Google Ads (previously known as Google Adwords) is regularly coming up with new features to try to help users have a better experience and get the best results possible. While these changes should (hopefully) be helpful for your digital marketing and advertising strategy, it does (unfortunately) mean you have some short term work to do. In order to try and make this work as short as possible for you, here are highlights of the latest and most important changes to Google Ads.
You may already know about some of these changes, while others could be new to you depending on how up to date you stay on the subject. It is important to remember that there are always going to be Google Ads features coming, going, and changing so you should check for updates regularly. Google Ads Help has a features and announcements page where they post information about these changes so you may want to bookmark that page.
How is Google Ads Changing?
Google Ads is often making changes and it can sometimes be hard to keep up, but if you want to be successful with Google Ads it’s important that you do. Some changes are more far-reaching than others, so we’ll highlight some of the most important ones here. By the time you read this, Google may announce more!
Let’s start with an overall positive change for e-commerce businesses. Google Ads has increased its annotations for Shopping campaigns. You have probably already seen this change, as it came out before the 2021 holiday season. Shopping ads can now have annotations such as ‘free shipping by December 12th’. This not only benefits searchers looking for a product by a certain day but also benefits e-commerce businesses as they can now compete for customers shipping costs/dates, return options and other specifics before they even hit the seller’s landing page.
Interestingly, Google Ads has also made it possible for consumers to see other ads a company is running. This doesn’t work for all ads that pop up in a typical Google search results page as it is only for Display, Shopping, and Video ads. It is meant to allow the individual to have more control over the ads they see.
The person performing a search can click on the ‘about this ad’ link and then select ‘see more ads by this advertiser’. Most searchers probably aren’t going to do this (especially since the button is small and hard to find), but you may want to double check that your ads across your Google Ads campaigns are consistent for customers who are aware of this feature and use it.
Another much-discussed change to Google Ads is the change to keyword matching behavior. Google uses three match types for serving up advertising when users search: broad match (ads appear on searches related to your keyword), phrase match (ads show on searches including the meaning of your keyword) and exact match (ads show on searches that are the same meaning as your keyword).
Back in September 2021, Google Ads changed so that if there is not an exact match to a search query, then phrase match or broad match keywords will be preferred. This change has been dissected and debated by PPC managers, but it essentially appears to boil down to this: the order of your keywords may not matter as much as it did before. This allows companies to focus less on what exact keywords a user might be using when they search and to instead think about what keywords might be part of their search. Both advertisers and SEO professionals may be able to use this change to their advantage.
Changes have also been made to Smart Bidding. As defined by Google, “Smart Bidding is a subset of automated bid strategies that use machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in each and every auction—a feature known as ‘auction-time bidding’. Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize conversions, and Maximize conversion value are all Smart Bidding strategies.”
So what’s changed here? Smart bidding used to allow advertisers to enter Target ROAS or Target CPA and let the Google Ads algorithm figure out the best strategy. Now advertisers pick Maximize Conversions or Maximize ROAS bid strategies which incorporate those previous strategies.
Performance Max Campaigns came out of beta in November 2021. At that time Google announced that Shopping and Local campaigns would both upgrade to Performance Max. These campaigns allow advertisers to buy Google ads across YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail and Maps from a single campaign. When announcing this program, Google said that advertisers “that use Performance Max campaigns in their account see an average increase of 13% total incremental conversions at a similar cost per action.”
What is the New Ad Type in Google Ads?
In September 2021 a new ad type– the ‘Things to Do Ad’ ad type– was announced. This ad is designed to streamline the online advertising of tourism focused businesses. It does this by letting companies add information such as reviews, pricing, and booking links to their ad copy. This type of ad is meant to make it easier for prospective customers to get a sense of the attraction they want to see and more easily book it, all from one spot.
And there’s more. Discovery ads, though not new, have continued to evolve. They are designed to help businesses target people through Discover, YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds, along with Gmail’s promotions and social tabs. They are designed to help with driving conversions, reaching new customers, and bringing old customers back; in other words they have a wide range of potential uses. However, the bidding and targeting is automated for these ads and you can’t change things like placement targeting, ad rotation, delivery method, etc.
The newest change is scheduled to release June 30, 2022 and it primarily affects advertisers using expanded text ads. There are few terms to consider as you evaluate this change:
Responsive ads automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit available ad spaces. This provides a better experience for users viewing ads on a variety of devices (desktop, ios, android, etc.)
Responsive search ads allow advertisers to create an ad that adapts to show more text—and more relevant messages—to customers. Advertisers enter multiple headlines and descriptions when creating a responsive search ad, and over time, Google Ads automatically tests different combinations and learns which combinations perform best.
Expanded text ads have three headline fields. The first two headline fields are required, while the third is optional. In addition to the optional third headline field, they include optional path fields. These ads are mobile optimized.
With this change, the only search ad type you can create or edit through a standard search campaign will be responsive search ads. If you run expanded text ads, they will still be available in your Google Ads account, however, you will only be able to pause, resume, or remove them. In other words, you can’t edit them.
To prepare for this change Google Ads recommends you make sure that all your ad groups in your search campaigns have at least one responsive ad before the change goes into effect.
What is the new Google Ads experience?
The Google Ads experience is changing, but it is by no means being overhauled. Google continues to try to look for ways to use machine learning to provide better search results for users, and automation tools to help advertisers reach more customers interested in what they offer.
To remain competitive, log into your Ads account and make sure you add responsive search ads, if needed, and consider phasing out expanded text ads if you’re still using them. While there, review your search term reports to see if there are terms where your ads showed up in SERPs but didn’t get a click. You may also want to create and test ‘Things to Do’ ads if they are right for your business.
How to Get the Most From the New Google Ads Features
At the end of the day, Google is still the most popular search engine and offers a valuable PPC advertising platform where you can select your campaign type, advertising goal(s), targeting method, and budget.
Figuring out how to get the most from the new Google Ads features will require continual testing to find the right strategy for your business. Make the following habits part of your routine will help you make the most of new features:
Check announcements from Google Ads
Research parts of the Google Ads setup you don’t understand
Review and refine your campaigns regularly to optimize results
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