Highlights from Google Performance Summit 2016

May 31, 2016
Looking at google phone

It’s fair to say that during Google’s Performance Summit 2016 Keynote on May 24th, Google announced the biggest AdWords changes since the rollout of Enhanced Campaigns in 2013. Enhanced Campaigns was a game changer, shifting the up to then touted best practice of “one campaign per device” to bundling all devices types into a single campaign format.

In 2016, the message is clear and unanimous. Senior Vice President of Advertising and Commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, opened with these words: “Mobile changes everything. This isn’t an evolutionary change any longer, it’s a revolutionary one”.

For years, as marketers we’ve talked about the coming shift to the mobile platform. That shift is no longer happening – it has now happened. This was the theme of the presentation and the various product announcements that were made. Whereas Enhanced Campaigns accounted for a mobile strategy on a desktop centric platform, the new AdWords experience is designed for a mobile-first world.

Google introduced the notion of “micro-moments” a few years ago and focused heavily on this throughout the presentation as they rolled out the various product enhancements. The goal was simple – advertisers need to be present, for every micro-moment that occurs during the day, because every such moment is an opportunity to solve a problem and engage with a potential customer.

The question for marketers is no longer whether they should invest in mobile, but rather how to invest in mobile.

Google’s new product upgrades aim to answer this question and facilitate digital marketing in a mobile-first world.

“As of 2015 more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on desktops and laptops globally”


Google AdWords in a Mobile-First World

The following is a summary of the key highlights of the summit along with upcoming platform and product upgrades.

1. New Text Ad Format

Research shows that ads with longer headlines are more useful to mobile searchers because they provide more information before users engages with the ad.

Google will roll out ads with longer headlines, which is the combination of two 30-character description lines. There will be one long 80-character description line. This equals 50% more ad text in which to highlight products. Early testing has shown an increase of 20% in click through rate (CTR) on these ads.

2. Display Ads Update

Google is rolling out some significant updates to the format and structure of display ads, which are designed to fit onto any platform and to make it easier for advertisers to roll them out. By providing Google with a headline, a description, an image, and a URL, the platform will then design and create “beautiful” ads which will fit any webpage or app. In doing so, this redesign will unlock native ad inventory across the Google Display Network (GDN).

3. Bidding

In order to assist advertisers in connecting with customers in the right moment when that customer reaches for their smartphone to make a decision or accomplish a task, Google is updating how bidding will work across devices. In the days of pre-Enhanced Campaigns, bidding was managed independently per device.

Google is not completely returning to this model, but will again be offering some level of bidding control across devices through an adjusted bid multiplier model. It will be possible to set individual bid adjustments for each device style: mobile, desktop and tablet. You will anchor your base keyword bid on the device which drives performance for your business and then you can adjust the bid by positive and negative ranges, all the way up to +900% for each of the other devices.

“Not every moment is the right one to connect with consumers. Brands that interrupt us, get in the way.”

4. Next Generation of Local Search Ads

Nearly 1/3 of mobile searches are related to location. In fact, in the past year, location-related mobile searches are growing 50% faster than mobile searches overall.

As a result, Google presented advanced features for location search ads which will allow businesses to share searchable local inventory information on these business pages. The goal of this innovation is to increase foot traffic to stores, based on initial searches performed on mobile devices. Google will be increasing its advertising reach by beginning to incorporate promoted pins on Google Maps.

5. Expanding Programmatic Reach

Most advertisers probably do not associate the Google Display Network (GDN) with programmatic ad buying, but it was clear in the presentation that Google is trying to expand its reach in the programmatic space. Both DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) and the Google Display Network were touted as leading suites in programmatic ad buying.

DBM is a well-known demand-side-platform (DSP) which allows advertisers to buy directly from publishers and to purchase from multiple ad exchanges, while offering a level of transparency into these ad buys. However, the GDN is not exactly known for having extensive programmatic ad buying functionality. As such, it was interesting to hear that Google will be extending the reach of the GDN campaigns by giving advertisers access to Cross-Exchange Inventory. The details of how this will be facilitated were not shared in the presentation.

6. Similar Audiences for Search Ads

Google has finally released its Similar Audiences feature for search campaigns. This product has been available in the GDN and within Gmail Ads, and advertisers have been asking for this functionality within search campaigns.

The notion is simple: Reach searchers who have similar characteristics to those searchers who have already visited your site. By building these lists from the characteristics of users in an advertiser’s remarketing list, this will broaden the reach to users who have not previously visited the site.

7. Demographics for Search Ads

This new product will layer additional demographic information of age and gender into search campaigns, where it will be possible to make bidding adjustments based on demographics. This product will be particularly useful for businesses that explicitly target a specific gender or age category.

8. Redesigned Google AdWords Platform & Google Analytics Suite

Finally, Google will be rolling out platform updates through 2016 and into 2017 which see both the Google AdWords and Google Analytics 360 Suite updated with data visualization elements which will make it easier to navigate the platforms and more easily gain actionable insights.

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