2016 AdWords Updates: What You Need to Know

Two weeks ago at the Google Summit, Google announced some big feature changes in AdWords. Stephen and I had such a productive discussion analyzing the ad layout change in February, that we sat down again to share a discourse on what these changes mean for search marketers as the dust settles.

What follows is a transcript of that discussion.

Too Long; Don’t Want to Read:

  • Longer text ads: Two 30-character headlines, one 80 character description line
  • Bid adjustments for mobile, and tablets up to +900%
  • Promoted location pins and updated location pages in Maps
  • Better store visit tracking
  • New responsive Display ads and new cross-exchange ad placement access
  • Similar audiences and demographics for search ads
  • A new AdWords interface for 2017

2016 AdWords Updates: A(nother) Socratic Dialogue

Canadian-Nick“So, Stephen, we find ourselves staring down more industry-shaking news and I’m having a hard time processing it all. Could you please tell me more about the impending changes?”

Canadian-Stephen“I certainly can! What would you like to hear about first?”

Canadian-Nick“Start by giving me some context on this whole thing.”

Canadian-Stephen“You see, Nick, about 7.6 billion years from now, it is highly likely that the Earth will be engulfed when the sun expands into a red giant, rendering everything we do ultimately and, quite probably, meaningless.”

Canadian-Nick“I was thinking more along the lines of context for these changes.”

Canadian-Stephen“Oh, right. Well, it’s clear that we now live in what Google is calling a ‘mobile-first’ world, where over half of web traffic comes from phones and tablets. Many of the feature changes are centered on this concept.”

Canadian-Nick“But I thought we lived in a multi-device world?”

Canadian-Stephen“What? Where did you get such a crazy idea …


Canadian-Stephen … Oh.”

Canadian-Nick“It seems that the emphasis used to be on users moving across devices.”

Canadian-Stephen“Right, which is what those enhanced campaigns were originally designed to address. The idea was that you could have one campaign targeting users seamlessly across devices. Now, we can adjust bids on each device type, including and tablets, up to +900%. Thus, we hit the devices and moments that are most valuable to our businesses.”

Canadian-Nick“That’s pretty interesting.”

Canadian-Stephen“Indeed. We also have the ability to serve our users a longer message. There will now be two 30-character headlines, and the description lines will be consolidated into one 80-character line. Your site’s domain will also be automatically extracted for your display URL, so you don’t have to worry about matching your display and final URL anymore. Please see the table Google helpfully crafted for us below:”


Canadian-Nick“Wait, more device targeting options and one, longer line of ad text? Are you sure Google didn’t accidentally demo Bing Ads?”

Canadian-Stephen“The conspiracy runs deeper than I thought.”

Canadian-Nick“So Google also emphasized bridging the digital and physical worlds, giving us more opportunity to drive and measure store visits. Tell me more about this.”

Canadian-Stephen“Yes they did. 1/3 of mobile searches are now local and Google introduced new ad formats to reflect that. The most interesting feature is the promoted location pins that show up in your Maps. So, for example, if you’re driving home at 3 a.m., you might see a promoted pin for a Walgreens location on the way so you can buy pepperoni-flavored Combos, a kite, and the director’s cut of Kazaam on Blu-Ray.“

Canadian-Nick“Ah, the usual.”


New Maps ad formats

Canadian-Stephen“Users can also see location-specific information when they click on a location, like special promotions and that particular store’s inventory.”

Canadian-Nick“So instead of being disappointed in person when they don’t have your item in stock, you can now be disappointed digitally.”

Canadian-Stephen“Exactly. But if you do decide to go into the store anyway, they’re making it easier to measure ad-driven store visits, as they claim to now be 99% accurate when measuring store visits.”

Canadian-Nick“That should help with attribution. The more you can tie business performance to ads, the better decisions you can make. There were also rumblings about the Display Network, Stephen. Let’s talk about that.”

Canadian-Stephen“Yes, there will now be responsive ads for display, which adapt to the content format of the site on which they are serving. All you need are headlines, an image, a description, and a URL, and you have yourself a snazzy native ad, my friend.”


Snazzy native ads

Canadian-Nick“Ooooh, that seems fancy. And you can serve those across more sites now, right?”

Canadian-Stephen“Correctamundo. They’re now giving us access to cross-exchange inventory, so we can advertise on more sites and apps from around the world. So instead of just one flashlight app or puzzle game site, you now have access to several.

Canadian-Nick“Sounds enticing.”

Canadian-Stephen“But display isn’t getting all the love. In addition to the longer text ads, we now have more opportunities for audience targeting in search. Specifically, we can use our remarketing lists to create similar audiences to target in search. So we’ll be able to specifically target search ads to users who have similar interest to our visitors, but have never actually been to our site.”

Canadian-Nick“Wait, that wasn’t a feature? I thought AdWords always created a similar audience.”

Canadian-Stephen“It does, but you could only use it for display. If you uploaded a customer email list for example, a feature only available for search, it would create an ‘active’ similar audience that was unusable since similar audiences were only for display.”

Canadian-Nick“So you would have an allegedly active similar audience in your list but you couldn’t target it?”



Canadian-Stephen“Quite. There are also now demographics for search ads, so we can adjust our bidding based on age and gender to reach more qualified users.”

Canadian-Nick“It seems like they’re really trying to give us a chance to leverage context and intent.”

Canadian-Stephen“They are, and it’s about time. Previously, we’ve had to rely primarily on the user’s query and location to get a handle on their qualification. We now have more buttons to push to serve the right ad to the right user at the right time.”

Canadian-Nick“Speaking of buttons, give me some information about the new AdWords interface.”

Canadian-Stephen“Only if you say the magic word.”


Canadian-Stephen“No, you fool. Kazaam. Why do you think we purchased that God-awful movie at our promoted Walgreens location all those lines ago?”

Canadian-Nick“Forgive me.”


Canadian-Stephen“In due time. But, back to the interface. In addition to simple changes like moving the navigation to the lefthand side, it looks like the main goal of the redesign is to make the information marketers care about immediately available in the form of a dashboard. And the way you create campaigns allows you to customize objectives for your business and utilize specific features in order to meet those goals. So it’s all about making sure AdWords is working for your specific organization. Do you want to drive site visits? Calls? Store visits? The world is your oyster.”

Canadian-Nick“So there are now campaign objectives? Are you sure they didn’t accidentally demo Facebook Ads?”

sean-nerf*Sean suddenly slides into the room down a fire pole, firing a NERF dart that hits Nick squarely in the head*

“Hey-o! Headshot! Are you really gonna use the same joke twice in one post, Oats?”

Editor’s Note: Nick peacefully eats oatmeal every day at 3 p.m., and has thus been christened “Oats” by some of his less tolerant and, frankly, ill-mannered co-workers.

Canadian-Nick“Sean, can’t you see Stephen and I are having a civil discussion about AdWords? And where did that fire pole come from? We have a staircase.”

Canadian-Sean“Not anymore! I decided to upgrade the office a bit. And AdWords? BOOOORING. Check out this cool GIF I just found!”



Canadian-Nick“I hate all of you.”

The post 2016 AdWords Updates: What You Need to Know appeared first on LunaMetrics.

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