The Grim Future of Pay-Per-Click Marketing?

In order to survive in the business world you have to be able to predict the future to some degree, or at least look once in a while. This absolutely must be applied to our marketing efforts if we’re to survive long into the future.

Fact: Marketing methods and mediums will change.  We must face the facts and move when, where and how we need to. If you don’t, you’ll be one of “those guys” who complain “how it used to be” and how “people should still this-and-that”, but you won’t be making any money either.

Were you one of the guys in 2008 that was wondering why no one was calling you anymore? 2008 was a dramatic drop in phone-book-based phone calls due to the dramatic rise of smart phones and internet-based (Google) searches for local businesses. Remember that?  I do, it was great for us, considering what we do as a business, but this was really hard for a lot of our clients. They were so busy, not paying attention to the changing market conditions and doing “the usual” that it hit them in the face…financially.

So let’s do a bit of speculation about Pay-Per-Click, or PPC as it is more commonly known. You know,  the little ads on the top of your Google Searches and all over the right side of your Google Searches? Every year, Google does things in order to increase revenues, just like any publicly-held, for-profit company certainly would. PPC is their billion-dollar beast. So, logically, appeasing stock holders, and to grow, they must increase those revenues by increasing people’s use of their ads. And so they do. I’ve watched Google over the last few years do things that they say are for privacy, better search results, etc., but the actuality is that it results in more ads being clicked…period. It makes sense, they are for-profit, and in their defense, they do a good job with search results (use other ones if you don’t believe it).

However, they keep pushing businesses more and more towards PPC and away from the natural search results every year.  I wish I could tell you how many business owners have said to me, “Google is bleeding me dry” when referring to their PPC. You can only push people against their will for so long before it backfires on you. The USA is a prime example of that. Remember, business owners are who pay for Google’s PPC ads, they pay Google’s bills, not consumers.

Right now Google is the 500LB Gorilla in the Internet search space, Yahoo and Bing aren’t even close contenders.

But…what if they weren’t?

PPC is a primary way to generate business for many these days, not to mention that an entire part of the Lead-Generation industry is using PPC to generate those leads and phone calls they sell you. What if it all went away?

Well, recently Apple came out and during a speaking event casually mentioned that they were getting into the Search game using Spotlight, the search application on the iPhone. There are even rumors circulating of them buying a major search engine like Duck-Duck-Go.

Now, Google historically has had nothing to be nervous about…until now. Yahoo and Bing have tried, over and over, to compete and failed. But Apple…it’s not often they fail at anything they do. Even products that I thought were not going to be a hit (iPad) were through-the-roof successes. I think they know how to win.

Now, here is the biggest kicker with Apple creating their own Search Engine to compete with Google: there will be NO ADS. No Pay-Per-Click. If it takes off and Google becomes a thing of the past, the whole PPC industry and all lead generators using it, they all disappear.

Remember, you can only force people to do something for so long before it recoils back at you. Remember MySpace? Invasive ads, and it got more and more invasive…after a while everyone left for Facebook. And now Facebook is getting more and more invasive with privacy and advertising too.

There is no such thing as “too big to fail”.

So, Google will have a serious, proven contender for Searches soon enough. Will you have the foresight to plan and execute, quickly enough, a new marketing plan? Or will you be like the clients I remember from 2008 and wait until the last minute when their revenues were dying at the same rate of the people who actually used phone books still?

Dan York

Founder, Stellar-eMarketing, Inc.

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