Another year come, another year gone. The world saw Facebook + Cambridge Analytica’s political blunder, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tying the knot, and Russia host the best World Cup tournament ever. But perhaps these events pale in comparison to the shifts we saw in search engine marketing. Perhaps.
AdWords Re-branded to Ads
Google announced that AdWords would now be named Ads in a move to better align the product with the full array of advertising capabilities. Now offering far more than just keyword targeting, removing word from the name seems appropriate to not belittle the vast reach of the platform into search, video, maps, apps, web, and more.
Deprecation of adsenseformobileapps.com Placement Exclusion
Adding adsenseformobileapps.com as a negative placement to GDN campaigns will no longer remove all mobile app placements as a blanket approach. Instead, additional device targeting and categories have been made available (not yet accessible from editor) in the campaign device settings.
Exact Match Close Variants
This one… has given managers mixed emotions. Exact match will now begin including close variations that share the same meaning as your keyword. This is likely in attempt to keep pace with the roughly 15% new searches that are performed EVERY DAY. However, it begs a lot of question around word order, preposition words (flights to Austin vs. flights from Austin), plurality, and more in the context of match criterion types. The other very important factor you can’t overlook as an account manager is the need to perform SQRs (Search Query Reports) across all of your exact match campaigns from now on. If you haven’t already, you need to look at SQRs for your current high-volume exact match campaigns and ad groups and perform an audit two weeks following the launch of any new exact match terms. Unlike BMM terms, this does not need to be done on a regular basis, twice a year should suffice.
Google Ads + Google Sheets Integration
A new Google Sheets integration now allows managers to natively (and automatically) pull Ads performance data directly into Sheets for analysis and reporting. Our team has used this functionality quite a bit already and while the UI could use some polishing, the functionality has been largely praised. Previously this required the tedious process of navigating to your data, downloading in CSV, then uploading or pasting for actually processing in a spreadsheet program. Tedious no more.
Parallel Tracking Now Required
To better support Googles evergreen goal of easing and enhancing the user experience, they now require parallel tracking for all accounts. Parallel tracking sends users directly from an ad click to the final URL, while separately directing click tracking processes to the background. This in theory should allow for a quick, more seamless flow for the user from ad to landing page.
Responsive Search Ads
Currently in beta, responsive search ads have been widely accessible accounts and really showcase Google’s priority to move Ads toward a machine learning optimized platform. A child of ETAs, responsive search ads extend the character limits and allow for 15 headlines and 4 descriptions while giving control to Google’s AI to determine the actual ad makeup and copy. Depending on the context of the query and the user’s persona, Google will determine which combination of headlines and description is most relevant.
What Google has in store for 2019, only time will tell. But we’re wagering we’ll continue to see a significant shift of manual controls over to Google’s A.I. and machine learning abilities.