Big Changes at Google Will Impact Marketers

Blog, Boelter + Lincoln, Google

As Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Google lives by that mantra. Not only does their name doodle change (almost) daily on the homepage, the search engine has made many updates to their ad platform during the last few months.

To keep up with competing ad platforms, there are some key changes that have already been made and others to look out for this year.

First, on February 19, right-hand ads were eliminated from Google’s search results. Ads now only show up on the top or bottom of the search browser. This means that for paid search advertisers, the CPC will increase and competition for top slots also increases. In the end, these right-hand ads had poor click-through rates across most verticals, so it was a good thing to say goodbye.

Then on May 24, Google held the Google Performance Summit webinar to introduce more updates coming to AdWords and Analytics. The rollout focuses on a “mobile-first” initiative. Google reported that over half of google searches happen on mobile and more than half of web traffic is coming from smartphones and tablets. The top five changes that advertisers can take away from this keynote include:

  1. Google AdWords new look and feel
  2. Text Ads will be longer
  3. Bid Adjustments by device
  4. Display Ads will be responsive
  5. Remarketing ads will now reach more people

Some of these updates are in response to competing online advertising platforms such as Facebook, especially as it pertains to remarketing ads. Google’s new targeting feature for remarketing ads can extend beyond visitors that have actually clicked to a website. They can now include audiences similar to a website’s actual visitors, aka Lookalikes. Facebook has a comparable targeting feature called “Lookalike Targeting,” which they rolled out in 2013.

In all, the response from Google ad users on the new rollouts appears positive. There wasn’t a clear date to when all the newest features will available, but it is something to look for in the next year.

For our clients at B+L, many of these rollouts will be impactful.

  • Search ads will incorporate 50% more text
  • We will have the ability to set bid adjustments to optimize toward mobile – especially when many advertisers see more than 50% of traffic coming from mobile devices
  • Creating lookalikes for search ads will be a great addition to the mix of ad groups and campaigns.

Many of these features are already available on other ad platforms and produce results for advertisers. The Google Ad team is headed in the right direction and we are sure that this is only the beginning for more changes to come.