An image shows how changes to AdWords will help showing increased ROI, likes and sales.

If you spend time in the day-to-day management of Google AdWords (Soon to be rebranded as Google Ads), you know changes to AdWords are coming – or have already come. The good news: the AdWords interface has many exciting new features that should enhance your digital marketing performance. The bad news: You are going to start from scratch regarding where things live, how you access data, and how data is “shown” in a broader sense.

Recent changes to AdWords have led the SEM community to loudly proclaim that the beginning of the end for keyword-centric advertising is upon us. The future belongs to semantic and contextual targeting, reaching audiences and phrase searchers, and focusing on overall performance data rather than just “clicks”. Also, machine learning and voice search – which may make up as much as 20% of all mobile searches –  will play a greater role in SEM strategy. Some of the new AdWords features will make it easier to find your top prospects or customers, while others will help you track them from suspect to prospect to customer (and then to repeat customer).

Here’s the biggest of the changes to AdWords you’ll notice.

AdWords (Soon to be Google Ads) Has A New UI

The new AdWords UI is sleek and visually stunning.. It’s everything the clunky old UI was not. But alas, familiarity is every marketers friend. You may have seen notices that the old interface won’t be supported past July. You still have the option to “toggle” back to the old interface, but you might as well get used to the new one…it’s all you’ll have very soon.


Targeting In-Market Audiences Now On Search

Machine learning is the future of digital marketing. This is driving most of the changes to AdWords. These have been available on the Display Network for some quite awhile. This is super valuable to both lead generators and e-commerce professionals. Through the synthesis of search query data and activity analysis, Google is now able to identify these hyper-valuable subsets of your target demo not just via display, but on the search network only. Fascinating and powerful, without a doubt.


“Life Events” Will Come To YouTube And Gmail Ads

Some purchases will only happen around once a year (or once in a lifetime) events – high school graduation, welcoming a new child to your family, getting married, etc. Patterns of behavior tend to indicate an impending life event. Facebook has been great about this kind of predictive modeling, and targeting some life events can signal future life events (starting a new job can be a great leading indicator of being in the market for a new home, for example). If your product or service could help someone at this stage in your life, your advertising to them is a mutually beneficial proposition.

This exact type of targeting is coming to both YouTube and Gmail Ads. Get excited!


Location Extensions Will Get Added To YouTube Ads

This is more for brick and mortar locations, but when your brand can connect with a local audience AND let them know that a B&M location is only X miles away from them RIGHT NOW, that is the essence of smart marketing. Location extensions are already starting to roll out.


AMP Ads And Landing Pages Will Keep Evolving

Anyone in performance marketing knows that every additional second of landing page load time represents a loss of business. Some say up to 20% of total revenue declines per second of load time. That’s where AMP can help.

AMP landing pages are Google’s latest answer to improving page speed. The drawback is this is not self-hosted. The upside is, well, speed! In addition to sending search traffic to AMP pages (as you can already do organically), Google has also unveiled Display ads for AMP pages. These ads may load up to 3 seconds faster than regular Display creative. This is a game changer for both front end and remarketing campaigns.


Google Optimize Will Be Available To All

The UI looks cool, but does it have both substance AND style? That answer is yes. In fact, Google Optimize has the potential to be the most interesting announcement to come from Google this year. Google Optimize will now integrate with AdWords, giving advertisers more agility and more testing abilities.

Per Google: “With the Optimize and AdWords integration, you can quickly and easily create new versions of your landing pages and then apply them to any combination of AdWords campaigns, ad groups, and keywords – no coding or webmaster required.”

Say goodbye to “guesswork” in landing page testing, say hello to contextual AND customer relevant landing pages. *NOTE* This is still being discussed, and is not currently a BETA, but it should roll out in 2019.


Landing Page Reports Come To AdWords

Google has created an upgraded version of the PageSpeed tool right into the new AdWords UI. This will let Advertisers see JUST how fast their pages are loading. Speed has long been assumed to be a “hidden” component of Q scores (Quality Scores), but this tool helps confirm it’s value. Slow pages = low grades. This will be super valuable for new accounts and campaigns that don’t already have a performance history.


Google Attribution

Let’s be honest here…most attribution solutions don’t really make life any easier for us. Last touch is horrible. Linear still involves some confusion. And don’t get us started on trying to make a case for time-decay models. But AI powered attribution may hold the answer.

Google Attribution will allow you to view the true impact of your digital marketing efforts from 10,000 feet. For free. Using its own algo, it will assign conversion values to your marketing. Let’s keep it real a second time here…don’t for a second think that they won’t be heavying up on the value of display, especially mobile display. Views will matter. They will get some love. Expect to see far more fractions for every lead or sale you track.

Attribution modeling is a pain and this should make life easier…but it will require some blind faith in a model that can’t easily be explained.


Transparency Becomes The New Norm

Attributing leads and sales is never easy. Targeting behaviors isn’t either – even for established programmatic advertisers. The changes to AdWords that are coming up should provide a huge dose of transparency. And that’s good for marketing agencies, advertisers and Google itself.

Is your current partner or in-house resource giving you the transparency you need? Are you still paying for management time AND markup on your AdWords spend? If you spend $20k a month or more in management fees plus spend and aren’t getting both the transparency and performance that you need, please contact us today. We’re one of the top Outsourced Digital Marketing agencies around, and we tailor our team to your unique needs.

Author Jason Keeler

Jason is a Digital Strategist and Digital Marketing Consultant. He's spent more than a decade working in Ad Agencies on businesses ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies like General Electric and U.S. Bancorp.

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