The Drum Awards for Marketing - Extended Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Search Data Technology

Getting real: How live data is changing the paid search landscape


By Matthew Read | PPC Director

November 24, 2015 | 5 min read

These days you can’t talk about advertising without talking about Google and more specifically AdWords. But why is it so popular? And why do advertisers love it so much? Well without going into all the nitty gritty of targeting, ad formats and costings, the main reason it works so well as an advertising platform is that Google is simply a means to an end.

Live data is changing search

What I mean by this is that Google is all about search. A user goes to Google to find something and as advertisers we can put that ‘something’ directly in front of them.

Compare this to traditional advertising formats, like TV and radio, where advertising interrupts a piece of content and it’s easy to see why search works so well as an advertising platform.

But is it changing?

Using AdWords over the past six years I’ve seen many changes. The ads have changed colours umpteen times, we’ve had images and videos come in and out of ads and we’ve adapted everything we do to mobile and tablet as well as desktop.

However, the one thing that has always remained constant is that Google is simply a means to an end and therefore perfect for advertisers. No one goes to Google just to have a look at Google, they go to find a link to what they are looking for, or least that’s how it has been until now.

Live data is taking over the landscape

For me, the change in Google over the last year is one of the biggest since its launch and could have a huge impact on advertising. More and more, regular every day searches suddenly include information and answers directly from Google:

What this does is change Google from being ‘the mean’ to being ‘the end’, and what does that mean for advertisers? Well when information like this appears, they now need to distract the user away from it, like TV ads, which becomes a much harder job.

How do we compete?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Google is suddenly going to jeopardise nearly $60bn of revenue a year from AdWords, but it can’t be ignored that it is serving more and more information like this directly into the search results and as advertisers we need to make sure our ads are still clickable when appearing alongside it.

The way to do this is to do like Google and bring the live information directly into the ads. Give the user the information directly in the search engine.

I did this for a campaign around the FTSE 100, putting the live trading price into the ad as Google has the live price in the search results:

The impact of this? The ads that included the live data had a 15 per cent higher click through rate and a much higher level of user engagement and conversion rate.

At the end of the day, Google is all about serving the user the information they are looking for, that’s why we all use it. As advertisers it therefore makes sense to follow suit and give the user what they are looking for. The search landscape is changing and as advertisers we need to change with it.

Matthew Read is PPC director at digital marketing agency Jellyfish, he tweets at @matthewread88.

Search Data Technology

More from Search

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +