On May 24th, 2016, Google held their annual Performance Summit, which unveiled some significant changes to the way in which they offer their advertising services. Among them were large scale changes made to their AdWords and Google Analytics programs. The new changes mostly affect the way in which companies advertise to customers on the local level.
At Google’s 2015 Performance Summit, they announced that 50% of their searches come from mobile devices. That number has only increased in 2016 and is a trend expected to stay on the rise. Google has been consistently giving more resources to businesses who want to connect with consumers locally by targeting mobile device users.
There are 7 key takeaways from the summit that are going to change the course of digital advertising moving forward.
1) Location-Specific Search Ads
By tracking their data, Google has found that almost a third of searches made on mobile devices are based on location. With this data in mind, Google aims to make it easier for searchers to find what they’re looking for in their area.
Google is rolling out new formats for their ads so that businesses can more effectively advertise to their customers. The new formats include special offers and promoted pins, which show up on the user’s maps when searching for local businesses.
Google has been tracking in-store visits and purchases as a result of their advertising efforts as closely as possible. They have reported over a billion in-store visits and continue to tweak their methods on tracking this data.
2) Expansion of Text Ads
Later in the year, Google will implement changes to their text-based ads that will allow advertisers more freedom in their messaging.
Currently, Google’s text ads let advertisers have one headline of 25 characters. When the changes are implemented, the allotted space will offer two headlines of 30 characters. This will provide advertisers an opportunity to better target their message, as more emphasis is placed on the headline rather than the description. Advertisers will now have the ability to place call to actions in their headlines, whereas before they were consigned to the less prominent description area of the ad. This should lead to increased conversions if done correctly.
Also a notable change is the new 80-character description line. The previous allotment, which is still in effect, consists of two 35-character lines. These description lines function much in the same way as organic meta descriptions do. However, rather than having a random keyword sampling of what the ad is about, advertisers now will have more say in the way in which their message is targeted.
3) Device-Specific Bid Adjustments
The big news here is that advertisers will now be able to set their bids differently for tablets. Advertisers know that they will get different results across various devices, and that some types of businesses benefit from more actively targeting certain types of devices. If mobile devices are what you’re targeting for your campaign, now you’ll be able to bid a higher percentage for those devices and a lower percent for tablets. Bid adjustments will also be available at a higher range. The current bid range is 300% but with the new changes it will grow to 900%.
4) Display Network Gets A New Look
The Google Display Network currently has has more than 20 different image sizes to choose from. While it’s great to have options for different size devices, it leads to time-consuming ad creation for advertisers. In an effort to cut down wasted time creating ads, Google is implementing responsive ads that should make things easier for advertisers. Advertisers will be able to enter in their ad’s messaging and images and Google handles everything else.
While this is a great advancement for advertisers, many remain skeptical on the quality of these ads. Google already has a similar feature for advertisers called the Display Ad Builder in which relevant images and text are taken from businesses’ websites to create ads. The tradeoff, however, is that advertisers have far less control over the content of their ads. Many advertisers will most likely avoid these ads if they lack the sophistication of more customized ads, but that remains to be seen.
An additional announcement that Google made in regards to its Display Network will affect remarketing. Google will be making visibility easier for remarketers by allowing for more exposure on websites and apps. This is made possible by making their cross-exchange inventory available.
5) Search Network Gets New Audience Formats
Google is continuing to expand capabilities for advertisers and remarketers on both the Display Network and Search Network so that searchers are easier to target. Google rolled out Similar Audiences, a new feature that will allow advertisers to piece together new audiences by using the demographics of older, already established ones.
Demographics For Search Ads is yet another new format that gives advertisers the option the set modifiers for bids for gender and age. This means that advertisers will be able to pay more for advertising that targets the specific demographic they want to advertise to. This will help advertisers personalize their message and also make it easier to get that message to the right audience.
6) AdWords Gets A User Interface Facelift
By the end of 2017, AdWords will have a redesigned interface made to be simplified and more user friendly. The screenshots of the new interface shown during the summit appeared to be a sleek design that improves ability to manage ad campaigns from mobile devices. Google is not reinventing the wheel here with this new design – they’re keeping what already works well but are making several minor changes that should enhance user experience.
7) Brand New Data Gathering Tool Unveiled: Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is a new tool made for compiling and displaying data and is free to use. These data reports allow for easy sharing of information within organizations and are fully customizable so that all information relevant to a project can be included. These reports can be made from any of Google’s data sources. For example, data from an AdWords campaign can be combined with Google Analytics data to form a single, comprehensive report. With this new tool, advertisers will have visual data in the forms of charts and graphs that will most likely help them make informed business decisions faster and easier.
Looking back, Google has revealed both incremental and dramatic features to their advertising networks. Advertisers now have more resources at their fingertips than ever to effectively reach their target audiences. With more and more searches being made on mobile devices every year, it’s a challenging yet exciting time for advertisers to navigate the digital landscape.