Predictions on PPC and Search in 2023

I got a new Galaxy S4 last week. It’s a great phone with a superb, large screen and I can see myself spending a lot of time with it – more than I should for sure.

But it got me thinking.  If the world is moving rapidly away from PCs to smartphones, then where does that leave Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC)?

After all, Search was created in the PC environment where the user was in front of a monitor – an increasingly larger one at that – on which a lot of search results could be displayed.

As browsers improved and the capability for tabbed windows was added, the PC became even better as a search medium. Consider when you last researched a trip. How many tabs did you have open? Probably, like me, the answers is a lot!

Now we are going to spend a lot more time on the small screen phone, so what does that mean for PPC?

Here are my predictions for 2023:

1. Less than half of today’s B2C PPC advertisers will be using PPC ten years from now.

With fewer advertising slots on the phone (or tablet for that matter), the B2C PPC market will go through a bloody battle with only the big boys surviving.  Fewer slots means higher CPCs, lower ROIs, then it’s over for many.

During the recent recession we got a hint of that in some of our clients’ markets. For example, in the Moving and Storage business, one greatly impacted during a recession, CPCs rose sharply as mom and pop firms desperately bid up prices trying to get leads. Eventually, many crashed out. It was unsustainable. And I see the same thing happening in mobile, as many fight for fewer slots, then eventually exit stage left

2. B2B PPC advertisers will not be impacted significantly.
The corporate workforce ten years from now will still be in front of a large screen and I predict they will still be using a desktop or notebook. Devices may be getting smaller and faster, but Mother Nature dictates that people’s eyesight gets worse as they get older. Large monitors will still be in vogue. I don’t see tablets or phones being hooked to them. It will still be a desktop/notebook, and that means that PPC real estate for B2B won’t change either.

3. Google’s Search Revenues will increase, not decrease.
With increased CPCs from B2C and no change in B2B, Google’s revenues will increase, all things being equal. I don’t think Google has have much to worry about especially since they control the pricing to a certain extent.

Shifting away from predictions, I think there’s a fascinating question to be asked around Search itself in ten years.  Namely, how will today’s teenagers be performing searches that require a lot of research?

Teens’ lives revolve around the smartphone. Perhaps they do some limited research on their notebooks for schoolwork, but they are predisposed to the phone. Today they may be doing more Local Searches, say for the nearest Starbucks.

But what happens as they get older and their searches become more sophisticated – like planning a family vacation, or buying a car? Searches that typically require a lot of screen real estate.

For me, tablets don’t cut it. I get antsy once I have a few tabs open because the screen is too small. I usually end up moving to my laptop and have a much better search experience.

But what if I had never really used a PC or laptop? What if my only device had been a mobile one?

Perhaps what will happen is that today’s teens will be satisfied with only the top 2-3 search results because any more than that would be overload on their device.

If this plays out, then it’s going to be more important than ever to be in the top 2-3 in search. Which means many battles ahead.

At least I’ll have a ringside seat. Having three young adult children, it’s going to make for fascinating viewing.

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