So far, this year has been a big one for paid search updates on Google. We’ve got device bidding and expanded text ads, Google Shopping ads on image search, purple “ad” labels in maps and many more already in the books.
In this post, we’ll talk about three in particular–Shopping ads’ new format, expanded text ads and mobile ad price extensions–and take a look at what’s changed and how to prepare.
Google Showcase Shopping Ads
Broad product searches not associated with any brand (think a generic query for “men’s pants” or “outdoor furniture”) are getting a new format in Google Shopping ads, called Showcase Shopping ads.
Since these broad search queries make up 40 percent of product searches (see previous link), Google is shifting from showing specific product ads to showcasing collections of products from various retailers. Users will see one main image and two smaller images for each collection from the search results.
When users click on an ad image, they’ll reach a Google-hosted page featuring a collection of that retailer’s related products. Advertisers will be charged for clicks from this landing page to the retailer’s site, rather than for clicks from the search results.
This is a big move, and will be interesting to see how it impacts the upcoming holiday season for advertisers. Ginny Marvin at Search Engine Land http://searchengineland.com/google-showcase-shopping-ads-trueview-shopping-branding-253809# says to prep now:
Google says it doesn’t have any performance metrics to share on this type of format because it’s brand new, but many retailers may want to rethink their strategies for broad, non-brand queries as soon as this this marquis-style format rolls out in order to be prepared for the holidays — including for Customer Match and RLSA targeting for Shopping campaigns.
Over at CPC Strategy, Lewis Brannon highlights how Showcase Shopping Ads can give retailers more control over how their products appear for broad searches.
Many mid-size advertisers were hesitant to go “all-in” with Google Shopping for fear of not having enough control over which of their products would show-up for broad searches. But now that Google is giving all advertisers more tools to curate their products, it will be interesting to see the competitive shifts for these broad queries and if more advertisers will jump at the chance to more aggressively target those shoppers.
Merchants running shopping campaigns in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia will see their products automatically displayed in Showcase Shopping ads in the coming weeks.
AdWords is also experimenting with a premium version of Showcase Shopping ads, which will give retailers more control over how their products are showcased.
Expanded Search Network Text Ads
At the end of July, Google announced expanded text ads, which are optimized for the most popular smartphone screen sizes.
The old ads had one 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines. The new headlines are more prominent with two lines of 30 characters, and the descriptions contain one line of 80 characters. That’s almost 50 percent more text for advertisers to play with.
Laura Collins shared data with Search Engine Land, showing that some advertisers had actually seen diminished performance with expanded text ads, and said to diligently analyze performance.
The SEM Post showed that some advertisers’ headlines have been truncated with expanded text ads, as available space is actually determined by pixels, not characters. You can use the ad preview tool to see how things look before they go live.
Google clarified how to avoid those truncated headlines more recently, here. http://searchengineland.com/google-expanded-text-ads-avoid-headline-truncation-254700
Even though expanded text ads launched on July 26, standard text ads can be created and edited until Oct. 26, 2016. In the meantime, advertisers should run tests for the best use of extended text ads. For more, check out the AdWords guide for best practices with the new ads.
Mobile Text Ad Price Extensions
Showing up as a list beneath your main ad copy, price extensions are a way for advertisers to share product and service costs on mobile ads.
Like call extensions, price extensions share basic information that users typically look for right away. An interesting difference here is how much space the price extensions take up, and how multiple products and services may be listed:
Ginny Marvin suggests the extension will be the first to stir up real competition on mobile ads and also drive up mobile cost per click. Mark Irvine of WordStream shared that clients have seen their clickthrough rates improve at four times the average rate.
How to make the most of price extensions? Google reminds us of a couple things before getting started:
Price extensions link to your mobile site, so it’s important to make sure your site is mobile-optimized … Keep in mind that price extensions are currently only available in English. More languages will be coming soon.
Keep in mind that only the top-ranking ad will be eligible for price extensions, so stay on top of your bids.
Also, you must have a minimum of three and a maximum of eight price entries in order for them to show. Google recommends creating five or more, here. More requirements can be found in the AdWords help files.
As usual, the Google paid search updates are coming at a fast and furious rate. Not surprisingly, a lot of it has to do with mobile. Keep pace now to stay in the game for future changes.