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Just a month into 2019 and the year has already started with a bang! Here’s what we expect 2019 has in store for search and display marketing:

1) Improved ad personalisation with artificial intelligence

When thinking about AI, it’s easy to start picturing walking, talking, sci-fi movie-style robots. In truth, it’s far less cinematic – but just as exciting! We’re talking about innovations that allow you to automate personalisation at scale.

59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business. Considering this demand – and the complexity of personalised targeting – humans just won’t be up to the task.  AI will be able to offer better personalisation, and will automatically be able to identify and match timely advertising campaigns.

With improved personalisation, consumers will become even more discerning and frustrated by poor targeting and ads not relevant to them. With AI, brands get an extra level of intelligence on their side, allowing them to quickly segment and target the right customer, on the right platform, at the right time, with the right message.

2) Better lookalike/similar audience targeting through machine learning

Similar Audiences on Google and Lookalike Audiences on Facebook allow brands to discover new opportunities with the help of their historical data. The algorithms automatically learn typical customer traits and interests and apply this data to find new customers, i.e. those who have similar interests and shopping habits, and those who have searched similar products to purchase.

We predict that with the advancements in machine learning at Facebook and Google, these audiences will become better targeted and ever more useful to brands in the future – particularly those who are making the best use of, and growing, their first party data.

3) Increase in voice searches via home assistants

Voice searches on home assistants – Alexa, Google Assist, Siri – have already become a popular way to search, consume content, and even shop. We predict this year voice searching will become a staple part of the consumer journey, and therefore fundamental to a brands’ marketing plan. We expect to see more brands incorporating voice-friendly marketing plans to attract new customers.

4) Smarter predictive technology

Predictive technologies use data to identify patterns and then target consumers based on their expected behaviour in the future. We predict this type of technology will begin to heavily influence the results that appear on search engines such as Google and Bing. For example, advertisements that have received low engagement levels will stop appearing sooner, showing consumers more relevant, engaging ads. This will result in brands having to up their SEO game and get smarter with their PPC campaigns.

But that’s not all; predictive algorithms could completely transform the media buying landscape as platforms become smarter at identifying user behaviour and placing the most pertinent ads in the right place at the right time.

5) Broader keyword matching on Google Ads – so watch out!

Google first changed their approach to keyword matching in 2014 by including misspellings, plurals, and similar variants in broad-matched keywords. In 2017, they allowed function words and different word orderings to deliver ads for phrase-matched keywords. We predict that this year keyword matching will be broader than ever!

Roughly 15% of the searches Google sees every day are new, hence the reason why Google announced more changes to its keyword matching. An exact match keyword will now include implied words and paraphrases, meaning variations with the same meaning will show (this also ties in with prediction #4 as exact match is powered by machine learning).

Keyword matching will become even broader, and marketers will start to see a wider variety of synonyms and keyword variations in their search terms / queries reports.

To summarise, as consumer shopping habits change so will the workings of search and display, we believe a large proportion of this change will be focused around artificial intelligence. AI is going to play a vital part in the way brands grow in 2019.