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Noteworthy paid media developments in April and May 2022

Staying on top of new digital tools, the latest channel updates, and user demands can be overwhelming, we know. Which is why we’ve assessed the latest paid media developments during April and May and put our heads together to evaluate what this means for the paid media landscape. 

Have your pad and pen ready (definitely worth taking note of), below our team of digital media specialists, share what the latest developments are and what this means for digital marketers. 

 

New Custom Columns in Google Ads
Google recently announced some major updates to custom columns in Google Ads. The biggest change is the inclusion of functions. These operate much like functions in spreadsheets such as excel, and allow for a whole host of new uses for custom columns not possible before.

Alongside this change, Google has also added the ability to reference custom columns within formulas, allowing for custom columns to work off of each other. This is useful with the new options functions have unlocked. We are also now able to pull text elements like campaign or ad group name into the columns. 

These changes are very welcome, custom columns have until recently been mostly used to segment-specific conversions into a column for optimisation purposes. The options available for calculation within the columns were just not complete enough to allow for many more use cases. With these changes, however, there are many more situations where custom columns could be useful in optimising an account.

Reference: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/12041700?hl=en  

Dan Biggs, Paid Media Consultant 

 

New Cookie Choices for Google in Europe

Google announced last month that they’ll be rolling out new cookie banners in Europe to anyone visiting Search or YouTube while signed out or in Incognito Mode. The update will give these users the additional option to ‘Reject All’ cookies:

 

The update began with a roll out across France and will soon be introduced across the rest of the European Economic Area. 

This is a big change for Google, moving away from a design made to make it difficult for users to opt out of cookies. With a continued commitment to “building privacy-preserving tools”, Google believes they can protect people’s private data while also giving businesses the tools they need to thrive in their digital environment. One thing’s for certain, it will be interesting to find out how this is all going to work.

Matt Hekkink, Paid Media Analyst 

 

Upgrades to Google Ads Extensions 

Starting this month, Google made some significant adjustments to ad extensions and upgraded all extension types (excluding image and location extensions).

So, what’s the difference? Well, it means there’s now a distinction between “extensions (upgraded)” and “extensions” for the new and existing extensions, making it clear which extensions are legacy and which will have the new features, allowing you to retain your historic data.

The new features include some very beneficial changes such as the ability to pause extensions, rather than outright removing them, and a “trickle-down” system for the different hierarchies of extensions.

This means that where previously higher-level extensions were limited by existing extensions at an ad group or campaign level, with the upgraded extensions all extensions can serve despite existing ones. For example, an Ad Group with existing sitelinks can now pull sitelinks from the Campaign or Account levels where they were previously restricted to just the Ad Group level extensions.

 

These features are definitely a big improvement but it’ll definitely be worth checking that your high-level extensions match with all of your ads just to be safe.

Ross Stratford, Paid Media Assistant

 

Updates to Google’s 3 strike system 

A new three strike disapproval rule is being implemented for google ads in June 2022 after being trialled in September 2021. The strike system will be for the following policies in particular: Enabling dishonest behaviour, Unapproved substances, Guns, gun parts and related products, Explosives, Other Weapons and Tobacco. A ‘strike’ will be added to your account if a policy is repeatedly broken. 

First Disapproval

The first stage will just be a warning and will result in a normal ad disapproval. Google wants to be fair and make sure that everyone is aware of the policy rules before they start blocking accounts. 

Strike One

The first strike will come if google deems policy to have been broken again within 90 days of the first warning disapproval, in this case there will be a full account block for three days in which no ads will be able to run. After three days the account will be enabled again but the offending ads will remain disapproved until they comply with policy.

Strike Two

The second strike is much like strike one but the whole account will be blocked for seven days, rather than three,  if google deems policy to have been broken again within 90 days of strike one.

Strike Three

The third strike is another violation within 90 days of strike two. This will result in the full suspension of your account and google doesn’t specify if there is any timeframe in which you will be allowed access to the account again.

You may appeal strikes but your ads won’t be able to show until either the block has been lifted and the appeal accepted or the temporary block time is over, you have fixed all policy violations in the account and completed an acknowledgement form. 

Whilst this may not affect many accounts it’s worth considering the reasons disapprovals may occur, we often have surprising disapprovals due to some content linked to the landing page we are promoting rather than the ads themselves, as there is now more at stake we recommend everyone keeping their eyes out for disapprovals and brushing up on the policies!

Reference: https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/10922738?hl=en-GB 

Brogan Carroll, Paid Media Analyst

 

Meta have updated their Facebook Ad’s Manager Objectives

Meta have started rolling out changes to their Objectives in Ads Manager, or at least how their Objectives are named and grouped together. 

Prior to the change, there were 3 broad categories of Awareness, Consideration and Conversions, with then 12 sub-category Objectives across these e.g. Reach, Traffic, Catalogue Sales etc. With the changes, Meta have now consolidated this to 6 core Objectives, which they say are “grouped together based on their expected business outcome”. It’s important to clarify that:

  • Objective names will change but you can still perform the same functions and access the features you’re familiar with.
  • Campaigns created before the update will remain with the previous Objectives, so there is no need to change these manually.  

We think the most significant change to be aware of, is to how conversion-optimised campaigns are now set-up, as there are multiple ways to ultimately reach the same outcome. For example, you can optimise for website conversions under either of these 3 Objectives: Engagement, Leads, Sales, but will need to specify the correct ‘Conversion Location’ for each.  

 

Engagement Objective: 

Leads Objective:

 

More details on the changes can be found here.

Will Rhodes, Paid Media Manager 

 

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    How to successfully run responsive search ads (RSAs)

    Not long ago Google announced the end of an era for expanded text ads. As of June 30th 2022, you will no longer be able to create or edit expanded text ads. 

    The announcement surfaced last year and here at Uprise Up, we’ve been preparing our client’s accounts ever since. Introducing responsive search ads (RSAs) into each of our ad groups ahead of June 30th. To help you also get ahead and be fully prepared for the change, we’ve jotted down our top tips in this blog for running successful responsive search ads. 

    First things first, what are responsive search ads?

    Responsive search ads (RSAs) are another step in the direction towards automation from Google. Expanded text ads (ETAs) had a set of 3 headlines and 2 descriptions that are shown statically, whereas RSAs allow us to select up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. Google then automatically tests the different combinations of these headlines and descriptions to give the user the ‘best’ performing combinations. 

    Ok, so what are the potential benefits of RSAs?

    • Improved performance. According to Google, advertisers that add RSAs to their ad groups achieve up to 10% more clicks and conversions. From our experience, we’ve also seen RSAs often out-perform existing ETAs when added into our accounts. 
    • Increase ad relevance and reach. More headlines and descriptions mean Google can serve more relevant combinations to the user. With more keywords in your ad copy, you’ll be entered into more auctions for relevant searches. 
    • They’re a time saver. Instead of needing to set up multiple variations of ETAs to test and learn, you only need the one responsive search ad which will test the combinations automatically.

    One thing to note is that while Google’s auto suggestions can often be useful, they are equally often not so useful. We’d advise taking a cautious approach when applying these.

    So, on the flip side, what are the potential downsides to RSAs?

    • Less control. Your ability to specify how an ad is formatted and reads overall is limited, due to the nature of the machine learning testing various combinations. This may lead to headlines appearing together which don’t necessarily work well or make sense to a user, or for your brand.
    • Reduced learnings. You cannot see as easily which headlines and descriptions have the best CTR and conversion rate, and therefore might work well outside of Paid Search.
    • Can actually take more time to select headlines and descriptions that work well together, but are unique enough, while also assessing whether to make use of the pinning feature (discussed below) can actually be more time-consuming than creating a standard ETA.
    • Beware of auto-suggestions. Google will be missing important context, so not all suggestions will be relevant.

     

    How to Run Responsive Search Ads Successfully

    Top tip time:

    • Include keywords in your headlines. To reach those good and excellent ad strengths you’ll need to make sure you have headlines relevant to your keywords. You can also use dynamic keyword insertions to insert your keyword into headlines, from experience this will help to optimise your ad strength. 
    • Include unique headlines. To give Google the variation it needs to test and optimise your RSA, you’ll need to keep your headlines unique. Try using a variety of calls to action and offers to improve headline uniqueness. 
    • Have a combination of short and long headlines. ‘Long’ headlines being within the 30 character cap.
    • Use all the headline and description fields available. If you can aim to fill out all 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, at a minimum include 10 headlines. 
    • Pay attention to ‘ad strength’. Google will offer you suggestions to improve the ad strength of your RSAs. You’ll want to get the ad strength up to at least “Good” but ideally aiming for “Excellent”.

     

    To pin or not to pin, that is the question.

    Responsive search ads are far from perfect, we’ll still quite often see Google pair similar headlines together as the highest serving combination (e.g. two branded headlines rather than a branded headline and a CTA). There’s definitely still questions to be answered. 

    Our biggest one is around the pinning feature. When setting up your RSA, you have the option to pin a headline or description so that they only appear in a certain position. While this sounds great (especially for controlling brand messaging), the ad strength of the ad is very much affected by the use of pinning. A lower ad strength may impact your achievable impressions share and your CPC, and may result in lower impressions/clicks as a result.

    With that in mind, you may be wondering: 

    • What is the actual impact of a lower ad strength on the total impressions?
    • Does this impact outweigh the benefits of improved brand messaging?
    • How do we best use pins to balance this impact?

    Fortunately, we have sought-out to find the answers!

     

    What we’re testing

    We’ve set up an experiment to test the pinning feature specifically. We’re running A/B experiments to test RSAs with no pinning, fully pinned, and a balance of pinning. 

    Specifically one thing we’re testing, is how the number of pins effects ad strength. For example will pinning 4-5 headlines in a single headline position still allow for a stronger ad strength compared to 1-2? 

    We’ll also be testing the impact of losing an ‘excellent’ ad strength in favour of pinning, looking at the effects on impression share against conversions. 

     

    We’ll be running this test over the next few months and look forward to sharing the results once they’re in.

    Here’s some examples of the types of variations we’re testing:

    Excellent

     

    Good

    Average

    Poor

     

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      Facebook to remove targeting options around ‘sensitive causes’ – how will this impact non-profits?

      A laptop with the user looking at Facebook

      As you might be aware, Meta have announced that certain targeting options available on Facebook Ads around ‘sensitive causes’ have been removed as of 19 January 2022. Any activity which is currently using them can do so until March 17 2022, however any new or re-enabled campaigns post-January 19th will not be able to use this targeting.

       

      The targeting options being removed includes those referencing causes, organisations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation. This also includes those interested in cause-related events such as: ‘World Alzheimer’s Month’ and ‘Cancer Awareness’.

       

      Meta says it is removing them because they “want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform and address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available.”

       

      To most advertisers this seems like a reasonable move. However, it is my view that this recent string of changes is incredibly damaging to non-profits who (in Meta’s own words) use Facebook and Instagram to “connect people to charitable causes they care about”. The removal of these targeting options makes it much harder to reach new users who would benefit from their support and would champion new campaigns. Off the back of social advertising being hit so heavily by the iOS 14.5 update, I know this will mean more non-profits questioning their Facebook activity going into 2022.

       

      I’m hoping that Meta considers the impact on non-profits. I’m not asking for a Google Ad Grant type scheme for Facebook (although I’m sure we’ll all agree that would be great!) but perhaps some way that Meta can allow exceptions for charities. A programme or certification scheme which means that those who qualify can use targeting like this to enable them to continue their great work.

       

      It would be great to hear your thoughts, what changes you’re now making and the impact these will have. And ultimately if you think a certification type scheme for non-profits would be a good move?

       

      Over the next month we will be working with our clients on ways to utilise the Facebook Ads platform’s other targeting options and tools to mitigate the damage. If you’re interested in discussing a potential approach for you and your organisation please don’t hesitate to reach out.

       

      Link to Meta’s announcement: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/removing-certain-ad-targeting-options-and-expanding-our-ad-controls

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        iOS 14.5: The Impact on Facebook Advertising

        A phone showing the Facebook logo.

        If you advertise on Facebook, you’ve probably heard about the iOS 14.5 update and the apparent havoc it’s wreaked.

        In the latest move towards championing user privacy and first-party data, Apple introduced the iOS 14.5 update to limit third-party data and tracking.

        We’ve put together the ultimate guide to the iOS 14.5 update and its impact on Facebook advertisers.

        Keep up to date with the latest industry news and trends by following us on Twitter.

         

         

        What is the iOS 14.5 update?

         

        In April 2021, Apple released a software update that requires Apps in the App Store, like Facebook, to show a prompt to users in accordance with their ‘App Tracking Transparency’ framework.

        The prompt asks users if they would like to allow third-party cookies or ask the App not to track.

        iOS 14.5 notification on an iPhone. Allow Facebook to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites.

        If users opt-out of third-party cookies, certain data collection and sharing is prohibited.

         

         

        What are third-party cookies?

         

        Cookies are text files that hold small pieces of data about a user and their interactions on a site.

        First-party cookies are ones created by the website you’re currently on, usually for their own digital purposes, like analytical reporting or saving your preferences such as a password.  Website cookie policies often refer to strictly necessary cookies, functionality cookies or performance cookies, and these are usually first-party cookies.

        Importantly, first-party cookies can’t track your behaviour across different sites they visit.

        Third-party cookies are created by other websites and these can track your activity across different sites. For advertisers, these third-party cookies are extremely useful. For instance, they allow the creation of retargeting lists of past visitors or people with similar interests. These are often referred to as targeting, tracking or advertising cookies.

        The industry is increasingly moving towards first-party-only cookies, in an attempt to prioritise user privacy.

        In January 2020, Google announced that it would scrap third-party cookies by late 2023. The technology giant followed the lead of other web browsers including Firefox and Apple’s Safari.

         

         

        How has the iOS 14.5 update impacted advertisers on Facebook?

         

        If a user asks Facebook not to track them, their data cannot be shared or collected by third parties.

        This means that there’s less data being sent to Facebook pixels, which is the code used to record conversions and optimise campaigns for specific actions.

        With less data gathered, Facebook’s algorithms will be less efficient and effective, and campaign results could suffer.

        Remarketing pools will also be smaller, lookalike audiences less reliable and reporting capabilities limited

         

         

        How much data is actually being lost?

         

        It’s difficult to say exactly; Facebook/Meta hasn’t published official figures on opt-in rates, and it will likely vary from advertiser to advertiser, depending on the region and audience demographic for example.

        To clarify, data is only ‘lost’ for users who are using the Facebook or Instagram App on an Apple mobile device with iOS 14.5 or later installed and have opted out of tracking.

        To give a ballpark of how much of your audience this equates in reality; around half the users on Facebook and Instagram use Apple mobile devices, and around 40% (and rising) of these are on iOS14+.

        Then there is the question of how many users actually opt-in to the tracking. Initial estimations showed that only 2% of these users opted into tracking. However, more recent estimations have put this figure higher, at around 15 or 25%.

        So in essence, not all user data is being lost, but potentially enough to make a noticeable and lasting impact on your results.

         

         

        What has Facebook done to ease the impact of the iOS 14.5 update?

         

        Facebook has tried to ease the impact of Apple’s iOS 14.5 update by implementing a protocol that allows for the measurement of web events in iOS 14+ devices.

        This is called ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’. However, only up to 8 conversion events can be prioritised for conversion optimisation per domain.

        To set up event configurations and use your conversion events for ad optimisation, you must verify your domain – another setup process within the Facebook Ads interface.

         

         

         

        Summary

         

        It’s clear that Apple want to be seen as the industry leaders on increased privacy and putting users, rather than platforms such as Facebook, first.

        It’s likely that this is just one update that advertisers will have to navigate in the journey towards increased user privacy and scrapping of third-party cookies.

        We can’t foresee any major moves away from advertisers using Facebook ads – as long as Facebook continues to be a widely-used social media platform, there will be the opportunity to effectively target relevant audiences.

        In the follow up blog we will delve deeper into how advertisers can respond, watch this space and subscribe to our email news to get the next article sent directly to your inbox.

        We’d love to hear your thoughts on the iOS 14.5 update and the industry trend towards prioritising first-party data. Send us a message through our contact page or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

         

         

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          Paid Media Highlights in July

          The last few months have seen a variety of changes to the paid media world. From Google announcing a new 3 strike system for ad policy violations to LinkedIn updates, there’s been a lot of change in the paid media sphere in July.

          If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

           

          Google Image Extensions

          The image extension feature within Google Ads is now out of beta and it can be implemented across all accounts!

          However…in reality, we are still finding that not all accounts have this feature enabled yet. It appears to be quite hit or miss as to which accounts have this functionality and which ones don’t.

          The ability to attract more customers by enhancing text ads with images is appealing, with this potentially increasing both quality score and CTR. Advertisers should know, however, that these images are dynamically inserted, so keeping on top of what types of images are showing for each ad is important!

           

           

          Ad Account Certifications Audit and the New ‘Strike’ policy

          At the end of June, we were notified by Google that they were performing an audit of restricted verticals for which they require certification. Essentially, we were warned that any accounts that have certificates in a variety of restricted areas, such as healthcare or financial services, could be impacted or have their certification revoked. Since then, we, along with the rest of the digital marketing community, have seen an increase in ad disapprovals as Google have tightened up their compliance policies.

          To take things even further in the coming months, Google announced in July that they are planning on piloting a new ‘strikes’ system to address repeat ad policy violations. From September 2021, strikes will be issued for violations of Google’s Enabling dishonest behaviour, unapproved substances and dangerous products or services policies.

          Each time your account violates a policy within 90 days of their first policy warning, Google will apply sanctions of increasing severity. On the first warning, only the relevant ads are removed. Strike two sees your account placed on a temporary hold for three days during which ads are not eligible to run. This increases to seven days on strike two before account suspension on strike three.

          Based on the tightening of policies over the past few months, the introduction of this new strike-based system is quite intimidating… It will be interesting to see how Google plans to couple these strikes with their existing appeals system.

           

           

          Covid-19 Ad Grant Funding Continued

          A pleasant surprise that we experienced at the beginning of July was that the additional Covid funding for Google Ad Grant accounts has remained in place. Despite the fact that it was expected to run out in June, all of our Google Ad Grant accounts that had received additional funding still have it.

          Google have yet to announce when this funding will come to an end, but we are grateful for the additional opportunities that it is providing to our accounts.

           

           

          Ads Creative Studio

          At the end of June, Google introduced its new creative management tool; Ads Creative Studio. Google heralds the software as ‘a unified home for Google’s creative advertising tools, to help you build compelling experiences for video, display, and audio ads’, but what does this actually mean?

          In Essence, Google is unifying aspects of its products to create a more cohesive and easily manageable platform for creative teams. So, features that were previously only available within certain products and to limited advertisers, such as Director Mix, are now available in one place.

          Google claim that it will ‘create one process across display, video and audio’ as well as ‘improving collaboration across teams.’ We would love to hear from anyone who has been using Ads Creative Studio to see if it has improved the unity of your processes and teams.

           

           

          New Google Partner Badge

          In June, Google responded to the calls of Google Partners who already believed that they meet the February 2022 Partner Requirements. Google have now allowed Partners who already met the new requirements to gain early access to the new partner badge.

          Partners still need to spend $10K across managed accounts for 90 days and ensure that 50% of account strategists are certified by Google ads, but now, advertisers also have to maintain a 70% optimisation score.

           

           

          LinkedIn Introduced Event Ads

          LinkedIn recently introduced the Event Ad Format to its users. Like events in Facebook, the event appears in a user’s feed if a user’s mutual connections have shown an interest in the event and gives them the option to register themselves.

          In conjunction with this, they have also revealed that they will soon be launching an Event analytics Tool where you can measure the performance and return on investment of an online LinkedIn Event that you have organised. We’re excited to see these developments in the advertising options available within LinkedIn and we are looking forward to see how this new events feature will change the LinkedIn landscape.

           

           

          Did we miss anything?

           

          Tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or send us a message through our contact page if you think we missed something important. We would love to hear what’s got you thinking this month!

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            Paid Media Highlights in April

            Want to find out the latest news in the world of paid media? Grab a cuppa and let us bring you up-to-date on some of the key highlights across paid search and paid social during April 2021. 

             

            There’s been some interesting developments with Apple’s introduction of iOS14 updates and its’ subsequent effects on Facebook advertising. We’ll also take a look at the latest news involving Microsoft Advertising, as well as some changes to bidding strategies within Google Ads.

             

            iOS14 Update

            What does it mean for paid media?

            The iOS 14 updates scheduled during the first half of 2021 has been a hot topic for advertisers across the industry, but particularly for those advertising on Facebook. We have seen some of these changes start to take effect on Facebook, with accounts being equipped with a ‘Resource centre’ to help house a number of tasks that need to be actioned as a result of the update. 

            These range from verifying your website domain to reviewing the number of website events across pixels installed in an account to reviewing affected automated rules. We’ll be tackling this topic in a soon-to-be-released blog, so do stay tuned for more content on this key issue!

             

             

             

            Streamlining of target ROAS and target CPA bidding strategies

            Bidding on Google Ads continues to change in a push towards greater automation on the platform. From now onwards, Target ROAS and Target CPA will no longer be their own bid strategies, but instead will be options within the Maximise Conversions and Maximise Conversion Value bidding strategies instead. 

            The upshot is that this is unlikely to have any actual impact on performance, think of this as more of just a streamlining of strategies within the interface. But given that more emphasis is now placed on the Maximise Conversions and Maximise Conversion Value strategies, we may expect more users to take up these options, with or without the target constraints. To get the best out of these strategies, do ensure that you have sufficient conversion data available in your campaign for the bid strategy to optimise towards.

             

             

            Dynamic placement exclusion lists

            What are they and why do I need them?

            Google Ads currently has the capacity to block display network ads from being shown in particular placements, however, this is something that you would normally have to implement manually. Now, Google has introduced dynamic exclusion lists, which gives advertisers the ability to use exclusion lists created by third parties such as advocacy organisations and industry groups. Any updates to the list by these third parties can then be automatically updated to your own Google Ads account, helping to save time by not having to go through this process manually. We hope this will be a good time-saver!

             

             

            Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier also apply to Microsoft Ads

            This is fairly unsurprising news, given the close alignment between Microsoft Ads and Google Ads, but Microsoft have given the go-ahead to remove broad match modifiers from ad accounts. From August 2021, “you’ll no longer be able to create new BMM keywords”, but  “your existing BMM keywords will continue to serve under the new phrase match behaviour”. The changes also encompass the tweaks made to phrase match keywords too, with those terms now also showing for searches that include the meaning of your keyword. Check out our blog from earlier this year for more information on what we think the effects that these changes (on Google, and now Bing) will have for advertisers.

             

             

            Video ads and Facebook imports for Microsoft ads

            Following on from Microsoft’s update to keywords, they have also released a bunch of new features to their ad platform. This includes video ads launching in the Microsoft Audience Network in the UK and US, with 6-to-120-second videos that can be used to reach an audience of 300m daily users. Interestingly, Microsoft is also enabling the function of being able to import single-image ads directly from Facebook into Microsoft Ads, functioning in a similar way to the Google Ads import function. This may prove a handy time-saving tool for multimedia campaigns.

             

             

            Did we miss anything?

             

            If there was anything else that happened in April that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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              Goodbye To Broad Match Modifiers

              Goodbye to Broad match Modifiers

              Google’s Retirement of Broad Match Modifiers: Paid Media Team’s Reactions

               

              On 4 February 2021, Google announced that broad match modifiers, a keyword match type available to advertisers in Google Ads, is to be retired. In this announcement, Google described the move as ‘making it easier to reach the right customers on Search’, explaining that this update would simplify keyword match types as well as provide advertisers ‘more control and better reach’. 

              Google began to phase out broad match modifiers, merging their targeting with phrase match keywords, from February 2021. In July 2021, advertisers will no longer be able to implement new broad match modifiers. 

              But, is this a welcome departure or a heart-breaking farewell? And what will the impact of this be for advertisers and account performance? Our Paid Media Team gives their thoughts on Google’s announcement. 

               

               

              Jonny – Paid Media Consultant

              “This move from Google is not an entirely surprising one, given some of Google’s other recent moves around restricting search term reports, gradually limiting users’ ability to review and control elements of campaigns. For me, I’ll be sad to see broad match modifiers go.

              Using BMMs is all about control and for those who have been creating Google Ads campaigns for years and want the ultimate control over their campaigns, this change will definitely come as an annoyance rather than a benefit. The ability, in particular, to manually select individual words within a phrase that have to be included in the user’s search query is useful, particularly when trying to attract a high search volume with broad keywords but maintain an effective, relevant search funnel.

              The main benefit for me is that it will be slightly easier to manage campaigns, without another match type to worry about. But my main worry is for smaller, more focused accounts where only phrase and exact match keywords are currently used. I expect to see an increase in traffic (and overall cost) for phrase match, where BMM traffic will now filter through. With this broadening of search terms, I also expect to see an increase in irrelevant and spam search traffic, so keeping an eye on those search term reports will be even more important…oh wait…

               … search term reports are getting restricted *sad face*. Well, I say, keep those negative keyword lists updated and keep an eye on your campaign budgets too.”

               

               

              Aisha – Paid Media Assistant 

              “One of the beauties of Paid Search is that we’re able to specifically target ads to the right people and help the user find exactly what they’re looking for. However, with the phasing out of the Broad Match Modifier match type, it seems that there will be a proportion of search queries that won’t lead users to relevant ads, which is quite disappointing. On the bright side, I’m glad we still have access to a variation of match types, allowing us to still implement keywords in a strategic way.”

               

               

              Dan – Paid Media Consultant

              “As someone who has always been a big fan of broad match modifiers, especially for grant accounts and larger reach paid campaigns, I am very sad to see the match type go the way of accelerated delivery and strict campaign budgets. Many of the recent changes have been helpful for us in Google Ads, but I struggle to see a way this change is going to benefit accounts.”

               

              Do you agree with Jonny, Dan or Aisha? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please do leave a comment below, or Tweet us @upriseupSEM

              For further information on Uprise Up’s Google Ads management services, including ongoing support and targeted campaigns, please do contact us. We’d love to hear from you. 

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                Paid Media News Round Up: January 2021

                Paid Media Round Up January 2021

                Paid Media News January 2021

                A new year means new news in the world of paid media. We take you through the latest updates at the beginning of 2021!

                Keep reading for news on automated bidding, new Microsoft Ads features, as well as some industry news from across the pond and across the world in Australia.

                If you want to check out our round-up from the end of last year, you can view last month’s summary here.

                 

                Data exclusion controls for Smart Bidding on Google Ads

                Smart bidding is becoming an increasingly key component of Google Ads, with a wealth of different strategies now available to marketers. Those using Google Ads will now have more control over automated bidding strategies through new data exclusion controls. Google have specified that you can exclude particular date ranges to prevent interference with conversion rates that help calculate auction-time bids for smart bidding

                This will be particularly important for when conversion tracking breaks on a particular campaign (eg. tagging issues or website outages). While this may not be something that would be worth doing for very short outages or for small campaigns, we do see this being a useful tool for larger campaigns and longer periods of time where there is inaccurate data, to help maintain consistent performance.

                Google Ads Data Exclusion Controls Smart Bidding

                 

                New optimisation tools for Microsoft Advertising, including optimisation score

                Since Bing Ads launched the Recommendations tab back in 2018, it was only a matter of time that they would launch an ‘optimization score’ in a similar fashion to Google’s own. The new feature appears as though it will operate in an almost identical way to Google’s, with a percentage score from 0% to 100%, based on the number of recommendations applied to individual campaigns. As with Google’s feature, we’d look to implement some of these recommendations to help improve optimization score (like automated responsive search ads, for example), with other recommendations (like raising budgets) needing more consideration as to whether they’re appropriate to apply or not. 

                Bing are also going to introduce target impression share as a new bidding strategy too. This will be particularly helpful for awareness campaigns and for enabling an easier way to achieve great visibility for brand terms too.

                 

                Microsoft Logo

                 

                Trump gets banned from social media

                Just a couple of weeks before the end of his presidential term, Donald Trump was suspended ‘indefinitely’ from a host of different social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. The suspension took place as a result of hundreds of Trump supporters storming the US Capitol in an attempt to overthrow November’s presidential election result. Twitter deemed Trump’s Tweets to be a violation of their Glorification of Violence policy, as they believe he was inspiring people to incite violence.

                Donald Trump banned from Twitter

                At this stage, it is unclear how advertisers will be affected by Trump’s ban from social media. It could potentially result in a slight decline in traffic to these platforms, due to his supporters being deterred by the platforms as a form of boycott. Some say that social media companies shouldn’t have the power to remove people from their platforms as it could be viewed as censorship, however research suggests that online misinformation about the US election fell by 73% since the notorious #FakeNews spreader was suspended from the sites.

                 

                Google threatens to withdraw search engine from Australia

                In another move from governments around the world looking to impose more regulations on some of the large tech firms, the Australian government has asked Google to share some of its royalties with news publishers. This move is as a result of Australia’s competition regulator ruling that there was a “bargaining power imbalance” between the tech giants like Google and the newspaper industry. The newspapers have seen a rapid decline in revenues over recent years.

                Google’s response to this was threatening to withdraw their search engine from the country altogether, hardly a tentative response! The tech firms are naturally going to be worried about the immediate impacts to its revenues this might have. However, more worrying for Google is the precedent that these types of laws may have, if they get passed. We’ll have to see whether Google’s firm stance on this issue will be enough to persuade Australia’s lawmakers to reverse their decision.

                 

                If there was anything else that happened in the last few weeks that you found particularly enticing, feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                  Defending Your Brand in Keyword Bidding Wars

                  Defending your brand in keyword bidding wars

                  Paid search brand attacks are becoming increasingly commonplace. They can be harmful if left unchecked, and if a bidding war ensues the only real winners are the search engines.

                  When we’ve needed to let clients know that this has happened, the general principles and subsequent advice is always similar, so I thought I’d lay things out here for the benefit of everyone. Firstly, I’ll run through the factors at play. At the bottom of this article we’ll look at what to do if you think your brand is coming under attack.

                   

                  Why is a competitor bidding on your keyword?

                  The aggressor brand is able to circumnavigate (typically) more competitive and expensive, intent-based keywords, and focus on taking traffic and sales away from competitors (the defending brands).

                  As the user has reached the point of searching for a particular brand, they would usually be in the ‘purchase’ phase, not the ‘research phase’. The closer advertisers can reach consumers at point of purchase, the more likely that user is to convert.

                  For example, the keyword ‘buy a TV online’ might theoretically cost £5 per click. A competitor’s brand, ‘LG TV’ would likely be considerably less, conceivably 50p. Was LG to bid on ‘Sony TV’ and successfully convert the user, they could be reducing a competitor’s revenue, whilst increasing their own, at reduced cost.

                  There are other gains to be made from bidding on competitors brand names beyond exposure and high quality traffic. There will be extremely useful data around those brand queries, including volume, and associated keywords. Also, one brand is able to invite comparison against another, and frame it in a way that favours them.

                  If this is happening to your organisation, your competitor hasn’t necessarily decided to bid on your brand directly. It could be an aggressive agency – they could be following Google’s keyword suggestions. So the first step isn’t necessarily to go knocking down doors, but open a dialog; and it’s good to know the practicalities first.

                   

                  What are the legalities?

                  It is legal to bid on other organisations’ branded keywords. Sometimes Google, (for example), will trademark certain keywords. But this is infrequent, inconsistently applied, and typically only done for mammoth organisations with significant spend in paid search. It’s legal to do and hard to prevent if you are defending yourself.

                  It isn’t legal for the aggressor’s ad text to make it appear that they are the organisation who’s keywords they are bidding on as this could mislead the user (who is often the consumer). This was cited in 2013, when Interflora sued M&S for branded keywords together with ads appearing to lead to an Interflora service. With dynamic keyword Insertion (DKI) ads, (automatically repeating the keyword being bid for in the ad text), it could be easy to make this mistake. So legally, fixed ad text should be used.

                   

                  Are there any moral implications?

                  Arguably. From a user’s perspective, they have been quite specific in looking for a particular brand. Bidding on keywords when you are not the brand they are looking for is clearly outside ‘user intent’.

                  This can be more clearly illustrated in the charity sector, with bidding on competitor brands takes increases the price of traffic, takes money away from both advertisers, and as such the cause they are trying to support.

                   

                  What about ‘keyword focused’ brand names?

                  Where an advertiser’s brand name clearly indicates the activities they are involved in, they are not so easily defendable. For example, if a TV retail company called itself ‘buy a TV online’, then they are clearly putting themselves in the firing line of intent-driven keywords. The same could be said for ‘Diabetes UK’ or Cancer Research UK. (The charity sector is particularly at risk here as many charities like to clearly indicate their cause’ in their name).

                  In these situations, Google is unlikely to allow these terms to be trademarked and competitors are less likely to avoid these keywords. However, having a keyword focused brand offers organisations a slight advantage in bidding for those search queries, as below:

                   

                  Are competitors able to bid on another brand’s keyword as effectively as the brand owner themselves?

                  No. Organisations that own their brands should be signalling clearer intent to search engines, and so be rewarded with an increased quality score (QS). This will mean that it should cost the defending brand less to rank above their rival, maybe by something like 20%.

                  There will still be a significant increase in cost for the defender to compete for their own branded traffic. Maybe several times greater than they would otherwise be paying. So long as the ‘aggressor’ brand is bidding within their means, (with an acceptable amount of revenue being generated from this activity), they could keep increasing the bid, and the cost for their rival organisation to defend their brand.

                   

                  Does anyone win?

                  Google, certainly. It is no surprise that Google and other search engines benefit significantly from the mechanics of paid search that they have engineered. If brand names become competitive, as with other high-demand keywords, Google will pocket the increased cost-per-click on those keywords.

                  The issues around this are really highlighted by the charity sector. For example, one of the charities we work with is Crisis. They have a particularly well know Christmas campaign which they use to increase awareness around homelessness. Although the word ‘Crisis’ is common, there is little correlation for the keyword ‘Crisis’ to indicate intent to donate to a homeless charity; apart from where it applies to the brand. However, several other homeless organisations, (or their zealous agencies), do bid on this keyword, especially over the Christmas season.

                  Brand bidding wars really hurt the charity sector. Assuming an average donation amount achieved per click to be £10: If a rival is prepared to bid £8 for this click (and still make profit) and the charity is then also forced to match that spend to defend it’s own keywords. This could mean 80% of the intended donation going to Google.

                   

                  In a brand bidding war does either organisation have an inherent advantage?

                  Perhaps. Let’s assume there are two advertisers where all other variables are equal: The same quality of service (or product), the same costs for production, the same cost of sale, the same ability to convert users that land on the site, – and so on. There is a strong commercial case that the smaller organisation with less brand awareness will have the advantage. There is more branded traffic they can take from their competitor, and less cost to themselves for the increase cost in defending their own brand in search engines. I’m over-simplifying here to illustrate the point, but often the smaller challenger-brand has more to gain and less to lose.

                  Also, ‘competitor bidding awareness’ is a big contributing factor to whoever has the advantage. The aggressor will have the upper hand here at the beginning. If one advertiser is aggressively moving in on another’s brand search traffic, until the defending brand spots it, the aggressor has probably found itself an opportunity.

                  If the defending brand does have effective detection in place, they are able to increase the cost of their click to defend their position, and maybe retaliate, but this is probably at considerable expense, and more money to Google. The defending brand could also decide to bid on the aggressor’s branded keywords in return, again, escalating the cost for this traffic.

                   

                  What’s the process for stopping it?

                  Trademark. Try to get Google to apply that trademark across keywords as well as ad text. This should be done anyway, before any competitor bidding shenanigans take place.

                  Monitor. Regularly search for your own brand name and identify any competitors bidding on it.

                  Speak to the competitor and agree not to compete on bidding against each other brands. In many situations, this is going to make sense. Initially we recommend starting conversations at the level of whoever oversees the Google Ads account. Often someone like the Marketing Manager or Marketing Director. I recommend friendly communication in the spirit of cooperation, and to get buy-in from the other organisation. If no luck is found at that level, escalating this to a ‘CEO – CEO level chat’ would commonly be the advised next step. The case is simple: Please stop bidding on our brand, because if you continue, we’ll have to out-bid you, and in return, bid on yours. This would then cost us both a lot of money.

                  Not actively bidding on another’s brand wouldn’t stop advertisers from appearing when competitor’s brand names are included in the search query. For example, bidding on just the words ‘buy TV online’ might make Sony appear for the search query ‘buy an LG TV online’. Likely if LG are using their own brand in addition to the other words used, they will have the advantage, (greater relevancy = improved quality Score). However, for competitors to agree not to rank (at all) in search queries where the other brand is used, they need to go one step further…

                  Negative keyword matching goes one step further.  This is where one Google Ads account specifies that if a particular keyword is included in the user’s search query, they won’t enter the bid.  If organisations could align themselves so that each introduces the rival’s brand as a negative keyword, they would both be rewarded with significant cost reductions on their own branded traffic.

                  This has limitations with multiple advertisers, as it only takes one to break ranks, and due to the auction-based system for establishing price, the market rate for that brand would quickly shoot up.

                  The process can often work for charities, where economies of scale are such that there is often only a limited handful of organisations (of any considerable size) clustered around a particular cause. Often only two or three. This makes coordination between the groups relatively easy. If a collaborative approach can be taken, it should save all of them considerable funds.

                   

                  In summary

                  Bidding on another brand is common, and in my experience, often organisations don’t even know they are doing it. So, keep communication friendly, but you do want to stop this where possible. Brands are built on the back of good awareness marketing; no-one want to pay for them again with significant search costs!

                  If this post is of interest and you would like to discuss in more detail, we’d love to help! Drop us your details in our contact page and someone will be in touch.

                   

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                    Paid Media News Round Up: August 2020

                    Paid Media Round Up August 2020

                    Paid Media News August 2020

                    August was a quiet month for paid media, livened up by the Google responsive search ad test which creeped in at the end of the month!

                    If you want to check out last month’s round-up you can view our summary here. Here are our highlights from the past few weeks.

                     

                    Google Tests Hiding the Option for Expanded Text Ad Creation

                    In a potentially alarming move, some users noticed the ‘text ad’ option had vanished from the Google Ads interface on Friday 28th August. This was confirmed to be a test subsequently.

                    This test prompted users to create responsive text ads (RSAs) by default, which is a format where Google decided which text assets to display with each other. Expanded text ads on the other hand display exactly what the advertiser chooses.

                    Steps like these to take away control from advertisers who aren’t prepared to shift to RSAs are slightly worrying. Whilst most can agree this is the direction paid ads are going in, this new move from Google would be one made far too quickly. We’ve had good results with RSAs but they are still some way away from being able to outperform text ads on a regular basis.

                     

                    Bing Introduces Organic Product Listings

                    Microsoft has followed Google in implementing an organic form of its product listing ads. The organic listings will appear on the Bing shopping tab alongside sponsored ads.

                    These only require you to have a Microsoft Shopping Campaigns account with an active product feed, and can generate you free, high intent traffic from Bing. The volume of traffic from these listings will be less than Google, simply due to the relative sizes of the user base, but the barrier to entry is so low that this should be accessible to anyone with an online store.

                    The organic listings are currently only live in the USA, but will shortly be rolled out to other markets, including the UK. When they arrive, we’re looking forward to testing them out and seeing what traffic can be generated for our clients.

                     

                    Bing Shopping

                     

                     

                    Google Performance Planner Gets An Upgrade

                    The Google Performance Planner is a tool in Google Ads that allows you to forecast and plan bidding strategies. Google recently announced three new features to the planner.

                    • Sharing functionality – since the Performance Planner is often used to plan budgets throughout the year, the ability to easily share the plan among multiple users is definitely useful.
                    • Improved forecasting of longer conversion windows – this is appreciated, but will only be a major improvement if your average conversion window was longer than a week.
                    • Inclusion of shared budgets – this is the big one! Shared budgets are an integral part to the way Google Ad Accounts are managed, and their inclusion in the performance planner makes it far more usable in the majority of accounts.

                     

                    Shared Budgets on Google Performance Planner.

                     

                    Google extends lead forms to YouTube & Discovery Campaign

                    Last year Google introduced Lead Form extensions, and have now said that these extensions are available in YouTube and Discovery Campaign. There will also be a rollout into Display campaigns by the end of the year. These work in a similar way to other platforms, letting users show interest without necessarily visiting the advertiser’s website.

                    These extensions have proven a success and work well on mobile, so it’s no surprise to see their functionality expanded.

                    YouTube Video on a Mobile

                    Microsoft Advertising Editor Update

                    This month, Microsoft announced a large update to their Advertising Editor platform, helping them stay competitive with Google’s Ads Editor. The updates included Al-powered recommendations and campaign-level audience targeting.

                    Global users will now have a lightbulb icon in their interface recommending new keywords, highlighting fixes, and suggesting bid optimisations. The new feature will ensure advertisers maximises their potential traffic.

                    The second new feature enables campaign-level audience targeting within the Editor programme, saving time, and maximising efficiency when working across numerous campaigns. It is worth noting that advertisers however are still unable to simultaneously target associations at the ad group and campaign level.

                    Microsoft Advertising Editor Interface

                    Did we miss anything?

                    If there was anything else that happened in the last few weeks that you found particularly notable, feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                      Google Introduces 2% Fee on all Ads Served in the UK

                      Google 2% fee on all ads served in the UK

                      Google Introduces 2% Fee on all Ads Served in the UK

                      Starting on Tuesday, Google have been emailing Google Ads users about the introduction of extra fees for ads served in the UK (NB: a few other territories are affected too, but we’ll be focusing on the UK).

                      The help page clearly states that this is in direct response to the government’s newly introduced Digital Services Tax and will result in an extra 2% charge on top of any ad spend within the UK. This will start to take affect from November 1st 2020.

                      This tax was aimed at the largest organisations, so it is disappointing (if not somewhat inevitable) that Google have decided to pass this cost directly onto their customers. Amazon have similarly passed this cost on recently, though that goes beyond just advertising. It will be interesting to see Microsoft’s response, as if they are able to not follow Google’s lead, advertising on Bing will become more attractive.

                      So far, there has been no news from any Social Networks about any changes, but it will be something else to keep an eye on over the coming months.

                      Advertisers will need to carefully budget for the end of 2020 and beyond. Costs within the Google Ads platform will remain the same, as the fee is added on top. This does create an added complication when calculating budget and so we advice thinking about this sooner rather than later.

                       

                      If you have any questions about how this new fee will affect you, we’re happy to help. Please do email us at [email protected], send us a tweet @upriseUPSEM or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to have a chat and find out how we can support you.

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                        Lost in Translation: Is Search Ads 360 Right For You?

                        Is Search Ads 360 right for you

                        What is Search Ads 360?

                        If you’ve been using Google Ads (formerly AdWords) for some time, you’ve probably heard of Search Ads 360. However, when you look into if it’s right for you though, you find a lot of statements like this one, from Google’s own page explaining the product:

                         

                        “Streamlined workflow and powerful reporting features enable buyers to efficiently run campaigns, while automated bidding improves campaign performance.”

                         

                        This sounds brilliant, it sounds like it would work for anyone! Well, I think it should be edited to this:

                         

                        “Streamlined workflow* and powerful reporting features** enable buyers to efficiently run campaigns, while automated bidding improves campaign performance***.”

                         

                        Because Search Ads 360 does do all of these things, but it won’t do them for everyone, and often not without a bit of work.

                        So, I’ve taken it upon myself to add the asterisks, and give a quick overview of what Search Ads 360 does well, how, and who it is going to be most useful for.

                         

                        Streamlined Workflow*

                        *For some advertising set ups

                        One of the main differences between default Google Ads and Search Ads 360 is that Search Ads 360 allows you to manage campaigns across multiple accounts from the same screen.

                        Search Ads 360 is also not limited to Google based marketing. Bing, Facebook, and many other marketing channels can be connected to Search Ads 360 and managed in one place, giving you a single place to view the results of all your marketing channels.

                        The important thing to realise here is that Search Ads 360 will streamline your workflow across multiple accounts. If you are running a single account, even if it is very large, Search Ads 360 does not make your life significantly easier.

                         

                        Powerful Reporting Features**

                        **Well, kind of.

                        If by “reporting” you mean attribution, then by extension of the fact you can connect all these different marketing channels into one platform, Search Ads 360 can unify your conversion reporting much like Google Analytics. This can be very useful, especially if your analytics set up can’t handle this itself. You can also design your own attribution models

                        In terms of creating reports however, Search Ads 360’s native reporting features are outclassed completely by Google Data Studio, which can pull all the data from your Search Ads 360 account, and create far more visual and complex reports using it.

                        So, Search Ads 360 can provide better conversion reporting and attribution modelling, but it’s report builder is outclassed by Data Studio.

                         

                        Automated Bidding Improves Performance***

                        ***If you can set up some technical stuff

                        Ah, automated bids, we meet again. We’ve had a rocky relationship with automated bidding strategies, like the time we tried it in our ad grants and it started bidding over $50 a click on toy boxes.

                        However, more recently even we have to admit that the automated bidding strategies in Google Ads have got better. In fact, they’ve got so much better that Search Ads 360 has started using them too.

                        It does have its own bidding strategies, but they only change bids 4 times a day based on results, whereas the Google Ads strategies bids differently every time the ad enters an auction. The consensus across the industry is that the regular Google Ads strategies produce better results.

                        So, if you’re just using the same bidding strategies as regular Google Ads, how are you going to improve results?

                        Well, Search Ads 360 has a feature called U-variables, which allows you to add extra information to a conversion based on data from the page. To give an example, if you were selling a car and a user could either pay in one payment or over multiple months, if you used a target ROAS bidding strategy you would undervalue the monthly payments compared to the one-time payment. In Search Ads 360 you could submit the number of months through as a U variable. You could then multiply the revenue by the number of months to get the actual value of a sale for a bidding strategy.

                        So, Search Ads 360 can improve results over regular Google Ads through automated bidding, but only if you use it to improve the data the strategy has.

                         

                        And that’s it! If you’re having trouble managing multiple accounts, want to improve your attribution modelling or are ready to get stuck into some technical work to enhance your bidding strategies, then Search Ads 360 will be well worth your time. However, pay attention to the asterisks and make sure you are going to get your value if you decide to test Search Ads 360 out!

                         

                        Want to talk?

                        If you’ve got any more questions about Search Ads 360 or Paid Search, or want to see how we can help you maximise your campaign performance please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

                         

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                          Say Goodbye To Accelerated Delivery

                          The end of accelerated delivery

                          The End Of Accelerated Delivery

                          Google have just announced that both search ads and shopping ads will shortly no longer be able to use the accelerated delivery campaign option. This change will come into effect on September 17th, where all campaigns currently using accelerated will be switched to standard. Standard delivery will now be the only option available. On the face of it, this is a confusing choice given that accelerated delivery is commonly used and considered best practice by many.

                           

                          Standard delivery will pace your impressions evenly throughout your day, which removes the possibility of a campaign exhausting its budget before the end of the day, but also means that you can potentially miss out on impressions. The most common use of accelerated delivery is to guarantee an ad shows every time it is eligible, which is obviously the desired outcome for most advertisers (to reach as many of their target audience as they can)

                           

                          A well-managed campaign with appropriate budgets would not see much difference in performance, so in the grand scheme of things this change is not going to affect how your campaigns behave. If your campaigns weren’t being well monitored, then the switch to standard might actually be a good thing for them.

                           

                          However, along with the removal of the average position metric, this again is a case of Google removing choices from advertisers without offering any replacement option. This can only be seen as a negative, and continues to highlight ways that automation is being pushed on advertisers. Similar to when Google made changes to daily budget behaviour, there is an air of mystery about what Google is forcing upon advertisers, and it’s unclear why they have made their decision.

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                            Tips For The New AdWords User Interface (UI)

                            New AdWords Interface

                            Getting Used to the New AdWords UI

                             

                            As we all know, change is awful and should never happen. However, Google are dragging us kicking and screaming into the new AdWords UI and no matter how much we protest the future of paid search is here to stay.

                            Here are a few things to take note of amidst the transition.

                             

                            Promotion Extensions

                            This has been a welcome addition – no more using up valuable ad text characters for your promotion, it will now appear below the ad next to an eye-catching price tag icon.

                             

                            AdWords Promotion Extension Example

                             

                            As in the image above you can apply a general promotion, or you can have a special occasion promotion as follows:

                             

                            AdWords Promotion Extension Occasions

                             

                            The promotion can be either a percentage discount or a monetary discount in a variety of currencies.

                            Promotions wouldn’t exist if they didn’t work, and promotion extensions are already proving to work very well, with delighted digital marketers reporting dramatically increased CTR.

                             

                            Shortcuts

                            Praise be to shortcuts in general – rewiring your brain to use them always takes some time but before long you’ll be jumping around the new interface while your mouse sits neglected.

                             

                            Google AdWords Keyboard Shortcuts

                             

                            Google will test and trial new hot keys over time and we expect this to be ramped up in the coming months!

                             

                            Dimensions rides off into the sunset…

                            …As Predefined Reports takes its place. Most of the dimensions are still here but others have moved or been done away with entirely (the Search Terms dimension for example was a little redundant).

                            One that has moved is Call Details – it now has its own columns.

                             

                            AdWords Call Details

                             

                            Being the superstar that it is, Devices now has a whole tab just for itself.

                             

                            Google AdWords Devices Tab

                             

                            Time is still included in the Predefined Reports but there is a new Ad Schedule tab which offers an easier-to-digest breakdown of day to day results.

                             

                             

                            Landing Page Mobile Assessment

                            We’ve all come across web pages that are the opposite of mobile friendly. High bounce rates and low conversions are a given, and they lower the quality score of otherwise brilliant keywords.

                            In comes the new Landing Page tab to point them out to you, showing a ‘Mobile-friendly Click Rate’ next to each page, helping you to isolate problem areas. Considering most searches now happen via mobile these problem areas have a bigger impact than some might think.

                             

                            Google AdWords Landing Page Tab
                            (Image courtesy of adwords.googleblog.com)

                             

                            The Overview

                            Probably the most obvious change is the Overview. It’s colourful and bombastic, but is it useful?
                            Yep. At least parts of it. You can now compare more than two metrics in the graph at the top, which is nice.

                             

                            Google AdWords Overview Graph

                             

                            There are also a few helpful modules such as Biggest Changes:

                             

                            Google AdWords Biggest Changes Report

                            And a performance heatmap:

                             

                            Google AdWords Performance Heatmap

                             

                            See blog posts by Chantal and Dan for more on the Overview.

                             

                            Call Bid Adjustments

                            With the new UI Google have rolled out call bid adjustments for mobile. This is welcome news considering calls convert more effectively than clicks do. The adjustments range from -90% to +900% and can be made right here:

                             

                            Google AdWords Call Bid Adjustments Tab

                             

                            Let’s Talk

                            Did you find our tips for the new Google Ads user interface helpful? Why not share this post on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?

                            If you want to know more about our paid search services and how it could benefit your charity or business, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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                              Quality Score 101

                              Quality Score

                              Understanding Quality Score

                               

                              When managing any PPC campaigns, Quality Score should be at the forefront of your mind. Not only because it has a huge influence in how well your ads will perform, but also how much you’ll end up paying for them.

                              We’ll get back to basics and explore what quality score is, how it affects your ad position, and lastly how you can improve your quality score.

                               

                              What is Quality Score?

                               

                              As Google strive to be the best search-engine around, they want to ensure that users are only shown ads that relate to exactly what they’re looking for, with an equally relevant and user-friendly website to match. To help ensure this, Google marks the quality of ads, keywords and their landing pages out of 10.

                              Quality Score can often be viewed as a measure of the relationship between all components of an ad. When the keywords used relate directly to the ad copy, and the ad copy reflects the content of the landing page, Google rewards advertisers with high quality scores.

                              Furthermore, a landing page with a good user experience can further help advertisers achieve a high quality score.

                               

                              Why Does it Matter?

                               

                              The quality score matters because it is used in the formula which determines:

                               

                              Ad rank (position on the page)

                              Maximum Bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank.

                              For example:

                              A – £1 x 10 = 10

                              B – £1.40 X 6 = 8.4

                              C – £2 X 3 = 6

                              This means that an account with a higher quality score, can actually achieve a higher rank, even with a lower maximum bid!

                               

                              Cost Per Click (CPC)

                              (Ad Rank of the Ad Below ÷ Quality Score) + £0.01 = CPC

                              For example:

                              A – 8.4 / 10 + 0.01 = £0.85

                              B – 6 / 6 + 0.01 = £1.01

                              Here we can see how achieving a better quality not only helps you get better positions on a page, but at a lower cost too!

                              It should be noted, that the quality score that AdWords users can see in the interface is only an average, and not the exact number that goes into the formula at the time of bidding.

                               

                              Historical Quality Score

                              While you can only see the quality score for keywords in the AdWords interface, historical data will build up over time and contribute to giving an overall average quality score for ads, ad groups, campaigns and the account itself. Therefore, it is pivotal to take care to monitor keyword quality scores, as consistently low ones could have a negative effect on any campaigns you run in the future.

                               

                              How Can You Improve Your Quality Score?

                               

                              In the AdWords interface, you will see that quality scores can be broken down into 3 components:

                               

                              • Ad Relevance
                              • Landing Page Experience
                              • Expected CTR

                               

                              All 3 of these components are rated as either: below average, average or above average.

                              While only 3 indications of quality might seem too generic, they are still very useful in helping highlight areas where improvements need to be made. Detailed below, are some steps below which can help you improve each of these components:

                               

                              Ad Relevance

                               

                              “This status describes how well your keyword matches the message in your ads.” From Google (2018) Online AdWords Help: Glossary

                              Avoid using overly-generic keywords: Take care to ensure the ones you choose are reflective of the landing page content – taking phrases from the headlines and any subheadings are often a good place to start.

                              Take a more granular approach: Don’t cram too many keywords into an ad group – Split out keywords into their own groups, with specific ad copy tailored to each keyword.

                              Try Keyword Insertion: Using Dynamic Keyword insertion is a great way to easily ensure that keywords are reflected in the ad copy.

                              Use Negative Keywords: Review your search terms and negative any irrelevant searches – this way you can ensure your ads only show for the right searches which also saves spend.

                               

                              Landing Page Experience

                               

                              “The landing page experience status describes whether your landing page is likely to provide a good experience to customers who click your ad and land on your website.” From Google (2018) Online AdWords Help: Glossary

                              Navigation: Ensuring that users can locate all relevant information or order your product easily, without pop-ups, is key to creating a nice experience.

                              Useful and Relevant Content: Make sure your landing page clearly explains the subject matter of your advert – Alternatively, you can view your search terms, and try tweaking your content to fit what people are searching for.

                              Transparency: Openly provide information about your business, service or product – this should be easily accessible before you ask users to fill out any forms.

                               

                              Expected CTR

                               

                              “This status predicts whether your keyword is likely to lead to a click on your ads.” From Google (2018)

                              Expected CTR is an area that’s a bit more difficult for advertisers to pin-point what they need to improve on, and the component where Google takes back some control.

                              For any keyword, Google considers your accounts previous performance of that keyword, including its historical CTR, the conversion rate and the performance of the domain you are using that keyword with, as well as the performance of similar keywords. Moreover, they also take into consideration how well that keyword performs when used in other accounts. From this, Google makes a judgment on how likely a user is to click on your ad when using that keyword.

                              As the emphasis is on account history, you can see why it’s a bit harder to easily improve this component.  The best approach would be to follow the advice for the previous two components, and once your ads start to perform better, your expected CTR should get better too.
                              While we don’t know the exact weight of each of the factors that contribute to the overall quality score, the main thing to take home is to be aware of the importance of quality score. With careful and consistent planning of your campaigns – making sure you stay relevant at each stage, from keyword choices to ad copy to the landing page – your PPC campaigns can achieve better results, at a lower cost.

                               

                              Get In Touch

                               

                              If we can be of any help with your PPC campaigns or beyond , please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

                              Why not share our Quality Score 101 to Twitter?

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                                New AdWords Experience – The Journey So Far

                                Google Search

                                The New AdWords Interface: 10 Months On

                                Back in May last year we wrote a blog on the announcement of the ‘New AdWords Interface’. 10 months later here is an update on our thoughts so far. Since last year Google have been slowly rolling out their New AdWords Interface to improve campaigns, save time and gain actionable insights, but our team here at upriseUP aren’t 100% sold on all the changes!

                                I’ve decided to provide an AdWords update for those who might have missed some of the cool (and maybe not so cool changes) being made.

                                If you want to know more about how paid search campaigns can transform your business, please email us at [email protected].

                                 

                                All About The New AdWords Interface – What Features Are New?

                                The new AdWords interface has a number of exclusive new features that aren’t available in the previous AdWords interface please see the chart below:

                                2018 has shown some big changes in the world of Digital Marketing and adapting to the new AdWords interface is going to be a huge task for continued success this year.

                                The new AdWords experience promised to make our lives easier: it introduced friendlier native reporting within the AdWords interface, cool new tools like promotion extensions, and an objectively easier way to navigate from campaign to campaign, ad group to ad group, and keyword to keyword.

                                The reality is, change is mostly met with criticism, and when the old AdWords interface officially sunsets this year, the outcry could be fierce. But, that interface has more or less been around since 2008, which is an insane amount of time for something in the tech world, especially a Google product. In short, the new interface is going to be disliked – but with some time, not only will we get used to it, but it likely will be significantly more powerful than the decade old interface we’re currently familiar with.

                                 

                                Some Big AdWords Interface Changes

                                Overview

                                When you first pop open the AdWords interface, you’ll be taken to the Overview/Home tab:

                                At first it was a little overwhelming to look at and would give you lots of criteria for keywords, ad groups, and campaigns. Once you get used to this view you can quickly visualise some top-level data in your account.

                                From here, you can select the dropdown arrows in tabs to add additional or varying lines to the graph. Which allows you to add up to 4 metrics (increased from the standard 2)

                                You see a quick overview of biggest changes and campaigns – which I find useful.

                                Further down, we can quickly visualise our top spending keywords, see what search terms and words triggered the most ads, what devices are contributing to our success, and what our most shown ad is. We love this!

                                The left is a super helpful native analysis that will make it easier than ever to isolate search terms to make your AdWords accounts more granular.

                                At the bottom of the Overview page, you can see how you’re performing per network and see what times and days you’re having success. But, most interestingly, you can also easily see your overall auction insights. Watch your competitors and see how you can perform better in the AdWords auction with insights.

                                 

                                The Time Window

                                Another important change is the improved time navigation window.

                                 

                                You’ll find it in the top right, so not much has changed there. But I promise it can do cool stuff (two things, in particular). First, it’s now scrollable, so it’s easier to navigate a few months back without having to type in the date range you’re looking for (but this is still an option if you prefer).

                                More importantly, how many times have you wanted to look at the “Past 90 Days” of history, but you were stuck with “Past 7,” “Past 14,” and “Past 30”? Same here! No more, as you can now change the date range in the bottom left of the menu to be 90 days up to today, or whatever other date range you want.

                                 

                                The Navigation Bar

                                In the old interface, your campaigns, ad groups, etc. were displayed left to right near the top of the screen. When you think about the layers of an AdWords account, you think about: Campaigns contain Ad Groups, which contain Keywords/Targeting/Ads, which are triggered by Search Terms.

                                You’ll see that the new left-hand layout of the navigation bar flows more logically, with account level information (Overview) at the top, Campaigns and Ad Groups in the section below, while targeting options and ads are in their own self-contained sections below. So, perhaps, it’s not all bad — just different and will take a little time to get used to.

                                As logical as this new interface layout may seem, there are some downsides. Table Appearance and Filters: They Just Don’t Pop like they used too!

                                 

                                How the interface looked before with filters.

                                 

                                 

                                How the interface looks now with filters. The Visuals in General: Just harder to read!

                                 

                                Outcome so far

                                Google has made a lot of changes to the AdWords interface that PPC managers are just beginning to discover and benefit from. While some features (such as Maximize Conversions and other automation opportunities) are designed with busy business owners in mind, others are just the kind of tools performance marketers need if they want to stay ahead of the PPC game.

                                Basically, gradual progression, people can get used to — but busy PPC managers/executives find themselves having to learn and get familiar with an awful lot while still trying to provide the best service to their clients. Although big changes can create big buzz, sometimes your users prefer “baby steps” over a big leap. I know I do.

                                Please do let me know your thoughts on the new interface, the good, the bad and the ugly! We would love to hear your thoughts on how you are getting on with it? As always if you have any questions on anything digital do get in touch or say hello on Twitter.

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                                  Why Google Shopping Campaigns Are Fantastic!

                                  Why Google Shopping campaigns are fantastic

                                  The Benefits of Google Shopping Campaigns

                                   

                                  Google Shopping Campaigns are fantastic! In the two years since we’ve started using them we’ve seen their performance continue to improve tenfold, to the point that they are now outperforming the more traditional search ads! If you want to transform your business by making the most out of shopping ads, please send us an email at [email protected]

                                  One of the key components of their effectiveness is understanding how they work and how you can best utilise Google’s shopping platform to show your products at the right time; and for the right bid! Today I want to open the lid (slightly) on our Google Shopping strategy and give you some insight into how you can send your ecommerce revenue through the roof.

                                  Google Shopping Ads

                                   

                                  Before I go any further, I just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page. There are some significant differences in the way the Google presents data to you between paid search and shopping. But, there are two fundamental differences when it comes to the key dynamics of how it all works. These are Ad Copy and Bid Management:

                                  Paid Search
                                  Shopping Campaigns
                                  Ad Copy
                                  User created ad copy which includes strong CTA. Text-based Manually added to spreadsheet or automatically pulled from your website. Includes product title, an image of the product, and the price
                                  Bid Management
                                  By keyword, optimised based on conversions By product, based on what is bringing in the income

                                   

                                   

                                  Shopping ads consists of a title, price, store name and, most crucially, an image. They consequently differ to search ads as they do not require the creation of any ad copy. Google creates shopping ads automatically, using information provided by the advertisers in a Merchant Feed. It is therefore important to optimise the feed itself, as this effectively takes the place of the Ad Copy, by implementing a Shopping Strategy.

                                   

                                  You should be reviewing all product names and product type categories in your feed and optimising them with as descriptive keywords as possible. Conducting this process increases the chances of the Ad being shown, and therefore provides more opportunities to convert prospective purchasers.

                                   

                                  The other major difference with shopping ads is with how bidding works. In paid search, bids are placed at keyword level. In layman’s terms: The more profitable the keyword, the greater the bid. However, in Shopping Ads, bids are set by product. This is not ideal as different search queries have different intents of purchasing. For example, a user searching ‘buy pink umbrella’ has a higher intent to purchase than a search of ‘umbrella’. This causes a problem because we would happily pay more for ‘buy pink umbrella’, but we are unable to distinguish between the searches, as we are forced to bid at product level.

                                   

                                  The way around this problem is to utilise the priority setting for each Shopping campaign. Each campaign’s priority can be set to ‘High’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Low’. By creating duplicate campaigns with differing priority levels, we can control our bids by funnelling search terms into different campaigns based on intent.

                                   

                                  Shopping-Buckets-High-Priority

                                   

                                  Using this system, a search of ‘umbrella’ would be sent to the ‘high’ priority campaign first, which would contain a low bid as it contains low intent search terms. You want to match to the ‘high priority’ first in order to show for as low a bid as possible to most keywords. Remember, Google chooses when your ads show – not you! So, by default we want it to be a low bid, until we know it’s a great search term.

                                   

                                  Once you have enough data, top performing searches would be set as negative keywords in the high priority campaigns, and these searches would be funnelled into a ‘lower priority’ campaign. These campaigns would then have a higher bid, as we are happier to pay more for a user who is more likely to convert.

                                   

                                  Shopping-Buckets-Low-Priority

                                   

                                  This system allows a much greater amount of control over our bids and has produced some fantastic results for our clients.

                                   

                                  This blog is a snapshot of my ‘Evening of Ecommerce’ talk I presented at upriseUP for one of our fantastic events. You can find more information about my talk here presentation library.

                                   

                                  Please do let me know your success with Shopping ads and I’d love to hear how you get on with implementing your ‘priority’ bidding strategy. If you would love for me to talk to you about how I think we can help your ecommerce even further, then please let me know.

                                   

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                                    Keyword Insertion: Is Relevancy Really In The Eyes Of The Beholder?

                                    Keywords

                                    An Experiment into Improving Ad Performance Using Keyword Insertion

                                    Keyword insertion, or dynamic keyword insertion as it used to be called, is a feature of AdWords that can be used in ad headlines to increase relevance to the users search query. One of the features that we’re most excited about here at upriseUP is the fact that using keyword insertion increases relevancy and dramatically increases your ads performance.

                                     

                                    How Keyword Insertion Works

                                    With keyword insertion in place in a headline, whenever a user performs a search, the keyword that triggered your ad to show is placed into the headline. The example Google use is if you sell chocolate you might set up a headline that reads Buy {KeyWord:Chocolate}. If Dark Chocolate is one of your keywords, the headline would read Buy Dark Chocolate. For more information on keyword insertion and how to set it up see the Google support.

                                     

                                    The Question

                                    By using keyword insertion in your headlines, you can create a seemingly personalised ad, resulting in increased ad relevance, increased quality scores, lower actual CPC, improved ad rank… you get the idea. They are great.

                                    However, equally relevant to the above example is an ad without keyword insertion where the headline Buy Dark Chocolate and Dark Chocolate as a keyword. What the user sees is the same ad, the question is would Google preferentially choose an ad that it deems “more relevant” because it could insert the users query into the title? What better way to test that than by using Google’s experiment feature?

                                     

                                    The Experiment

                                    What I created is a single keyword ad group (SKAG) with an exact match keyword and that keyword featuring in the headline. I kept everything but the headline the same between the experiment and the original to ensure a fair test. In the original I left the headline as plain text and in the experiment replaced the keyword in the headline with a keyword insertion. Given that the only keyword in the ad group is an exact match keyword, any time it could be triggered it would insert the keyword into the headline.

                                    The end results to the user is the exact same text, the only difference is how it got there. With the traffic split 50:50 between the experiment and the original, Google will enter each ad into the auction the same amount of times since they are essentially the same ad, right?

                                     

                                    The Results

                                    What actually happened is that despite the ad being the ‘same’ in the eyes of the user, the Google algorithm preferentially entered the ad using keyword insertion rather than plain text. The ad using keyword insertion generated a statistically significant increase in number of impressions and clicks, as well as an increased click through rate (although not a statistically significant one!).

                                     

                                    Key Takeaways

                                    However, there are situations to be aware of where keyword insertion into a title would not make sense and might make the ad read strangely, so each situation needs to be looked at critically. But in terms of getting your ad seen and clicked on by more people, keyword insertion is a valuable tool.

                                    The key takeaway here is that by implementing keyword insertion you can increase your ads relevancy in the eyes of the algorithm without it changing in the eyes of the user, which can only help improve your ads performance.

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                                      New Year, New Features

                                      A Christmas Gift from Google

                                       

                                      Just after the turn of the year Google has granted us in the PPC game three very-late Christmas presents, presumably because we were all very good last year!

                                      Two of the new features related to phone numbers, and are very much in line with Google’s even-more mobile focused approach in 2017; don’t forget the new Mobile-first index is coming soon!

                                      Google knows that when it comes to digital marketing, what sets it apart, from other forms of marketing, is the tangible data analysis – that ability to track a user from their first landing page to their final conversion (hopefully a big sale!). In order to ensure that your campaigns are working to their optimum you need to be able to track all possible conversions, and black holes in that user journey need to be avoided and were possible removed. This is where call tracking comes in to play.

                                      Call tracking allows digital marketers to track calls to key phone numbers from your website and what advertising has lead them to that page; and ultimately to make that call. There are a variety of paid solutions available (infinity call tracking and response tap to name a couple) as well as Google AdWords-only free option. But wouldn’t it be great if we could give those users who want to call a direct call-to-action within the SERP?

                                       

                                      Extending the Call Extensions

                                       

                                      That’s where call extensions (and call-only Ads) come in. This is where Google is upping it’s mobile game, ensuring we can cover as many conversions possible in order to understand the worth of those mobile visitors. Coming February 6th Google will be launching automated call extensions: a move which is specifically aimed at forcing the hand of all those people who are still not using a call ask within their Ads. The new automated call extensions will automatically show a call extension for ad groups where the ads are pointing to a page with a prominent phone number. Whilst this may seem like helpful move from Google, the chances are that if you wanted to show a phone number, you would already have the call extension live and if you don’t want it to show it’s for a reason! The good news is that you can untick this solution, the bad news is that unless you do so you will start showing a phone number (if the landing page is applicable) whether you like it or not.

                                       

                                      But that’s not all! As of January 19th, advertisers who use Location extensions and call extensions ‘may’ find that the number showing in their call extension is not the one they have previously specified. Google has emailed affected AdWords users to notify them that the phone number linked to the Local listing used in AdWords is likely to show instead.

                                       

                                      A Google rep told Search Engine Land that: “it ‘may’ show the local retail phone number when that store’s location extension shows in an ad even if a call extension in the campaign uses a different phone number in order to increase the relevance of ads that feature specific business locations.”

                                      This is a potential problem for users wanting to use tracking phone numbers within their AdWords call extensions or to use a centralised phone number for their Ads. You can opt-out of this by filling in a form within Google Support if this is something which will effect your call tracking. With Google showing Ads with location extensions across Google Maps, this feels like a move from their part in maintaining the consistency that the user will see between the Google Maps Ad and the organic listing.

                                       

                                      Positive, Negative Developments

                                       

                                      Finally, and a nice surprise for MCC (My Client Centre) AdWords users: Google has announced the expansion of the Negative Keywords lists to allow them to be shared across accounts. One immediate use would be to simplify the mass-sharing of keywords which are applicable across all accounts and that you would never want to show against (likely mature/illegal themes).

                                      Another use would be for those clients that use multiple AdWords accounts (presumably due to different departmental budgeting), and you want to make sure that there is no cross over between the Accounts on their keywords. This will now allow the process of negative matching an accounts keywords against all other accounts a lot simpler and one which I look forward to using.

                                      I’m sure that this is just the start of the new developments for this coming year; we were promised a whole new interface would arrive! But if the start of the new AdWords developments is anything to go by – I think this will be another year with big movements towards mobile and location based optimisation…and I for one look forward to it!

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                                        Expanded Text Ads Rollout begins

                                        Expanded Ads Update

                                         

                                        Some big news recently from Google. They have announced the release of 3 new features which had been mentioned in the May 2016 Google Summit – I wanted to bring you our thoughts on the implications and their effects for our clients.

                                        Ads will now be 50% larger, include a new double header and a simple 80 character description. This will mean the removal of the rigid two-line Legacy Ad type, which has been in existence for years. Google has announced that this change has been led by a need for responsive ads within the search results page; but the result has been an increase in the total space given to Paid ads at the top of the page. This is another example of Google continuing to monotonies the Search results page at the detriment of organic search. This is likely to lead to an increased importance of maintaining a Paid presence as Organic listings are pushed further down the page.

                                        We will be creating new Expanded Text Ads for each Ad Group in our accounts over the coming months and running A/B tests against the best performing legacy Ad format. Google has not set a timeline for the removal of the old Legacy format Ads, however, they have stated that Ads will not be able to be created in the Legacy format post-October 26th.

                                        The initial results of the trial look promising with some beta trialists seeing a 2x increase in CTR for non-brand. However, it is likely this was a test against other advertisers running the legacy Ads and so will not have been a fair test (especially when the new ads are 50% larger). As we are rolling these Ads out for our clients in the coming – we hope to be able to take advantage of the increased presence this will likely give us over competitors who are still using Legacy Ads.

                                        it will be interesting to see how this stands up when all marketers in the auction are using the new Ad format. As we roll out new Ads in the new format we will be reviewing the results and will share our learnings and feedback with you.

                                         

                                        Other great releases

                                         

                                        Separate Device-Bidding

                                        Google has announced that over the coming months they will be releasing the ability to set base bid adjustments for mobile, tablet and/or desktop per Campaign. The real-world implications for this are that we will be able to distinguish our bids between Desktop and Tablet devices. This will be especially useful for accounts targeting businesses where they will be able to down-weight Tablet devices which are more likely to be domestic users.

                                        The strategy used for the device-bidding will be dependent on a case-by-case basis, not only per account, but per campaign. When this feature is rolled out to your account, your Account Manager will likely be in touch to confirm their strategy with you for this.

                                         

                                        Responsive Ads

                                        As per Device-Bidding, this will be rolling out on an account-by-account basis and will see a new format of Ads being available on the Google Display Network. The new Responsive Ads will automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit available ad spaces on a webpage. Responsive ads can show as almost any size text, image, or native format. The new Ad Format allows a campaign to cover more more Ad spaces without the need for a vast inventory of banners.

                                        Looks like a good innovation from Google and we expect to see a good response at the beginning for these new Ad formats. For clients who we are running Display activity for, we will be in touch shortly to discuss implementing these into your campaigns.

                                        As always if you have any comments, questions or queries about these updates or any other Google AdWords developments please don’t hesitate to get in touch! 

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