2020 was a wild year for search marketers.  Some had to adapt to never-before-seen scenarios and realign their search campaigns accordingly. Others paused efforts altogether as industries collapsed under the weight of the pandemic. And still others doubled and tripled down on spend to capitalize on new search marketing opportunities.

Needless to say, the search landscape shifted dramatically during 2020. Below, we offer up three predictions of what’s to come in the future of paid search. 

Prediction #1: The Impacts Of Ad Format Adjustments

Some search marketers were stunned when the headline requirement was bumped from two to three headlines. Now search engines require 15 unique headline options for responsive search ads (RSAs). Times they are a-changin’!

RSAs were introduced in beta two years ago. They allow marketers to enter up to 15 headlines and four descriptions. Google states that the ads  “will automatically test different combinations and learn which… perform best by adapting… content to more closely match potential customers’ search terms”. When the maximum amounts of headlines and descriptions are added to RSAs,  32,760 different ad permutations are possible–virtually limitless testing opportunities via automation.

RSAs are often favored in rotations when expanded text ads are in the mix because they deliver more clicks and conversions overall.

Bottom Line: RSAs will steal the show in 2021 and become the dominant ad type in paid search. 

In addition to the dominance of RSAs, extensions have continued to grow in terms of real estate and type. A recent and popular addition allowed the searcher to download an app directly from  search results.

Bottom Line: New extension types will be introduced in 2021. Additionally, structured snippets will offer custom headers.


Prediction #2: The Imminent Removal and Replacement of Executive Reports in Search Ads 360

Joey Bridges, veteran search marketer and media director at Mindgruve, believes “Google is going to triple down on Data Studio leading to the elimination of executive reports in Search Ads 360“.

According to Google, “A Search Ads 360 executive report displays… metrics in terms of revenue, costs, trends and other high-level concepts, all formatted as charts and tables.” These reports are great for simple views of performance data, but lack the visual features and flexibility that Data Studio tools provide by bringing all data into one centralized location. In response, Google added subtext to the Executive Reports Tab that states “As an alternative to Executive Reporting, we recommend trying the Search Ads 360 Data Studio connector.” 

Data Studio’s powerful features enable you to unite all data from Google Marketing Platform’s products in one place, easily explore it and tell impactful stories using  engaging reports and data visualizations.

Bottom Line: Data Studio will replace Executive Reporting and serve as the go-to reporting tool for search marketers in 2021.


Prediction #3: Keywords will be phased out 

In 2017, Google announced that close variants of keywords will now be associated with all match types. Close variants of keywords include misspellings, single/plural, split words and more. Additionally, there’s been significant advancement in recent years of audiences, its targeting capabilities and bid strategies. Finally, Google Ads made changes to Search Term Reports, limiting the display of data due to privacy concerns. Previously, these reports enabled search marketers to identify long tail search query data. Now they only show “significant” queries, which leaves a significant amount of spend undefined. 

Bottom Line: Keywords will be phased out of search campaigns. If true, it will be a seismic shift in search marketing. The practice of search marketing was created around keyword targeting. But based on the points outlined above and the speedy evolution of machine learning, targeting will be the go-to tactic for finding customers with a higher propensity to buy. 

2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the marketing industry, paid search included. To explore more marketing trends for the coming year, click here