Some of the hottest trends this year included artificial intelligence, voice search, audience targeting, and automation. But clearly two trends are on just about everyone’s minds: Audiences and automation.

But that’s just the beginning.

1. Audiences, Not Keywords
Advertisers have shifted focus away from match types and terms toward context and people. If you aren’t using audiences, you’re doing PPC wrong. The key to success is to a detailed strategy of the various audience types and audiences lists and how you can layer them (with positive and negative bid types) to shape your paid search strategy. Drill down in them even further, so your ad messaging can be as relevant and feel as personalized as possible. In-Market audiences have proven to be effective, and utilizing remarketing based off of top-funnel in-market audiences can help form a comprehensive funnel strategy.

2. Automation + Human Intelligence
Automation isn’t coming. It’s already here. In fact, the trend we’re seeing from the engines is more automation. Google said its search ads should be ‘ads that work for everyone’ and they mean it. They believe automation makes it possible for more businesses to be successful search marketers so we’ll see more ‘smart’ features from Google, and Bing will follow in lock-step. It’s approaching the point where it’s best to lean into Google automation tools rather than shun them in favor of third-party tools. It won’t be a race to see whether humans or machines are best. “It will be a race to see which PPC experts have the best process to leverage the machines to blow away their competition.

3. Amazon & Advertising Alternatives
It’ll become more important than ever for marketers to diversify their PPC spend over the next year. We expect Amazon to continue its hot streak in 2019, with Sponsored Product Ads and other formats being a key aspect to a successful PPC strategy, especially for CPG and retail brands. It is an amazing time for ecommerce brands because they will have more opportunities to reach buyers with greater personalization and precision.

4. Account Management & The Role of PPC Marketers
AI is continuing to revolutionize PPC campaigns, according to Marc Poirier, CEO, Acquisio, but campaign managers are certainly not out of a job. In fact, campaign managers are now able to conduct their own machine learning battles to select which system will get their client’s or company’s campaigns the best results. Knowing how to leverage automation and developing skills like new-market analysis, cross-channel strategy, and complex competitor strategies is a must for anyone in this space.

5. Attribution & Cross-Channel Advertising Experiences
More companies are embracing that we don’t live in a single channel world and are advertising (or marketing in general) across multiple different platforms more than ever. It has become easier and easier to build well-coordinated multi-channel campaigns, but reporting silos continue to be a challenge for many businesses. Advertisers must understand that reaching consumers and keeping them engaged through each stage of the purchasing funnel requires the delivery of positive experiences that keep them wanting more – and search is very often part of that journey.

6. Ads
The ads themselves – the messages users see – will remain as critical as ever. Should you use RSAs, Text Ads, the third headline (it’s debatable if you should skip the line or not); and really looking at the cohesion of your ad message. In addition, with multiple versions of headlines and descriptions available to us, I predict that strategic marketers will need to become more deliberate in considering whether headlines one, two, and three will work with description lines one and two.

7. Video
You should plan to build social (specifically video) into your strategies as social gains increasing placements on search engine result pages (SERPs). Even if you don’t want to put ad spend into video (average cost per view is $0.02), you can still leverage YouTube as an audience target for your search campaigns. This is particularly useful if you’re in an expensive industry, and need help focusing your budget.

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