The Future of Paid Search & Google Ads: 8 Predictions for 2020

By Tinuiti Team

Last year, we asked Tinuiti experts to predict what changes will most impact Google advertisers in 2019.

Their predictions included:


We’re proud to say that most of our experts’ forecasts were spot on.

Google released a universal shopping cart with guaranteed 2-day shipping with its revamped Shopping experience, expanded Shopping features and updated Express with Shopping Actions, made many improvements across smart campaigns and ad formats like RSAs and RDAs, and attribution capabilities have been improved with Amazon’s recently released Amazon Attribution tool.

Now, what do the experts predict will change in the year ahead?

Here are seven expert predictions on what will most impact Paid Search and Google advertisers in 2020.


1. Increased Spend & Competition in Shopping and Search


In 2019, we saw record ad spend across Google’s Search and Shopping properties — a signal that indicates more competition between brands to show for search results.

Data from Tinuiti Search & Shopping accounts


One of the clearest signs of this is the increased competition for sponsored placements during 2019’s biggest shopping holidays — Black Friday and the “Cyber Five” weekend.

Data from Tinuiti Search & Shopping accounts


“During the Cyber Five, Google text ad spend grew 25% Y/Y driven by an identical increase in clicks as CPC held steady. Shopping grew even faster, with a 32% increase in spend driven by a 31% increase in clicks. While CPC was essentially flat overall for both formats, the cost of desktop traffic was up 18% and 11% for Shopping and text ads, respectively.”

— Andy Taylor, Director of Research at Tinuiti


2. More Upper Funnel Opportunities With New Ad Formats


Another trend that advertisers should be mindful of in 2020 is Google’s expansion of upper-funnel inventory to reach customers earlier in the shopping journey.

New Discovery ads, improvements to Showcase shopping ads, Gallery ads, and more are all indicators that Google is paying serious attention to giving advertisers more inventory to generate demand from the very beginning of the shopper’s journey.

Brands should consider moving more investment to support their upper funnel initiatives with these newer formats given that they have the resources to test and optimize.

“What we’re seeing is Google making significant updates to the platform to be more focused on client business goals and the customer journey. New ad formats and features will offer greater support for discovery, consideration, and conversion initiatives.”

mike woj

— Mike Wojciechowski, Senior Director of Shopping & Feed at Tinuiti


“New search ad formats are going to be huge in 2020. Modifications of text ads will give brands the chance to match search intent more accurately than ever with local services ads, map ads, lead extensions, and more.”

— Aaron Levy, Group Director of SEM at Tinuiti


3. Demand For Higher Quality Creative & Cross-channel Storytelling


In their latest media report, Forrester predicts that “advertisers will give up hypertargeting for a hyperfocus on creative,” and that “creative adtech will improve ad quality and cross-channel storytelling as cheap-looking, product-focused display ads decline.”

Higher-quality creative is essential for building a consistent visual experience for customers across all of your digital properties, from your Search & Shopping ads to your ecommerce website and social pages.

“Even creative is heavily leveraging machine learning with RSAs and RDAs. I would expect Google to continue to lean into machine learning not only in creative but also expansions in smart campaign types like Smart Shopping.”

— Josh Brisco, Senior Director of Growth Media at Tinuiti


“Unlike Gmail Ads, Discovery Ads and Responsive Display Ads allow for multiple assets to serve within one ad set in formats based on the user’s likeliness to convert. This allows for dynamic creative to serve based on what best fits the user experience, and automatically optimizes towards top-performing assets.”

— Sara Ulrich, Paid Search Strategist at Tinuiti


4. Google Shopping Actions


Google Shopping Actions was released in 2019, designed to create a seamless shopping experience across multiple Google surfaces, which includes a universal shopping cart and instant checkout for retailers that are in the program. Retailers will likely see further updates to the program in 2020.

Google is promoting this as a streamlined, frictionless shopping experience for the user.

Under Shopping Actions, Google will handle sales, support and returns, but you will still be responsible for fulfillment–and that fulfillment must still integrate with OMS.

“The coexistence of Google Shopping Ads and Google Shopping Actions units will be very interesting to watch over the coming holiday and year ahead. At the end of the day, if brands can still build awareness and engagement through more upper-funnel formats, will they care that they are sending some of their traffic to checkout on Google (with what is likely to be a better CVR than their website)? Ultimately merchants need to weigh the pros and cons for Actions and decide if it’s worth being an early adopter.”

mike woj

— Mike Wojciechowski, Senior Director at Tinuiti


5. Google Universal App Campaigns


Over the last year, we’ve seen Google make big strides in offering more capabilities for mobile app advertisers, specifically with Universal App Campaigns and the new Google Analytics for Firebase.

“In 2020, Google App Campaigns will be giving more control to advertisers through new betas and product features. Unfortunately, advertisers will not have access to these features if they don’t have the Firebase SDK implemented. We know that implementing another SDK into advertisers’ apps might not be ideal as it will require dev resources and time but if advertisers want to be utilizing the savviest aspects of Google App Campaigns, we highly recommend having it in place to be able to take advantage of these new features.”

kaitlyn shimazaki
— Kaitlyn Shimazaki, Paid Search Strategist at Tinuiti


6. More Auto Bidding Improvements


In 2019, Google retired Average Position in an effort to push users from focusing on average position reporting to impression share. As a result, this forced businesses to rely more on Google’s auto bidding feature.

“One of the biggest changes in terms of how we set our goals was in the sunsetting of Average Position… and we also saw an abundance of options come with new ways to optimize, whether it’s for max conversion value or targeting a ROAS strategy. Those things weren’t available to us before, so it’s likely we will see continuous testing and improvements to new strategies Google has brought to the table.”

alana dritz— Alana Dritz, Paid Search Strategist at Tinuiti


“Smart bidding strategies have become much more sophisticated over the years. We’ve seen performance improve and know that these bidding options will only become more important in 2020, so it’s time to start using them to your advantage and get comfortable with them now rather than later.”

-Josh Brisco, Senior Director of Growth Media at Tinuiti


7. Tying Online and Offline Performance


The integration of online and offline performance is going to be important in the upcoming year. By creating attributes for offline sales calls, marketers can begin to understand the customer behind the call and what motivates them.

From there, artificial intelligence can analyze calls and assign them value scores, spread this data across your martech stack, and use that data to optimize your paid search performance.

This will make it incredibly easy to segment your customers based on their conversations and the outcome of the call. With this data, you can:

“If a customer called and they’re a good lead but they didn’t actually go on to buy an item, you definitely want to consider putting them in the right audiences to make sure your ads are front and center. And not just on search but on Facebook, Display, and all the other channels you’re using in order to do a good job of capturing what you know to be a valuable lead.”

blair symes

— Blair Symes, Sr. Director of Content Marketing at Dialogtech


8. AI-Powered Data Aggregation


Data is important, but unfortunately gathering it isn’t always easy. There are multiple points to collect data from and hundreds of thousands of tools to collect data with.

This will be less of a problem in the upcoming year. Increasingly powerful AI and automation features will make it easier for Google’s algorithm to collect more accurate data. 

On top of that, it will help you understand this data better as well. Google’s algorithm is now capable of predicting and correcting issues that can impact your data, giving you a more accurate, holistic view of what’s going on in your business. 

“You’re constantly going through a process of adding and removing data, so I would say stay agile as much as you can. Choose the data you want to track and see how it works and see if it actually drives impact. Continue to learn over time.”

— Murilo Favari, Omega Marketing Vice President 


The Future of Paid Search & Google Ads: Key Takeaways


The year ahead will be full of challenges both new and familiar for marketers, the good news is that we can expect even more ad tools and improvements to make smarter decisions that allow us to improve performance and the customer experience.

Here are some of our key expectations for 2020:


Want to learn more?

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4 New Google Shopping Features Advertisers Need in 2020

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