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Google Announces Big Changes

Google announced a slew of major updates and new products at the Google Performance Summit in San Francisco on May 24, 2016. This annual event is for key Google AdWords and Analytics customers and shares sneak peaks into new features, product plans, research, and more.

Google has been making big announcements in the spring for several years now and they usually center around mobile. This year was no different. To start off with, Google has completely rebuilt AdWords for a mobile-first world. This means new looks for mobile, new ways to buy through mobile, and a completely redesigned platform that will be easier to navigate and use.

Google Adwords

Here’s what you need to know about some of the new features:

New local search ads for Google Maps and

Ads on Google Maps? Yep, it’s happening. Calling it the “next generation” of local search ads, Google unveiled that new ads will appear across Google Maps everywhere — both in-browser and in-app. In these new ads, logos and offers will show up directly on the map. For example, if you’re driving along Highway 101 in California and pull up the Maps app on your phone, you might see ads for the nearest Chevron gas station. Clicking on the Chevron logo will bring the user to a local ad.

But why focus on Maps?

Google Maps has over 1 billion users and there are 1.5 billion destinations searched for each day. Approximately 1/3 of mobile searches are location related. And local searches have been growing 50% faster than general mobile searches in the past year.

Google wants to help drive more online traffic from Maps to local businesses. Through these branded pins, advertisers will be able to highlight different things like in-store promos and customers will be able to use a local inventory to search for products.

To start, specific ad targeting might prove difficult because Google decides what to show on a map through user contact details. This means they’re looking at browser history, time of day, behaviors, and interests to display ads.

In-store conversions

Google says that over the past 2 or 3 years they have mapped out millions of store locations worldwide. An ad campaign conversion goal of ‘store visits’ (which to my understanding has been available for about a year already) will really mean something now. AdWords will track people based on their location history. According to Google’s own research, this feature is 99% accurate and 1 billion store visits were measured in the last two years.

Google determines a ‘store visit’ based on how close the user is to the business’s location on Google Maps (users have to have Location History activated on their smartphone). This metric should prove super helpful in measuring the online to offline impact. It’s a great way to tie clicks on search ads back to in-store traffic and show how online ads impact in-store behavior.

Individual device bid adjustments

The AdWords bidding procedure will also see some changes.

In 2013, Google introduced enhanced campaigns and the notion of bid multipliers. Advertisers can set a desktop bid and then set mobile bids as a multiplier of that base bid. Tablet was lumped together with desktop.

In the next few months, advertisers and marketers will be able to set individual prices/bid adjustments for desktop, mobile, and tablet. Marketers are overjoyed that AdWords is breaking up tablet and desktop and enabling mobile based bids because we <3 targeted options.

Expanded text ads

As we wrote about a few months back, Google eliminated right hand side ads from desktop SERPs in an attempt to create a similar user experience across all devices. Now, text ads are also changing, in a big way!

Google is rolling out Expanded Text Ads for all devices. Advertisers will soon be able to use two 30-character headlines, rather than just a single headline of 25 characters. The resulting ads are 50% bigger! Early tests by Google reports that this change increased CTR by upwards of 20%.

This doesn’t necessarily mean much for desktop numbers but when you take into account the limited space of a smartphone’s screen, an expanded headline can do wonders for your advertising. (Remember, it’s a mobile-first world now!)

Google is also increasing the number of characters that can be used in the description, on both mobile and desktop ads. Soon, advertisers can write one 80-character line, which is 5 characters more than the current double 35-character description lines. Lastly, Google will begin auto-extracting the domain which means you can customize the URL path.

Say goodbye to the 25-35-35 character limit and hello to a more flexible 30-30-80 message!

Image via Search Engine Land

In addition to changing the text ad format, these will be responsive ads that adapt to the content on the site. They will expand or contract based on the device size. All advertisers have to do is write a headline, a description, a URL, and include an image — Google takes care of the rest.

Non mobile-specific changes

In other, less mobile-centric new, Google is excited to introduce a new AdWords interface. In 2017, we can expect to see new dashboards, an updated navigation system (with vertical menus rather than horizontal), and consolidated tabs (grouping of related tabs).

One other interesting announcement from Google has to do with machine learning-enabled Analytics. Coming soon, Google Analytics will feature voice-enabled data assistance search. We all know how hard it can be to find the information we’re looking for. But soon, we’ll be able to simply ask and have Google direct us to pertinent information. Pretty cool!

Why all these innovations in mobile? Google, while not confirming exactly how many, say that they handle more than two trillion searches per year. More than half of those trillions of searches occur on mobile! Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure you’re attracting, delighting, and converting mobile Google users. Start leveraging those mobile ads and get ready for the new formats!


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