This year was supposed to be the year of the mobile. Google has spent the entire year telling web developers and advertisers to make sure that their content is mobile friendly. This year saw mobile web traffic surpass desktop web traffic – thanks in part to the popularity of apps, but we still have a long way to go to make the multi-device experience a pleasant one, and that’s what we can expect to see people focus on in 2015.
Audience targeting is a big deal – the display and search markets are already starting to blur, and more and more advertisers are buying both kinds of ads at once and retargeting between them. We are likely to see more focus on cross-device tracking, and potentially even in-SERPs shopping, with people picking out products without even having to leave the Bing or Google ecosystems. This is great for the search engines, because it keeps traffic on their sites, and it’s great for consumers because it’s a huge time saver, but any advertisers that don’t think about how to take advantage of that feature will be losing out on a lot of valuable conversions.
Automation is likely to be a big deal in 2015 too. Google and Bing are already working to offer better automation of bid management and other basic account management features, but those tools still have a long way to go. This year saw CPC levels rise dramatically, eating into the ROI of what is already a competitive advertising option, and we are unlikely to see prices normalise over the next few months. Advertisers are going to be forced to experiment with extra features, and explore social media marketing and other options to bring in more affordable traffic.
The paid search industry is finally mature, and the questions that advertisers are asking are no longer as basic as “can we trust these tools” or “should we even be buying clicks”. Rather, advertisers are now asking how they can get the most out of paid search and organic SEO. 2015 will be the year of better targeting, more automation, more creative ad formats and more direct vertical targeting. The advertisers who do not bother to experiment over the next several months will quickly be left behind by those who are more forward thinking in their approach to paid search and the world of SEO.