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Search Star PPC predictions for 2013

Published on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013
Ed Culliford, Account Director at leading search agency Search Star predicts PPC changes in 2013

At the end of each year, just like the appearance of incomprehensible perfume ads on the TV, blogs claiming to foresee innovations in digital marketing for the forthcoming year have become... inevitable.

Not wanting to buck this trend, here are Search Star’s PPC predictions for 2013.

Moving away from keywords

If you think of PPC, you think of long lists of keywords and short bits of (often uninspiring) ad copy. While keywords have been central to the success of Adwords, and paid search as a medium in general, a number of recent developments reinforce a trend that might make you think Google was looking to do away with the keyword.

Product listing ads and product extensions that feed off Google Merchant Centre listings have been with us for some time and have proved a big hit with many ecommerce advertisers. These ad extensions supplement the free listings that Google Merchant Centre users enjoy within the Google Shopping results. However, as has already happened in the US, by early 2013 Google will have phased out the “free” elements of Google Shopping in the UK and all listings will be paid for on a PPC model. Accordingly, it will be just as important to manage and optimise your Google Shopping feed as it always has been to keep your keyword-targeted search campaigns in good order.

Dynamic Search Ads represent another way in which Google is moving away from keywords. These are recently out of beta testing and are available to all users. Instead of using keywords to target your ads, Google makes use of its organic search index to match your website’s content with user search queries and generates a dynamic text ad to tie them both together.  

Finally, Remarketing for Search is a beta product that builds on the success that Google has seen with its Remarketing for the Display Network. Remarketing for Search allows you to customise your search campaigns based on your Adwords remarketing lists, targeting specific search ads to users who have already visited your site.

These three innovations, together with Google’s continuing focus on display network activity (particularly on You Tube) will mean that 2013 might be the year when the primary focus of paid search is no longer on keywords.

Moving away from last-click attribution

Back in 2011, Google released Multi-Channel Funnels within Analytics. This feature enabled site owners to gain a clearer insight into the various advertising touch-points that users hit upon on the way to making a purchase. Multi Channel Funnels can help justify marketing that introduces users to a brand but, under the traditional last click attribution model, never seemed to be profitable. However, as it is tucked away, deep in Analytics, the data generated by Multi Channel Funnels can often be hard to turn into actionable insight.

Google has already made significant steps towards linking Adwords and Analytics more closely over the past year and, in 2013, we can hope to see Multi Channel Funnels data to start feeding into Adwords. This will allow all Adwords advertisers to make better decisions about which keywords are really generating value – wherever they appear in the path to conversion.

Moving away from Google?

With the “Search Alliance” between Yahoo! And Bing finally complete, we’ve started to see genuine improvements in the Bing Ads platform. Bing Ads Editor almost works, sitelinks are finally available and it’s generally getting much less frustrating to optimise campaigns running on Bing. Increased ease of use is meaning more widespread use, and we expect to see this continue into 2013 as Bing slowly (very slowly) catches up with Google in terms of functionality.

Facebook is also starting to get its act together. The introduction of Facebook Ad Exchange (FBX) earlier this year has made Facebook’s ad inventory much more accessible to the very largest advertisers with a fair level of success. Sponsored search listings are also starting to appear, while the release of Facebook’s conversion tracking tool will make the platform more appealing to advertisers concerned with direct response.

If Bing Ads and Facebook continue to improve next year, advertisers who are serious about PPC will be forced to shift a much greater proportion of their attention, effort and budget towards these platforms and away from Google.

Brad Pitt joins Search Star

Actually, that’s not going to happen – we haven’t got a spare desk for him at the moment and he seems to be fluent only in gibberish. However, if you are looking for someone who speaks more sense and if you’re concerned that your current PPC setup isn’t ready for the changes that 2013 will bring, why not get in touch?

Contact: Ed Culliford, Account Director, or visit