Google Ads from Adwords Update: What You Need to Know
Very recently, Google announced changes to it’s landmark advertising platform, Google Adwords. For those of us in the digital marketing space, you have probably noticed incremental modifications over the years as the search giant has been optimising their platform for mobile. It is all in preparation for the mobile-first index, which has been rolling out slowly over the past year.
As you may expect, the re-shuffling of Adwords presents a number of questions that must be answered in order to make the most of it – and answering the big questions is what we are here for!
In this piece, I want to run through the specific updates to advertising on Google, give a little bit of background explaining why Google made the changes, and finally, discuss what it all means for small business owners.
So what are the recent updates to Google Adwords all about?
In a nutshell, Google is consolidating it’s plethora of advertising platforms into three main silos. Here is what you need to know:
- Google Adwords is being replaced by Google Ads. In this more integrated platform, advertisers will be able monitor ad campaigns across all major Google surfaces, including display ads, Youtube videos, App ads in Google Play, and location listings in Google Maps. Cross device attribution has been a part of conversion tracking for a while, but it will experience a face lift and will be a little easier to use in the new iteration. Expanded location listings is actually one of the more exciting innovations to advertising, and it can make a real difference in conversion rates for small businesses.
- Google Marketing Platform is a new resource for marketers that includes DoubleClick and Google Analytics. These two platforms had existed separately for years, but are now being integrated to fall under the same umbrella. The idea here is to make collaboration more seamless by creating a single platform that is more effective than the sum of its parts. Take the Display and Video 360 product for example, which brings DoubleClick Bid Manager, Campaign Manager, and the studio and audio centers together in one location.
- For those looking to publish ads on their channels, Google has revamped their publishing arm with Google Ad Manager, which consists of DoubleClick Ad Exchange and DoubleClick for Publishers. Of the three announced changes, this one is probably the least substantial, as publishers have already been logging in from a central interface to manage ads across platforms.
Why did Google Change Adwords?
As Google executives made clear in the press release, these changes have been in the works for a while because, well, users had been asking for them. Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of Google and the one in charge of advertisement platforms, wrote that “consistent feedback” over the years had spurred the consolidation efforts we are seeing today.
From a user experience perspective, advertising on Google had become increasingly more complicated, as the search giant bought up one company after the other and included them as another option in the panoply of advertisement platforms. An abundance of choice definitely made advertising on Google more confusing, as one had to sign in to so many different platforms to monitor their ads.
Google has responded to this user experience issue by synchronising key platforms into relevant silos. This simple organizational change will make navigation within platforms easier. It should also improve user outcomes because they are more able to accurately track and modify ad campaigns. Taken together with other recent changes to the Adwords platform, there is a clear bias towards optimizing for mobile search. It makes sense for Google since most of their search traffic is coming from mobile now. The tagline for advertising and marketers now is ‘local, local, local’, and businesses with a physical location or not must adjust.
One way in which Google Ads hopes to boost the effectiveness of advertisement is through a program they are calling Smart Campaigns. This new product is set to help small business owners with a physical location the most, and deserves a closer inspection.
What are Smart Campaigns?
Smart Campaigns are a responsive approach to advertising across Google’s multiple display networks. To borrow a phrase from the Adwords advisory page, Smart Campaigns may be “the most effortless way to broaden your customer base and win new conversions.” Strong words from the friendly giant, but this campaign type has been around for a while and it is quite responsive.
The major improvements coming from this announcement pertain to automation. Automation derived from machine-learning to be exact – a responsive package of technical wizardry that essentially takes the guesswork out of targeting and ad creation (bidding has already been refined by Target CPA and device bid adjustments for optimal cost-per-click returns).
In the new version of Smart Campaigns, digital marketers can enjoy responsive automation in the following ways:
- Targeting will improve exponentially over the course of the campaign. The longer the campaign runs, the more data the algorithm has to inform who it should be targeting, and how best to reach them. This is the impact of machine learning for you.
- Ads will be automatically generated within the program based on the contents you provide (titles, descriptions, logos, etc). Also, thanks to the self-learning capacity of the program, it will be able to place your automated ads where they make the most sense across the various display networks, responding to your stated advertising goals with accuracy and efficiency.
How Does Google Ads Help Small Businesses?
There are some clear benefits to working with Smart Campaigns. You get to set up ads faster that are targeted to early stage buyers, giving you a wealth of leads that were much harder to reach with manual ads. Of course you can still use manual ads to target specific customers farther down the buyer's journey, or even include placement exclusions to ensure you content does not appear on select sites.
All of these features of Smart Campaigns do help a small business owner make the most out of their advertising budget. But there is another benefit to mention, one which helps digital marketers show material results from PPC advertising efforts.
I’m talking about the goal setting in Smart Campaigns, which include the three most important results all small business owners want: getting customers to call the store, bringing customers into the store, and making an actual sale. Digital marketers working with small business owner clients should be overjoyed. We know have a few simple metrics to show how valuable our PPC efforts are in expanding awareness, building a target audience, and ultimately boosting revenue.
As people nowadays like to hop from one platform to another in their daily searching habits, advertisers and publishers were craving an agile, responsive platform to keep up. With Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager, the search giant is proving just how much they value customer feedback. The changes are more symbolic than substantial, but they do point to Google’s over-arching desire to get digital content optimized for mobile. It might be a slightly heavy-handed approach for some, but there is not much to be done about it.