Hello there, and welcome to the first installment of my monthly round up of Google AdWords updates.
With AdWords seemingly adding new features every week at the moment, it’s sometimes hard to keep up. Hopefully, you’ll find all the information you need in these posts. These blog posts will also cover updates on Google advertising in general, so I may well chuck in some stories about YouTube, and general Google news stories too if I feel like it.
These updates are sent to the team at Browser Media each week internally, and they close with a selection of excellent dog pictures. If you make it to the end, you will be greeted by the ‘top dogs’ of the month, as voted for by the team. I am trusting you not to just scroll to the end of this to look at the dogs each month, mind.
1. People be freaking out about ‘ads’ in image search, which then were not ads
Early on in the month, over in the US, images labelled ‘Product’ in Google Images appeared apparently as part of new badges markup (the pretty coloured tabs that help you to sort images that were recently introduced) and it made people have a little freak out.
I can see why people thought they were AdWords related, but they weren’t; so if you see this appearing on our side of the pond in the upcoming weeks, it’s just Google having a little test for themselves.
2. More changes to Google Shopping product listings
Google has started testing a different variation of mobile product card units, which is the Google Shopping format of a knowledge panel.
The product appears at the top, within a swipeable carousel that resembles the mobile price extension format, as well as filtering options underneath.
3. AdWords rolls out new fancy-pants mobile sitelinks
AdWords has introduced a new way in which mobile sitelinks are displayed.
This allows users to scroll further and click through to deeper parts of a site by choosing which sitelinks pertain to them, while also diving directly into the specific page. Advertisers can set them to whatever they like. Handy dandy – especially for adding popular brands or categories to a generic campaign.
4. One for the legal eagles
AdWords is updating its terms and conditions. Here are some ‘fun’ highlights…
- More flexibility to notify or inform you via phone calls, text messages and emails.
- New provisions related to how products and features are tested within AdWords.
- In the U.S., Canada, and most countries in Latin America and Asia, a provision to use arbitration to resolve disputes rather than jury trials or class actions. Follow the instructions in the dispute resolution section of the terms to opt-out of this provision (U.S. and Brazil only).
- New provisions related to the disclosure of technical errors and bugs within AdWords.
- New data protection terms related to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other EU privacy frameworks.
Not sure how much of a biggie it is, but it states ‘as with any legal document, you might consider consulting an attorney if you have any questions’. Maybe worth reading thoroughly to rule out the risk of any Apple T&C/HumancentiPad scenarios.
5. YouTube ads leaderboard
Oh boy, which ads are the most watched by the type of people that are totally absorbed by BRANDS and CELEBRITIES and MONEY and STUFF in this capitalist nightmare of a world?
Analysis: Cute dogs = ad views ftw.
6. New site category exclusions for Google Display Network on the way
After a whole load of big brands and advertisers ditched Google due to the positioning of ads alongside sensitive content, Google has reviewed its site category exclusion list.
More on what will be changing here.
7. AdWords launches new ‘Landing Pages’ feature
I’m not really sure how helpful this is but basically, you can now see which landing pages are mobile friendly – or not – within the new AdWords interface.
I’ve given it a go with a client knowing that 0% of their landing pages can be navigated very successfully on a mobile and the results were not exactly awe-inspiring. I don’t really get how useful this would be!
I guess if you don’t have Google Search Console fetch and render or access to a mobile-friendly testing tool it could be sort of helpful but surely just look at the landing page on a phone? I dunno.
Anyway, this is what Google has to say about it:
“Earlier this year at Google Marketing Next, we introduced the “Landing pages” page to help you see how your landing pages are performing. We’re rolling it out over the next few weeks in the new AdWords experience. On this new page, you’ll see which URLs in your account are mobile-friendly, which ones drive the most sales, and which ones may require your attention. For example, find the pages that get a lot of clicks, but aren’t mobile-friendly. Then prioritize them for your webmaster so you can convert more of your ad clicks into sales.”
I say: yawn.
8. Good news for people who hate waiting for ads to load on mobile
Well, if a site is using AMP, anyway.
From this week, Google will be using what it calls ‘fast fetch’ ad request and rendering so that advertisers can fire ads into your eyeballs that fraction of a second faster on AMP. What a time to be alive. More on this here.
9. Scaled back ad rotation settings
Up until now, we’ve been able to enjoy four different ad rotation settings:
- Optimise for clicks
- Optimise for conversions
- Rotate evenly: Show ads more evenly for at least 90 days, then optimise
- Rotate indefinitely: Show lower performing ads more evenly with higher performing ads and do not optimise
But soon, we will only have two to choose from:
- Rotate indefinitely
Why the change? Well, it makes no sense to me, as basically optimise for clicks and optimise for conversions have been lumped into one. This is fine if your goal is both, but what if you have an ad that is likely to get a lot of clicks as you are selling a desirable product, but it’s not the clicks that are important to you, it’s the conversions? You could end up wasting mad money.
However, AdWords has stated that if conversions are important to you (and why the flip wouldn’t they be?), you can faff about with Smart Bidding. For PPC managers who have spent time getting accounts to the point where optimise for conversions has been working great for a client: gutted. You are going to have to come up with another strategy. Thanks, Google!
Also, I have found the rotate indefinitely setting to be absolutely wump. With three ads being tested on this setting; one ad was served 20% of the time, the second 10%, and the third ad 70%. That’s not even. When I asked a Google rep about this, they advised changing the setting to optimise for clicks. Not ideal when you are trying to run an ad copy test and have spent hours painstakingly labelling ads. Hopefully, the rotate indefinitely setting will improve!
10. Try to secure your Google Shopping Ads top spots in time for Christmas shoppers
If you want to dominate the Google Shopping Ad top spots, a new report might be able to help.
Available in the new AdWords interface in the Product section of Shopping Campaigns, you’ll now find some extra options to diagnose why you may have seen a drop in the number of clicks or impressions.
If you do have a few products causing you issues, typically because they have been disapproved due to an error in the feed, you’ll now be able to see exactly what the problem is within the AdWords interface.
Once you’ve fixed any errors, you can then start aiming for the crème de la crème of Shopping Ad positions. This slot, right here:
According to Google:
“The left-most ad on mobile Shopping results get up to 3X more engagement from shoppers; impressions in this position are called “absolute top” impressions. To see the percentage of time you’re showing in this top position, use absolute top impression share (Search abs. top IS column in AdWords).”
If you sell thousands of products, it will certainly take you a while to optimise for this absolute top spot, but it’s worth looking at trying to capture this for products with the best ROI in the run up to the festive season, for sure.
11. Have customers all around the world? Want to spend more money? Google AdWords can help!
This is probably pretty obvious, but if you sell products to countries other than the one you are based in, you might want to consider advertising in these locations too via Google Shopping.
Google has announced that it will take care of headaches like currency conversion, and it can also easily be expanded to reach people in other countries that speak English. I’d say it’s worth looking at how much traffic you are getting from these countries and how it converts, as well as factoring in the additional costs for things like postage as well as the risk of fraud and having to deal with returns, before rolling this out willy nilly.