Looking Back: Search Advertising Updates from 2016
As the holidays approach and 2016 comes to a close, we have been thinking about how this year has changed for online advertising. If you spend any time at all reading up on the industry, you know that it changes quite often! There have been many updates over the last twelve months, big and small, and we’re going to share some of the most important for your online advertising program and its success. We will cover search advertising in this post, but keep an eye out for social and display advertising highlights in the coming weeks!
Product Expansions and Updates
- Expanded Text Ads: Text ads saw some pretty big changes this year with the launch of expanded text ads on Google and Bing. The new ad type is nearly 50% larger than standard text ads, as you can see in the mobile preview below. Advertisers get two headlines with 30 characters each and one description line with 80 total characters, five more than the previous two description lines combined.
Standard Text Ad
Expanded Text Ad
Shortly after Google’s announcement and release of expanded text ads, Bing followed suit. Both online advertising platforms will soon sunset their standard text ads and are encouraging advertisers to make the change to expanded text ads. Google has a deadline of January 31, 2017, which is quickly approaching. Bing Ads will retire standard text ads in the first quarter of 2017. An exact date has not been provided.
As a Premier Google Partner Agency, E-Power was granted early access to the expanded text ads beta and we were able to get our clients up and running before it was open to the public. Our clients have seen a lower cost per lead, higher lead rates, and several other improvements when comparing expanded text ads to standard text ads. Take a look at the improvements our client Coin-O-Matic, a laundry equipment distributor near Chicago, has seen in their Google AdWords Search program.
As noted in the above charts, expanded text ads have generated the same number of leads at a lower cost per conversion, high conversion rate, and higher clickthrough rate than standard text ads.
- Improvement in Remarketing Lists for Search Ads: At SMX East, Google announced new updates to their RLSAs including:
Reach users on mobile devices – Use your lists to target users on all devices, regardless of the device they’re searching on.
Longer membership duration – Taking into consideration the different types of businesses, seasonality, and high consideration products, the AdWords team extended list membership to 540 days.
Remarketing lists can be added at the campaign level – This update makes it faster and easier to use RLSAs to target past website visitors.
These updates work well with Customer Match too, which helps you reach users on your email list. Combining the two gives you a strong way to target your audience.
- Ad Extension Updates: Throughout the year, AdWords has released three new ad extensions that appear alongside text ads, providing more value and information to searchers. Ad extensions are a component of Ad Rank and help improve Quality Score, which ultimately helps lower how much you pay per click. New ad extensions announced this year include:
Price Extensions – Only available on mobile devices, price extensions highlight products or services on your website and send users directly to the most relevant pages on your website.
Click-to-Message Extensions – These extensions allow users to directly message a brand through the Google search results page. While not for all brands and industries, this type of extension may work well for companies that schedule appointments for their services or for brands looking to connect searchers with their services departments.
Affiliate Location Extensions – For manufacturers that sell their products in retail stores, affiliate location extensions provide an additional way to show users where they can purchase their products. With location-based searches becoming more and more frequent, advertisers who don’t have a brick and mortar store, but sell their products through retailers, can still take advantage of searchers who are researching online before buying in-store.
Reporting and Optimization
- Data Driven Attribution: Searchers go through many different steps before ultimately making a purchase decision when shopping online. Rule-based attribution models such as first-click and last-click have always been options when choosing how to attribute credit to different online sources, but they don’t always tell the full story. Earlier this year, Google announced an open beta to test a new model: data driven attribution. This model gives credit based on searchers’ behavior and from data in your account from previous conversions.
- Distance and Location Reports: These new reports use data from advertisers’ location extensions to showcase performance based on how far away users are when they are searching, clicking, and buying from an advertiser’s website. These changes are a part of Google’s larger strategy to make omni-channel marketing easier to track and optimize. Earlier this year, Google also announced store visit conversions as a way to measure store purchases that occurred as a direct result of a brand's online advertising efforts.
- Smart Bidding: Bidding is a fundamental aspect of online advertising, and Google has made bidding more efficient and effective with Smart Bidding. Smart Bidding uses machine learning built on these three pillars:
- Precise bid optimization tailored to user’s context
- Flexible performance controls that factor in your unique business goals
- Transparent reporting that provides clear insight into how bids are performing
As a team, we are dedicated to continuing education and staying up-to-date with new product releases and industry changes. We put our knowledge and expertise to work for our clients to improve their bottom line and meet their goals. If you’re looking for a little bit of guidance as you get set up for the New Year, reach out to our team of online advertising experts!
Stay tuned as we round up 2016’s biggest news in social and display advertising over the next couple of weeks!