Five SEM trends ecommerce retailers should expect for the rest of 2016


With the advertising industry becoming more and more competitive each year, many online advertisers are now using search marketing to supplement their organic search results as a way to stand out from the crowd.

Although it comes at a price, this form of marketing can provide relevant, high-quality traffic and help with brand exposure, two qualities of many which can be highly beneficial for online retailers.

Despite paid search marketing becoming an increasingly popular choice amongst retailers for increasing customer acquisition rates, it can be very profitable. Just earlier this year, Adobe announced the results from its latest Digital Advertising Report, stating that while CPCs in North America were stable with a 0% increase, costs actually decreased in Europe and Asia Pacific with a 4% decline YoY in 2015.

CPCs in North America

What’s more, click-through rates are also improving for paid search, with CTRs increasing by 14% in Europe in 2015. Not only does this show that advertisers are significantly improving the quality of their campaigns, but also that consumers are responding to the ads that they are seeing.

This goes to show that this is the right time for online retailers to invest in SEM if they have not done so already. However, the web changing constantly and new developments arriving daily, what will retailers need to keep their eye on if they are to stay in the game for the rest of the year?

1. Mobile to become increasingly important

The increase in mobile use is changing paid search drastically. In 2015, Google announced that in 10 countries more than half of all searches are now on mobile devices than on computers. What’s more, Adobe went even further stating that mobile search spend (smartphone + tablet) is approaching 38% of total ad spend (up 22% YoY), and phone-based CPCs cost 24% less than on desktop.

If ecommerce retailers are to respond to consumers’ expectations and offer them an excellent buying experience on mobile devices, it is necessary for them to have a mobile optimised version of their site, or risk losing impatient and frustrated users.

2. Adapting strategies to voice recognition

The increasing importance of mobile is also set to have an impact on technologies such as voice search. As terms entered through voice search can be very different to those entered through a keyboard, it is possible that all websites will have to review their content strategy and ensure that it reflects these new “natural language” searches.

3. More importance placed on Google Shopping

In February 2016, Google announced its decision to favour paid shopping ads over AdWords text ads in the right-hand side of SERPs. With this move, the search engine is placing an increasing amount of importance on Google Shopping, which is rapidly pushing PLAs to be the ad format of choice for online retailers.

4. The power of targeting: from keywords to audiences

The way advertisers used data changed drastically last year. While Facebook and Twitter perfected their custom and tailored audience features, Google announced its Customer Match targeting. Such technology is confirming a significant trend for PPC: users are becoming so accustomed to personalisation that they are now expecting it. For advertisers, this means that creating truly targeted campaigns should be a priority to engage customers.

5.    Campaign automation

With consumer behaviour changing constantly and variable factors such as the weather influencing how users shop, campaign automation is a trend that many ecommerce advertisers should be adopting in the coming year to maximise the profitability of their ads.

Automated solutions will allow campaign managers to adapt their advertising to individual platforms (AdWords, Google Shopping, Facebook etc), which will save them a considerable amount of time that can be spent working on campaign objectives or perfecting their multi-channel strategy, for example.

Mark Haupt is UK Sales Director at Twenga Solutions and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

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