It is that time of year again when those of us in the industry like to put our reputations on the line and make some predictions as to what will be the hot topics for the coming year. Here are the elements that I think are starting to hot up or could be the direction in which the search engines move.
The rise of Yahoo
2016 could prove to be a pivotal year for Yahoo. Back in October Yahoo announced that it had struck a new deal with Google to power some of its search results for the next 3 years (pending US regulators’ approval). This comes on the back of Yahoo’s CEO and former Google exec Marissa Mayer successfully renegotiating Yahoo’s current Search Alliance with Microsoft to limit their serving to 51% of Yahoo’s desktop search business.
So what does this mean? As search currently contributes more than 40% of Yahoo’s revenue this could be a significant step towards the former search giant re-emerging as viable contender in its own right, rather than a subset of the growing Bing engine.
We have seen Yahoo go native with its Gemini offering this year and the interface is built ready to be rolled out as a search offering which could see it serving its own ads served with Google’s in the 49% of desktop traffic remaining and all of the ever growing mobile market. Could we soon be seeing the need to manage 3 monthly budgets again for the first time since 2010…? I look forward to seeing if Yahoo will learn from the developments within AdWords and BingAds and release something new and exciting.
The Year of
This year I attended both Google’s Partners Accelerate and Yahoo’s IAB Upfront Events and one of the key focuses of both was Video and its importance for clients and agencies alike. Funnily enough they each pushed their own platform with YouTube and Brightroll the focus. Almost every session referenced the importance of video and in particular the growth of mobile video.
As an agency we have a separate media team headed up by Charlotte who will deal with the direct YouTube and programmatic video ad side of things so what I am expecting, and hoping, to see is the emergence of video ads within the search results as this brings them very much under my team’s remit. Google recently moved TrueView Video campaigns into the standard AdWords platform, giving them the same targeting options and campaign structure as the existing search and shopping campaigns. This definitely lends itself to video ads appearing soon in the SERPs.
Bing could be on their way to trumping Google in this space. We have, in the last month, learned that BingAds are stopping their “rich ads for search” feature where we could include videos and imagery within our clients’ ads. This is something we have bought into since their launch in 2012 as we know how important ad extensions are for standout and maximising brand impact.
Bing stopping one of their few differentiators sounds like a step backwards but they have also announced that they are releasing betas to include video and image ads which puts them very much at the head of the pack in that respect.
Big Screen, Little Screen, Littler Screen
The emergence of smart watches in the past couple of years means there is potentially another “screen” for us all to target… the watch of course!?
Now I am quite biased on this matter as I write this with the constant annoyance of a smart watch on my wrist vibrating to tell me that I have been still for too long, or that I should pick up milk on the way home. This annoyance is also, surely, its strength. Google has talked for years about the need for context in advertising and this seems like another chance to get, quite literally, in the face of an ‘in market’ user – but how do we do it successfully?
I’m not 100% sure users would take to such invasive advertising but it does seem like the next logical step, especially with the advances to come in online shopping and the likes of Apple and Samsung Pay breaking through to the masses.
I assume as we come to the end of 2015 that everyone has tried at least one of the various “Easter eggs” available to the digital assistants of the world namely Messrs. Siri, Cortana, Alexa or Google Now. For those who haven’t and have an android phone ask Google to “make me a sandwich” and you will get a suitably short response. For the iPhone users out there you can ask Siri to tell you a joke. Whilst it isn’t at all funny (I didn’t get it at all) it does highlight how clever phones are now.
Within search we are seeing more and more instances of users including “OK Google….” at the start.
This suggests that more and more people are using the voice command functions of phones and smart watches and it again seems like a logical next step to build voice led results and therefore ads into this, or at least a new targeting option. We’re starting to see opportunities to optimise search campaigns for voice search and we looked at this very topic recently in a blog post.
Death of the Website?
As dramatic as it sounds I think this is a sentiment that has been around for some time. Since the launch of Google’s knowledge graph back in 2012 they have been slowly adding more and more information directly into the search results and removing the need to access a website. We talked about this in February 2014 and questioned the usefulness of a website.
Well as long as advertising remains Google’s primary income I don’t think we are quite there yet… maybe one for 2017 predictions!
2016 – The Year of Mobile
Ok, so I couldn’t resist. For as long as I have worked in search it has been the year of the mobile and this year will probably be the same.
All I will say is that mobile is more important now than it ever has been and the innovation in that space means that next year could truly be the year of the mobile and will combine with video to be the year of mobile video.
Whatever happens, we look forward to finding out what 2016 has in store for us. We will be making sure we keep up with all the latest developments so we can continue to achieve great results for our clients.