I’ve written a lot about the dynamic nature of search—how search is always changing and adjusting to the constant shifts in law and technological capabilities. It’s fitting then that I discuss where search might be headed and what the future holds for search engine marketing. Many factors will affect the future of search, I will discuss three of these factors in part one of this blog, and three more in part two.

1. The Role of Privacy in Search

Since the advent of the Internet, privacy has been a near-constant issue in digital advertising. There is a fine line between information that is helpful to advertisers and information that impedes on user privacy. Everyone in search—from users to marketers and search engine bigwigs—has had to deal with privacy issues at some point.

Looking forward, companies must be clear about how they will use consumer information. As new information becomes available, marketers must be careful not to violate users’ rights in the battle of privacy. While one side will be developing more privacy policies to meet the burgeoning geysers of information, the other side will be finding ways to take advantage of all this new information.

For the search marketer, the best side to choose is one of observation. Be aware of what’s going on with regard to user privacy. Know when you can and cannot use cookies to track information. Stay up to date on privacy policies in the legal and corporate realm. And, always be clear with your consumers about your policies.

2. A Shift to Native Ads

Native ads integrate marketing and organic content to provide users an experience that is simultaneously relevant and entertaining. Saying that search marketing will undergo a shift to native advertising isn’t exactly accurate. See, advertising has its roots in native advertising. Ad companies made television what it is today by sponsoring shows in order to market products and services.

The reemergence of native ads will likely assume a new form though. Native ads might be more prevalent in mobile where there is less search real estate. Search engines and search marketers might combine forces to provide users the best experiences by showing native ads instead of straight SEO or straight SEM. If this were to happen, it would be a benefit to searchers and marketers alike. Searchers would be getting the best user experiences possible, and marketers would be getting top rankings and interested viewers.

Native ads might also expand into other mediums. Consider websites like Buzzfeed and Elite Daily—these sites are great at integrating advertisements into their written content. YouTube is also a great source for native ads. You can learn more about the future of search and YouTube in my next blog.

3. Search in Audio & Video Media

Based solely on the number of searches, YouTube is one of the biggest search engines in the world. It is thus strange that YouTube hasn’t had great success in paid search advertising. But considering the mass of consumers and searches on YouTube, advertisers will find a way to take advantage of video and audio more effectively.

Right now there are a few ways to advertise on video sites. It’s possible to buy ad space—either on the search engine results page, or in the form of an ad to play before a video. One can also create videos and use them as native ads, building customer loyalty through the entertainment value of the content. The advertising opportunity in video and audio isn’t limited to sites like YouTube.

Think of Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, HBO GO, and more. These sites indicate the convergence of television and Internet video streaming. And all these sites have many, many users. There are also podcasts and music streaming websites like Google Radio, Spotify, and Pandora. Advertisers have found their way into some of these services pretty quickly, but they lack customizability. It’s just a matter of time before advertisers find a better and more targeted way into these audio and video services.

The future of search promises many opportunities for consumers and marketers. Search is here to stay. While the face of search might change, its dynamic nature will surely not. Search marketers must always be prepared to adjust.


I'm skeptical that native ads will be accepted by search users. If a native ad was the best match for a query term, it would rank well in organic results. If a native ad was not as relevant as a lower ranking organic result, people would question the search engine's quality. Maybe I'm not getting how a native ad is different from a sponsored link or from paid placement. Part of Google's early success was keeping paid results separated from organic results. I'm not sure users would find value in mingling the two.



Lot of information....thanks for this post...Great work


@dcdjason Hi dcdjason, the main difference between a native ad and a sponsored link is the fact that the native ad fits within the context of the user experience. A marketer's job is to provide users with the most relevant experiences. Native ads help them accomplish this. Mingling native ads into organic content will be a way for marketers to provide users with most relevant advertisements. Google has already done things to make ads “native” such as adding link extensions, social extensions and images. You are right though, Search Engines have to be careful not to make additions that do not “fit” with the experience.