Paid media review of 2017, and what to expect in 2018

It's that time of the year when we reflect on the year that just passed and look forward to the one that's just begun. While it's good to recap on all things we've done, tested, and run in the last year, it's also important to start thinking about new ideas and trends for the new year. And what's most exciting is that we often don't know exactly what's coming up.

Google, Bing, Facebook… all these platforms are continually launching new betas and creating new features to help us boost performance. While some may not have a huge impact on our activity, others can be a great instrument to maximise growth and help us reach our targets. As such, 2017 brought some interesting, big changes: 

  • Google Search Ads: In January 2017, we said goodbye to Standard ads and welcomed Expanded Text Ads (ETAs). It was a big change; we saw the introductions of two headlines, a longer description, and two paths. As a result, we saw bigger ads, but click-through rate (CTR) didn't always increase despite this.

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  • Google Search Extensions: This marked the introduction of price and promotion extensions, and is a useful way to push promotions and competitive prices via ads and to increase their visibility.

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  • Google Similar Audiences For Search: These became a powerful way to reach new and qualified users who have a shared interest with one of your existing audiences. 
  • Google Display Network (GDN) Responsive Ads And Smart Display Campaigns: These are good options for accounts with limited resources, as you can easily create banners, and automatically optimise targeting, bidding, and ads using machine learning. 
  • Facebook Collection: This ad type leads with a video or image, followed by four product images below the main one. If a user taps on the ad, a catalogue is displayed with up to 50 products, and when a user clicks on a product, they're sent to the website.

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  • Instagram Stories: This interactive format allows images, videos, and canvas ads to display in a user's story feed. 

What about new features launching in 2018? 

  • New AdWords Interface: A few months ago, we were given the option to use the new AdWords interface, but many are still using the old one. The new interface seems to be more visual and insightful, particularly when looking at the features in the overview tab.

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  • Google Search Audiences: In 2018, we'll have even better audience targeting as in-market audiences become available for search and Google, and we'll finally be able to create similar audiences for Customer Match. 
  • Machine Learning Will Continue To Grow: If we thought that 2017 marked a year for great progress in machine learning, 2018 will be the year of the machine learning revolution. We'll see it deeply impact agencies and analysts as their ability to understand user intent and uncover new search insights grows.
  • Reach A Broad Audience In Facebook With Dynamic Ads For Products: That's right, you'll be able to showcase products from your catalogue to users that haven't been on your site, but have shown an interest in them previously. 
  • The Importance Of Video On Facebook: Facebook users watch over 100 million hours of video per day. This is an incredible figure, which is likely to keep rising, so it's important advertisers make sure to include this ad format as part of their prospecting strategy. 

Of course, plenty of new features and technologies will arrive and surprise us but, for now, 2018 looks to be a very promising year as far as paid media developments go.

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