2019 has been a massive year for Google. A plethora of exciting new concepts and product announcements were put forth, all based around the central tenet of being responsible, present and, most of all, useful.
As we near the end of the 10’s and head to the roaring (hopefully) 20’s we wanted to have a quick review of the most exciting innovations from Google this year.
New ad formats
The news feed ain’t dead yet! Some 85% of online consumers take a product-related action within 24 hours. Discovery ads show ads to prospects in the moments when they are most open to finding something new.
Discovery ads offer an almost unprecedented reach. You can serve them across the YouTube home feed, Gmail promotions tab and the Google Discover feed on Android devices. They also leverage machine learning in order to deliver the best ads to your prospects.
Discovery ads represent a singular, easy-to-use campaign type designed to be both engaging and inspiring, a swipeable feed-based format with clear calls-to-action. They are one of the fastest-growing advertising channels and have seen an incredible 25% drop in cost per lead in comparison to similar channels.
Youtube Home Feed Discovery Feed (Android) Gmail
This year, Google endeavoured to combine search intent with a more interactive and visual ad format. Gallery ads combine compelling images and copy with prime placement at the top of the search results. A user seeing this ad can swipe through multiple images of your product or service, each with its own copy.
As with Discovery ads, Gallery ads utilise a carousel format, but, unlike Discovery ads, they sit at the top of the search results page. This means advertisers can now show prospects not only ads related to their keywords but also legitimately related creative visuals which are going to induce clicks. In fact, campaigns leveraging gallery ads have seen enhanced user interaction, with some businesses reporting increases of as much as 25!
Just be sure to meet Google's guidelines for photorealistic images with very minimal editing.
Responsive display ads
It can be a bit of a pain to create ads for every format. Google has now eliminated this hassle with the introduction of responsive display ads, which automatically figure out the best format for your ads depending on where they’re being served. Just give Google a URL, headline, image and description and they’ll do the rest. What’s more, you can now run ads that actually adapt to the content of the websites they’re on via the Google Display Network.
Expanded text ads
Google has since introduced new expanded text ads, with the opportunity to have three headlines each with 30 characters in length. Early tests by Google showed that this change alone dramatically increased CTR, in some cases by as much as 25%.
This change, perhaps more than any other mentioned in this list, is massive. A third headline is demonstrably more useful to advertisers and result in better-qualified traffic. With so little space on a smartphone screen, the change in the amount of headlines is fantastic news for businesses — although, as is so often the case, not such a welcome revelation for those on the organic side.
Additionally, Google has increased the number of characters that can be in the description, from a pair of 80-90character lines. The display URL has also been removed — from now on, Google Ads will automatically extract the domain from the final URL. Advertisers may then add in a path to enhance the display URL if they so wish.
Showcase Shopping ads
Unlike standard shopping ads which take users to landing pages, Showcase Shopping ads take shoppers to a catalogue of related products, in order to entice those users who are already seeking inspiration and who would therefore benefit from an array of options.
Showcase Shopping ads were rolled out by Google back in 2016, offering advertisers a new way to introduce users to their products or services, but this year’s expansion will see these ads now also appearing in Images and the YouTube and Discovery feeds. This is particularly exciting because it enables advertisers to deliver discovery-based shopping experiences at a broader range of high-funnel touchpoints.
Improvements in Smart Bidding
You couldn’t move at a Google event in 2019 for people excitedly proselytising about the wonders of machine learning. As computers become increasingly competent at finding patterns in data and making informed decisions based on said data, so Google has rolled out its updates to Smart Bidding.
Smart Bidding entails Google implementing machine learning across its advertising properties, optimising bids for conversions or conversion value.
2019 has seen three primary innovations in Google Smart bidding:
- Campaign-level conversion goals. If a campaign is dedicated to a single conversion goal, such as increasing in-store visits, you can now optimise all of your bids within the campaign exclusively for that goal.
- Conversion action sets. If you’re looking to optimise your bids across several campaigns, you can now create a set of desired conversion actions.
- Seasonality adjustments. Got an upcoming sale or event that you expect to increase conversion opportunities? Google Ads can now optimise your bids for that time period, then return them to normal.
As of August this year, all search advertisers also have access to Google’s newest smart bidding solution, maximise conversion value bidding. After you’ve set a budget and target level of return on ad spend, Google will take the reins and optimise your keyword bids to maximise your campaign’s conversion value!
Changes to device bidding
Up until recently, it was the case that advertisers set a base desktop bid, then set mobile bids as a multiplier on the base bid. This was introduced with Enhanced Campaigns. Tablet is still categorised as desktop, much to the annoyance of many PPC professionals — although tablet searches still account for only 5% of traffic and show no signs of growth.
As of 2019, though, businesses can now set bids for mobile, tablet and desktop independently, or alternatively make them dependent on one another. This equips advertisers with more flexibility and further solidifies Google’s mobile-first approach.
YouTube offers incredibly valuable real estate to marketers — that’s no secret.
What’s not quite as well known is the value of those six second ads that play before a video, or bumper ads. According to worldwide data collated by Google in 2018, a series of three bumper ads leaves a far greater impression on a consumer than does a single 30-second ad.
This is great insight, but businesses then face the problem of simply not having the resources to create sleek, professional bumper ads. Compressing a video down to 6 seconds whilst preserving logical, effective messaging is a seemingly herculean task. And yes, it may be so… for a human. But for a machine? Not so much.
The bumper machine resides snugly in the Google Ads interface. It is an unbelievably useful new tool which turns any video shorter than 90 seconds into a collection of YouTube-friendly bumper ads — at no additional cost to advertisers. What’s more, it even comes with a suite of basic editing tools, giving you total control over the final products!
Conventional wisdom over the past few years has been that Facebook Ads, not Google Ads, is the premier audience-based platform. However, things are changing.
Google has merged custom affinity audiences, a function that allows you to target a group with a demonstrable shared and specific interest, with custom intent audiences, a function enabling you to target users with commercial interest in a specific product or service. This means that the ability to target prospects based on their interests and behaviours is now housed under the custom audiences umbrella, which is far more convenient and intuitive all round.
As well as now being even better equipped to customise your audience, the audience expansion tool allows you to reach those consumers who both look and behave very much like those within your custom audience. This allows you to expand your reach while ensuring your offers are still entirely relevant and useful. Not only can you now acquire more prospects, but those prospects will also be more qualified. Win-win!
Stay ahead of the competition
Being fully conversant with the latest Google innovations will pay you and your business almost unlimited dividends in the long run. Keeping your ad campaigns relevant, impactful and highly targeted will increase your conversions, boost your sales and enhance user engagement with your brand. And if you’re struggling and feel like you could benefit from some expert advice, Push can help.
Push is a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency, so if you need help or want advice for creating healthier, more lucrative ads in 2020, get in touch.
Charlie Carroll, commercial director at Push Group.