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Step Inside AdWords Announcements and Reaction

After weeks of promoting the release of new AdWords features, Google’s ‘Step Inside AdWords’ presentation at the AdWords Performance Forum delivered a cast of updates that, while interesting, won’t be across-the-board game changers. Some of the announcements touted new tracking capabilities that RKG was fortunate enough to have tested early and our findings were included in the presentation, while others spoke to upgrades to the AdWords UI for frequent users.Adwords Logo

These updates were broken into three buckets: Innovative Ad Formats, Insightful Reporting, and Intelligent Tools. Here we’ll take a look at each and what their respective impact on the paid search landscape may be.

Innovative Ad Formats

The app industry is growing quickly, and Google’s release of new app advertising formats through AdWords and their mobile ad network AdMob should help developers and businesses both garner new downloads and increase engagement with already downloaded apps.

To this end, YouTube will now support app downloads through TrueView Ads, while AdMob will allow advertisers to target users based on frequency of app use, the types of apps they use, and what types of purchases they make in-app.

On the SERP, ads will now allow users to open installed apps directly through the ad with a prominent ‘Open’ button. To help advertisers measure the success of these ads and others in driving app installs and engagement, Google has also promised more conversion metric options in AdWords.

Combined, these initiatives provide advertisers with new and interesting ways to reach targeted potential downloaders as well as promote the use of their apps after the initial download.

Insightful Reporting

Google’s Estimated Total Conversions were launched last year and give advertisers visibility into the number of conversions that occur cross-device. In RKG’s Q1 DMR, we reported that estimated cross-device conversions increased the total number of conversions by about 7% for the average advertiser, the same figure Google touted Tuesday.

The next step, or should I say leap, in properly measuring the full impact of paid search spend in AdWords comes through tying in-store orders to online clicks, and RKG is happy to have taken part in the testing phase of Google’s offline attribution tests. As mentioned in the seminar, RKG advertiser Express saw a 102% increase in paid search ROAS as a result of adding offline sales to those tracked online.

While this obviously won’t impact advertisers that lack a brick and mortar presence, it is an important and necessary step in measuring the full value of paid search spend for those who do have offline locations, and we’re excited to put this data to use for more clients in the future.

Intelligent Tools

The final section of the presentation focused on new UI reporting features aimed at making life easier on advertisers who frequently use the AdWords interface for data collection and analysis:

Bulk Actions for Extensions and Settings – Campaign settings such as location targets and ad rotations can now be set in bulk across campaigns. This may make adding targets such as average household income based locations easier at scale, as presently the process is very manual, with no Editor or API support, and has to be done by campaign.

Automated Bidding – Those using AdWords’ bidding optimizations will now be able to instruct Google to maximize either conversions OR revenue. This changes nothing for advertisers using third party bidding tools or proprietary software such as RKG’s Adaptive Portfolio Bidding™.

Advanced Reporting – Google is making it easier to pull multi-dimensional reports as well as visualize that data in charts and graphs within the interface. This will certainly help those who are heavily reliant on data from the interface, but is less impactful for advertisers and agencies with third party tools already devoted to streamlining paid search reporting.

Drafts and Experiments – Draft mode will now allow advertisers to make drafts of potential changes in the UI before pushing them live, a good capability and chance to double check changes for those using the UI instead of the API for bulk updates. Advertisers will also be able to run live tests on the impact of bid changes, keywords, ad formats, and other variables. This seems promising, but again, is less helpful for those using third party conversion tracking instead of Google’s conversion data.

Conclusion

For an event that received as much press coverage leading up to the big day as this one, the updates announced were relatively minor and don’t stand to rock the landscape for the majority of advertisers too much.

The updates geared toward app downloads and reengagement are very cool and touch on app downloads in a way that no AdWords update has before, but will, of course, only impact those with apps. Similarly, in-store conversions are game changing for a retailer with as large a brick and mortar presence as Express, but do nothing for those who lack physical locations.

The intelligent tools released will certainly help those advertisers who rely on the Google interface for day-to-day management, but advanced marketers have already developed solutions geared toward addressing all of these facets of management.

Thus, this isn’t the type of tectonic shift we saw in the announcement of Enhanced Campaigns, which impacted all advertisers. However, it did provide insight into Google’s focus in the future, as they further acknowledged the growing importance of mobile apps and measuring the full value of paid search. We expect these to be recurring themes in future Google updates.

  • Andy Taylor
    Andy Taylor is a Senior Research Analyst at RKG.
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