Top 5 Changes in Search Advertising in 2013


2013 was a pivotal year in online search marketing. There were massive updates to Google’s Algorithm, new introductions to keyword bidding, numerous rollouts & oh yeah! a new prince was born. Here is a summary of the more important changes to Paid Search advertising and a preview of what we see on the horizon for 2014.

1. Enhanced Campaigns
Google AdWords rolled out probably one the largest updates in the search world by introducing Enhanced Campaigns (incorporating geo & mobile bid adjustments into one campaign), which was officially announced last February. Advertisers were encouraged to embrace the change early on, and while there were lessons to be learned along the way, we found many opportunities to be successful .

How You Can Make Enhanced Campaigns Work For You
In order to be successful you we suggest monitoring the bid adjustments on a weekly basis at a minimum. Since data is now reflected as an overall percentage rather than being broken out into separate campaigns, mobile and geo bids can quickly spend and potentially not convert, as they can be ‘buried’. The best way to keep on target with spend and conversions is to have automatic reports sent to you and downloaded to a pivot table to easily see what is working and what isn’t working. From there, incorporate your bid algorithm and upload into editor. This shouldn’t take longer than an hour a week and can save you thousands of dollars.

2. Google RLSA
Remarketing Lists for Search ads, or RLSAs, are the biggest and brightest opportunity since remarketing itself. Advertisers are now able to retarget visitors who have accessed their sites via Google Search. We recommend you don’t go as broad as Google encourages: test running phrase and exact matches with 10% increase in bids. Here are some ideas we have been utilizing when rolling out RSLA campaigns.

B2C Use: Remarketing to users who have abandoned the shopping cart purchase.
Approach: Utilize ad copy that focuses on a sale, creates a sense of urgency, or “you deserve it!” type of messaging. The keyword selection can actually be broad (since you know the visitor has been to your site, afterall). If your broad term is apparel, focus on the types of apparel to use in your keyword selection.Take for example this handy AC guide by

B2C Use: Remarket to users who did make a purchase with a follow up opportunity.
Approach: If you know that a consumer made a purchase within the last 20 days and, say, Black Friday is coming up, you can be more aggressive with your holiday messaging. Consider keywords like “gift ideas”.

B2B Use: Remarket to users who didn’t perform a desired action.
Approach: At Parallel Path, we are doing some testing the use of “assets” (whitepapers), webinars or taking the consumer to an event. The purpose of this messaging is to educate your potential customer more on why your brand, or your company can outperform the rest. These customers are still in the research phase; use modifiers such as reviews, vs, or even competitor keywords to help bring them further into the funnel.

3. Ad Rank – New formula adjustment to take into consideration Ad Extensions

Ever since Ad Extensions was rolled out a couple of years ago, it’s been pretty much a no brainer to use. Google initially started with one extension; they now have 8 different ad extensions. The latest algorithm update takes these into consideration along with other factors (CPC x QS x Ad Extensions).

Basically, it is relatively simple; Google wants you to use as many Ad Extensions that are relevant to your business as possible; the fewer you use, the more you could potentially pay for your click.

4. Estimated Conversions
This is a new feature that gives marketers more information on the influence of paid ads on search and how they ultimately drive consumers’ purchasing decision. Customers that enter the purchase funnel on one device frequently end up completing their purchase on a different device. as long as the consumer is logged in, Google is able to track that entire conversion path. So when a customer is researching a product on his tablet or phone as he takes the bus home from work and then goes to your website to complete the purchase when he gets home, we are now able to track that conversion within the interface.

5. PLAs = Growth

Shopping campaigns, or PLAs, saw a major growth in 2013, particularly over Thanksgiving/Cyber Monday week. According to a Kenshoo report, 2013 retail seasonal revenue increased by 417.4 percent YoY. This growth in revenue was largely attributed to PLAs, along with an increase in mobile search ads.


2014 Search Great Expectations

While we never know exactly what the plans are, networks have already hinted to certain rollouts as well as new ways of running campaigns. Here are our Top 5 Predictions for Paid Search in the coming year.

1. Integration with Mobile & Desktop – Increased visibility with consumers who are initially researching online via mobile but ultimately converting offline. Shoppers know that it’s not just a one-screen world anymore, therefore enhanced tracking will allow for more understanding of how the searcher initially performed a search and ultimately converted.

2. Display Viewability – Already a setting has rolled out in adwords to pay for “a viewable impression” (meaning an image, banner, or other form of CTA) instead of CPM or CPCs. Moving forward more eyes will be on banners vs. wasted impressions. Therefore we believe we could also expect a higher premium with these placements.

3. Altering the way we search – Google’s recent algorithm update for organic search removed our insight into keyword search data, and this is just the beginning of what is sure to be continued emphasis on altering the behavior of search. So, rather than telling the engine exactly what result we expect; ie; “What is the score of the broncos game” or “what movies are available”, the search results will give the exact score of the game and movies will be very specific to “Saving Mr Banks – 1:30p – Century Theatre – Boulder, CO”. This will therefore alter the way we optimize and move away from just “movie times” to more specific answers.

4. Focus on Dynamic ads – The ability to change out a call to action, adjust the background of an ad, or place in an ad the exact item that was abandoned in a shopping cart will continue to evolve and grow.

5. Mobile, Video & Video on Mobile will continue to grow –  An article on eMarketer states that mobile is expected to grow 120% from 2012. What is interesting about this statistic is it also shows how Desktop is flatlining.

68% of all adults have consumed some form of online video in the past month, according to Forrester. Therefore, the expectation for this to have continued growth is inevitable and thereby increased advertising. “Globally, consumer Internet video traffic will be 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2017, up from 57 percent in 2012 according to Cisco” As a result, more brands will be developing online video units. Currently only 24% of brands have a presence online according to Kantar Media.

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