Still, I have to take a minute to call us out. This call out is specific to paid search. There is always something new or a change to adapt to, but in terms of impact, there hasn't been anything groundbreaking in a while.
By groundbreaking, I mean something that means we totally have to adapt the way we do our jobs, how we manage campaigns -- change that requires that adaptation to occur in a timely and accurate manner, or we'll have to face repercussions.
While some think the Microsoft/Yahoo deal is groundbreaking, it simply isn't, or at least not yet. It is encouraging to see Microsoft's search market share grow; however, what have you had to change about the way you manage search? If you are anything like everyone else I know, you have never capped your spending on Microsoft search and the "lift" can be referred to as incremental at best. (There are a few industry verticals like travel not included in this broad statement.)
The most notable, "high impact," changes were Project Panama and Quality Score. We went from seeing every advertiser's exact bid to being challenged to be a better marketer than the competition, and this was good, as long as you were a marketer. I have witnessed more than one SEM agency that focused on total automation struggle ever since.
As search has become more of a direct marketer's dream canvas, testing and targeting demands have increased and expectations of what should come next have been coming through in due order. But will be the next big thing?
My theory is that the next big thing will happen outside of the search engines. The next game-changer is imminent. SEM technology companies have already emerged with platforms that are far outpacing agency proprietary systems. Most agencies already have acknowledged this and are bringing one or more of these third-party systems within the agency to service their client bases. This is the first part of it.
The second part is this: The same great technology platforms available to the agencies are also available direct to clients. The SEM technologies are becoming so incredibly advanced that only skilled direct marketers are left with a place in this world. Direct marketers, who can write compelling ad copy, enhance conversion rates through landing page and conversion path optimization, and develop creative and competitive offer strategies, will have their place. Those that not only "test," but do it methodically and do not let the results of one test become law, challenging best practices and establishing their own: these are true search marketers.
The change in the service provider to end user relationship is already happening. Do you know where you stand? My advice: Anticipation is the key to early and successful adaptation. Find your place now.