What search and paid-search ads will look like in the future could become a topic for a PhD. dissertation. A few things have triggered these thoughts. Among them, Google's introduction of Dynamic Search Ads, Kenshoo CMO Aaron Goldman's Search Insider Summit forthcoming presentation on "The Perfect Search Engine," and iCrossing SVP Gary Stein's ClickZ post titled "Speak to Me: Mobile, Voice, and Your Ad."
Apple calls Siri "an intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking." Natural-language voice commands allow users to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and find information. While it doesn't serve up paid-search ads in response to verbal search questions, Stein wonders whether Apple's Siri will ever serve up paid-search ads as a response to search questions.
Not only Apple through Siri, but I wonder when -- not if -- any of the search engines use natural-language voice commands to serve up paid-search ads based on questions, location, social signals and more. Travelers could verbally ask a search engine questions like "What Italian restaurants in the area have the best food ratings?" or "What entertainment is available on Saturday night?" to find the best options. It's not unlike search engines today that offer answers to questions based on organic listings.
The real challenge, which will happen as technology advances, becomes the ability to serve up a paid-search ad based on the context of a voice command in a text message, email or calendar entry. Stein points to a video (not necessarily this one) demonstrating Siri's functions, and provides an example based on the video he viewed where a guy instructs Siri to send a I'll-be-late text to his wife. In this instance, he wonders what if Siri could not only send the text, but also offer a link to a flower delivery service based on the context of the message. Microsoft's Stefan Weitz alludes to this type of feature in a recent discussion about search apps.
As ads turn into answers, we can see the beginnings of this type of automation in Google's Dynamic Search Ads announced Thursday. In appearance, the ads, which automatically generate search terms, serve up and look identical to AdWords, but behind the interface triggers based on how Google assesses the content on the publisher's Web site does the work. Advertisers simply provide Google with their Web site domain address, a credit card number, default bid and copy -- and leave it to Google to run their paid-search program.
Dynamic Search Ads also provide the ability to include or exclude specific pages for DSA targeting, such as pages with job posting or customer support. Google provides four options for dynamic ad targeting: Category, URL, Page Title, and Page Content.
Google has been testing the service for the past year with select advertisers that have been seeing an increase of between 5% and 10% in clicks and conversions. Google points to ApartmentHomeLiving.com, which displays apartment listings, as seeing a nearly 50% rise in the number of conversions, with a cost-per-conversion of 73% below traditional search ads.
It seems that advertisers with the potential for better results think of Dynamic Search Ads as the ability to promote content on pages. The new service allows marketers to target any content on a page with specific keywords.