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Year in Search 2020 | Interview with Jonathan Kagan

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PPC hubbub asked the leading industry experts 3 questions about what they thought about 2020 and what might happen for Search in 2021. Today we talked to Jonathan Kagan, VP of Search at 9 Rooftops with over 16 years of experience under his belt.

1. What did you love about Search in 2020?

Honestly, not a lot. No huge changes for the positive from a paid perspective, more irritations than anything. Some notes that did grind my gears were:

Return to free PLA listings – great asset to have, but not a game changer.

Automatic In Market Audience Creation – love it for using on YouTube, but true transparency on it felt a little lacking.

My one thing I did really enjoy – aside from the travel vertical, despite brands dropping left and right, search demand remained constant or actually scaled.

2. What did you hate about Search in 2020?

There was alot to be angry about. Some out of our control some not. But my biggest pain points included:

Engine based rules and regs rolling out (ie HEC), and for them to be applied to the wrong accounts. I get the reason for them, but the follow through and applying to wrong accounts killed me.

Lack of support from support. I found this issue most evident in Google Merchant Center, and yes I recognize we’re in a pandemic and everyone is WFH, but in this day and age, it should take 22 emails and 5 phone calls over 30 days, most of which telling me they still don’t know, to finally get a wrong answer.

Engine “Recommendations”, the constant pushing of these on advertisers and providing an arbitrary optimization score to apply pressure was terrible. Mostly as the reco’s didn’t align with my business goals.

Further control trying to be taken away from advertisers, by pushing smart campaigns more than anything.

3. What do you think 2021 will bring?

I suspect more audience capabilities, faster growth due to the pandemic, a further push into a keywordless ad campaign.

Jonathan Kagan
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