Every spring, the PPC community eagerly awaits the Google Performance Summit, where Google reveals new AdWords technologies that they’ll be releasing in the coming months. Last Tuesday was the big day and it definitely did not disappoint.
As I watched the livestream of the event, I was also tuned into Twitter’s #ppcchat to gauge industry leaders’ reactions to the new Google products. The peanut gallery definitely kept things interesting—they had plenty to say about the extravaganza, from poking fun at the Product Managers’ corny skits to rejoicing over exciting new products to sharing their two cents on early-access beta performance.
@PPCKirk managed to sum his feelings up in one tweet
Although there were mixed feelings for some new products, the overarching sentiment was positive. James Svoboda went as far as to say that this may have been the best Google Summit so far and I’m inclined to agree.
Here’s the scoop from the community on each of Google’s upcoming releases:
Bidding by Device: 5 Stars and Cries of Hallelujah
Platform bidding is back and advertisers are beyond thrilled. In just a few months, we’ll be able to set a base bid for one device time and then have the ability to set bid modifiers ranging from -100% to +900% for the other TWO devices. Meaning, you can set your base bids for mobile devices, set a modifier for tablets and then set a separate modifier for desktop searchers, ultimately giving advertisers more control.
Unsurprisingly, advertisers were thrilled to hear the news. Ever since Google shattered our hearts with the oh-so-controversial enhanced campaigns release, we’ve been begging it give us back control of device-specific bids. We sent countless pleas to our account managers, petitioned AdWords through Twitter and consistently pushed the issue at partner summits. It’s heartening to see that the crew at Google took this feedback seriously and finally acquiesced to this request.
Expanded Text Ads: 5 Stars, Coupled with a Loud Sigh
This is the biggest (literally, the biggest) change that’s happened to PPC ad copy in the history of AdWords. New, expanded text ads are 50% larger than standard text ads and Google’s early studies show that they’re yielding CTR increases of up to 20%!
For years we’ve been desperately cramming our messages into teensy tiny fields, praying they’ll still make sense. The character counts limited creativity and made ad copy creation endlessly frustrating. As you can see in the example above, the new ads dwarf the old ones. They have two headlines that are 30 characters each, both description lines are 40 characters long, and the display URL now includes two, 15-character path fields. Having the freedom to craft higher-quality ad copy the way we want to, without having to adhere to super-short character fields is a pretty exciting prospect.
There’s just one downside—these new ads will be a royal pain to create. We all know that overhauling ad copy for an entire account is challenging, to say the least. With this ad format, we’ll have to create tons of new ads including more information than ever before. Even after you’ve created an expanded alternative for all of your ad groups, you’ll find yourself making adjustments rather frequently, as we start to discover new best practices for these lengthier ads. Le sigh.
The good news is that we’re already experimenting with expanded ads here at WordStream HQ. In the coming months, we’ll be sharing our newfound tips and strategies to make updating these suckers less painful!
Demographic Audiences for Search Ads: 4 Stars
Demographic targeting on the search network is one of those rare gems that Bing Ads’ has offered for years, but Google never seemed to want to adopt. In fact, it was one of those AdWords betas that we joked would never actually make it out of the beta program. Well my friends, it seems that that day has finally come and, as you can see from Mark’s tweet, we’re pretty exuberant about it.
That said, there is some skepticism within the community with regards to the accuracy of Google’s demographic settings. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how things pan out with this one…
Similar Audiences for Search: 3.5 Stars and Some Healthy Skepticism
Clearly Larry Kim is pumped about this feature, and many advertisers fall into the same boat. We’re already accustomed to Similar Audiences, which gives us the ability to create lookalike audiences based off our GDN and Customer Match groups. Now, Google is officially extending this option to search audiences, too!
Feelings towards this new feature are mixed. Most industry peeps agree that it’s great in theory and, as the brilliant Kirk Williams pointed out, this could be hugely positive for SMBs, who don’t garner enough traffic to qualify for RLSA campaigns. However, many question whether Google can create lists that accurately reflect your ideal audience.
If Google can execute this the right way, it will be a major slam dunk for advertisers. But, until we’re able to test its effectiveness, the PPC jury’s out on Similar Audiences for Search.
Updated AdWords UI: 3 Stars
Google is promising a major overhaul of the AdWords UI, making it a more streamlined, intuitive platform for the end user. The philosophy behind the change is that AdWords should be more focused on the business it’s promoting, so account managers can optimize campaigns based on specific business goals and targets.
You can catch a sneak peek of the new, half-built interface here, but the key highlights are:
- Campaign creation wizards aimed at helping you determine exactly what type of campaigns and which settings will yield the best return for your business
- A cleaner navigation system, with AdWords-generated opportunities available every step of the way
- Newly designed dashboards to help users consume data more easily
Personally, I think it’s high-time that Google updates the interface and I’m excited to see a more user-friendly design plan. This is great news for PPC beginners and those who aren’t super-involved with their accounts. That said, I understand why the industry pros’ reactions to this update were lackluster.
First things first, many of us have spent ages getting comfortable with the existing interface. Now that we know it like the back of our hands, Google’s switching things up and we have to learn a whole new setup?
On top of that, many are concerned that, as the AdWords team creates more streamlined workflows, they’ll eliminate advanced options that provide advertisers with more control over their accounts.
Those with the greatest concerns are agencies. As AdWords becomes more prescriptive, will this eliminate the need for agencies? Will more businesses feel confident managing their campaigns in-house?
The good news is that the new UI isn’t hitting the net anytime soon. We’ve got plenty of time to wrap our heads around these changes (and hopefully more sneak peeks) throughout the next few months.
About the Author
Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 3rd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2015 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.