Back in February Google decided to remove the right-side adverts entirely, reducing the advertising spaces by half.
From July 2016 onwards, Google started unleashing a series of changes to AdWords and Analytics that will fundamentally change the way you market your business.
As ever, such shifts present a stumbling block for those who fail to adapt and offer a crucial opportunity for those ready to take advantage of the new paid search marketing landscape.
So far, the following 6 changes have been announced + 2 Betas [updated November 2016]:
- Expanded Text Ads
- Device Bid Changes
- Responsive Display Ads
- Ads in Maps
- DFSA (Demographics For Search Advertising)
- Retirement of Converted Clicks Metric
- Beta – Similar Audiences for Search
- Beta – Promotion Ad Extensions
These wide-ranging modifications represent a seismic shift, one that will radically affect your pay per click advertising.
Expanded Text Ads – Rolling Out Now!
The expansion of text ads is a change that has already been rolled out.
Firstly, you’ll now have two headlines of 30 characters each to play with. This format replaces the old single headline of 25 characters.
Secondly, there’s a single 80 character supporting description in place of the previous two 35-character description lines.
Finally, expect two 15 character spaces for your display URLs instead of the previous 35-character limit.
This represents close to a 50% boost to ad size and scope. Don’t just use that additional square wordage to say the same thing twice.
Try enhancing your ad and attracting clicks by:
- Focusing on what makes the product unique
- Utilising time-sensitive incentives
- Creating additional calls to action
- Testing variations of factual versus emotional copy
- Counter a competitors advert whilst appealing to reader’s emotions
- Continuing to use Ad Extensions to optimise the size of your ad
- Using the paths in your display URL to support messaging and keywords
More text improves visibility, and the natural SEO results will be pushed yet further down the page.
Google expected Click-through Rate (CTR) to increase by up to 20%. On mobile devices in particular these ads take up quite a fair chunk, of even the larger modern screens.
From our early results (around half a million monthly clicks) we can see mixed CTR increases – both positive and negative. With cost per lead or sale hovering around or just above the previous numbers.
This would suggest the larger ad formats aren’t necessarily attracting merely more clicks, but with the extra text they’re qualifying clicks better.
Which in simple terms, equates to less waste. This is good news for advertisers of course.
More Device Specific Bid Changes
Earlier this year at their annual Performance Summit Keynote speech, Google announced we now live in a “mobile-first world”.
Considering the massive shift towards mobile browsing, it shouldn’t shock you to learn that desktop will no longer be the default bid.
Advertisers will be able to set their default device and make adjustments to the other two independently.
When Google rolled out “Enhanced” campaigns, they removed the option to adjust bids on tablet devices. Therefore, this additional control over advertising is a welcome change.
Leverage full advantage by:
- Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly (seriously, this is 101)
- Even better, make your website optimised for mobile-first
- Analysing peak times of day and week by device
- Keeping conversion tracking across devices watertight
- Making bid adjustments to yield stronger results from specific devices
Responsive Display Ads
Image based ads will reformat to fit different sizes, placements, and devices.
Google said, “We built responsive ads for display to help your ads adapt to the increasingly diverse mix of content types and screen sizes.”
By adapting and fitting in to their surroundings, this new ad type should have more of a native ad feel – which is good news for advertisers and consumers.
Google is looking to phase out text only Display Network ads by Q3/Q4 2016. Again, this is a good thing… the old text ads were f-ugly!
The upshot is that you’ll enjoy significantly greater control over branding and messaging. The new RDA allows 25 and 95 character headlines, with a 90-character description and supporting URL, with the option to upload your logo and imagery.
Take the following steps:
- Create more image based ads to take benefit from higher CTRs
- Upload suitable images that contain your logo, headlines, and descriptions
- All your creatives need redoing to suit these changes
- Better ads equates to more clicks and sales
Pins and Ads in Google Maps
With local intent so important within mobile search, Google is responding with new Google Maps ads designed to make businesses more visible.
Ads will appear on both your desktop and mobile whilst using the Google Maps app, which boasts over 1 billion downloads.
Purple location markers help businesses stand out, customizable business pages will be allowed, and Promoted ‘Pins’ will be made available.
Research indicates that 84% of consumers conduct local searches, with 75% visiting the stores they find within one day and 28% making a purchase.
Businesses can now drive more of those leads and sales literally through their front doors.
Firstly, make sure you claim your Google business page and enable local extensions.
- Create local specialised incentives to visit your store
- Enable a local inventory search so consumers can check stock levels before visiting
- Verify that all information on Google My Business is accurate and up to date
DFSA (Demographics For Search Advertising) 19th Sept
Ever wanted to exert more control over who you’re bidding for and target specific demographics with certain landing pages and other pieces of content?
Of course you do!
Firstly, you need to identify your best performing demographics.
From there you will be able to bid up or down depending on certain demographics within your ads, essentially zeroing in on those visitors who are going to bring you the most revenue.
Unfortunately, this change is not yet universal.
We can expect a full launch by the end of 2016, though many accounts currently enjoy the feature in beta. The Google developers blog confirms rollout of this feature commences 19th September 2016.
If you’re one of them, begin testing different bid options using varying demographics and combinations until you isolate your highest value online populations.
Retiring the Converted Clicks Metric 21st Sept
The converted click metric has been used for the past 15 years, but it has become increasingly irrelevant as advertisers develop more sophisticated ways to track conversions.
As of September 21st 2016 the converted click metric will be officially put out to pasture. You’ll be able to measure conversions only.
This is good news since converted clicks didn’t track which goals users completed; nor could they track cross-device and cross-browser conversions or be used in attribution funnels.
Be warned conversion counts could rise, reducing the cost per conversion reported.
Make sure you’re prepared for the end of converted clicks by:
- Making the change now so you can recognise issues and minimise impact
- Eliminating all duplicate goals is critical
- Where appropriate, count one conversion rather than every conversion
- Ensuring that you track cross-device/browser conversions
Beta – Similar Audiences for Search
Currently in testing, and in a similar ethos to Facebook lookalikes, the Google similar audiences have great potential.
The premise here is simple, yet very powerful:
Increase the reach of your current Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and target new, similar users on Google search. This is set to increase your RLSA impressions by up to 300%.
Relevance will be important here and Google is ensuring quality not just quantity by matching users with similar query behaviour as your most valuable site visitors.
Furthermore you will be able to optimise results by layering bids.
Beta – Promotion Extensions
For retailers and anyone else who both sells online and offers time sensitive discounts, this new extension should prove a winner.
Promotion Extensions are currently testing a new search advert format that enables advertisers to highlight specific sales and promos across their ads.
Theses extensions quickly and prominently display information about the offer without using up valuable ad text space. On mobile devices, as per the above example, it adds yet another layer of depth to the advert and more valuable screen space is taken away from ‘organic’ search.
Your PPC Strategy Needs to Adapt to Take Advantage of Change
In the grand old tradition of 16 year olds, Google is undergoing some surprising changes and looking to get more mobile.
Get ahead of your competitors, plan for change and start implementing new features as they arrive.
In doing so you’ll be ready to ride the sweeping shifts being made throughout the coming months, and you’ll be able to refine your PPC advertising to protect and increase your return on investment.
With all these shifts in technology comes more power and refined targeting; it’s an exciting time to be an online advertiser!