What to Know About Google’s Paid Search Updates – Mobile Wins Again

Google is known for making covert changes and, sometimes, pulling the rug out from under marketers and advertisers.  Accordingly, we’re reporting on two brand new updates, including developments in the areas of expanded text ads and bid adjustments by device. Our key takeaway is this; mobile rules and Google plans to keep it that way. Continue reading for more details about the updates and our take on them.

Update #1: Expanded Text Ads Rollout

Mobile has revolutionized the canvas where ads live. Earlier this year, Google removed right-hand side ads on desktop to improve the search experience and make it more consistent across devices, including mobile. This has paved the way for Google to introduce expanded text ads, which they are currently rolling out.

Expanded text ads are optimized for screen sizes of the most popular smartphones, showing the importance of mobile in Google’s most recent decision.

Expanded text ads were first released in beta to select advertisers on May 12th, 2016. During the last few months, these beta version expanded ads would show up anywhere from 20% to 85% of the time on an ad group basis, depending on performance. These changes have proven worthwhile, with the expanded text ads showing, on average, a 10-20%  higher click-through-rate than the corresponding standard text ads from Google’s testing.

Beginning on July 26th Google started rolling this option out to all advertisers along with the second update involving bid adjustments by device. Not all accounts will receive this at the same time, so we encourage everyone to check their accounts every couple of days.

Standard Text Ads vs. Expanded Text Ads – An Example:

Expanded Text Ads

Expanded Text Ads – The Details:

  1. Advertisers now have two headlines, which are separated by a hyphen, instead of one headline.
  2. Each of these two headlines allows up to 30 characters instead of the standard one headline, which allowed 25 characters.
  3. The two description lines have merged into one field, offering 80 characters versus the former 70 characters, giving advertisers more control over the messaging of their ads.
  4. The display URL already shows the domain of your ad’s final URL, meaning advertisers no longer have to enter their display URL when creating a new ad
  5. These final URLs can also be combined with up to two new path fields up to 15 characters each, which will help viewers get a better sense of where they will be taken when they click on an ad. How does this work? If you’re advertising Women’s Hiking Shoes, you have the option to use ‘Women’s Shoes’ as your first path and ‘Outdoor’ as your second path, providing the control to choose which paths you use without having to match the structure of the website.
  6. These expanded text ads are now mobile-optimized. As a result, advertisers no longer have to select the mobile device setting when creating or editing a text ad.

Overall, the added text options listed above add up to nearly 50% more ad text for you to highlight your products and services with.

Starting on October 26th, 2016, though, you’ll no longer be able to create or edit standard text ads. Only expanded text ads will be available for creating and editing after this date. Existing standard text ads will continue to serve alongside expanded text ads. It’s also worth noting is that expanded text ads will also be available in Bing by the end of summer 2016.

Advertisers should begin taking advantage of the expanded text ads sooner rather than later to stand out from the competition. Click-through-rate on ad copy should improve for advertisers as well, with the copy being more enticing.

For right now, though, it’s best to continue running your standard text ads in combination with your expanded text ads within each ad group. Since existing standard text ads have already built up a keyword+ad Quality Score relationship, suddenly removing the old ads from the ad group may be detrimental to your keywords’ Quality Score. Therefore, keep the ads running together for a few weeks, and, based on next few weeks’ performance, decide which to pause and which to keep in rotation.

Update #2: Bid Adjustments by Device

Though it’s a less substantial update in comparison to the expanded text ads, the addition of bid adjustments by device still holds important implications for marketers. Similar to the expanded text ads, this update is designed for a mobile-first world with both users and advertisers in mind. To truly take advantage of this feature, it’s essential to have more flexible tools that help you optimize device-level performance.

Bid Adjustments by Device – The Details

  • Marketers previously only had the ability to select a mobile bid modifier by campaign or ad group (From -100% to +300%). Now, we’re able to set individual bid adjustments for each device type—mobile, desktop, and tablet—at the campaign and ad group level.
  • Keywords will continue to have a Max CPC, or “base bid”, but it now is a device-agnostic Max CPC bid, meaning that it’s not linked to a device by definition anymore.
  • The range to adjust bids will also be wider, with options from -100% all the way up to +900%.

With more control and flexibility, you can now optimize with greater precision while keeping things simple with a single campaign that reaches consumers across devices. Advertisers will want to evaluate performance by device by campaign and ad group to determine where it makes the most sense to adjust their bids.

In combination, these updates will allow marketers to appeal to mobile traffic with less effort and more flexibility. Unlike some Google updates, which can cause panic, these changes should ultimately make advertisers feel like Google is on their side in terms of helping them stay ahead of the curve and giving them more agency over the success of their advertisements.


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Did you like this post?  Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Maximizing Reach: Get the Most from Bing Shopping to discover how to profitably capture demand by diversifying your Bing and Google shopping strategies.

About Ben Goldman

Ben Goldman is a Senior Online Advertising Specialist for Fathom's Healthcare Team. He specializes in paid search and display. Ben oversees the day-to-day management of his accounts, proactively coming up with new strategies. Ben is passionate about exceeding client goals. He really cares about his clients and will do whatever it takes to solve their problems. In his spare time, Ben enjoys spending time with family and playing sports.

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