New(ish) AdWords features you should be testing in 2017

2016 is coming to an end and 2017 is just around the corner, but what does that mean for paid search and what should we be testing in 2017?

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There were loads of new AdWords features launched in 2016, as there are every year, but which were the favourites? Here’s a list of the ones that we’ll be testing more in 2017…

Demographic targeting for Search

In September of this year Google introduced Demographic targeting for Search (DFSA) which allows advertisers to limit showing their ads to people that are less likely to convert or increase bids for those people that are more likely to convert.

Demographic targeting for Search, Display or Video campaigns can include:

Age: “18-24”, “25-34”, “35-44”, “45-54”, “55-64”, “65 or more” and “Unknown”
Gender: “Female”, “Male”, and “Unknown”

Not available on the search network, but also useful to know:

Demographic targeting for Display or Video campaigns can include:

Parental status: “Parent”, “Not a parent”, and “Unknown”

Demographic targeting for Video campaigns can include:

Household income (currently only available in the U.S.): “Top 10%”, “11-20%”, “21-30%”, “31-40%”, “41-50%”, “Lower 50%”, and “Unknown”

Please note that the “unknown” category refers to people whose age, gender etc cannot be identified by Google.

Therefore, if you have a product that is exclusively for men or women, for example, then you can exclude people of the other sex from seeing your ads when they are searching for your keywords.

We tested this for a client in the wedding industry, targeting bride and grooms-to-be, and we found that nearly 80% of determined (excluding ‘unknown’) enquiries were coming from brides-to-be and 90% from people aged between 18 and 44. We therefore excluded people older than 44 years old from seeing the ads and saw dramatic improvements:

  • Clicks and cost dropped by around 30%
  • Conversion rate improved by 43%
  • CPA decreased by 31%

Countdown ad customisers

This feature was launched before 2016, but isn’t something that I’ve been able to test much to date, I hope to use it more in the new year. I have used it, however, to countdown to events, which is very simple to setup (but, do bear in mind how many characters the text will contain once the customiser is inserted – the ad will be disapproved if you go over the total character limit).

Simply type a curly bracket, ‘{‘, in the text ad description field and a drop down appears for countdown or keyword insertion. Select countdown and you see the following box to complete:


Type in the date and time that the event ends, when you’d like to start counting down to it (ie. 10 days before the event), choose a time zone and hit ‘Set’. Then you see how it will appear in the ad preview to the right of the text fields, ie. ‘3 days’ and you can phrase your ad around it.

For more details about other types of ad customisers visit:

Expanded Text Ads


In 2016 the standard 25-35-35 formula changed to 30-30-80, to give advertisers an additional 47% more characters in their text ads.

On 31st January, AdWords will no longer support the creation or editing of standard text ads, so any new text ads created after then will use the expanded format. Old and existing standard text ads will continue to serve after 31st January 2017, but they cannot be edited, nor can new ones created.

I’m still not convinced that they work any better than the old text ads to be honest, so it will be interesting to see how things change in 2017.

YouTube Director

Something else that has been released recently is YouTube Director, a business app that allows small, local businesses to easily create polished video ads right from their phone – for free. Creating professional-looking video content can be a daunting and expensive task, something that many small businesses may not feel confident in investing in, but this new tool could (if it’s as easy to use as they say it is) make video content more accessible to these small, local businesses.

Google recently did an Elevenses on this, showing a short demo of how it works and how easy it is to do. This isn’t something I’ve used yet, but would like to test in 2017. It doesn’t say if there’s a minimum spend when creating the ads yourself, but if you are willing to spend £350 on YouTube advertising you can opt for YouTube Director onsite. A professional filmmaker comes to your business and shoots your video ad – for free.

For more information visit:

Have you tested any of these features in 2016? Share your experiences with us below.

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