Just in Time for the Holidays: Google’s Latest Adwords Update

Back to school shopping is quickly approaching, and before we know it the holiday shopping season will be in full swing. While it may sound crazy to start thinking winter coats and gift wish lists when we’re still facing triple-digit heat, smart retailers are already locking down their holiday marketing strategies and they’re using back to school as a test run for new ideas and approaches.

It’s expected that consumers will do more of their holiday shopping on mobile than ever before, according to a recent study by Facebook. Lucky for marketers, just this week, Google announced the launch of three new AdWords innovations that optimize mobile advertising and give greater control to marketers.

The latest updates, expanded text ads (ETAs), responsive ads, and bid adjustments now allow marketers to effectively reach more customers in increasingly relevant ways. As retailers begin preparing for some of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, utilizing Google’s latest changes will help them increase customer reach early and improve ad performance.

Expanded Text Ads

ETAs allow marketers and advertisers to take full advantage of increased space on mobile screens. The new feature gives advertisers nearly 50% more advertising space to promote their brand. With two 30-character headlines, and an 80-character description line, advertisers now have the ability to easily include compelling details about products and services. As back-to-school shopping campaigns begin to ramp up and retailers start to plan their holiday strategies, the extra description space will make all the difference in reaching target customers.

At Adlucent, we had the opportunity to test out ETAs in its early alpha stage. Our client, Guitar Center, was one of five companies given access to ETAs. The extra space that ETAs offered promised higher click through rates (CTRs) with early projections showing an average 20% lift in CTR compared to standard text ads.

Over the 4th of July holiday week, we saw incredible results. We ran both ETAs and standard text ads in our top ad groups. Non-brand ETAs saw a 76% lift in CTR while brand showed a 15% increase. Conversion rates (CVRs) for ETAs also grew a whopping 101% for brand and 14% for non-brand, all compared to standard text ads in the same ad groups. Keep in mind, however, these results were achieved during alpha and beta stages and metrics will continue to change as Google further rolls-out the beta. Results will also vary be retailer and timeframe used.

As marketers begin implementing ETAs, remember that creativity can go a long way. With nearly double the amount of space, you’ll have plenty of room to try out new copy and calls-to-action.  For some ads, shorter copy may work better with your target audience. Make sure to always test and re-test your ad creative and make adjustments based on the results. Relevancy will help you reach the right customers, so make sure you’re using all relevant ad extensions. Finally, make sure your mobile text ads are in the top position. The extra space that ETAs takes up means fewer ads will appear above the mobile fold.

Responsive Ads

More people are starting searches on mobile than desktop, according to Google. With more consumers switching between smartphones, tablets and desktops, Google’s responsive display ads will ensure that retailers’ ads display properly on a variety of screen sizes, especially as holiday ad strategies go into effect.

With 25- and 90-character headlines, space for a 90-character description, an image and URL, mobile ads have never looked better. Today, responsive ads can fit over two million sites across the Google Display Network, helping advertisers ease one of the biggest headaches in display across several devices.

For consumers browsing online, the new mobile adaptations provide a streamlined and optimal shopping experience which can increase conversion rates.

Bid Adjustments

With new control and flexibility to set and adjust bids, retailers can test optimal performance across multiple devices before heavy holiday campaigns are set. Advertisers can now reach customers across desktop, tablets and smartphones with a single campaign while adjusting bids for each device type separately. This increases efficiency in ad spend for each device.

Additionally, campaigns can now be set for mobile only, eliminating tablet and desktop from the equation. In addition, retailers now have the choice to set base bids for mobile and then adjust on desktop and tablets. The updates also eliminate the need to duplicate campaigns across devices, and enable advertisers to set separate geo-modifiers for each device. Cost per click bids can be adjusted between -100 to +900 percent, a much wider range than before. The new flexibility allows marketers more control and precision, while keeping campaigns manageable across multiple devices. This helps ensure ads are reaching the right consumers everywhere they shop.

Mobile is no longer a strategy, it’s simply our reality. Google’s latest updates and AdWords innovations provide brands with new opportunities to deliver a better shopping experience for customers and a greater return on their mobile investments, just in time for the holiday season.

Holly Pauzer, Client Insights & Research Manager at Adlucent

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