Where/what are the biggest opportunities for both clients and agencies within the paid search market?

Remarketing - Good remarketing strategies have had huge impacts for our clients in the retail sector.  Getting that second chance to convert searchers into revenue is a phenomenal opportunity, and the range of dynamic creative available to make the ads targeted to the user are great.  Networks outside of the standard Google retargeting should also be explored as this has the potential to add further low CPA media buys to your campaign.

Attribution - Our clients are rightly placing increasing emphasis on attribution. Not only can attribution help companies segment their customer base more effectively, but this data can be invaluable in identifying and assessing the value of any current marketing activity, particularly display and social advertising, and then used to target the most valuable customers.

The continuing blending of display and paid - Evident over the last 12-18 months and I expect this to continue. The paid-search manager’s skill-set is perfectly positioned to service this opportunity with the media being bought on an auction basis and the importance of analysing data sets.

Mobile - 2011 was a great year for mobile search and 2012 will be no different. With the continued growth of smartphone ownership there’s a myriad of options opening up for PPC advertisers to take advantage of.

What are the most important challenges facing this sector?

Data  - how to collect it and what to do with it. There’s so much information available that it’s easy to suffer from data overload and end up doing nothing with it. To really excel in the space it is vital that data is utilised in the best way for your business to help set you apart from your competition.

It's also going to be a challenge to diversify. For a long time it’s been easy to rely on Adwords to drive significant enough volume to justify ignoring other paid channels. But, with Adwords becoming more and more competitive, those in paid search need to explore as many new paid opportunities as possible to both protect themselves and widen their reach. As a starting point, Adcenter, Facebook, LinkedIn, mobile advertising and remarketing provide plenty of potential for exploration, but finding the time and resources to do so can often be a major challenge in itself.

Finally, the speed at which the industry moves is a challenge in its own right. With new features and tools made available on a daily basis in the paid search world it can be very easy to get left behind as the world around you moves on. Busy as we all are, it is so important to take the time to keep up to date with industry news and new opportunities and take the chance to test and learn yourself whenever possible.