Recently, Google started removing pay-per-click (PPC) ads in the right column (or “right rail”) of the desktop search engine results page leaving only a few number of spots left available for paid advertisements on each page. This move has sent PPC-dependent businesses into a tizzy.
To a large extent, Google’s action can be pinned on millennial use of search. These consumers—born between 1980 and 2005—have lead the charge when it comes to protesting advertisements on digital channels and are the biggest adopters of ad-blocking software that wipes their search engine result pages clean of paid ads. A July 2015 study conducted by SEO giant, Moz, and content marketing agency, Fractl, revealed that nearly two in every three millennials use ad-blocking software.
The rest of the U.S. population isn’t far behind. A survey from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford found that 41 percent of all US Internet users use ad-blocking software on desktops and laptops. As a result, digital pundits speculate that ad-blocking software is one factor of declining click through rates.
Not only does this trend alarm PPC and paid search specialists (and Google), it’s got publishers riled up as well. Some editors have gone so far as to ban ad-blocking readers. New York Times CEO Mark Thompson is one. “This stuff is not made for free,” he explains in an interview with AdWeek. It’s the ads that pay journalists’ salaries, after all.
Does Ad-Blocking Mean the End of PPC?
Despite some shifts in PPC, the advertising tactic will not be disappearing anytime soon, if simply because Google makes so much of its money that way. PPC-dependent businesses must find a new way to reach millennials—a market segment poised to start spending $200 billion in 2017.
However, millennials are notorious for their resistance to blunt sales messages. They aren’t the consumers their baby boomer parents were. The millennials guiding beliefs are:
1. Less is more
2. Work/life balance beats unbridled success
3. We are all world citizens
4. Doing good is as important as achieving
5. We must protect the environment
Marketers Now Must Adapt PPC Strategy to Millennial Values
These new approaches to PPC strategy will help tailor your PPC messaging to the new values and guiding beliefs of millennial digital consumers.
Changing Messaging for Millennials
Though ad blockers and traditional messaging makes it harder to reach millennials with PPC campaigns, there are many ways to target your message to reach the most millennials possible. Keep these tips in mind when you are building your next paid search campaign, and you may get millennials listening.