New features in Google AdWords – our review of Google Marketing Live

On Tuesday, we hosted a live webcast of Google’s annual ‘Marketing Live’ event at which they announce new features across their marketing platforms.

Sadly we could only accommodate 10 guests in our meeting room, so we weren’t able to host all of our clients and friends, so for those who weren’t able to make it, here’s Helen’s rundown of the most exciting new features that we’ll be using for our clients in the coming weeks and months:

1. TrueView for Action

We’re increasingly using YouTube ads to raise awareness of clients’ businesses at a very affordable cost. However, we’ve mainly used them to date for top-of-the-funnel awareness work rather than for bottom-of-the-funnel conversion. So we’re excited to hear that TrueView for Action ads will allow us to place much more prominent calls to action over our clients’ ads, to help us drive direct website enquiries and sales from targeted YouTube advertising. Also coming soon are ‘Form Ads’, which sound like they will be along the lines of Facebook Lead Ads, allowing YouTube users to fill in enquiry forms directly on video ads.

2. Smart Shopping Campaigns / Automated Feeds

Anyone who’s set up a Google Shopping campaign will at some stage have had to get to grips with setting up Shopping feeds, linking them to Merchant Centre, linking Merchant Centre to AdWords, and so on and so on. It’s been quite a convoluted process for advertisers to get their heads around. Well – going forward, you won’t need to create a product feed at all – Google will be able to scan your website, scrape your product pages for all the information it needs, and bingo! I can think of several advertisers we’ve worked with in recent months who would have found this useful – where for some technical reason they’ve been unable to produce a valid shopping feed from their site, for example. Great news!

3. Responsive search ads

We’ve actually been using this feature for some time, with a limited set of clients – it’s currently available in some peoples’ accounts and not others. Anyway, we’re fantastically excited about this new ad format. It allows you to test multiple headlines and description lines in your ad copy without having to physically create every different possible combination. You give Google a bunch of headlines and description lines and it combines them for you in different combinations, picking the most successful combinations and showing them more often. Not only that, but responsive ads are bigger, giving you more characters to play with.

4. Mobile landing page speed reporting

Google are really pushing home to advertisers quite how important it is to speed up your landing pages, especially on mobile devices, to generate more sales and enquiries from your AdWords account. Going forward, within the AdWords platform, you’ll be able to see a speed score for each of your mobile landing pages, so you can see which pages are the ones that you need to focus your attention on, in terms of site speed. They’re also continuing to push AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) – these are pared-down versions of your ‘normal’ pages that are designed to load really quickly.

5. Local campaigns

This is a new campaign type aimed at driving people to visit physical locations such as shops, restaurants and museums. Advertisers will upload a set of creative assets – pictures etc – link their Google My Business page (the process for this is apparently going to become much easier!) and Google will dynamically create ads that are shown across Search, YouTube, Maps and Display. Without actually being able to run one of these campaigns yet, it’s difficult to pass judgment on how well the new campaigns will work (and how we will be able to measure the results from them), but we will watch this development with interest for our clients with physical locations to promote.

6. Cross-device reporting

OK, I know reporting generally doesn’t get most people excited. But I am genuinely looking forward to seeing the new cross-device reporting that will be available to us in Analytics. This will allow us to see how users use the site across multiple devices (for example, visiting a site on their mobile phone and then later using their computer to access it). It’s all anonymised data, if you’re worried about GDPR. It will be interesting to get a clearer view of how visitors make purchasing decisions based on multiple interactions with the site across different platforms.

There were lots more announcements, too, and you can view the full recording of the livestream here if you’d like to see what else Google have planned for us:

My concerns?

Smaller businesses are being very much channelled down the route of allowing Google to run their whole campaign for them using automation and machine learning. While I am a great believer in the power of Google’s technology, I am concerned that their new ‘Smart Campaigns’ which are targeted at small businesses could just be another ‘AdWords Express’. For the uninitiated, AdWords Express is a product that’s tried to do a similar thing for smaller advertisers for a number of years – but it’s a black box, where businesses have to just ‘trust Google’ without having decent visibility of what exactly it is that Google are running for them and what results it’s getting. I’ve yet to see an AdWords Express campaign that I thought was good value for money for an advertiser. But we’ll see – technology has moved on and hopefully Smart Campaigns will be better for those very small businesses that don’t have the skills to manage their own campaigns and can’t afford to pay a specialist to run their campaigns for them.

The theme of the whole keynote was very much a theme of machine learning. And privacy – lots of mentions of privacy cropped up during the presentations, which is a positive development for us as users of Google products.

Last but by no means least, I must mention one other small detail – AdWords won’t be called AdWords any more! It’s being imaginatively rebranded as plain old Google Ads. Seriously though, this does better reflect the range of advertising options that are available through the platform – it’s by no means all about words any more.

Want to know more about the changes to Google AdWords (sorry, Ads)? Give us a shout on 01952 462845 to find out how we can help.


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