What has Google announced?

On May 24th 2016, the Google Performance Summit was held in San Francisco, California. This was the 4th annual summit to announce the latest updates and innovations to Google ads and analytics. Unsurprisingly, the announcements made at this year’s summit were decidedly mobile-centric; although a wide range of exciting & impactful new features were revealed which will undoubtedly influence the way in which Reprise & IPG Mediabrands unlock additional opportunity for client partners.

AdWords & display ads redesign

Google announced that search text ads are being changed to ‘optimise’ them further for smartphone screens. This update will expand current text ad character limits to include two 30-charater headlines and one consolidated 80 character description line. These new expanded text ads will feature almost 50% more text than the current search ads format. Although we’re yet to see a firm date for the official introduction of expanded text ads, Reprise has been working with Google as part of a beta test for this new feature since April 2016 in the Australian market. Google has announced that this will shortly become standard for all text ads on Google for mobile, tablet and desktop devices.

Google AdWords Extended Text Ads

Google AdWords Text Ads – Before and after comparison for desktop and mobile

An update was also introduced at the summit to a mobile first approach to ads on the Google Display Network (GDN). New responsive ads for display were announced which adapt to provide an optimal display ad experience on every device and in every environment – from website to apps to video. Advertisers can provide a headline, a description, an image and a URL and Google will automatically create responsive ads to adapt for each environment. Currently, more than 20 image sizes are utilised in GDN, with individual image sizes required to be created for each. Google’s solution will potentially require only one image size to be created. Along with the new display ad format, Google also announced new native ad inventory to integrate ads into content and provide better engagement.

Device bid control changes

When Google introduced Enhanced Campaigns in 2013 this forced advertisers to embrace the changing user adoption of mobile devices by making all AdWords campaigns omni-device – with one base bid set for desktop & tablet devices and a changeable multiplier for mobile placements. This year’s update sees AdWords base bids now able to be anchored to any device the advertiser chooses – depending on which device is considered most important for a specific campaign. Bid adjustments for each device type can then be added on top of this. The range of bid multipliers for other device types has also been expanded to give advertisers greater control.

Google Maps becomes part of ad inventory

Google has increased the amount of ad inventory available in Google Maps, and highlighted Maps as a key strategy focus moving forward. Specific additions include:

  • Promoted Pins – pinpoint locations on Maps, customisable with in-store offers and linking to Google My Business pages. Reprise has been working with Google on this beta in the Australian market since April 2016
  • The ability to customise Google My Business (GMB) pages with offers & in-store promotions and stock inventory

Online to offline measurement upgrades

Google research has shown that 90% of all conversions will happen in-store. Google hopes to more accurately link the online and offline worlds by more clearly validating incremental store visits driven by online media. Attribution has become a key area of focus, with significant increases in investment to be rolled out for AdWords store visits. Technologies suggested include beacons to help smaller businesses validate and customise user experience. Google are also extending beyond in store footfall measurement to validate actual POS transactions and track these back to ad interactions. Reprise has been testing this beta product with Google in the Australian market this year.

Bringing intent and context together

While similar audience features have been available on the GDN for some time, Google is now extending this feature to search. Similar audiences allow advertisers to expand the reach of campaigns beyond known consumers to groups with similar behaviour and interests. This update will allow search ads to use this powerful data for the first time: combining Google rich audience data with the precision of keyword targeted search performance.

What is the impact for advertisers?

Search is moving into an increasingly personalised, mobile-first world. Google is working to provide search marketers with a more efficient ways to reach and engage with more relevant audiences, more of the time. At the core of Google’s new features is the concept of ‘micro-moments’, which Google has split into four categories:

  1. ‘I want to know’
  2. ‘I want to go’
  3. ‘I want to do’
  4. ‘I want to buy’

The updates announced at the Google Performance Summit are geared towards improving the ability of users to access information relevant to these micro-moments, as well as search marketers’ efficiency in serving relevant ads. Google is improving its offering, which will lead to improvements in the following categories:

1. Increased click-through rates for Paid Search

Expanded text ads are the second major feature to be rolled out in 2016 for search, following the removal of the right-hand ad column (with the addition of an extra ad listing above-the-fold). Both of these features are geared to improve visibility of search ads across all devices. Reprise has been involved in the beta stage of expanded text ads testing in Australia and are currently waiting to go live on approved campaigns. Early tests run by Google in other markets have demonstrated a 20% increase in click-through rate (CTR) where expanded ads have been applied. It is anticipated there will be an early-mover advantage in CTR improvements, with increases becoming more moderate as more advertisers gain access to expanded text ads.

2. Changing rates of Organic Search traffic

While improving the visibility of paid search, we expect expanded text ads could potentially have a negative effect on CTR for organic search. In addition, with the increase in paid features in Google Maps and more accurate targeting seen in the similar audiences feature, we expect organic search to generally have a lower share of voice.

3. Improved ability to connect online media with offline purchases

Globally, more than half of Google searches are now on mobile devices. Furthermore, Google Maps is becoming increasingly ingrained in mobile-based search. Globally, 1 in 3 mobile searches are location related, and location-related searches are growing at a rate 50% faster than mobile searches overall. With the high rate of growth in location-based searches and the emergence of local search as an advertising medium, the attribution of online media for offline purchases has become a priority. While Google already tracks a ‘store visits’ metric, we expect the reliability of this feature to improve with increased investment. This is a growth area and may provide further justification for firms to invest in paid media.

4. Improved efficiency for advertisers

Several features announced at this year’s Google Performance Summit are geared to improve efficiency on the advertisers’ end. Responsive ads on GDN may reduce the need for image optimisation when reworking images for different display size. AdWords and Google 360 Suite have both been redesigned and are pending release in late 2016, with reportedly more intuitive designs and more features geared to improve efficiency.

Next steps

In a world increasingly adopting mobile devices, Google is proactively adapting the search landscape to suit mobile platforms. Accordingly, search marketers will have the opportunity to serve more relevant information to more relevant consumers in appropriate ‘micro-moments’.  Reprise continues to work closely with its offices around the world to take advantage of new industry developments and keep clients informed of how this will affect their business.

Reprise is here to help you achieve the best results from search, be it AdWords, SEO or Conversion Rate Optimisation. If you’d like to know more about our services and how we can help your business, contact us now.


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Paul Watson

Hi! I'm Head of Paid Digital Solutions here at Reprise. With over 10 years of experience of in digital marketing, I have a passion for all things digital. I love helping clients to leverage the power of digital media strategies to deliver on their business goals.

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