Marketing to Seniors,Paid Media/PPC,Senior Living

How AI Search Affects Paid Marketing

Woman looking at charts and graphs on two monitors

In 2022, Google generated a whopping $162.45 billion in revenue from ads in search. While it is true to state that the full impact of the AI-centric search results experience (which Google calls the search generative experience or SGE) will come with surprises, it is equally unsurprising to know that advertising will have a place in the new SGE.

Take the below search “good bike for a 5-mile commute with hills” as an example. Here, you can clearly see the Sponsored listings over a white background above the light blue SGE box.

Additionally, it appears that ads will have a place in the SGE itself. Take a look at this example for the query [hiking backpack for kids]. Notice that the first result (highlighted with the blue dot for reference) is an almost indistinguishable sponsored ad!

So we know that ads will be part of the new search results pages. But, if you’re like many of the people we speak to in the senior living industry every day, knowing how or where to begin can be difficult.

Fortunately, we’re here to help!

Your Audience Is Your Hero

In her book, “Resonate,” Nancy Duarte explains that if you want your message to stick with your audience, you need to first understand them. What is troubling your prospects? What are their pain points? What do they enjoy doing? Your message isn’t about you; it’s about THEM.

If you think about it, this concept is at the heart of the AI search revolution. Google and Bing know people are savvy searchers. They want information from multiple sources without feeling overwhelmed, and they want answers quickly. Artificial intelligence makes this possible, which ensures that people continue to use search engines as their primary research source.

So, as a first step, follow suit. Remember that the changes to the search engine results pages are only happening because that is what the market is demanding. Once you accept this truth, you’ll be open to making the necessary changes to your paid search accounts sooner, which can give your senior living business a competitive advantage.

Embrace Automation to Boost Advertising Results

To this point, we’ve talked a lot about how artificial intelligence will impact the search results pages for consumers. What we haven’t discussed yet is that a more integrated AI experience — at least in Google Ads — will also be available to advertisers.

With this enhancement, advertisers simply tell Google what page they want to send traffic to. Google Ads will automatically generate headlines, descriptions, target keywords, images and ad assets (formerly called ad extensions). Note that this process is not fully automated. Advertisers can provide feedback to the AI to make changes or manually make edits where needed.

It’s no secret that similar capabilities have been in Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising platforms for some time now. So why is this update significant? 

Ad relevance

Believe it or not, ad placement does not always go to the highest bidder. While the cost advertisers are willing to pay does influence ad visibility, the quality of the user experience is just as important.

With automation, advertisers can easily target relevant keywords that closely align with what ads say while also closely aligning with what the landing page (where traffic is sent after they click an ad) says.

This seamless alignment promotes a stronger user experience, which can boost ad visibility, generate more clicks and ultimately drive inquiries, tours and move-ins.

While true that this could be done, to a degree, manually, automation enables advertisers to scale ad relevance. Recall that the audience is quick to revise their searches during the decision-making process. It is impossible to manually edit campaigns to meet these evolving searches. Automation eliminates this challenge.

Speed to lead

A more integrated AI-powered automation experience will save significant time in creating new campaigns. This means your message can go live faster, which means you’ll have access to performance data — and can make needed optimizations to improve performance — sooner than ever before.

More time for strategic thought

Finally, automation reduces the need for manual optimization on valuable but low-level tasks. For example, while automation carries the burden of writing ad copy and finding keywords, advertisers have more time to consider how sales-qualified leads are and what can be done to improve bottom-line metrics such as cost-per-qualified lead and ROAS (return on ad spend).

Up Your Smart Bidding Game with Maximize Conversion Value

Automated bidding and smart bidding are tools that advertisers use to set per-click bids for relevant searches. Advertisers have many options to choose from based on their business objectives. Below is a visual that describes each.

Based on the occupancy and census needs of senior living communities, we recommend that, at minimum, your community use the maximize conversion value smart bidding strategy. 

As the name implies, the maximize conversion values strategy allows advertisers to assign different values to different conversion types. When you understand which types of conversions are most likely to generate qualified leads, you can assign those conversion actions a greater value. 

In turn, Google and Bing will adjust bids based on the likelihood that a searcher will submit a conversion action that is most likely to turn into a sale.

Use Your First-Party Data

Outside of using your own data (aka first-party data) for smart bidding purposes, you can connect your CRM directly to Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. For many reasons, this takes your per-click bidding strategy to the next level.

More dynamic per-click bidding

Consider again the exercise in which you apply conversion values to different conversion types. Directionally, this is a good step, but it’s also quite static. 

Let’s say that your analysis revealed that conversions through your live chat are most likely to convert to a sale. With max conversion values in place, bids will emphasize live chat conversions over all others.

But what about people who are highly qualified who called or filled out a form instead? 

By connecting your CRM directly into the Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising platforms, the search engines will be able to dynamically adjust bids not just against what type of conversion the user is likely to take, but by the sales-related milestones they’ve hit in your sales process — regardless of the conversion path they did take!

More targeted ad delivery

Senior living is one of the most heavily regulated industries when it comes to digital advertising. For instance, in response to the Fair Housing Act, communities cannot advertise to audiences based on zip code or household income. Additionally, HIPAA guidelines restrict communities from using effective strategies such as similar audience targeting and remarketing.

Although Google and Microsoft restrict how and where ads are placed, and although they limit the personally identifiable information they share with businesses, the fact is that they have troves of detail about their users. Automation that plugs into the data that search engines possess helps businesses work around these challenges. 

To explain, understand that when you share your CRM data with the search engines, you empower them to create personas based on key characteristics of your most qualified buyers.

So, the next time somebody does a relevant search online, the search engines can analyze the demographics and psychographics of the person doing the search, then cross-reference that against the same characteristics of your own sales-qualified and closed leads. If the data suggests a strong similarity, it’s more likely that your ad will appear. Best of all, because your ad is highly relevant, you’re more likely to get a click, lead, and, hopefully, resident.

Third-party cookies are going away

It can be easy to forget this, but remember that third-party cookies are going away.

For reference, third-party cookies are tracking software that get added to a person’s device when they browse sites other than your own. Marketers have always relied heavily on third-party cookies because they provide contextual signals (called third-party data) about consumer preferences. They also historically unlocked the ability to retarget ads to potential searchers who had already visited your site and other owned properties.

When this goes away, you will need to use your own data to ensure stronger ad relevance and delivery which mitigates the risk of wasted ad spend! Attane handles all of this for their clients as a part of their marketing investment, but if you find yourself needing to do this yourself, here’s how to get started. 

How to get started

There are two options to integrate your first-party data:

Offline conversion imports:

Enhanced conversions :

More Ad Space, More Paid Clicks and Higher CPCs

Once the search generative experience rolls out, we expect to see two seemingly contradictory changes.

First, ads will take more of the search engine page real estate and as a result will be more likely to be clicked than they are today.

Stated differently, once the search generative experience (SGE) rolls out, you can expect to continue seeing top-of-page, Google Maps, and infinite scroll text ads to appear. However, the SGE gives search engines a “net new” spot to put ads. Translation: ads will take up more space.

Further, if the previews that Google shared are any indication, ads in the SGE are nearly indistinguishable from organic listings, meaning it’s likely that ads will be clicked. We think this was an intentional attempt from Google to increase the percent of clicks on paid results.

Second, and more directly impactful to senior living businesses: costs-per-click (CPC) will rise.

If the search engines can provide advertisers with an objective and irrefutable incentive to invest in paid advertising, it increases overall advertiser demand. When more advertisers compete for the ad space that’s available (even if there are more ad spaces), it puts upward pressure on per-click costs.

While this is clearly a challenge for advertisers — higher per-click costs mean fewer clicks and conversion opportunities for your budget — we ultimately believe that, when effectively used, artificial intelligence increases ad relevance and delivery to such an extent that bottom-funnel metrics such as cost per qualified lead, cost per sales and ROAS (return on ad spend) will outweigh the challenges.

Embrace the Changes by Taking Action Now

It is our sincere hope that this overview provides you with a clearer direction about how AI will impact the paid search landscape and, just as importantly, that it provides you with some actionable next steps. 

Of course, if you have any questions or need support getting ready for the AI revolution, contact Attane today at 913-491-0600.

And one last thing! Attane is a holistic, omnichannel-focused agency. So make sure to stay tuned for Attane’s review of how AI will change the organic landscape — and what your senior living business can do about it.

This is the second post in our POV series about how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact consumers, search engines and businesses. Read our first post which explains how we got to the AI-centric search experience and how that is beneficial for consumers and search engines.

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