Higher Education Marketing: Paid Search Trends to Watch for in 2019

We’re already in the last quarter of 2018, and our minds are looking ahead to next year in terms of paid search trends. While this was a big year full of changes for paid search, digital advertising in 2019 is looking even bigger, solidifying some of the Google updates we saw this year. There will likely be additional small changes throughout the next year, but we’ve nailed down six trends to focus on in the coming year.

In September, Google announced a new text ad format that allows for two additional headlines (giving expanded text ads three headlines total) and a longer description (you can have two descriptions, 90 characters each).

More text means more visibility and advertisers using this format have seen as much as 20% higher CTRs. These ads also provide a better user experience, which will become even more important in 2019.

The extended description also means that paid search ads continue to push organic search results further down the search engine results page (SERP), and this isn’t going to change anytime soon.

In July, Google rolled out its Speed Update, stating that page speed would become a major ranking factor for mobile searches. At first glance, the Speed Update seems like it would only affect organic search – wrong.

Google is looking at your page speed as a component of your Quality Score, as the landing page for your paid search ad affects that score tremendously. And, as you probably recall, your Quality Score determines how much you pay per click. If your site doesn’t load fast, you might be paying a premium price, or not be able to serve an ad at all.

In order to succeed in 2019 (and in the years ahead), you’ll have to decrease your page load time. You might even consider using AMP coding to ensure that your pages are loading quickly on all devices.

You’ll also want to check your page load speed to see where you stand. Keep an eye on your ads by checking your Google Ads account and looking at the status for any particular keyword. This will show you your current quality score and/or if your ads are running properly.

3. Cross-Device Reporting Leads to Better Ad Copy

One of Google’s largest (or possibly most-shocking) updates this year was cross-device reporting in Google Analytics. Not only was this a completely new feature, but it also allows advertisers to build and execute cross-device remarketing audience to use within Google Ads.

The cross-device reporting shows how users move from mobile to desktop (or vise-versa) instead of simply showing two separate sessions, and you can use this date to your advantage when creating ads.

Right now, there are three different types of cross-device reports:

• Acquisition Device reports – Combines attribution and traffic metrics to show the relationship between acquisition and conversion.
• Device Overlap reports – Shows the number of different devices people are using to engage with your content.
• Device Paths reports – Shows the last five device types a visitor used before completing a conversion.

However, with access to cross-device reporting, be prepared for Google to expect solid, data-driven ads to be increasingly important in 2019 and in the following years. More tools and data means higher expectations!

4. Smart Campaigns Make Paid Search Easier for Smaller Marketing Teams

Smart Campaigns are Google’s first solution under the rebrand of Google Adwords (now known as Google Ads). Smart Campaigns focus on small and/or local businesses that are looking to get into paid search without the help of an agency.

Although you may not consider your higher education institution a “small business”, if you have a small marketing team, or a one-man team in charge of your paid search, Smart Campaigns may be just the solution you’ve been looking for.

These automated campaigns are set up to be easier to launch and include tools to build an audience, deliver ads, and will eventually (before 2018 is over) offer assistance with landing pages.

Smart Campaigns have the capability to run ads on the Google Display Network and the Google Search Network.

5. Responsive Search Ads Serve in Real Time

These go hand-in-hand with Expanded Text Ads… With the unveiling of Responsive Search Ads, Google got flexible! With these, you’re not creating a static ad – instead, you’re putting in up to 15 different headlines and four different descriptions. Responsive Search Ads can display:

• Three 30-character headlines
• A display URL with two 15-character path fields
• Two 90-character description fields

With this information, Google has more than 43,000 different ways it can arrange the text for an ad. Google tests these combinations to create the “perfect” ad (or maybe several ads) for the searcher.

In 2019, Google is going to continue to take user data – including search history, and most-used device – to create a near-custom search experience, including the paid ads that are served.

More and more we’re seeing artificial intelligence used to decipher search intent and/or voice searches – and this goes for organic and paid search. Artificial intelligence affects how we do keyword research, and will in turn affect your ad creation.

Artificial intelligence can also look at different data points to help you improve your ads, such as user engagement (even on longtail keywords with low search volume), and you can run simulations and make forecasts using data points using artificial intelligence.

Ever since artificial intelligence was revealed as a Google ranking factor, we’re seeing it more and more, and this is no different for 2019, 2020, and even in the years following.

All of these trends have their own focus and features, but they are similar in a few ways. Search updates are continually making efforts to understand all aspects of search queries, serve better paid ads and organic listings, and provide a better user experience (and a better advertiser experience).

To learn more about our EducationDynamics‘ higher education marketing services, please visit our website: https://www.educationdynamics.com/enrollment-management-services

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