Everyone loves a birthday — and the digital world is starting to see a few exceptional milestones as it advances into 2016.

Google celebrated the 15th anniversary of AdWords this year. (You can take a look an infographic mapping the history of AdWords at the end of this article.)

The touchstones in the infographics highlight how digital customer experience has changed. They also remind marketers how paid search ads incrementally draw an audience to a planned customer experience.

The Search Evolution

Paid search once involved bidding on keywords that appear in search engine results. But this was in a world where search was primarily conducted on desktop computers.

Today's consumers increasingly search online media through mobile devices. Marketers need to use new ways to get out their messages.

Fortunately, more advertising options exist, from social media ads on Twitter and Facebook to native ads that blend with traditional editorial content.

Google, Bing and Yahoo have adjusted how paid search can be customized.

The most significant development was Enhanced Campaigns, a 2013 feature Google added within the AdWords account manager.

Enhanced Campaigns are campaigns set to certain online customer behavior — by time of day, location and device type, for example. (Microsoft would later add its own Enhanced Campaigns to Bing Ads, including offered a fourth choice, demographics.)

Enhanced Campaigns offered marketers the ability to match bids to customer experience, creating smart advertising campaigns tied to consumer circumstances. Ads could appear during times considered convenient to the customer on a mobile device, matching multichannel needs and improving bid management that maximized campaign budgets.

Marketing Options

Users of AdWords and Bing campaigns can select among the following:

Ad extensions provide a means for customers to dial a local business for spur of the moment needs as well as to be drawn into a customer experience in a branch location. There are several variations of ad extensions, such as call extensions, which provides a number, and app extensions, which drive ad viewers to an app.

Remarketing, which was covered in this CMSWire post, is meant to remind people of the offers they may have seen and have been interrupted within the came.

Video ads, such as True View ads, are shown before a YouTube video or appear in the results column to the left. Google recently incorporated True View campaign metrics into the AdWords manager.

Why Options Matter

These smart ad options build the customer experience by providing nuanced reminders and tailored messages that seem personal. These options are valuable for online users who experience increasingly fragmented attention for messages.

Ad extensions, for example, provide information that encourages the customer decision towards a sale.

The Ad Blocking Problem

Over the years, experts and well-known firms debated the value of paid search, such as eBay’s famous negative conclusions, noted by Clickz back in 2013. This year, the debate focused on the rise of ad blockers and their impact on the ROI of marketing campaigns.

According to a joint report by PageFair and Adobe, ad blocking in the US grew 48 percent in the 12 months ending last June. The estimated cost to publishers: $22 billion.

Ad blockers are a particular concern because they can also interrupt analytics tracking, interfering with the metrics related to a customer’s online experience.

What To Do

The best approach managers can take to protect a planned customer experience while a campaign is underway is to audit analytic tag functionality and site performance.

Good audits centralize viewpoints to learn when issues like ad blocking or poor ad content appear.

Despite the many changes that ads have undergone — with more certainly on the way — the immediate value of an ad campaign is a share offers and events that make a customer experience worthwhile.

Crafting customer experience with paid search campaign is one more way to draw customers into a customer experience and lead to real sales.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by Temari 09

adwords infographic