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2012 has been another year of strong grow for pay-per-click advertising. The main characters on the stage are still the same. Google is comfortably the leader of the market while the Bing and Yahoo’s ‘Search Alliance’ is starting (slowly) to catch up. Facebook has been experimenting new features and Ad formats but hasn’t quite found yet the alchemy to become a real threat for big G.

2013 will see the spend grow further. No revolutions are expected but Paid Search marketers will, however face new challenges and will have new opportunities. Here are in our opinion the 3 biggest changes marketers will have to deal with in 2013:

-in the UK Google Shopping will become a Paid Comparison Shopping Search Engine in February. Product Listing Ads Campaigns (PLAs) will be managed through AdWords. In other words, merchants who are not willing to pay for clicks will see their products disappear from the Google Shopping results pages. It means more work for marketers who will have to constantly optimise PLAs campaigns and merchant data feeds but it also means more opportunities to increase the Returns on Investments. It’s likely that since Google Shopping will be a source of revenue shopping results will have a more prominent space on the SERPs. To find out more about what this transition means to merchants read our blog post.

More engaging Ads. Google has been testing a number of new Ad extensions aimed to make Ads more engaging, increasing visibility and Click-through rate. The ‘offer’ Ad extension lets advertisers give customers redeemable offers with two different options: Online redemption: if users click the “view offer” link they are taken to a page on the advertiser’s website where they can redeem the offer. In-store redemption: users are taken to Google-hosted landing page where they can view the offer.

‘Communication’ Ad extension enables advertisers to shorten the Lead Generation Process by collecting information about users interested in the company’s services and products without sending them to landing pages. Different formats are being tested and the advertisers who have been invited to join the beta phase have mostly been using it to collect potential customer’s email addresses like in the example below.

The ‘offer’ and ‘communication’ extensions have been around for a while but they are still and beta and not available to everyone. They will be probably be officially released next year if results of the tests are satisfying. Another Ad extension may also be made available to marketers next year. Although it hasn’t been announced through official channels yet, many have come across a ‘live chat’ extension that enables users to get in touch immediately with the advertisers. No one can predict weather this feature will be released any time soon but it is just another signal that in the future PPC Ads will be more dynamics, information-rich and customers will have more tools to communicate with businesses and get immediate responses.

Video ‘Autoplay’ Ads will start appearing in the Facebook news feed. FB will use the appeal of its huge users base to convince big brands to move their millionaire budgets from TV to the Internet. Given the possibility to segment users based on their age, geographic location and interests there will be also opportunity for smaller businesses looking to target niche markets.Despite the promise to reach pretty much everyone in the markets were it is the leading Social Network, Facebook Ads performances have never been any close to Google search Ads. The move will be controversial as the user experience will be affected but Facebook needs to take radical decisions if it wants to close the gap with Google which in 2011 made 36.9 billion US dollars from advertising against Facebook’s 3.1.

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