While we can’t imagine a world without Google or Siri, paid advertising actually started way before these trends. The first documented paid advertising platform was called Planet Oasis, and existed only on desktop, of course.  Shortly following this phenomenon in 1996, Open Text Index and Goto.com opened up bidding platforms for businesses to show up first as “preferred listings”. 

It was clear from the beginning: with advertisers paying an average of $1 per click (which was quite high in 1999), there was a scalable business model. 

By 2002, Google released Google Adwords (Now known as “Google Ads”) – the ultimate platform for businesses to show up on relevant search results.  While Google led the market with 84.7% of all searches, Yahoo, Bing, and others joined the game giving advertisers a way to reach in-market shoppers. 

You can imagine that if Google was already getting about 95% of their revenue from advertisers in 2011, that merely 10 years later it’s still an incredibly competitive (and expensive) space for businesses. 

What’s worked until now

Until recently, a digital marketing agency or in-house PPC (pay-per-click) teams were sufficient in competing in this advertising war.  Businesses put their trust– and money– into human “machines” that plan and execute advertising goals.  

Marketing specialists spec and create copy, design, and A/B tests that fit the business goals. The ads generally run an entire month without being touched or tweaked. At the end of the month, the marketing teams analyze the results and make changes as needed. This is especially true for the classic A/B test, where we investigate which version of the ad performed better after a full 30 days of running similar ads side by side. 

But as paid search becomes the most competitive advertising space, this routine is just not enough.  Even if your copy is competitive and the design is impeccable, businesses need to make real-time optimization and decisions. We need to be working 24/7, which is impossible for the average human. 

As search, display, and social networks become the most relevant place to advertise in 2020, machine learning and artificial intelligence emerge as integral parts of the marketing strategy.  

What is machine learning?

Machine learning is the idea that computers (aka machines) can learn from data sets and patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention. This means that when new data is presented to a trained machine, it comprehends and reacts efficiently. 

The simplest way to understand machine learning is with a company like Netflix.  Viewers watch shows and movies, and as Netflix understands the user behavior, it recommends other shows to watch based on the interest.  As the users preferences change, so do the recommendations. 

Industries from oil and gas to hospitality are applying machine learning to increase customer satisfaction and stay competitive. And just like Netflix, the machine learning is allowing these industries to react to big sets of data for better results. 

What will work in 2020?

The future of paid search is here.  So while manually creating ads worked until now, the new pace is much faster- a pace that only a machine can handle.  

In 2020, it will become the norm to automate paid search.  This means no more manually creating design, copy, and uploading ads.  This means no more manually putting a max/min bid on each and every campaign for display networks.  It means optimized, updated, and high performing ads for every shopper in real-time. 

The trajectory of paid search is pretty amazing and we’re excited to be apart of its journey into the future. 

Want to learn more about automating your paid search for better performance with less spend?  Check out Acquire now. 

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