The death bells have been tolling for keyword search in certain marketing circles. Recent developments with audience buying and voice search have some predicting that keywords are about to go the way of the dinosaurs.
So is it true? Absolutely not. Read on to find out why.
Audience Buying in Search: Game-Changer or Valuable Complement?
Advertisers who focus solely on the search audience or last keyword attribution are missing the point of search entirely. The intent shown through each keyword search is more valuable than reaching a specific audience. Your audience is composed of the consumers who are actively seeking your products and services, regardless of what demographic or behavioral segment they fall into. While there is definitely value in understanding who the searchers are and using audience data to either extend reach or home-in on specific characteristics, audience buying should not be a primary focus.
We completely disagree that search will be keyword-free in the future. The recent push towards “reaching the right user in the right moment” and prioritizing the use of audience data is primarily driven by Google. In an effort to fine-tune search and keep up with advertiser and user trends, they’ve been selling audience buying and upgrading the features available to match the process for the last two years. However, as technology, the industry, and user behavior continue to evolve, we foresee that the audience buying trend as a primary focus in search will fall out of favor as other trends come to the forefront. Similar to Google’s 2013 push for Enhanced Campaigns, which took away the ability to segment campaigns based on device (and was a huge deal at the time), Google’s improvements are ongoing and are not always permanent. Device segmentation has recently been reinstated, as testament to the fluidity of these enhancements.
We completely disagree that search will be keyword-free in the future.
Ultimately, like most things, it’s a balance. Is it exciting to have more audience data available? Yes. Should we be using it to customize ad copy and the user experience? Yes. But will this totally change the way search works? No.
But what about voice search? Won’t that eliminate keywords as we know them?
As voice search becomes more popular, the types of searches we see will change. They will become more long tail and conversational. And if searches become increasingly entity-less, the engines will change their capabilities accordingly. At the end of the day, Google places a large emphasis on user experience but more importantly, they want to secure consistent advertising dollars. They are going to do everything they can to prevent advertisers from moving their dollars elsewhere.
If advertisers aren’t getting what they need anymore, Google will find a way to shift the narrative or create products that align with how user behavior is changing. What does that look like? Only time will tell. However even if voice search surpasses text-based searches, a search is still a search. It is still a user demonstrating intent. Even if the search isn’t as specific as the searches we see now, it’s still reaching a user further down the funnel than TV and even than other digital tactics. For this reason, search will never become keyword-free or so inefficient that advertisers will abandon the tactic altogether.