Future of search marketing: are advertisers ready?

The search marketing industry is about to be profoundly changed, in particular by artificial intelligence and changes in behavior. It is important to prepare for this.

A year ago, the search marketing industry seemed to have reached a stage of maturity: an ecosystem of players and stable tools, reliable measurement models, value unanimously recognized by advertisers. However, recent advances in artificial intelligence as well as changes in user behavior will change the landscape of search marketing in the years to come. Advertisers are watching these changes with great interest, but also with concern as many of them depend on this source of traffic and revenue. Those who cannot adapt risk losing market share.

It is therefore essential to prepare today, starting by understanding the dynamics and scope of this transformation:

  • The fragmentation of search behavior calls into question the dominance of Google, with the rise of platforms such as Amazon or TikTok on certain types of queries. This trend will probably increase with the democratization of generative artificial intelligences like ChatGPT.
  • The advertising offer of all platforms has expanded: most offer search, display and video formats, blurring the boundaries between traditional channels. Google Ads is no longer a Search Engine Advertising platform, it is the purchasing platform for Google’s proprietary inventories: Search, YouTube, Maps, Display network. This evolution represents a significant paradigm shift for media buyers, and can cause misunderstandings, as with Performance Max.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence have enabled platforms to automate the most operational media buying decisions, such as the choice of audiences, queries and inventory to target, or the purchase price of advertising impressions. An operational simplification that hides other complexities, such as the need to master the management of algorithms.

By extrapolating these trends, we begin to sketch the outlines of what search marketing could become in the coming years:

  1. Search marketing is dead, long live platform marketing! The platforms will make obsolete the segmentation of media budgets by historical channel (search, social, display), which will be replaced by segmentation by marketing objective and by platform.
  2. Manual micro-targeting by keyword or by audience will gradually be replaced by platform targeting algorithms, to the detriment of distribution control but to the advantage of performance. It is by mastering the management of these algorithms that brands will be able to gain market share.
  3. The Paid Media professions will converge towards those of the organic sector: in both cases, the optimization of the advertiser’s proprietary assets becomes the main key to performance. Content of the site, product flow, audiences, advertising message, the whole challenge will be to feed the organic and paid algorithms with the best signals to allow them to position the brand with the most relevant audiences. Because in the same way as ChatGPT, the quality of response of the algorithms depends on the correct formulation of the objective and the quality of the information given to it to achieve them.
  4. With the deprecation of third-party cookies and the closure of walled gardens, cross-platform optimization will likely become less profitable than intra-platform optimization. Brands will have to focus on in-depth understanding of the specificities of each platform, their users’ expectations and the communication codes that apply to them, to position their brand in a relevant way and offer the user an experience with high added value. . A solid collaboration between the paid media, organic and creative professions will be essential to succeed in this context.

Although it is impossible to predict the future with certainty, one thing is certain: the digital media industry will go through a period of turbulence, and search marketing will not be spared. Many questions arise today for brands: what skills should they develop? Should they be internalized? How should they collaborate? How to organize teams and segment budgets?

Passivity is not an option: brands that know how to adapt by investing in the exploration of new opportunities despite an unfavorable economic context will be tomorrow’s winners. The future cannot be foreseen, it is prepared.

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