Paid search predictions for 2016 – a recap


Paid search predictions for 2016 – a recap ...

As is the tradition in marketing I put my neck on the block last year by trying to second guess what the big developments would be for 2016. As the year draws to an end, and before doing it all again for 2017, it makes sense to look back and see if I was Mystic Meg!

The Rise of Yahoo

2016 was supposed to be the year that Yahoo came back with a bang. We had news that they had signed a 3 year deal to have Google power some of their results rather than Bing, they launched Yahoo Gemini and things looked as though they could take off again, from a paid search perspective anyway. I imagined a return to 3 core PPC providers, back to the days of 2010 before the Search Alliance was born.

The reality of 2016 for Yahoo was more about their purchase by Verizon and subsequent merging with AOL, also acquired by Verizon earlier in the year. This move could still prove interesting for Yahoo in 2017 as it opens up new opportunities, especially in the US where AOL is still a very powerful mass media giant.

Let’s call this one a draw – not the mighty rise I had hoped for, but with profits up we might still be seeing the early stages of something bigger.

The Year of Mobile Video Search

2016 has delivered the expected growth of video with YouTube now reaching the dizzy heights of over 3.25 billion hours of video viewed each month. In the context of the heading, mobile YouTube now has, on average, 1 billion video views per day. Mobile screens are very much dominating video consumption on YouTube as you can see in a slide from Google below.

mobile v desktop

These are both huge numbers that are difficult to comprehend. You would think that this might have spurred the search engines to take notice from an advertising perspective, and to a degree, they did. Google have released many new advertising formats for YouTube, with additions such as Cards adding a shopping vibe to videos. Paid search formats, however, have been somewhat neglected so far. Bing promised video ads which have yet to make an impact on the search landscape and Google are yet to dip their toes into image extensions again, let alone adding moving images to their line-up.

I am happy to admit defeat on this one. It has been another year of the video but from a search point of view it has failed to impress.

Big Screen, Little Screen, Littler Screen

Whilst the penetration of smart watch ownership has increased significantly over the past 2 years we are yet to see any real advances in advertising on these tiny screens. This might be one that goes on hold until the watches are more popular. Wearable technology like this is close to being superceded by “insideable” technology such as the smart contact lens. These are predictions I’m lining up for my 2018 blog!

Another defeat.

Death of the Website?


I don’t think we need to say any more.

Voice Search

Voice search is definitely something that has seen a rise in 2016. We run search query reports on a regular basis for all clients and we can see first-hand the voice searches happening. It is easy to spot these in many cases as the query is preceded by “OK Google…”.

Back in May this year Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during his Google I/O keynote that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and android devices were voice searches. This is a significant proportion already, and whilst we may not have yet seen any audio advertising in response, it is making us PPC marketers think differently about keywords.

A definite win on this one. Voice search was most definitely “so 2016”!

2016 – The Year of Mobile

I have saved the biggest win from my original blog until last. I think it is safe to say that from a PPC perspective 2016 really has been the year of the mobile. Finally! Google has made its biggest change in the auction, arguably, since it first started by reversing the enhanced campaigns change and moving to a “mobile first” world.

Extended Text ads (ETA) were the first of three ad innovations that prove the year of the mobile is here. These changed the entire structure of ads to make them more consistent across all device types. ETAs are optimised for all of the most popular smart phone screen sizes and place more emphasis on the headline with a longer character limit; backed up, of course, by Google’s own research.

Device bid adjustments finally arrived too, allowing for adjustments by all devices rather than just for mobile. This means that in theory, for the first time in 4 years you can opt out of desktop and be live just on mobile! No ‘workarounds that sort of work’ but an actual acknowledgement from Google that, perhaps, mobile is more important than desktop for some clients.

The last change was the introduction of responsive ads for GDN campaigns which allow us to tap into new native inventory and provide a text/image hybrid ad across the display network.

I’m sure you would agree this is my biggest success from my 2016 predictions piece and I think the most exciting thing is that 2017 is going to see even more mobile developments.

By my tally this takes the predictions to a score draw with 1 tied, 2 right and 2 wrong. Not a bad return, and proof again that the digital advertising world is an ever changing beast.


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