The Biggest PPC Changes And Trends In 2017 To Date
From targeting changes to ad updates to new products, the following is a closer look at the most important paid search changes.
The IAB reports that in 2016, the almost $6 billion year-over-year increase for search spend was driven by mobile, and for the very first time surpassed desktop. Now that mobile is viewed as a given, we don’t have to wonder anymore if this is going to be its year, and can look at the larger trends, news, and launches from Bing Ads and Google AdWords in 2017, beginning with machine learning, which is one of the keys gives for the year.
As former Optmyzr found and Googler Frederick Vallaeys discussed in his column, the roadmap for Google Adwords 201 is full of artificial intelligence, following the Google Marketing Next event, just about every search marketing innovation is being powered by machine learning. A perfect example of this is the earlier announcement made by Google of its smart displays campaigns. Machine learning is relied on by those campaigns to automate almost every aspect involved in these campaigns.
In mid-March, there was another significant development involving machine learning. Google announced it was expanding close variants meaning within an exact match and would be ignoring word order soon or ignoring or adding function words for exact match keywords.
Here is a side story about why being in this industry is so great. On the Friday prior to SMX West kicking off this news came out. A last-minute session took place on the conference’s second day at 8 a.m. Despite it being the last minute, the large room was nearly full and there was a lively discussion that had plenty of great ideas and questions discussed. There was also a Google project manager in attendance to get feedback. The fact that over one hundred individuals got up early to share ideas and talk shop is a true testament to this industry’s ethos.
In May Ad Rank thresholds started to be updated in order for contextual meaning to be accounted for in queries, in terms of whether the query related to a consumer product versus recent news.
Attribution And Conversion Tracking
During the first half of 2017, Adwords Converted Clicks was phased out and Google Attribution was introduced, which was the largest product release announcement at Google Marketing Next. An SEO company in NYC has access to the same exact attribution data in Analytics and Adwords, however, more feeds and multichannel conversion data is pulled in by Attribution to Adwords to be used in bidding strategies.
At the end of May, Maximize Conversions were also added by Google to its automated bidding strategies suite. If you import offline conversions on a regular basis into Adwords, then those important ones can now be scheduled.
Online-to-offline conversion tracking got some big news with the in-store sales measurement programs from Google. Retailers are now able to upload customer email or loyalty card lists into Adwords, or alternatively, in-store sales conversions will show up in AdWords automatically, with a program that is powered by a partnership that Google has with different financial vendors. According to Google, it provides them coverage representing 70 percent of U.S. credit card transactions. In addition, Google is now able to report on and track store visits coming from YouTube campaigns.
“Ads Added by AdWords” was launched by Google in January. There were 2,000 accounts that were chosen to participate in it (and had the choice to opt out of it.) Ads are automatically added into a testing rotation of the ad groups by this system.
By the end of February, the green outline surrounding the Google text ads “Ad” label became official.
In March, page feed was added to Dynamic Search Ads and expanded text ads are now supported as well. Both of these headlines are generated dynamically, and advertisers have been given extra characters to use in their descriptions as well.
That very month, Google commenced testing of a second description line of expanded texts. That is still a limited test and on all devices, prices rolled out. Typically, these extensions are shown on mobile in a swipeable carousel, a format which has continued to be experimented with by Google, including showing a wide array of types of extensions in a carousel.
What is really ramping up is AMP for Ads. A beta was launched by Google which allows advertisers to point their search ads towards landing pages that are AMP-enabled. A precinct column was also written by Frederick Vallaeys entails “AdWords’ Best Kept Secret: AMP Your Landing Pages” which was on the value of using landing pages that are AMP. I profiled in June, why the first finding from AMP landing pages that were tested by one e-commerce company has caused them to develop a complete AMP experience geared towards mobile search audiences.
Speaking of e-commerce and mobile speed, opening the Purchases on Google beta is something Google also moved for in mid-May making it faster to buy from PLAs. Now back to the subject of automation, the program of automated call extensions continued rolling out to more advertisers. Automatically, Google pulls phone numbers into advertisers´ website ads if they have not set up call extensions. The news came after an announcement in January in which local phone number would be displayed automatically by Google with location extensions as opposed to a central number.
A theme that has continued to make a lot of noise this year. In-market audience’s as well as audiences for Search and Shopping that are similar, in the first half of 2017 both rolled out in AdWords. The ability to exclude lists in campaigns for retargeting was enabled by Bing Ads in February andtheye have started testing in customer and market audiences.
Inventory feeds as well as search query reports are a product level was added by Bing Ads in April. Later is rolled out Merchant Promotions for US Shopping Campaigns, this allows merchants to highlight offers in their product ads which are special. Anyone interested is able to fill out a form online to apply. On Display Network, shopping as are beginning to show. A pilot named Retail Shopping ads was started by Google on Display on home design and fashion retail sites. So that you know, all advertisers were automatically opted into this pilot by Google as of May 29th. Advertisers are able to opt out, however at this point setting up a separate display is not possible (volume is still quite low).
In late June, Google was also at the heart of the record fine of the EU which was levied for antitrust violation against Google. I believe that the ruling of the EU against Google is simply absurd, it could, however, have an impact on the US. For more info, read how Google Shopping will be ruined for the consumer by the EU’s ruling bay Andreas Reiffen, columnist, and Crealytics head.
Finally, Google provided advertisers with the ability to view Quality Score data that is historical in AdWords. The bidding interface in the UI is also being changed to show bid suggestion for a variety of page positions. About another million advertisers, give or take were provided access to AdWords Next, the new interface. Google says that by the end of the year, it will be available to everyone.
Expanded device targeting was rolled out by Bing Ads, which provides advertisers with the ability to set up campaigns only for mobile. On top of that, all advertisers on the first of March were provided with access to Bing Ads Editor for Mac.