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Google Performance Summit 2016: Full List of Highlights and Takeaways

Published: May 26, 2016

Author: Jake Favaro

Not every Google Performance Summit has unleashed game-changing updates for advertisers, but the 2016 summit brought advertisers a bevy of gifts (some of which we’ve been requesting for years – device bid adjustments, anyone?).
In case you missed the summit, here’s a quick run-down of the releases (and insights/recommendations to go with them), broken down by search, shopping, and programmatic.

Search updates

  • Mobile, desktop, and tablet bid adjustments
    • This is the announcement that will have easily the largest potential impact on performance, and it’s something everyone has been asking for since Enhanced Campaigns took this optimization lever away a few years back.
    • The potential for single-device campaigns is back, though it only makes sense to set them up when volume is high enough for individual devices and performance is significantly different between devices.
    • Remember: yon’t want to over-segment campaign structure just because you can; this will bring issues with data density.
    • The modifiers will be particularly helpful for tablet, which chronically underperforms and has necessitated using CO to try to drop tablet traffic with poor CVR since enhanced campaigns came into effect in 2013.
  • Complete AdWords interface redesign rolling out from end of this year into next year
    • This is mostly cosmetic: we get simplified/streamlined visualizations and interface, but Google has reassured us that all of the same in-depth analysis and reports will still be available. And who doesn’t like a pretty exterior?
  • Expanded text ads are rolling out for all devices
    • New text ads feature 2 headlines with 30 characters each and 80 characters for description lines.
    • This is arguably the largest change to text ads in the last 10 years. It’s a great change offering advertisers more real estate on the SERP, but it needs to be approached correctly.
    • It’s important to entirely rework your ad copy for the new format and take advantage of the full character limit, not just append more text to your current ads to make them fit into the new format.
  • Similar Audiences rolling out for Search based off of customer match audience lists and standard RLSA
    • We’ve never seen strong results from standard RLSA Similar Audiences on GDN, but this is being touted as an entirely new product.
    • We’re guardedly optimistic that the new Similar Audiences product for search will perform better when based off of advertisers’ first-party data than the legacy GDN Similar Audiences, particularly when backed by query-based intent.

Shopping updates

  • Google is releasing a similar interface redesign in Merchant Center as in AdWords.
    • AdWords beautification rolling out across the board will keep a consistent feel between UIs.
  • Shopping Ads on YouTube
    • YouTube shopping ads have been in beta for a few months, but the full rollout will include the ability to place shopping ads on videos not owned by the advertiser.
    • We have seen positive results from the Beta and are excited to test targeting shopping ads on third-party videos.
    • This is a powerful opportunity to pair your products with relevant reviews, advice, and how-to video content via Shopping ads.
  • Expansion of “Buy on Google” beta
    • This feature allows brands to sell their products directly on Google via a “click to buy” button rather than having to direct traffic to the company’s website.
    • It’s currently only available to a handful of large brands but is going to become more widely available.
    • We anticipate potential improvements to CVR by cutting out steps in the purchasing process.
  • Pre-emptive price mismatch and image disapprovals
    • Products with policy-violating images or prices mismatched between the feed and website will be automatically disapproved in Merchant Center and filtered out; advertisers will no longer be threatened with full account suspensions. This addresses the largest causes of account suspensions going into the holidays by removing portions of feeds rather than suspending entire accounts.
    • This one is concerning, as Google says they will be erring on the side of caution and there is not a very defined appeals process in place to get products back in your feed once they are automatically removed.
  • Target ROAS improvements
    • In addition to browser, OS, queries, and the myriad of other signals Target ROAS uses to optimize, it will begin also optimizing according to performance of remarketing lists opted into Shopping campaigns, relative price compared to competitors, seasonality, and screen size of the device being used.
    • These are all signals similar to what is used in Conversion Optimizer for Search, where we have seen repeated success.
    • While we have not seen worthwhile performance from Target ROAS in our Shopping tests to date, we are hopeful it will begin to mimic CO’s power with this revamp.
    • We recommend A/B testing Target ROAS in its new form versus manual bidding using Campaign Drafts in order to risk less of your shopping traffic and see side-by-side results.
  • Customer match audiences for shopping
    • Currently in beta, this offers marketers the capability to remarket to audiences created with first-party data – similar to what has already been rolled out for Search, YouTube, and GSP.
    • It’s nice to have to create more targeted remarketing strategies based on first-party audience segments; we’re excited about the prospects of Similar Audiences for Shopping in the future.
  • New ad formats
    • Google also teased numerous potential new shopping ad formats that are vastly different from what we see today, but they’re still in the works.
    • Advertisers may begin gaining more control over creating thematic sets of products for specific occasions or suggesting additional/similar products.
    • Based on the incredible success of Shopping Ads and PLAs over the last few years, we are very excited to see how these new formats perform once they are rolled out.

Programmatic updates

  • GDN cross-exchange inventory will be available in every campaign
    • This gives us the capability to bid differently on various inventory sources/exchanges.
    • Hopefully this will be only the first in a series of steps to cut back on our need to invest heavily in non-Google programmatic partners.
  • Responsive display ads that resize to fit into native ad inventory
    • This is an exciting development that lowers the barrier to entry for advertisers to begin taking advantage of native ad placements.

Overwhelmed by all the goodies yet? We’ll be sure to blog about actual performance effects when we put some of these in play, so stay tuned.

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