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.