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Year In Search 2022 Interview with Mark Irvine

Search Engine Hubbub_Mark Irvine
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We asked the leading industry experts about search in 2022 and what might happen in 2023. Today we talked to Mark Irvine, Director of Paid Media at SearchLab.

Mark’s decade of PPC experience has included analyzing data and spotting trends within over 30,000 Google, Bing, and Facebook ad accounts. Today, Mark runs the PPC department at SearchLab Digital. He also regularly presents his research on trends in the PPC industry on webinars and at conferences around the world and his work has also been featured on outlets such as The Washington Post, MSNBC, BBC and CNN. Previously, Mark was named the Most Influential PPC Expert in the world by both PPC Hero and Microsoft.

What did you love about Paid Search in 2022?

Both Google and Microsoft have invested a lot into making Search ads more of an experience for users.

Beginning directly on the SERP, they’ve introduced more improvements to image assets, videos, logos, business information, and highlighted advertising transparency tools directly on the SERP. PPC ads were once a drab 90 character note on an off-color background but now they’re equally immersive to the rest of the search experience.

Beyond that some verticals like travel, automotive, and finance got new ad formats unique to their industry and helped them stand out from the plain text ads of yesteryear.

There was a lot to keep the power users busy and test out new additions to their strategies this past year.

What did you hate about Paid Search in 2022?

Google’s approach towards the migration to Performance Max.

It’s not that Performance Max doesn’t have good performance for clients – in fact, it does. Performance Max drives good results for most businesses. Good performance – full stop. End of story. There are minimal details to review there.  After very little work and optimization, you could just let Google run this campaign. There’s no necessary next step for most advertisers.

And that’s unfortunate to me.

Yes – Google always struggled to set up small medium businesses and non-specialized marketers to use and find good results with Google Ads. But now that they can get “good” results easily – why learn how to be great? Why invest months to learn PPC if a 20-minute campaign can work out the box? It’s a win; but it’s a compromise that is too easy to settle for. And Google isn’t positioning these campaigns as “your first campaign,” – it’s you’re only campaign if you let it. There’s no next steps or suggestions to push beyond this. Your “optimization score” is 100 and if you ever hear from Google again, it’s just because they’d like you to raise your budgets. Eye roll.

I don’t think anyone ever woke up excited for that approach towards marketing. Unfortunately, I think that we’re going to lose a lot of diverse or emerging talent and different perspectives in the industry from this trend of changes – and we’ll soon find most of our ads nearly identical to the other 6 ads from our competition on the SERP when we’re all using the same strategies and automations.

What do you think 2023 will bring for Paid Search?

We’re due for a keyword match type update.

It’s been a full 18 months since Google last updated our keyword match types and that seems to be the story every other year. We’re already seeing hints of it as Google redefined it’s definition of “duplicate keywords” earlier in January to prefer broad match keywords over exact and phrase.

I’m not anticipating this to be the “end of match types in 2023,” but given Google’s extra focus on beefing up broad match with new audience signals over the past few years and its recent pushes to get users on to broad match, I anticipate that exact match and phrase match will lose some more control in favor of broad match by 2024.

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