Insights

5 changes in AdWords that you should take advantage of today

September 26, 2016

At the Performance Summit back in May 2016, Google announced a number of key changes that will expand the tools advertisers have to reach and better qualify their visitors. Many of these changes have rolled out, are you ready to take advantage of them?

Expanded Text Ads

Google has introduced expanded text ads that will be available on both the Google Search Network and Google Display Network. The most notable change being the increase of the Headline from 25-characters to 60-characters (2x 30-character headlines).

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This new format helps you share more relevant information with your prospective customer (i.e. promotions, pertinent details, etc) that can help differentiate you from your competitors.  These ads also have the benefit of drawing more attention as they take up significantly more real estate on desktop and especially on mobile. Early reports indicate expanded text ads have a ~10-20% higher CTR over the standard ad format.

How should you use this expanded format?

1. Satisfy search intention and include your value proposition in the ad headline.

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In the mobile image above (on the right screen with the extended headline), the query is ‘guitars’ and searcher’s perceived intention is ‘buying a guitar’.  Headline 1 includes searcher intention ad text (‘Shop Guitar..’). Headline 2 directly beneath includes the value proposition (‘Free Shipping…’).

2. Test your creatives.  Create several ad variations, and monitor which ad performs the best.

Tip: Test shorter copy for your company’s branded searches, as searchers may not need any additional information.

3. Consider running Standard Ads side by side with Expanded Ads to compare performance.  This is to guard against any significant degradation in your advertisement goals that may arise as you find what creative works best with your audience.

Tip: If your ad goal is conversion focused, use conversion per impressions for the comparison metric.

Note: Starting January 31st 2017, Adwords will no longer support the creation or editing of standard text ads.  Existing standard text ads will continue to run (no end date announced)

Additional Considerations: With ads in top positions drawing more attention/clicks, it becomes increasingly important that your Ad Rank is as high as possible.  A big influencer to your Ad Rank is your Quality Score.  You can influence your Quality Score by optimizing your ad creative to be as relevant as possible to the searcher’s intention (inspiring high CTR), and by providing an optimal on-page experience that ultimately fulfills the searcher’s goal.  You can read more about influencing your Quality Score here.

Device Bid Modifiers

For those running Search Ads back in 2013, you probably remember Google introducing Enhanced Campaigns which grouped desktop and tablet together in a base bid.  This was a controversial decision, that frustrated many advertisers.  Fast forward to 2016, Google has ‘re-introduced’ device bid modifiers that decouples desktop and tablet, and advertisers everywhere rejoice.  This means that advertisers can set an anchor bid on their most valuable device, and set adjustments for the other devices.  Adjustments can scale between -100% to +900%.

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How do you decide what bid adjustment to apply for each device?

This is generally based on historical behaviours.  If your ad on desktop is achieving your goals at the lowest COA (cost of acquisition), you may want desktop/computer to be the anchor bid, and adjust mobile and tablet accordingly.

Tip:  To find the optimal adjustment, incrementally modify your device bid adjustments and monitor impacts to your ad goals.

Additional Consideration: Google has removed the mobile device preference indicator.  This means an ad will appear on all devices.  If you find that a certain ad resonates better on a particular device, you may consider creating another ad variation, and set the anchor bid for your target device then set the bid adjustment to -100% for all other devices.

Similar Audience and Demographic Targeting for Search Ads

Similar Audience Feature

This feature, previously only available on the Google Display Network, uses an Advertiser’s remarketing list (RLSA) to build a look-a-like audience list.  The look-a-like list would comprise an audience of individuals who exhibit similar search behaviours but have not yet come to your site.

So what does this mean to you?  This feature allows you to reach a qualified audience at scale.

Tip:  Tag goal pages.  This will help build a list that closely matches your most valuable audience.

Demographic Feature

For search ads, advertisers will be able to target a specific demographic (age, gender, etc).  This will improve campaign performance by narrowing targeting to a demographic segment that is most valuable to you.

Tip: Use performance data to help guide your demographic targeting, this will ensure you do not exclude a potentially valuable segment.

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Responsive Display Ads

Google will automatically design responsive Display ads that will be served across the Google Display Network in rich media and native ad formats.  All that is required by the advertiser is to provide an ad image, company logo, advertiser name, headline, description, and URL.

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Google’s responsive Display ads provide advertisers with a simple method to create compelling ads that render beautifully on all devices and placements. This particularly helps SMBs, who may not have access to a graphic designer that can create engaging image ads.

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Tip:  Display ads are often used in the early stages of the customer journey.   To engage audiences in the early to mid stage, your ads should:

1. Be compelling to your target audience.  Duh.  Facebook coined the term ‘Thumb Friendly’.  This is a mobile centric term, but the principles are device agnostic. People are naturally inclined to scroll, so ads need to be compelling enough for people to stop.

That’s great, but how do you do this?  Captivating imagery and compelling copy.  Simple yet deceptively complicated.  The important thing is to spend the time to get to know the needs of your target audience, and assemble a creative that speaks to those needs.

2. Have consistent visual language.  A person may not initially click your ad, however if they see other ads from your brand that share the same visual consistency, it simplifies recognition and recall, and can increase your campaign’s CTR potential.

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3. Have a related landing page that aligns thematically to your ads.   Ads should be looked at as the beginning of a conversation with your audience, and landing pages are natural extensions of that same narrative.

Local Search Ads On Google Maps

Do you know what percentage of mobile searches are location based queries?  30%!  To monetize this search behaviour, Google will be rolling out the “next generation of local search ads”.  This includes promoted pins, in-store promotions, customizable business pages, and local inventory search.

Promoted Pins:

These pins are branded which stands out more prominently than the other locations on the map.

Tip: you will need to use location extensions to appear in promoted pins.

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Local Business Pages/Cards

The business cards are getting a revamp with new features and customizations.  Businesses can include local product inventory, promotions specific to that location, along with customized card details (i.e. image, phone number, etc.)

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Tip:  To include product inventory in your cards, you will need to provide a product data feed to Google.

How does Google decide which ads and promotions to show?

Along with your bid, a variety of signals go into determining which ads to show.  These signals include: context, location, and search/browsing behaviours (purposefully broad, as there are a multitude of signals contained in this bucket).

Example: You’re running out of lens solution, and need to find a nearby pharmacy.  You typically go to CVS.  When you search, you see a promoted pin for Walgreens with a $3 promotion off contact solutions (based on past behaviours, looking for best contact solutions).  Not only was Walgreens able to build awareness of its location, but it also provided a clear and relatable incentive to visit.

All these new formats and features will greatly help advertisers target their audience with refined precision, and attain more qualified visitors.  Subscribe to our newsletter for updates for all things marketing.

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