2017 is half in the bag!
The world has been turned on its head and back again. Amazon munched the world’s leading supplier of non-GMO Cheetos. There were fidget spinners. Other stuff happened.
While we’ve already had a smattering of PPC experts weigh in on the hottest strategies to hit search and social this year, it seemed high time to touch on ALL the newest features, across platforms, that can make an impact on your digital marketing strategy.
Below, you’ll find highlights from the search and social channels our products currently support and some potentially paradigm-shifting features from other digital advertising platforms, too!
Best New AdWords Features
While I’d love to focus on some of the new targeting features revealed at this year’s Google Marketing Next, there’s a big, shiny elephant in the room…
So naturally, I’m kicking off the list of 2017’s best new online advertising features with the updated AdWords UI.
The New AdWords Experience
- It’s fast.
- It’s pretty.
- It’s…not universally available until December
While that last bit might make it difficult for some to consider the new AdWords UI a true top feature of 2017 (so far), I’m not one of these folks. The sleekness alone is worth a conversation, but it’s the little extras—stuff that isn’t even available in the current UI—that get my juices flowin’.
WordStream’s Senior Data Scientist, Mark Irvine, wrote about some incredibly useful features hidden within the “New AdWords Experience” (like the improved, aesthetically pleasing reporting) if you’re interested in learning more!
In-Market Audiences Come to Search
One of search’s biggest advantages over traditional modes of advertising is the ability to discern intent. But while a commercially driven query is a great starting place, not every iteration of “buy men’s Nikes” is created equal.
That’s why Google has expanded their in-market audience feature to search.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling SaaS or Subaru Foresters: the ability to increase your reach (and bids) for searchers with a history of actively seeking your product is a boon for your business.
CTR might not be your most important KPI, but increasing the rate at which prospects click on your text ads means more opportunity to incite conversions.
Enter Promotion Extensions, a method through which advertisers can show a darling little price tag (and price!) for their products directly on the SERP, like so:
While this might not sound Earth-shattering to you, the impact Promotion Extensions can have on CTR is very real.
Shout out to Mark (again) for doing some analysis on client accounts with early access to promotion extensions while they were in Beta.
Life Events Targeting (Available on YouTube, Gmail Coming Soon)
Unveiled in earnest at Google Marketing Next, Life Event targeting (current “events” include graduation, marriage, and moving) increases your visibility at the right time on the right device.
The proof is in the pudding: check out how mattress-tech company Purple used TrueView ads to simultaneously bolster their brand and purchase intent:
Among movers: 21.8% increase in purchase intent.
Among the engaged or recently married: 23.1% increase in purchase intent.
Among advertisers: 100% jazzed.
Best New Facebook & Instagram Features
Are Facebook and Instagram the same platform? Technically, nah. But they share an invoice and that’s good enough for me!
Advertising on Facebook and Instagram is fun (weird, right?) thanks to tools like the Creative Hub, which was launched in December of last year. Back then, while you could craft killer mockups and view superlative ad creative with ease, uploading your prospective pieces of sales collateral was a pain in the neck.
Deliver Mocked-Up Ads Directly from Creative Hub
If you’ve been ‘round these parts before you probably know I’m a bit obsessed with the aforementioned Creative Hub.
I’ve been known to pore over Canvas ads for hours, even going so far as to invent maple syrup companies, storyboard ads, and waste sunny Saturday afternoons tinkering.
If I were to make that very same ad today, before sauntering over to Star Market and buying buckwheat pancake mix, I could upload that Canvas (or any other ad type) directly to an ad account, purchase it, and push it live. Now all I need are some trees…
Instagram Story Ads
No longer in their infancy, Instagram ads are poised to blow up like nitro. While image, video, and carousel ads are all effective, they’re a bit vanilla (wait for it…).
Enter Instagram Stories, the platform’s NEW, immersive, full-screen ad format.
Tell me you don’t want dessert now, I dare you.
Whether you’re looking to provide a prospect with a discount or simply promote a new offering, Facebook Messenger Ads give you the opportunity to present a personalized, one-on-one experience.
Whether you’ve got someone on your team manning the chat function or you’re simply leaning on canned responses to common questions, Facebook Messenger ads will give your brand a boost and could very well drive new business. While this is a strategy many enterprise-level marketers have deployed on their websites for years, the use of chat-based ads on social platforms is brand spankin’ new (and perfect for SMBs looking to stand out from the competition).
Best New Bing Features
Bing is a great channel for businesses targeting older, slightly wealthier demographics. And you know what? It should really be a priority; there are some solid features available to marketers that you just don’t get on AdWords.
I reached out to WordStream’s resident Bing aficionado Navah Hopkins to learn about her favorite Bing ads feature released this year
Share of Voice (Competitive Metrics)
Impression share is an important account health monitor that lets you know how many impressions you’re getting out of the total available.
Never again will you need to go into the reports tab (bleh!) to pull this valuable information – share of voice is now part of the management grid! Anytime impression share dips below 80%, you’ll want to troubleshoot for rank, budget, relevance, CTR, or bid.
Go squash your competitors already!
Best New Snapchat Features
Snapchat: Not just for tweens anymore! (ß You can have that one for free, Mr. Spiegel)
In all seriousness, the infectious app—I read somewhere that the average user opens Snapchat 17 times a day—has been a favorite of big brands for a minute now. You know, Cola conglomerates with marketing teams that make a Spartan army seem diminutive.
But in the last month or so, I can’t go to the taqueria around the corner from my apartment without being bludgeoned by logo-bearing ghost silhouettes.
Snapchat’s blowing up among SMBs: Here’s why.
The Self-Serve Ad Manager
In June, Snap opened its doors to SMBs with their self-serve ad manager. While not necessarily a direct path to conversion, Snap ads, geofilters, and lenses are a brand managers fever dream.
Oh, and they’re also insanely cheap (particularly the geofilters, provided you’re not looking to target the inside of Fenway Park).
This one’s hot off the presses (it launched on July 17) but it’s got some serious promise and so it deserves a spot on the list.
As media juggernauts migrate towards video centricity (Fox Sports no longer has written content on its website, opting to capture their scorching hot takes on camera instead). Unfortunately, most SMBs lack the tech savvy or time to produce their own high-quality, channel-specific video content.
Good thing Snap’s so damn savvy!
Per this TechCrunch post highlighting the release of both self-service options, “ This browser-based tool imports existing brand assets, trims horizontal videos for the vertical format, offers Snap-provided ad templates for different objectives, adds motion to static photos, A/B test different ad variants for performance, and lets advertisers buy through the Ad Manager with one click.”
More significant than the editing and formatting capabilities, however, is the fact that Snap Publisher allows you to work with existing video assets. Instead of going back to the drawing board, you can simply squeeze more mileage out of your existing YouTube and Facebook video ads.
Best New Pinterest Features
Historically (you know, since its inception waaay back in 2010), Pinterest hasn’t been a corner of the internet in which I’ve spend much time.
While this remains the case for Allen the bourbon-swilling Bananagrams enthusiast, Allen the digital marketer is singin’ a different tune in 2017. Why? Well, for one, I read a nifty article written by Hanapin’s Alaina Thompson on the growing diversity of Pinterest’s user demographics. But also…
Pinterest came out swinging in January with new ad formats and they haven’t slowed down since.
Pinterest Search Ads
If you sell products to demographics that frequent Pinterest with, well, frequency, with long buying cycles then promoted pins are a no brainer; after all, the platforms data suggests that users save items up to three months before making a purchase. Promoted pins allow you to stay top of mind when the credit card comes out.
But that’s not what I’m pitching as the year’s top feature to date. That honor goes to One-tap pins.
Remaining relevant during a long buying cycle is important, sure. But being able to drive action to your site directly from Pinterest is a game changer. With these one-tap ads
Best New LinkedIn Features
You probably know how I feel about LinkedIn, but in the event you need a quick refresher, here’s what I said last year…
This year LinkedIn rolled out a new feature that has made the platform viable.
Lead Gen Forms
Lead ads were all the rage on Facebook last year; early this spring, they made their debut on LinkedIn.
Obviously, they’re not a perfect fit for every advertiser, and they’re still prohibitively expensive unless you really whittle away at those targeting parameters. Here’s hoping the back 9 yields more promising features for advertisers, paving the way for a killer 2018.
Best New Twitter Features
Better luck next time.
About the Author
Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. If you know what's good for you, you'll follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.