People-Based Targeting Takes Center Stage In A Keywordless World

Keywords have transitioned to a new role in search engine marketing, as channel and target-market advertising move to the forefront. Keywords remain important as intent signals, but linking relationships to things and places has become more valuable.

Google will likely look to roll out people-based targeting, the equivalent of Facebook Atlas -- which enables the social site to match a Facebook ID to other data from a company like Datalogix, which represents more than 40 million people with loyalty cards, according to Chief Strategy Officer at Resolution Media Gerry Bavaro. "If we can bring Datalogix data into the ecosystem and identify the person searching at any given moment as the brand's customer, and then closely measure when they walk into a store in real-time to serve up an ad in Google search, you have the equivalent of Facebook custom audiences," Bavaro says.

Fragmentation continues to put a strain on resources at advertising agencies as campaign leads and creative directors work to connect multiple channels through a cloud infrastructure. The challenge began to build in 2014, and it will only become more intense next year, Bavaro says.

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"We're becoming middleware providers," Bavaro says -- middleware meaning software or tools that connect multiple channels. "We're becoming experts at all these different things."

Search remains a huge investment for brands, but it doesn't have the first- and third-party data inputs at the levels of programmatic display advertising, per Bavaro. The debate about managing campaigns in a keywordless world at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit leaped to a closing discussion on where panelists see major changes in 2015. All panelists agreed that cloud services will take center stage, along with the distribution of content -- which will change the way businesses function, according to Mike Grehan, managing director and CMO at Acronym.

Few search engine marketers wake up each morning with a focus solely on search engine marketing. Today they need have expertise in social media, video, and programmatic, 3Q Digital Founder David Rodnitzky reminds marketers.

Is there a future without keywords? It's possible, per Rodnitzky. "The problem with keywords is they require too much knowledge to do well, and that creates inefficiencies with search engines," he said. "Google looks at two things to determine whether they will serve an ad: how much money will it make, and how likely will the ad be to encourage users in the future to click on this ad."

Rodnitzky believes Google product people feel there are many other ways to create more revenue and user confidence in ads.

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