News: Google Sunsets Bid Strategies, Tests New Shopping Ad Placements
It’s time for another edition of my favorite feature on this here blog: the online advertising news round-up! We’ve got Google sunsetting automated bidding strategies, Instagram thriving as an ecommerce platform, Walmart generating hype around its ad offering, and more.
Google to sunset two automated bidding strategies
Beginning in a couple weeks, you’ll no longer be able to add Target Search Page Location or Target Outranking Share as automated bidding strategies. In the coming months, if you still have campaigns using these strategies, Google Ads will automatically migrate them to Target Impression Share instead.
Rolled out to advertisers in November of last year, Target Impression Share is a Smart Bidding strategy that automatically sets your bids in real time to help you achieve your impression share goals. Using this solution involves two key pieces of information: (1) whether you want to target the absolute top of the page, the top of the page, or anywhere on the page; (2) which level of impression share you want to attain. For example, you can tell Google Ads that you want to attain 75% impression share at the top of the page. Although you don’t have control over individual bids, you can set a maximum CPC bid cap.
So, why is Google sunsetting two automated strategies in favor of Target Impression Share? Whereas Target Search Page Location and Target Outranking Share give you the option of manually setting bids—and letting Google Ads adjust them as need be—Target Impression Share is almost completely automated. Once you select your desired part of the SERP and an impression share goal, you hand over the reins. There are no manual bids. This decision is likely due to Google’s increasing emphasis on machine learning and auction-time bidding.
Gen Z’ers and millennials are shopping on Instagram
Among UK residents, 39% of consumers aged 16 to 24 and 34% of consumers aged 25 to 34 have made purchases through Instagram, according to data and analytics firm GlobalData.
Shopping on Instagram is a tool for ecommerce advertisers that enables them to tag their products for sale in their News Feed and Stories content. Initially rolled out in March 2017—and substantially ramped up earlier this year with the rollout of Checkout on Instagram—Shopping on Instagram is designed to capitalize on users’ tendency to use the platform as a source of product discovery and purchase inspiration.
Using the tool—which, although free, does require you to be a Facebook advertiser—eliminates a considerable amount of friction from your marketing funnel. All of a sudden, Instagram doesn’t just drive brand awareness; it drives sales.
Although based on an admittedly small region of the world, this new research from GlobalData is meaningful: Young consumers like to shop on Instagram. Convenience is only part of the equation. With the ability to follow the brands they’re passionate about, Instagram users can effectively curate their own digital shopping malls—thus allowing them to replicate the sense of discovery consumers typically get from brick-and-mortar stores. Plus, thanks to the recently redesigned Explore tab, users can expand their personalized malls however they please.
If you’re marketing an ecommerce business that appeals to younger generations, this new data indicates that Shopping on Instagram is likely a smart move. Be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to social shopping.
Shopping ads spotted at the bottom of mobile SERP
Last week, WordStream client Dustin Washington, owner of The Token Shop, spotted Shopping ads at the bottom of the mobile SERP. Here’s an example, triggered by the query “aa chip":
Although we were able to trigger this new placement with a couple other queries—”buy girl scout patches,” for example—it doesn’t seem to be happening very often. For the most part, mobile product searches are still triggering shopping ads at the top of the SERP, as per usual. Here’s what Kelly had to say about it:
We're surprised to see Shopping ads buried at the bottom of the SERP. This could have serious implications in terms of visibility and click traffic. Although the data hasn't shown a drop in impressions or clicks on mobile so far, we'll keep a close eye on it.
This comes hot on the heels of Google’s decision to redesign the mobile search results, changing the color of the “ad” icon to black and moving it—along with the display URL—to the top of the paid results. According to Senior Interactions Designer Jamie Leach, the redesign was motivated by Google’s desire to free up more space for on-SERP actions and to remove some friction from the mobile search experience.
Whether testing Shopping ads at the bottom of the mobile SERP is part of the same effort is unclear at this point. It’s interesting to note that one of the few queries we got to trigger this new placement—”buy girl scout patches”—signifies high commercial intent. Perhaps Google is experimenting with dedicating more SERP real estate to Shopping when users’ queries indicate readiness to buy. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
Google bans political ads during Canadian election
As a follow-up to news that initially broke in early March, Google emailed advertisers recently to notify them of the ban against political ads in Canada that will last throughout the summer until the federal election cycle ends on October 21, 2019.
Per the email, there are two important dates for Canadian advertisers to keep in mind:
- As of June 30, 2019, you can’t run ads that feature a federal political party, the leader of a federal political party, a current member of the Canadian parliament, or a nominee for the Canadian parliament. It doesn’t matter if the ad is positive or negative.
- As of August 27, 2019, you can’t run ads that address political issues associated with a federal political party, the leader of a federal political party, a current member of the Canadian parliament, or a nominee for the Canadian parliament. Once again, it doesn’t matter if the ad is positive or negative.
Both of these regulations are in effect until October 21 and they apply to all advertising properties. Search, display, YouTube—all of ‘em.
Walmart’s advertising platform is on the rise
Last week, Walmart hosted an event in New York City to pitch hundreds of consumer goods companies and marketing agencies on its burgeoning advertising platform. Their goal: to convince brands to shift ad dollars away from Amazon—which, in recent years, has emerged as the third-largest digital advertising vendor in the US, trailing only Google and Facebook.
Sponsored search ads on Amazon.
Whereas nearly half of all internet users in the US start their product searches on Amazon, only 35% start on Google. Although this certainly doesn’t delegitimize Google Shopping, it does indicate that a lot of consumers prefer to go directly to third-party marketplaces. This trend has enabled Amazon to turn its ad offering into a substantial revenue stream; evidently, it’s also encouraged Walmart—the US’ third-largest ecommerce site—to pursue the same success.
To their credit, Walmart does boast a key advantage over Amazon: data. Whereas Amazon only knows to what people buy online, Walmart—thanks to its immense brick-and-mortar presence—knows what people buy both online and offline. Such a wealth of first-party data certainly makes Walmart advertising an appealing prospect for ecommerce businesses.
To begin, Walmart advertisers can buy both sponsored search results and display ad units. Later this year, you’ll also have access to video ad units. If you’d like to get started with Walmart advertising, their media website has everything you need.
Google makes it easier to order food online
If you run a local restaurant that partners with Postmates, DoorDash, or any other third-party delivery companies, Google has just made it easier for your customers to place orders online. As of now, users can order food directly from Search, Maps, and Assistant.
When a user searches something related to your restaurant—the type of food you serve, the area you’re located in, or your business name—they’ll see an option to order online. From there, they can take all the necessary steps directly within Google: select pickup or delivery, choose their items, and checkout with Google Pay. The process is similar on Maps.
To order with Assistant, a user only needs to speak the command (e.g., “Order from Two Guys from Italy.”). After they choose either pickup or delivery, Assistant will pull up the menu and prompt them to fill out their order.
This is yet another step in Google’s march to expand the range of tasks its users can complete directly on the SERP. Will it have an adverse effect on your site traffic? Maybe. But if it boosts the conversion rate of your Google My Business listing—and saves potential customers the headache of figuring out your website—we’d call that a worthwhile trade-off.