become eas­ier to imple­ment, and more busi­ness­es will real­ize the ben­e­fits of cross-device track­ing.


Elizabeth Marsten, Director of Paid Search, CommerceHub

Elizabeth MarstenFor 2016, smart brands and busi­ness­es should be tak­ing an extra hard look at their attri­bu­tion mod­els across adver­tis­ing types and start get­ting com­fort­able with being flex­i­ble in what is already a rapid­ly chang­ing mar­ket.

It’s real­ly hard to leave last click behind, I get it and this isn’t get­ting solved in 2016 alone. We’ve built so much on last click around rev­enue tar­gets, ad spend and employ­ee incen­tives; but as more plat­forms and adver­tis­ing types enter the mar­ket and we strive to uti­lize those tools to reach indi­vid­u­al audi­ences at the right time, we have to also accept that more than one touch point is going to occur and giv­ing those touch points cred­it has to hap­pen.

Start think­ing about CPA tar­gets not just on “PPC” but by chan­nel or plat­form (Google, Bing, Yahoo), PPC ad type (text, shop­ping, remar­ket­ing, dis­play), chan­nel type (social, ver­ti­cal speci­fic search, part­ner net­works), and on an assist basis as well.


Daniel Morris, Director of Product Marketing, Marin Software

Daniel MorrisOver the past sev­er­al years, con­sumers have shift­ed towards using mul­ti­ple devices in their buy­ing process along the path to con­ver­sion, cre­at­ing a com­plex, frag­ment­ed envi­ron­ment for adver­tis­ers try­ing to reach cus­tomers with strong pur­chase intent.

As an indus­try, we’ve got­ten bet­ter at tack­ling this prob­lem through deter­min­is­tic and prob­a­bilis­tic match­ing across devices. How­ev­er, with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of con­nect­ed devices (com­mon­ly referred to as the “Inter­net of Things”) the oppor­tu­ni­ties for under­stand­ing cus­tomer needs and inten­tions though sig­nals cap­tured on ever day devices will become increas­ing­ly preva­lent for adver­tis­ers.

Imag­ine a world where we can under­stand when a cus­tomer is in need of a new house­hold clean­ing pro­duct or has an issue with an elec­tron­ics pro­duct based on sig­nals we can ascer­tain from the prod­ucts them­selves. Adver­tis­ers will be able to ful­fill this demand imme­di­ate­ly with­out the cus­tomer lift­ing a fin­ger.

This is the way the indus­try is mov­ing, and the way that con­sumer pur­chase behav­ior is trend­ing – going beyond cross-device mar­ket­ing and think­ing more along the lines of “cross-every­where” in terms of how we under­stand and engage audi­ences.

How­ev­er, along with the ben­e­fits of the growth and advance­ments of con­nect­ed devices come chal­lenges as well. How will adver­tis­ers aggre­gate, ana­lyze and uti­lize the uni­verse of cus­tomer intent sig­nals that are amassed through the IoT? The adver­tis­ers that invest in tech­nol­o­gy focused on solv­ing the­se prob­lems today will ulti­mate­ly be the ones get­ting a leg up on the com­pe­ti­tion down the road as this type of mar­ket­ing becomes more com­mon­place.


Christi Olson, Founder, ISEM Consulting

Christi OlsonOne of the big trends in 2016 will be the con­tin­ued shift from think­ing about paid search in terms of tar­get­ing key­words to think­ing about audi­ence-based mar­ket­ing that focus­es on the con­sumer and con­sumer intent. I see a con­ver­gence in exper­tise and skills of how audi­ences are used across oth­er chan­nels like paid social and pro­gram­mat­ic dis­play com­ing into paid search allow­ing us to devel­op high­ly tar­get­ed cam­paigns that are rel­e­vant to the con­sumers.

An exam­ple of this could be devel­op­ing RLSA cam­paigns to tar­get speci­fic audi­ences reached via paid social cam­paigns and then cus­tomiz­ing the mes­sage and land­ing page for those speci­fic users. It’s think­ing out­side of search and cre­at­ing holis­tic mar­ket­ing pro­grams to meet a speci­fic con­sumer need. The use of audi­ences and email lists will open up a whole new realm of pos­si­bil­i­ties in paid search.


Diane Pease, Inbound Marketing Manager, Cisco

Diane Pease2016 will be the year of behav­ior tar­get­ed adver­tis­ing. The grow­ing mar­ket­ing focus is cre­at­ing a per­son­al­ized cus­tomer jour­ney.

It’s not B2B or B2C any­more. Mar­ket­ing is about the B2Me expe­ri­ence. It’s impor­tant to reach cus­tomers not only where and when they are search­ing, but pro­vid­ing them with a per­son­al expe­ri­ence.

The growth of data man­age­ment plat­forms such as BlueKai are giv­ing com­pa­nies the abil­i­ty to do just that. It cre­ates the abil­i­ty to get in-depth knowl­edge of cur­rent cus­tomer online attrib­ut­es and behav­iors. This in turn helps deter­mine poten­tial audi­ences through looka­like mod­el­ing.

DMPs also allow the abil­i­ty to send con­sis­tent mes­sag­ing to all mar­ket­ing chan­nels. Know­ing your customer’s online behav­ior is the key to being suc­cess­ful in the com­ing year.


Marc Poirier, CEO & Co-Founder, Acquisio

Marc PoirierCon­sid­er­ing the lim­it­ed com­mer­cial suc­cess of the Win­dows Phone, Bing’s short term suc­cess in mobile great­ly depends on their abil­i­ty to replace Google as the default search engine in the iPhone’s Safari browser. There are rumors that the agree­ment between Apple and Google could end short­ly, if this is true, Microsoft and Apple could poten­tial­ly come to an agree­ment which would change the land­scape of search and put Bing in posi­tion to play a very mean­ing­ful role in mobile search for years to come.

In order to be ready for this poten­tial­ly dra­mat­ic change, which could eas­i­ly mean a 15 to 25 per­cent drop in paid search traf­fic for those who only use AdWords, mar­keters will need to improve their abil­i­ty to work with Google AdWords and Bing Ads at the same time, not only when it’s time to cre­ate new assets, but also on a day-to-day basis, as they will need to make sure that both accounts are kept in sync, and that they can allo­cate mon­ey effec­tive­ly where it will be best uti­lized.

This will require increased dis­ci­pline from mar­keters, and smart usage of tech­nol­o­gy. Some of the tools that are avail­able are the Bing Ads “Import from Google AdWords” tool, also some of the third par­ty bid man­age­ment plat­forms now have the abil­i­ty to keep Bing Ads and AdWords accounts “in-sync” to avoid hav­ing to do every­thing twice.

Doing this not only pre­vents a poten­tial loss of sales, but also allows mar­keters to allo­cate their mon­ey more intel­li­gent­ly to the best per­form­ing cam­paigns, regard­less of what ad plat­form they reside on.


Lisa Raehsler, Founder, Big Click Co.

Lisa RaehslerPaid search and PPC is mov­ing away from the key­word being king.

We have come to learn key­word search­es are only one step on the con­ver­sion path. Mul­ti­ple touch­points con­tribute to the suc­cess of a most busi­ness­es or brands.

This makes reach­ing the right audi­ence in the right moment more about online behav­ior than a sim­ple key­word search.

Adver­tis­ers are begin­ning to embrace this con­cept and are see­ing great results.

In 2016, PPC will con­tin­ue to evolve into a behav­ioral cus­tomer jour­ney where strate­gies and cam­paigns will be devel­oped around the sales fun­nel and mul­ti­ple touch­points. Inte­gra­tion across devices will be crit­i­cal to growth: mobile, smart homes, smart TVs, wear­ables, app search, and vir­tu­al assis­tants like Ama­zon Echo.

Wherever there is a ques­tion, prob­lem to solve, or pro­duct need will be an oppor­tu­ni­ty to spon­sor those results and be present to the con­sumer at the right moment.


Zack Schroll, Director of Marketing, Hanapin Marketing

Zachary SchrollIf you’re respon­si­ble for adver­tis­ing bud­gets and not tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to address the cre­ation of a per­son­al­ized user expe­ri­ence based on data, you are in for a long year. 2016 will be the year that smart busi­ness­es learn to lever­age all of their data more strate­gi­cal­ly, to cre­ate high val­ue tar­get audi­ences and cus­tomized mes­sag­ing. Those that do so suc­cess­ful­ly will reap the ben­e­fits to their bot­tom line, and oth­ers will try and play catch up.

Tra­di­tion­al PPC or paid search will no longer sit in a silo. Busi­ness­es will roll Pro­gram­mat­ic dis­play into their PPC ecosys­tem. Com­bin­ing the vast amount of data from first par­ty data sources, social, search, and DMPs will allow busi­ness­es to learn, more than ever, about who their audi­ences tru­ly are. Brands will then be able to lever­age this data to dynam­i­cal­ly cre­ate and serve ads based on indi­vid­u­al char­ac­ter­is­tics at scale.

Our recent­ly released annu­al State of PPC report also found that both adver­tis­ers at agen­cies and brands agree social adver­tis­ing and con­ver­sion rate opti­miza­tion (now a sta­ple for our indus­try) are con­sid­ered the two most impor­tant aspects of PPC for 2016. As con­sumer behav­iors con­tin­ue to shift, desk­top impres­sions shrink, and CPC’s rise, brands must tap into addi­tion­al chan­nels such as social and lever­age smarter tar­get­ing options being rolled out by Google and Bing, to stay rel­e­vant.

The indus­try con­tin­ues to move fast; suc­cess­ful brands will need to find the right part­ners to help them nav­i­gate all the changes and new tech­nolo­gies avail­able.


David Szetela, VP of Search Marketing Operations, Bruce Clay Inc.

David SzetelaLast year I pre­dict­ed that in 2015 mobile search­es would out­num­ber search­es from any oth­er device. I also pre­dict­ed that many adver­tis­ers would get more impres­sions and clicks from dis­play adver­tis­ing com­pared to search adver­tis­ing.

The first pre­dic­tion was right on the mon­ey; Google recent­ly announced that mobile search­es have out­num­bered non-mobile ones. In 2016 we’ll see even more growth of mobile’s share. Some advice for adver­tis­ers:

  • Local adver­tis­ers should add key­words that include the ubiq­ui­tous “near me.”
  • Com­pa­nies of all sizes will max­i­mize calls by mak­ing sure that call cen­ters are open 24/7. At least as impor­tant: oper­a­tors should be ful­ly trained to max­i­mize qual­i­ty leads.
  • Even if you need to divert resources and spend extra time and mon­ey, cre­ate a site that is a delight to use by mobile vis­i­tors. Most respon­sive sites aren’t mobile-friend­ly enough to max­i­mize calls and leads.
  • Cre­ate cus­tomized ads for mobile. Fre­quent­ly long head­li­nes and descrip­tion lines are trun­cat­ed and unread­able. Tweak the designs of your image ads, too.
  • Make sure you’re using all ad exten­sions pos­si­ble – includ­ing the rel­a­tive­ly-new struc­tured snip­pets. You can be one of only two ads at the top of the mobile SERPs!

Regard­ing dis­play ads: adver­tis­er adop­tion is still lag­ging. Adver­tis­ers are wary about los­ing mon­ey due to alleged­ly inher­ent poor-qual­i­ty traf­fic – a crit­i­cism the GDN deserved when the only tar­get­ing method depend­ed on impre­cise key­words.

Fast for­ward to recent years, and many adver­tis­ers are win­ning with the GDN using pow­er­ful tar­get­ing meth­ods that let them zero in on hyper-tar­get­ed cus­tomer seg­ments and dis­play hyper-per­ti­nent ads.

In 2016, learn and employ tar­get­ing GDN ads using “In-mar­ket audi­ences” and “Cus­tom affin­i­ty audi­ences.”


Katy Tonkin, VP of Digital Strategy, Point It

Katy Tonkin2015 was (final­ly) the year of mobile and mobile will con­tin­ue to be a major cor­ner­stone in 2016. Adver­tis­ers are see­ing impres­sion vol­umes on desk­top and tablets flat or even declin­ing.

On top of that, desk­top and tablet CPCs on brand and trade­marked terms are increas­ing at a high­er rate than ever before. In order to main­tain growth, adver­tis­ers must incor­po­rate mobile into their strate­gies.

2016 will also be the year where we start to see the end of mobile as just an engage­ment or aware­ness tac­tic and not a con­ver­sion tac­tic. User adop­tion, apps, mobile pay­ments, and cross-device track­ing capa­bil­i­ties all are con­tribut­ing to the via­bil­i­ty and val­ue of mobile traf­fic.

Social and dis­play adver­tis­ing long ago out­paced the search engi­nes in audi­ence tar­get­ing func­tion­al­i­ty and usabil­i­ty. And in 2016, invest­ment and growth in social adver­tis­ing is list­ed as one of the most impor­tant mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives for adver­tis­ers.

Many sur­veys also show that adver­tis­ers plan to increase their Face­book spend at either the same per­cent­age or more than what they spend on Google AdWords. Why? Adver­tis­ers have so much more con­trol of their reach and the mes­sage through social.

Last­ly, anoth­er hot­ly debat­ed trend to watch in PPC cir­cles the is the shift away from key­word tar­get­ing to audi­ence or per­sona tar­get­ing. Expect to see Google and Bing con­tin­ue to rapid­ly beta and main­stream fea­tures that allow adver­tis­ers to use first-par­ty data for more sophis­ti­cat­ed tar­get­ing, bid­ding, and mes­sag­ing.


Frederick Vallaeys, CEO and Cofounder, Optmyzr

Frederick VallaeysAds cre­at­ed from struc­tured data will con­tin­ue to get more impor­tant in 2016. Shop­ping ads (which are auto­mat­i­cal­ly gen­er­at­ed from the struc­tured data in a pro­duct feed) already account for more than 1 in 3 clicks for retail­ers and the­se types of ads will con­tin­ue to take away clicks from more gener­ic search ads in 2016. Google will also launch new spe­cial­ty ad for­mats to expand on their cur­rent offer­ings which already include mort­gage ads, home ser­vice ads, and hotel ads.

Video ads will see sig­nif­i­cant momen­tum and more inno­v­a­tive ad for­mats. While video ads have long pro­vid­ed much low­er CPCs than tra­di­tion­al search ads, they have been some­what dif­fi­cult to man­age but now that Google has inte­grat­ed their True­View ad for­mats more deeply into AdWords, they will see larg­er adop­tion.

This will dri­ve up CPCs but because there is so much inven­to­ry it will lim­it the increase and still make them a rel­a­tive­ly good buy. Google will also intro­duce new ways to place ads alongside or inside videos that will provide bet­ter tar­get­ing and improved con­ver­sion rates, fur­ther mak­ing video a great area for adver­tis­ers to expand into in 2016.

Now that we have Cus­tomer Match in AdWords, it’s clear Google is will­ing to fol­low the lead­ers in social when it comes to the tar­get­ing options they provide. Look for more ways to tar­get users behav­ioral­ly, demo­graph­i­cal­ly, psy­cho­graph­i­cal­ly, even when they are on the Google search results pages. This will provide a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to tar­get very nar­row­ly to exact­ly the right types of users who not only searched for your key­words but who also fit the typ­i­cal pro­file of your typ­i­cal cus­tomer.


Purna Virji, Senior Bing Ads Client Development & Training Manager, Microsoft

Purna VirjiI believe that Voice Search is going to be some­thing adver­tis­ers have to increas­ing­ly pay atten­tion to in 2016. Given the increas­ing adop­tion of dig­i­tal per­son­al assis­tants like Cor­tana or Siri across all ages groups and demos, voice search queries could begin to have an effect on adver­tis­ers and how they approach mobile PPC.

Already Bing’s research is show­ing that voice search queries tend to be more ques­tion-based and con­sist of longer phras­es. What’s inter­est­ing is that the type of ques­tion posed can reveal the intent to pur­chase. For exam­ple, “what is home depot” vs. “where is the clos­est home depot”, with the lat­ter hav­ing a high­er pur­chase intent. Adver­tis­ers can then adjust their bids based on intent and ensure they’re cap­tur­ing this mobile audi­ence. Voice search is going to be a trend PPC mar­keters would ben­e­fit by fol­low­ing.


The experts have had their say. Now it’s your turn. What do you think will be the key PPC trends in 2015? Share your thoughts in the com­ments.

Danny Goodwin

Written by Danny Goodwin

Managing Editor, Momentology

Danny Goodwin is the former Managing Editor of Momentology. Previously, he was the editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, content strategy, and writing about search industry news.

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1 Comment on "PPC Trends 2016: 24 Expert Predictions On Paid Search, Display & Retargeting"

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Adwords Expert
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3 months 26 days ago

I agree with you that it’s clear Google is will­ing to fol­low the lead­ers in social when it comes to the tar­get­ing options they provide. Look for more ways to tar­get users behav­ioral­ly, demo­graph­i­cal­ly, psy­cho­graph­i­cal­ly, even when they are on the Google search results pages. Thanks for shar­ing this great post.

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