Google AdWords is almost 17 years old at this moment. In that time, it has become the standard for keyword-based advertising. However, when it comes to the future of AdWords, there will be less of a focus on keywords, and more attention paid to the context of those words and the person typing them.
When AW launched, you targeted people based on simple demographic information and keywords. Currently, the targeting is based on related keywords, advanced demographic information, websites your audience has visited, and a long list of other factors that no one who doesn’t work at Google is completely certain of.
In the future, AdWords will become more dependent on AI and the process of setting up campaigns will be further streamlined for advertisers. For more on that, and what else to expect in the years to come, we asked a group of industry experts…
What’s The Future Of AdWords?
Pull out your notepads marketers…
Brent Healy , SVP of Marketing & Digital Marketing Consultant Lead at VALiNTRY
“The future of AdWords is going to move to intent and topic matching. Exact match will not exist as all campaigns will be based on Natural Language requests. What we now call “long tail” will be the norm, and we will place ads based on intent and behavior as most searches will be spoken or anticipated/automated.”
Dan Golden, President & Chief Search Artist at Chicago agency BFO
“While search is currently the bread and butter of the adwords product, we expect Google to continue building AdWords into a unified platform for buying and measuring digital media across search, social, mobile, display & video. In 15 years I’d expect to see a merger and unification of Google’s current ad and measurement tools which would offer advertisers integrated ad serving, programmatic buying and cross-channel attribution delivered from the same platform and powered by machine learning algorithms. Expect google to attempt to simplify the ad buying experience with first party optimization tools presenting increased risk for ad-tech companies and agencies.”
Brennan Mack, Director of Paid Search at SEO Inc.
“There are some clear trends today that give us a picture of what AdWords will be like in the next 10-15 years. First and foremost, big data and AI will clearly be leaps and bounds ahead of where we are today. Many of the complexities of audience targeting will be greatly simplified and automated. This will be important, because we’re moving toward a world where search results must be highly personalized and even predictive, or they will be seen as irrelevant.
We may not even be using desktops in 10-15 years. Whereas today the mantra is “mobile first”, at that time we could see a “mobile only” market. We’re already seeing desktop market share falling, and tablets have become nearly irrelevant. As technology improves, voice search will become more prominent, which will add detail to search queries give advertisers another layer of data to work with.”
Kirk Williams, Founder of ZATO
“While AdWords is still a significant revenue-producing machine for Google/Alphabet, it is no secret that the online world of advertising is changing drastically. I believe this change is happening in two primary areas, and this is what we will see change the most in AdWords in the next 10-15 years.
First, audience targeting is exploding onto the scene and AdWords is not leading the pack. While AdWords is not in danger of losing the battle any time soon (search is still a necessary commodity, and people will always need something like search for questions not easily answered on social channels), it is obvious they are working feverishly to evolve with the times. This evolution looks like audience and interest targeting, and is something AdWords has been working on for years now (think remarketing and similar audiences). The AdWords we know in 10 years will undoubtedly be far weightier in audience targeting capabilities.
Second, automation is changing the advertising game in significant ways. In 10 years, AdWords will undoubtedly have seen significant advances in machine learning that will practically work its way into more automated bidding decisions, ad testing decisions, demographic bid adjustment decisions, and so on. I would be surprised if the AdWords in 10 years has not significantly reduced the number of buttons to manually push for advertisers.”
Marcus Miller, SEO & Digital Marketing Strategist at Bowler Hat
“It’s almost impossible to foresee where AdWords will be in 15 years – or if it will even still exist in a recognisable format. The evolution of the mobile phone seems so obvious now but nobody predicted this 15 years ago. And if anything, progress seems to be accelerating and the world is becoming ever more digital.
My hunch would be that big data and artificial intelligence will continue to drive smarter advertising. Google’s advanced AI will know what we want before we do. We will receive smart, desirable advertising on everything from our fridge to our wearable AI assistants.
If we look 15 years into the future when everything is online – I can only imagine that AdWords will evolve in a way to allow smarter advertising on all connected devices that are truly driven by our wants and needs (even if we don’t know what we want or need yet).”
Matt Bentley, Owner & Founder of CanIRank
“AdWords will continue to be an important element of digital marketing, as long as there is an ‘Internet’ and as long as there are still people using it. However, the market has changed as new advertising methods have come into play, such as social media ads and mobile advertising. Even with these new advertising platforms though, Google still reigns supreme with over 3.5 billion searches per day.
In my opinion, the biggest change that will come in the future is that advertisers will start turning away from ads themselves, and focusing more on content marketing and organic traffic. Brands are finding that consumers are more interested in information than ads; and consumers, who are constantly targeted with ads on their laptops, smartphones and televisions, are now engaging more with brands who they perceive to be the dominant industry expert.”
Derek Mabie, President & Founder of Evolve Digital Labs
“AdWords is only going to get better at defining consumers’ needs and wants. Google AdWords will begin to anticipate those needs and serve ads.
As the future of AI, automation and mobile continue to spike we can anticipate ads that automatically order pizzas, or shoes based on your habits, patterns and needs.
However much has been reported about wasted budgets on the Google Display network. Google will have to do a better job of proving its value across the display network, which means, new targeting tactics will proliferate – all in the name of serving consumers with a better digital experience.
Additionally, campaign managers will be able to use tools like AdWords Graders to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns to know with a high-degree of certainty they’re reaching the right audience.”
Mark Cook, Director of Marketing at ApplinSkinner
“In 2017, we are seeing the acceleration of Google’s long standing push to take more control from users within their Adwords platform. Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen Google introduce Adwords ‘Express’, take away the ability to ‘exact match’ keywords, push new features that give Google control over your bidding such as Enhanced CPC, Target Cost Per Acquisition and in the last two weeks, Smart Display Advertising has come out of beta.
While the progress may be financially motivated, this certainly doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing for end users. Considering Google has access to ‘pre-click’ user data, vast data sets on other searches and powerful machine learning capabilities it’s certainly an easy persuasive argument to allow them to help you manage the detail and scale of your campaign.
With Google’s other products and such Translate and their core search benefiting massively from machine learning, we can definitely expect a future where users are simply telling Adwords what they would like to achieve and Google does the hard work for them.”
Chetan Saxena, Head Of Digital Marketing at Digital Success
“Facebook and LinkedIn gets an edge in terms of targeting based on titles/industry/demographics. They enjoy this advantage due to their very nature of their platform.
If you look at the trend, people are more on Facebook than on Google in a day and advertisers have more opportunities to slap their ads right in the face to the right audience at any given time, due to their fine-targeting capabilities. With Google Plus falling flat, Google may think of a social platform which could have mass appeal or they acquire something big in this space to fill this gap. Google has been very enterprising about trying new things out. Using AdWords for selling TV spots was one good example of it. Acquiring Doubleclick was another step towards I’ll-own-all-good-things. Google may also dabble in the direction of programmatic and predictive which is monopolized by handful of players such as Simpli-fi and Rocket Fuel to take care of things like – IP based targeting, geo fencing, competitor conquesting.”
Jeff Kear, Owner of Planning Pod
“In 10 years, AdWords will be like TV advertising is today, and for two main reasons.
First, because it is now a mature ad platform and with mass appeal, AdWords is pricing small-and-medium businesses out of participating, much like TV did when it blew up in the 60s and 70s. In many sectors and industries, large businesses and brands have found that they can place high bids on popular keywords and still be profitable, while small businesses cannot afford the upfront costs and don’t have the gross revenues to compete with such high bidding strategies. Also, large advertisers can leverage their spends with Google to negotiate better rates and positioning than smaller businesses (with smaller spends) can get. Local AdWords ads may not see this trend as much, but you will still see large brands with a local presence dominating certain verticals.
Second, now you are seeing many more AdWords ads focused on increasing brand awareness than you did even 5 years ago. Even though many ads are still focused on direct sales, branding will become a bigger and bigger emphasis as online advertising becomes more costly to compete.”
Nate Amspacher, Director of Paid Search at YDOP
“As the way people search online and interact with ads, Google will adapt AdWords accordingly. One way to predict the future of AdWords is to look at how Google has adapted in the past. Almost two years ago, Google moved sidebar ads to the left for better consistency across devices. More recently, Google has gone from three ads at the top of the page to four.
My prediction is that Google will continue to add paid ads to the SERP, to the point that the entire first page is paid advertising. Organic results will be pushed even further down in the results while boosting Google’s revenue in the process.
Another area of interest for Google in the next 10 years is the growth of voice search. Tools like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home are fertile ground for digital advertising, which Google will look to control.”
Troy Cartmill, Founder & CEO of Reap and Sow Marketing
“The future of Google Adwords is mobile. We live in a mobile first world now which Google has recognized this and Google is looking at mobile solutions. I believe Google also has some plans for local search users. Google Adwords is not good for local search which amounts to a huge user base that is looking for local services everyday. Google has also pushed featured snippets in their organic search which could play a big part in Adwords in the future. Why? People want to find the answer quick when they search and a lot of users type in full sentences, Google is working hard to deliver the results the end user wants to find.”