Google Marketing Live: Big changes coming to Google Ads

Hoo boy. Changes are coming thick and fast to Google Ads. Check out our highlights from Google Marketing Live 2019.

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PPC bods – brace yourselves. There are a lot of changes to Google Ads on the horizon.

The vast majority of these changes are (as always) focused on B2C, with e-commerce businesses getting better and better solutions. And, of course, bigger brands with more revenue getting even better results because of these solutions.

If you’re a B2B agency, or manage smaller accounts, this update may feel a bit ‘meh’.

So here we go. The good, the bad, and the ugly highlights from Google Marketing Live.

Discovery Ads

Discovery Ads will be launched under a new GDN campaign with a mobile-first focus. The ads can show up in Discover (I use the Chrome app on my phone so was like, WTF is this), in your Gmail under the Promotions and Social tabs, and when browsing videos on the YouTube home feed.

These ads will be served based on ‘power of intent’ – which refers to “signals Google derives from consumers’ past site visitation, app downloads, videos watched and map searches… essentially the same signals Google uses for its In-Market audience targeting”.

Here’s what Google has to say about them:

  • Rich and relevant creative: Inspire consumers with an open canvas showcasing your brand or products in a swipeable image carousel, rendered natively across each Google property.
  • Results: By combining this incredible reach and creative canvas with Google’s understanding of intent, you can be confident you’re anticipating what your customers want and delivering the results you care about.
  • Unmatched reach: Reach hundreds of millions of people across the YouTube home feed, the Gmail Promotions and Social tabs, and the feed in Discover using a single campaign.


As per most things Google Ads related, the ads will be optimized by Google AI to serve the best combinations to users. All an advertiser needs to do to get started is create a Discovery campaign and chuck in the ad copy and some creative. Google will do the rest.

These ads will definitely work best for brands that have aesthetically pleasing products and that want massive reach. I can’t see too many smaller brands having the budget to reach what could potentially be a massive audience. Why do I think this? The shining review of the new campaigns Google provided as an example is from TechStyle – a mega online retailer with 5 million members, and brands like Fabletics, Fenty x Savage, and ShoeDazzle under their big old corporate umbrella.

Verdict: GOOD, but probably going to work best for big brands with money to burn.

Gallery Ads

Another new type of ad with a mobile-first focus, Gallery Ads are the latest to compete with other ad types for the top spot. And they are HUGE.

You can see how they look here.

Users can interact with the ads by swiping through images or clicking them. In terms of creative, four to eight images can be supplied, with up to 70 characters of ad copy that will act as a tagline for each image, and three headlines to test CTAs.

Verdict: GOOD, but holy cow, they are flipping massive. May impact advertisers who have good results from other ad formats (i.e. text ads, Shopping ads).

New look Google Shopping

In a bid to lure users away from Amazon, Google Shopping is going to have a revamp.

It does look pretty darn swanky. But to be honest, I kinda like the mobile Google Shopping already.

So what’s the big deal?

Well, rather than visiting the advertiser’s site, a user will soon be able to complete the purchase within Google Shopping.

In addition, Showcase Shopping Ads can be shown across Google Images, Discover, and soon, YouTube. Make sure you opt out if you don’t want that to happen!

Verdict: GOOD AND BAD AND UGLY. Everything can be completed within the Google Shopping interface, so there’s no reason to visit an advertiser’s website. See ya later, traffic! But it does reduce friction, and it looks nice, which is better for the user, so?

More changes to match types (oh no)

Remember when Google Ads changed [exact match] keywords to mean… not an exact match?

Looks like they’re doing the same for “phrase match” keywords too.

Who doesn’t enjoy trawling through thousands of search queries to add negatives, anyway?


Verdict: BAD. VERY BAD.

Changes to Smart Bidding

Yet more AI shenanigans, this time in the form of changes to Smart Bidding.

Smart Bidding currently includes the following automated bid strategies:

  • Target CPA
  • Maximise conversions
  • Target ROAS
  • Enhanced CPC
  • Maximise clicks
  • Target search page location
  • Target search page location
  • Target impression share

Now, a new bid strategy – Maximize Conversion Value – is on its way. Here’s what it can do:

  • Campaign-level conversion goals: If you have a campaign dedicated to a single conversion goal—increasing in-store visits, for example—you can now optimize all of your bids within the campaign for that goal.
  • Conversion action sets: If you want to optimise bids across several campaigns, you can create a set of desired conversion actions.
  • Seasonality adjustments: Lots of advertisers experience peaks and troughs. The good news is, if there’s an upcoming sale or event that is expected to increase conversion opportunities, oogle Ads will optimise bids for that time period and return them to normal levels afterwards.

According to Google, this will allow businesses to ‘optimise for what matters the most’.

The explanation for how this new bid strategy can be applied is a bit confusing, so here’s Anthony Chavez from Google Ads with a few examples:

Ads Innovation Keynote with post show featuring product deep dives, Q&A and more

Verdict: GOOD. If you want more accurate ROI reporting, maximise conversion value looks to be the bid strategy for you. Especially good for advertisers that stock loads of products that really vary in price, want to drive footfall, or want to assign a value to other goal completions like newsletter subscriptions, but again, only one for the big boys.

Improved forecasting tools

So, I’ll admit I was a bit sceptical about how useful the new Performance Planner tool would be. But to be fair, if a client has some extra money to burn and wants to know where best to invest, needs to reduce CPA, or increase conversions, it works really well!

Verdict: A mix of GOOD and BAD. You need to have adequate data for the forecasting tool to work. Also, it won’t work when campaigns have shared budgets, it only currently supports Search campaigns. Plus I’d rather they hadn’t messed with tools that were useful before (Keyword Planner *cough*)

Audiences are merging – and getting bigger

Custom affinity audiences and custom intent audiences will soon become one. Renamed simply ‘custom audiences’, people will now be targeted based on their shared interests and habits and commercial interest in a specific brand, product, or service (i.e what they have been researching or planning) in one big lumpy group. Admittedly, Google is going to know what someone has been searching for but an interest in a product and a desire to purchase are very different places in the funnel. Bit of an odd move.

Google is also ripping off Facebook’s ‘lookalike audience’ feature with the ‘audience expansion tool’. Basically, it will allow advertisers to reach people who behave in a similar manner to those in an existing custom audience.

Verdict: UGLY for the audience mash up. An interest is way different to intent. GOOD-ISH for the audience expansion tool.


We are finally getting better B2B demographic targeting!

Verdict: GOOD! And about flipping time.

Want to see what else is new? Catch up here.

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