October at Google was a month of new launches accompanied by system tweaks, both large and small. Of the new, we have Dynamic Search Ads, AdWords Express, Pay Per Call and the +1 button now appearing on ads in the display network. Of the improved, we have location targeting and ‘improved transparency of ads’.
Whilst the location targeting shake-up seems to present a great opportunity for advertisers, is the second really an improvement? Google have always valued consumer trust, however this particular ‘advancement’ actually allows users to block certain advertisers from within an ‘ads preferences field’. Will this make users more suspicious of other forms of personalised advertising and prevent them from realising the benefits of seeing ads for those products and services that they are most interested in? The Debate looks set to roll-on until Google provide their first set of stats.
Dynamic keyword insertion may be nothing new; however dynamic ad creation directly from website content is certainly a new and intriguing prospect.16% of daily searches are totally new to Google and online businesses frequently have new listings and changing stock levels. This means that even with the best structured AdWords campaign and an extensive keyword list, relevant searches can be missed and ads can become out of sync with what’s available on the company website. These disparities are obviously to be avoided where possible and this is where dynamic search ads come in.
So what are dynamic search ads and how do they work? - In Google’s words: This is ‘a new way to target relevant searches with dynamic ads generated right from your website’. With Dynamic Search Ads, Google keep a fresh index of a business’ available inventory using their organic web crawling technology. When a relevant search occurs, Google dynamically generates an ad with a headline based on the query, and the text based on the most relevant landing page on your website. The ad then enters the auction as normal; however it will not appear for any search where you also have an eligible keyword-targeted ad.
Dynamic ads have been coined to give advertisers broader exposure for in-stock inventory, without disrupting any existing keyword campaigns. It follows that the more targeted an ad, the higher conversion rates are and Google have apparently reported 5-10% increase in clicks and conversions from advertisers in the pilot.
On October 20th, officially rolled out AdWords Express in the UK and Germany. AdWords Express has been designed as a ‘quick and easy way for local businesses (that aren’t already AdWords advertisers) to create an Adwords campaign’. Google say that an AdWords Express campaign can be set up in under five minutes and they have put together a short demonstrational video to prove it.
Gaining and maintaining consumer trust has always been at the heart of Google’s activities and this latest development does not deviate from their mantra. In Google’s own words they are ‘constantly working to make ads more relevant and useful’. Those with G-mail accounts will probably have noticed the introduction of a "Why these ads?" link next to ads showing in their inbox. They also appear in search listings, where users remain logged-in. On clicking on these links, users are taken to an ‘Ads preferences’ page where they are given the option to opt out of targeted ads and even block selected advertisers.
Opinions are mixed on this one, does it really hurt consumers to be targeted by ads according to their preferences and online history? Moreover should it be their right to know how they are being targeted by advertisers? Could it in effect, make them more disdainful towards other targeted advertising outside of the Google display network? So the number of users actually opting out of targeted ads and the knock-on effect on advertisers remains to be seen Although Google assures marketers that being blocked by a user will not affect their quality score or ad rank, it will certainly make their online marketing more challenging.
On October 31st, Google announced a makeover of the location targeting interface within AdWords. Google cites one agency that segmented top performing geographic areas to increase their overall click through rate and suggests that the new targeting tool will make it easier for other advertisers to do the same. Crucially, the location targeting feature will now link to Google Maps. This will give advertisers access to more information about locations as well as a visual view of location boundaries. Google will be able to make relevant location suggestions and provide estimated reach figures for any selected areas. Furthermore, the previous location target limit of 300 has been lifted to 10,000 per campaign.
On October 25th, Google launched “My Business Story®" alongside American Express. “A program for small businesses to tell their stories through video”. The project and competition is designed to showcase the use of video for better customer engagement and retention and specifically the launch of a new video tool for small business owners.
On October 25th, Google heralded the arrival of bid per call in the UK and US. This new feature essentially will allow advertisers to bid for phone calls in addition to bidding for clicks. If phone calls are a valuable lead source for your business, you can set the max price you are willing for each call as well as each click for a customer searching for a particular search term. E.g. luxury hotel. If you use bid-per-call, not only your normal ad quality score and max cpc influence your position but also your bid for phone calls and phone call quality score. Higher ranked ads are more likely to be seen and can therefore generate both more clicks and phone calls.
Advertisers running ads through the Google Display Network should have started to see the +1 button and annotations with their ads. As explained in Google’s September announcement, this new feature allows users to recommend an ads’ landing page to their social contacts/friends with just one click.