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It is no secret that Paid Search, and more particularly Google Ads, is evolving at an incredible pace.

Even though 2020 was a weird year for everyone and every industry, Google kept changing up core systems that we have grown to consider staples of PPC. In the last year alone, we have seen fewer details in SQR, phasing out of Gmail ads as a standalone campaign type, expansion of more automated bidding and campaigns such as Smart Shopping and even more recently a major change in match types with the announcement of BMM’s death. Even Microsoft Ads is disturbing our habits with the upcoming removal of Manual Bidding being replaced by eCPC (honestly, we all thought Google would do it first).

So when I hear the question “What will Paid Search be like in 5 years?” I often feel like the answer could be unrecognisable at this stage. Nonetheless here are some of my favourite answers.

A push for automation

Microsoft Ads has just announced it so I think this is probably the safest guess at this point. In 5 years there will no longer be any purely manual bidding solutions on the two mainstream Search Engine platform that are Google and Microsoft Ads. Going forward I would argue that even a semi-automated strategy such as eCPC will no longer be available and we will be looking at a landscape made of tCPAs, tROAS and who knows maybe even new ones. tMargins could be of interest?

Dynamic Ads

Another very recent news that dropped in 2021 is the default search ad becoming RSA instead of ETA. We had seen the signs before with certain Google Ads account no longer having the option to create text ad. Technically ETA is still available to create and use but the same way the original text ads were slowly replaced by ETAs, I bet you that ETAs are on the same trajectory with RSA now.

What is Quality Score even?

Quality Score is another one of those core systems that Google is probably boiling in the inside to phase out. It has been with us forever and dictates how everyone competes in the search auction but is it really that important nowadays?

For me the answer remains yes, but simply not as much as it used to be, here are the reasons:

- Ad strength: Google has been pushing Advertisers very strongly on improving ad strength for our RSA Ads for a while now. The fact that RSA is now becoming the default ad type will only reinforce this message and if you think about it, ad strength could easily replace ad relevance someday.

- Optimisation score: Another way of measuring your campaigns up to Google’s standards. I personally have mixed feelings about this one, because as much as the recommendations can be useful sometimes, a lot of it is usually irrelevant in my case. However, remember that we are talking about 5 years in the future and by then I could see this becoming a much stronger tool for both advertisers and Google.

- Smart Bidding: Now this one is a bit more out of the box but hear me out! What is probably the most important thing to consider and work on when you are on smart bidding? For me, it is your Conversion Rate. It is simple, if you put a campaign on a tCPA and that your CR is not good enough for your given target, then you lose Impression Share and thus lose potential Traffic. The next evolution of PPC in an automated world is going to be CRO and ultimately what is CRO about if not landing page experience.

Could you imagine Google Ads without keywords?

I can! Think about it for a second, in the past two years we have seen 2 different evolutions of match type with close variant V1 for misspells and close variant V2 which let’s be honest is a mess. We are now in 2021 and as I mentioned before BMM will be gone by the end of the year leaving us with a new Phrase MT and Google pushing us towards Broad. Add to that the DSA Campaigns & Ad groups as well as the new Performance Max campaign type (in beta) not running on keywords either and you get some hint of a future without keywords.

More ad & extension formats

Google is known to be testing a few things on the SERP every year, would it be visually or more especially the format the ad appears to the searchers, form ads for instance? It is thus highly likely that we will see new ad or extension formats coming our way in 5 years. I would not be surprised to see industry-specific formats coming and going by then.

In conclusion, what will we see in 5 years? To sum it all up the clear answer is more automation and less direct control. That is not necessarily a bad thing though, as mentioned before, automation pushes advertisers to make their website better. So even though less time could be spent on optimising your accounts, we will still need to strategise. If you are in an agency, that will also mean more time accompanying your client both on advertising platforms and on their website, purely on CRO or even mixed in with SEO. For agencies, it will be a time to stop being specialised in one specific BU and becoming more and more full service to make the most out of any type of advertising budgets.

At ESV Digital we already understood this shift and that is why we evolved from a search specific agency to also being specialised in SEO, Social, Analytics & Strategy, so we can further accompany our clients towards successful growth.

If you are interested in hearing more, do not hesitate to get in contact with us and it will be a pleasure to see what we can achieve with you.

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