PPC & AdWords Trends in 2018 - The Year in Paid Search Marketing

Author Sam Russell
by Sam Russell

With Q1 wrapping up, we have already seen plenty of updates in the world of PPC for 2018.

From updates to the AdWords mobile app, making it easier for search marketers to add keywords on the go, to policy updates like the recent crackdown on ticket resellers or the all out ban on cryptocurrency ads, Google continues to find ways to change the game and keep advertisers on their toes.

So what PPC trends can we expect for the rest of 2018? If 2017 was any indication, we will see a combination of innovative technology, tweaks to existing features, and a plethora of new tools to add to our AdWords and Bing toolboxes. Also, to learn even more about online marketing this year, read about the Latest SEO Trends.

The Latest Predictions & PPC Trends for 2018 Include:

  • Continued Focus On Artificial Intelligence
  • A Shift In How We Manually Optimize
  • Growth In Voice Search Tracking
  • More Emphasis On The New AdWords Interface
  • Increased Focus On Audience Targeting
  • Biddable Adjustments For More Events Or Interests

Continued Focus on Artificial Intelligence

One of the hardest paradigm shifts in the industry to adjust to, especially for those of us who have been running paid search campaigns for 10+ years, is the shift towards artificial intelligence. With Google's AI taking over bidding, keyword expansion (think Dynamic Search Ads), ad extensions, and automated ad creation, it is becoming very evident that Google wants us to focus on account growth while it handles the minutia known as optimization.

Expect this trend continue for the rest of 2018, but agencies and digital marketing teams are needed now, maybe more than ever.

As AdWords trends towards an even more AI-based world, it will be important for marketers and agencies to evolve. As advertisers, we know our products, seasonal trends, and industries better than Google's AI does at this point. We need to use this expertise to help guide AdWords in the most profitable direction.

It is also essential to continue refining our negative keyword lists, while guiding searchers to the exact product or service they are looking for. Google AI can do amazing things, but it can't replace a skilled digital marketing team.

Growth In Voice and Image Search

Just like Google AdWords is changing, user behavior is changing. More and more people are relying on their voice, and less on their fingers, to perform searches. Google understands this better than anybody. Alexa, Siri, and Google Home are being adapted as viable tools for quick answers. Don't be surprised if you see more detailed tracking around this by the end of the year.

Knowing how people are searching, in combination with what they are searching for and what keywords they are using, will help digital marketers revise their techniques and enhance the user experience on their website. Reverse Image Search is another text-free variation that should gain some more traction this year, especially within Google Shopping.

Consumers looking to price-shop while in a brick and mortar location could take a picture of the product, upload to Google, and see ads for the exact product they are standing next to. If it's not something they need in that moment, a lower-priced online store just might steal that customer away.

More Emphasis on the New AdWords Interface

It's not unrealistic to assume that Google may require all AdWords users to switch over to the new interface, while phasing out the old version completely. We are already seeing new features being added exclusively to the latest AdWords experience, such as the ability to note important changes or dates directly in the UI.

This trend is absolutely going to continue for the rest of the year. The best agencies and marketers will be the ones who are prepared for this switch.

Increased Focused on Audience Targeting

Gone are the days when you could completely rely on keywords and text ads to do the trick. Long gone, in fact. Google is now hyper-focused on user intent, as opposed to user behavior. Keywords are still important, obviously, but analyzing a person's interests, online behavior, demographic information, device preference, and countless other audience insights are additional tools we have at our disposal to drive conversions and solve problems.

For the rest of 2018, expect improvements to In-Market Audience campaigns, as Google is constantly acquiring more and more data about who is using Google and converting. Likewise, Similar Audiences will see an improvement, and results for our clients are miles above where they were at when Similar Audiences were first introduced.

Because of this, using audience-expansion options in Google such as Search with Display Select, or Conservative/Aggressive Targeting within display campaigns, will be a more effective use of your advertising dollars than ever before.

You should also be on the look for a higher number of biddable adjustments. We have keyword, device, remarketing audience, demographic insights, among others, but Google will likely continue adding to the list of triggers that it's AI takes into consideration when deciding the appropriate bids for each individual auction.

2018 PPC Trends Wrap-Up:

  • Use Google and Bing's Artificial Intelligence, but not exclusively
  • Learn how voice search is impacting your PPC results
  • Start using the new AdWords interface
  • Focus more on who your audience is instead of just on what they search for
  • Adjust bids at every level Google and Bing give you
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