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June 3, 2015

SMX Liveblog: Paid Search: Focusing on Audiences & Categories Instead of Keywords

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Kevin Ryan at SMX Advanced suggests that in the next few years, search engines might not let advertisers buy keywords, but instead will allow targeting on audiences and categories.

This is a real-time report from SMX Advanced 2015.

In this bite-sized liveblog, Kevin Ryan shares where he sees paid search headed as an industry. Ryan is the founder of MotivityMarketing, a columnist for Search Marketing Land and the author of “Taking Down Goliath: Digital Marketing Strategy for Beating Competitors with 100 Times Your Spending Power.” (Try saying that title ten times fast!)

“Search is declining as a percentage of share – we’re getting less data on search … Our dependence on keywords is a little ridiculous. We need to think about moving away from potentially misleading keywords,” Ryan says.

As an illustration of how keywords can be misleading, he points out that if you type in “cocaine” in Amazon, one of the suggestions that comes up is “Cocaine in Groceries.” Which is obviously nonsense.

“Better, then, to think about audiences and interest categories,” says Ryan.

Ryan even posits that perhaps, in a year or two, search engines might not let us buy keywords, but only audiences and categories.

At this point Ryan throws out that, for the record, he thinks Yahoo is making a comeback. (Noted.)

Other PPC points?

  • Paid search costs have increased tremendously since the early 2000s. Cost grows about 13 percent per year.
  • In 2003, there was a 174 percent increase in U.S. paid search advertising spending growth; “the industry literally exploded overnight.”
  • Give consistent messages across multiple screens.
  • Practical knowledge is not to be abandoned even with all search’s technology – we just have new ways of interacting with media.
  • Every media outlet is talking about how to connect with your potential audience as a means of advertising – this is where you should be moving your initiatives.

Ryan leaves us with this (creepy but true) thought: “If the average person knew how well we could target them, it would really freak them out. But … they’re freaked out for approximately 30 seconds and then they go back to watching kittens.”

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