What happened to paid search in 2018? - Bulldog

What happened to paid search in 2018?

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What happened to paid search in 2018?

2018 was a year of evolution for the world of paid search, with more advances made than ever before. The greatest, and most anticipated, change took place early July, with Google announcing a series of tweaks to their platform, AdWords. The purpose of this update was to create a more streamlined experience for users on the platform; meaning beginners could manage their accounts with ease. The changes which influenced our paid search experiences in 2018 were:

🔀 Google AdWords became Google Ads.

🔀 DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 merged into one platform; Google Marketing Platform.

🔀 DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange are also merged; Google Ad Manager.

With these three announcements causing a lot of conversation amongst PPC enthusiasts, it was interesting to see how the rest of 2018 shaped up.

5 things which happened to PPC in 2018

After analysing the changes which took place for paid search in 2018, it was clear to see that there were five main categories. These five trends took the limelight in 2018 and have helped paid search experts to plan ahead for the year of 2019.


Personalised ads have continued to become a revelation for paid search campaigns all over the globe. With 74% of online consumers claiming that they get frustrated with ads that have nothing to do with their interests, it’s never been more apparent that targeting ads at anyone available is a waste of both time and money. Personalisation is key for boosting conversion rates, as those who are interested in your personalised advert will feel far less like ‘just another number’.

There are tonnes of ways to create personalised paid ads, and a popular one is through the power of remarketing. Remarketing allows you to hit lost visitors with a retargeted ad, increasing the chance of them becoming a valuable customer. We recommend using AdRoll for this approach.

Audience targeting

Tieing in with the theme of creating a personalised experience for users, audience targeting also rose in popularity in 2018. It was anticipated that the importance of keywords will fade in 2018, with audience targeting becoming more prominent. Although keyword targeting has not become extinct and very much still plays a vital part in the success of a paid search campaign, audience targeting did rise and is now seen of equal importance. Tools such as ‘customer match’ allow you to use both online and offline data to reach with your audience, targeting ads to those exact customers and ones just like them. This movement towards understanding audience interests and actions will continue to re-shape the world of paid search in the foreseeable future.

Facebook ads

Social media continued to cook up a storm in 2018, with many marketers focusing a lot of their efforts on increasing their social presence. There were many huge moments in social media over 2018, but as we are focusing on paid search, we couldn’t divert our attention away from the progression of Facebook ads. As Facebook continues to be the world’s leading social media platform with over 2.27 billion users, the reach an ad can have is extraordinary. Paid ads became more accessible than ever in 2018, and the following features aided thousands of businesses on the daily:

👤 Dynamic creative ads: this feature allows marketers to test and deliver suitable creative asset combinations automatically. This includes CTAs, descriptions, videos, and images. Facebook will find the best combo for your audience.

👤 Analytics tracking: the option to view analytics has always been available for Facebook ads, but now they are clearer than ever before. New analytics features announced in 2018 included custom insights, auto-detected funnels, funnel conversion insights, and a new mobile app.

👤 Increased authenticity: all social media platforms have had to tackle their problems with fake accounts and spammers in recent years, and when it comes to ads, this couldn’t be ignored. In order to avoid audiences falling for scams, Facebook announced that business pages with large followings will need to be verified in order to run ads.

Voice Search

At the start of 2018, it began to look like voice search would take reign, with more than 40% of adults expected to use voice search every day. Just like organic search campaigns, paid search campaigns need to be optimised for voice search to ensure that the largest audience is reached. This links back to our previously mentioned point regarding audience targeting, as keyword optimisation will no longer be an effective strategy for this. It is expected, by comScore, that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, meaning the optimisation of campaigns need to start; now.

Increased automation

As technology advances, we find ourselves steering towards a fully-automated world. We might be a long way off this happening yet, but there’s no denying that robots are becoming smarter than ever before and cutting our lives from mundane tasks. This became particularly evident in 2018, as more and more marketers swerved towards Google’s automation methods. The days of manual campaign management are truly fading away, and with the following automation strategies available, it seems silly not to give them a go.

🤖 Bidding strategies
🤖 Ad testing
🤖 New keyword opportunities
🤖 Negative keyword curation

You can learn more about each of these strategies here.

3 things to look forward to in 2019

Now that the main trends from 2018 have come to surface, it seemed fitting to look at what we should be expecting in 2019.

More automation

There will be a bigger push towards automation, making PPC Executives lives easier by carrying out the grunt work. This will free their time up to be able to spend more time doing other things such as looking into research around the target audiences. Navah Hopkins, Service Innovation Strategist for WordStream has agreed with this, stating “Consider delegating grunt work (bid management, keyword variable, etc.) to automation and machine learning, while retaining tasks requiring creativity and brand/business knowledge (ad copy, campaign strategy, etc.).”

More audience targeting

We will have to start looking more into our audiences and their nature, as it has been suggested that this may be the year that keywords die. For some time now, keywords have been the main focus of the majority of search campaigns. However, moving into 2019, we believe that audience targeting on the search network may be equally as important. This is because we will be able to make ad messaging more relevant and feel as personalised as possible in order to appeal to the target audience.

More social media orientation

Paid advertising is going to become more social media orientated as it is now the second biggest segment for paid marketing following search. This is no surprise considering the number of users on social media grows each year. As a result of this, PPC executives are going to have to spend a larger amount of time on ads for social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This is becoming a more viable option for small businesses due to being a significantly cheaper option.

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