I read an interesting article over at Search Engine Land on Tuesday titled “Coming Soon: Paid Search Without Keywords.” The author, Mona Elesseily, was commenting on a keynote address she heard at SES San Jose where Nick Fox was discussing that in the next 5-10 years paid search would operate without keywords. The reasoning was that as search users get smarter they use longer search terms (20-25% of searches on Google in the last 6 months were unique) which makes PPC a game of generating and managing increasingly longer keyword lists.
Benefits of No Keywords
The main benefit of this system would be the simlification of AdWords. Google has always played up the fact that anyone can use AdWords to drive traffic to their site. While true, doing a good job is beyond most users. I agree with this benefit (though it gives me concern, which I will get to in a minute). Better relevancy on natural language searches and better connections are also mentioned, but these seem too fluffy and undefined to mean much.
While Mona seemed excited about the possibilities I couldn’t ignore the impression that Google was trying to take AdWords, the product where Google is most transparent and where the levers are fairly well understood, and make it another of their famous black boxes. Nobody knows exactly how the search algorithm works (and it’s changing all the time). Nobody knows the revenue split in AdSense. Nobody knows how PageRank is calculated. Am I taking crazy pills?
In short, I agree that PPC is getting more complex as search users get more savvy. I like that Google is an innovator and is looking for new, more efficient ways to handle paid search (that means more efficient ways to make money, but that’s another story). However, I do not like working with a black box when it’s my money going into the black box. Anyway, that’s the end of my rant. Any Googlers out there who want to come to the defense of Nick Fox? Did I miss something?