Around this time last year, I made a few PPC predictions for 2011. And every year, I like to reflect back on what I said and see how my predictions panned out. Let’s take a look at what I said, and how it worked out:
Prediction #1: PPC Effort Increases, Although Spending Does Not
I think I was half-right on this one. PPC effort has no doubt increased, with new targeting options, ad extensions, and search engine policy changes keeping even the most experienced paid search marketers on their toes. However, PPC spending has still shown a strong trend of increasing year-over-year. According to a study by Ignition One, a digital marketing firm, total search spend was up 7.2% year-over-year Q3 2011 vs. Q3 2010, and search spend was up 11.8% YoY Q2 2011 vs. Q2 2010. Another study by Performics showed that this year’s Black Friday search spending was up 112% vs. Black Friday 2010, and Cyber Monday search spending increased 68% year-over-year. There’s clearly more room to grow in the PPC space as more retailers get online, and more consumers make the switch from brick-and-mortar purchases to e-commerce. I’m going to stop predicting a plateau for PPC spending. Based on the last couple of years, I expect search spending to continue growing for quite some time.
Prediction #2: Microsoft makes significant improvements to AdCenter to compete better with Google
100% true. AdCenter has really stepped up their game this year, adding a better UI, better data visualizations, enhanced geographic targeting, quality score calculations, and more sensible budget options to their product. Ever since the Yahoo/Bing search alliance, it seems like Microsoft has been making a flurry of improvements to their advertising platform to continue to make it a viable option for search advertisers. The only persistent problem is market share – Google is still the 800-pound gorilla in the room on that one, and it doesn’t look like they’re about to give up that search traffic share any time soon. I think that Microsoft has decided to stop going head-to-head with the Big G, and instead offer themselves as a complementary product to reach an audience that has rejected Google for whatever reason. Case in point: this year, AdCenter made it stupidly easy to export an AdWords campaign and import it directly into your AdCenter account. This shows that Microsoft is aware that search marketers aren’t facing a choice between AdWords and AdCenter. They’re almost forced to use Google, the choice is whether or not to supplement that coverage with AdCenter. I’m on record for being in favor of using AdCenter, and with the product improvements they’ve done in 2011, it has become a much easier choice to make.
Prediction #3: Facebook PPC gets big
True. On a personal level, I’ve been hearing a lot more about Facebook ads than in previous years. But to really back me up, let’s run some numbers:
If Gawker is to be believed, then Facebook is on pace for driving twice the ad revenue that AdCenter is. Not surprising, since by some estimates Facebook is now responsible for one third of online ad impressions in the US. Facebook has already reached ubiquity in the lives of most everyone with a first-world internet connection. It’s not surprising that they would evolve into one of the most valuable advertising platforms out there, since Facebook captures so much of the world’s attention. They’ve still got a long way to go before they overtake Google, though.
So the final tally is 2.5 out of three. Better than last year! Join me next week, when I take a shot at some PPC predictions for 2012.