Advertising on Google is Changing. Here’s What You Need To Know.
Earlier this summer, Google announced that it was going to consolidate and rebrand its various advertising products. Gone would be Google AdWords and Google DoubleClick. In their place, one unified platform: Google Ads. Given the scope of the advertising behemoth’s current product lineup, the move probably makes sense. After all, Google advertising has changed dramatically since AdWords was first introduced way back in 2000 (yeah, 18 years ago).
The company needed a brand that accurately reflected its robust offering, which now includes search, display, map, video, in-app, and more. But that wasn’t the only big news to come out of Mountain View. In addition to the modified moniker, the tech giant has some pretty big things up its sleeve. Let’s jump in.
- Responsive Search Ads
Google’s push toward machine learning has made its way to search in the form of responsive search ads. With responsive ads, you’ll provide 15 headlines and four descriptions. From there, Google will test different permutations of headline and description to identify the optimal combinations.
The concept has some marketers scratching their heads. To be sure, it flips the traditional headline/body content model in the way that it pairs content without respect to context, but it’s really only a technical change. You’ll still need to write engaging content, now you just need to make sure that each line can stand on its own.
The exciting thing about responsive search is how it will learn to serve the best message to searchers based on the keywords they search for, the device they use, their past browsing behavior, and other signals. While responsive search hasn’t been rolled out universally, the format is poised to make a big splash during the second half of 2018 and beyond.
- Three Headlines. Two Descriptions.
Responsive ads weren’t the only change to Google’s flagship advertising platform. In late August, search introduced a third 30-character headline and a second 90-character description. It all adds up to this: You now have more space to tell your story.
There’s just one catch: The third headline and the second description won’t appear on 100 percent of search impressions. What does that mean for marketers? Not a whole lot, but you will want to make sure that this bonus space doesn’t contain critical content.
By the same token, however, you definitely don’t want to ignore this change. Marketers who don’t take advantage of the new headline space will have their URL displayed in place of a third headline. This looks weird, of course, because the URL is already listed below the headline in Search ads. Take heed. Write new headlines.
- Smart Campaigns
Not every business has a marketing department. Not every business has a website. But almost every business can benefit from Google Ads in some way. Enter Google Smart Campaigns.
Smart Campaigns will be the default campaign type for new advertisers in Google Ads. Built on the same technology as Google’s other entry-level advertising solution, AdWords Express, Smart Campaigns are almost entirely automated. From messaging to delivery, Smart Campaigns attempt to provide a turnkey advertising management experience based on the product or service being advertised and the goal the advertiser sets (i.e. calls, visits, form submissions).
Like Mailchimp and others before it, Smart Campaigns also ventures into the world of turnkey landing pages. Designed to simplify the development process, these landing pages use machine learning to pull information about your offering directly from the ad, and match that information to your on-page creative. Because Google will host both the ad and the landing page, conversion tracking is built-in to the experience.
Sounds like a slam dunk, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. All that convenience comes at a price. Sure, Smart Campaigns will get you up and running quickly. They’ll even take care of a lot of the technical work. But who’s manning the ship? How do you know if you’re getting the right clicks? How do you know if you’re paying too much? Google’s assumptions will probably get you results. They will definitely spend your money.
Interested in quickly testing landing page variations? Check out Google Optimize, a slightly more involved, but significantly more comprehensive solution. With just a bit of code, Google Optimize allows you to A/B test headlines, contact forms, and more. And what will all this testing get you? Higher conversion rates.
- Mobile Speed Score (It’s Not Just For SEO!)
First, let’s state the obvious: Page speed can have a dramatic impact on your conversion rate. After all, isn’t that why Google gave us PageSpeed Insights?
Sure, but wouldn’t it be nice to view that data without leaving the Google Ads platform? Now you can! Google recently announced the introduction of Mobile Landing Page Speed Score column on the Landing Pages page within Google Ads. This tool scores landing pages for speed on a ten-point scale.
What’s more? The tool takes ad performance into account when ascribing a score, and it does so based on a number of factors, including the relationship between page speed and the potential conversion rate.
So why does this matter? Previously, understanding a site’s speed required a tedious back-and-forth process: Read a report in analytics, look for benchmarks, make adjustments to the page, and see if your performance improves. Rinse and repeat. With Google’s Mobile Landing Page Speed Score, you can view your performance directly through Google Ads.
- Video and Video Advertising on the Rise
Last year, TechCrunch reported that more than a billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Add to that the fact that 64 percent of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video and you’ve got a pretty convincing case to jump on the video bandwagon.
So it comes as no surprise that Google is expanding its TrueView YouTube advertising platform. What’s TrueView? You know those video ads that run before the videos you want to see? Those are TrueView in-stream ads. What about those video ads that show up in YouTube search results? Those are TrueView discovery ads.
Okay, so what’s changing? Last spring Google announced a new TrueView bidding strategy called TrueView for reach, which basically combines in-stream ads with a CPM bidding strategy (cost per thousand impressions). So why does that matter? CPM can be a more cost-efficient way to hit prospects with your video content. Also of note, Google is introducing a TrueView for action, which allows marketers to place headline and call-to-action overlays on their video content.
Also of note to video marketers, Google recently introduced a smart-bidding strategy called Maximize Lift. Powered by machine learning, Maximize Lift automatically adjusts bids to maximize the impact video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey. The information on this is still a bit vague, but it sounds a bit like an automated bidding strategy designed to increase frequency among those viewers most likely to take action.
What does all this mean for marketers? Well, if you haven’t already considered how video can play into your marketing strategy, it’s probably time to do so.
- Lead Ads On YouTube
Ads drive website visits and website visits drive leads, right? Well, that’s one way to do it, but now there’s another way: Lead ads. Think about it this way: Simplify the lead generation process by relocating the contact form from a landing page to the site of the advertising impression. Then, tie in with the platform serving that impression—Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.—to simplify the fulfillment process via pre-populated forms.
While this may fly in the face of the traditional “get them to the website” thinking, anyone who’s run lead ads on Facebook or LinkedIn already knows that they can significantly increase lead capture rates. So it’s been a little baffling that Google didn’t have a comparable offering. Late to the party or not, Google is currently testing lead ads on YouTube, and a wider release is expected later this fall.
Done dabbling? If you’ve tried Google Ads but want to take your digital marketing to the next level, contact our team of digital marketing experts to get started today!