Review of Google Partners Manchester Event

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to a Google Partners event in Manchester – bringing Google Partners up to speed with the latest Ads product announcements, and giving agencies useful guidance on business development. What did I learn? Here’s my rundown of the key issues covered:

Continuing emphasis on mobile

Following on from 2013’s introduction of enhanced campaigns, the focus at Google Ads is still very much on mobile – and this really came across at the event. We were introduced to the three building blocks of a mobile campaign – ‘Always there’, ‘Always optimised’ and ‘Always relevant’, and taken through the process of maximising a client’s mobile presence.

The first step, of course, is to opt in to running campaigns on mobile devices. From that simple first step, you should then look at differentiating your mobile ads from your desktop ads, optimising your website for mobile devices, and implementing mobile preferred extensions, and optimising mobile bids to create a properly mobile-optimised campaign.

Going even further, some clients may set up a mobile app and look into mobile attribution modelling. A couple of case studies were presented to show us how different businesses in different circumstances optimise for mobile devices. Autoglass was cited as a particularly good case study of mobile optimisation, while Sk:n clinics have been able to leverage mobile advertising without having a mobile optimised website by bidding higher for visitors who are on a mobile device and physically close to one of their clinics.

Export was also a key focus

Another topic presented by the Google team was export – apparently, 68% of retail traffic in the apparel category comes from overseas users, and selling online to overseas markets is a real growth area. The team introduced us to the ‘Global Market Finder’ – which can be found here: This tool enables you to discover overseas markets for your product, service or business.

There was also a timely reminder at the event about the importance of website translation and localisation – customers are four times more likely to buy if the product is presented in their own language.

Another useful tool is the Consumer Barometer – which allows you to explore how different international audiences buy, and research, products and services online.

Shopping Campaigns

The Google team brought us up to speed on the progress with the rollout of the new Shopping Campaigns. The key features of the new campaigns are that you can now subdivide products into product groups, and allocate custom labels – which you can use to label product groups as ‘best sellers’, label them by season and so on – a useful feature.

Reporting has also improved, and ‘campaign priority’ enables you to tier campaigns for seasonality.

Third-party tools cannot yet support shopping campaigns – eg Kenshoo, Marin etc. The old PLA campaigns will be retired in August 2014.

Business Development for Agencies

This section was keenly attended to by the agencies who had attended from across the North of England and the Midlands, and we heard from representatives of two large agencies who have successfully grown their AdWords management services, as well as hearing insights from Google staff.

One particular phrase chimed with me – that AdWords worked well for SMEs who “don’t have the brand to grow first organically” – in other words, search engine optimisation is harder now if you aren’t an established brand, and AdWords can potentially work better for those types of businesses.

Indeed, we’ve seen the AdWords side of our business grow significantly over the last few months, working with many businesses who fit exactly that profile. One commentator also mentioned that retargeting had ‘opened up the marketplace’ for SMEs – giving smaller businesses access to the kind of advertising that was only accessible by those with bigger budgets just a short time ago.

Video advertising was mentioned, with the Google team talking about simple, creative, pre-rolls being appropriate for smaller businesses to advertise on YouTube. Google’s been trying to push video advertising to SMEs for some time with apparently limited success! One of the agencies present mentioned however that product videos can be a ‘massive win’ for ecommerce sites.

And the challenges of working with SMEs on AdWords management? Kevin from Latitude felt strongly about quality – that we as agencies should provide the best possible service for clients, within what is reasonable for the charge those clients are paying (now that can be a difficult balance!). To a certain extent, he thought that using tools to speed up certain routine tasks such as reporting was valuable, but he pointed out that you can’t automate everything. On education, he felt it was important to communicate with clients in their own language rather than in AdWords jargon.

David from Visualsoft reiterated the importance of setting client expectations, and Gilli from Google felt that a key issue in the industry that all agencies face is talent, or rather the lack of it – it’s difficult to find staff that can do everything – who can handle the technical side of the work, but also the creative side, and who can communicate with clients effectively.

The dreaded ‘Not Provided’

Anyone who’s been into Google Analytics recently will have noticed that most organic keywords are now ‘not provided’ by Google – and there’s been talk of the same thing coming soon to Google AdWords data. The question inevitably came up during a Q&A session. Google’s answer was that ‘Not Provided’ is indeed coming soon to Google AdWords data, but only at the Google Analytics end. The data within Google AdWords itself will be unaffected. Someone from Google referred to this change as being ‘Not a big deal!’ but most of the agencies I spoke to remained unconvinced. Time will tell how this change will pan out.

It appears that the roll-out will be gradual, though there was no mention of when it would start. One particular implication of the change will be that anything using the ‘q=’ that currently appears in the URL will be affected. In other words, if clients have any dynamic landing pages set up, that automatically pull in the keyword that the visitor searched for into the content of the page, these will cease to work once the change has taken place.

And the goody bag?

Regular readers of this blog will know I do love a good Google goody bag. What did I get this time? Here’s my swag: Yup, that’s a pencil, pen, notepad and some headphones. I’m still waiting for my Nexus 7 🙂 The bag was rather fun – you got to design your own android on – guess what – an Android tablet – and have it printed onto a t-shirt or a bag.

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