After over two decades since its release, Google Ads is still standing strong among newer advertising platforms. It generated a whopping $209 billion of ad revenue in 2021 alone for Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
While the numbers are all there for the tech giant, the question remains: should businesses still choose Google Ads as their main advertising platform?
The short answer is: they may. But while the platform has its advantages, there are also potential challenges. Here, we’re going to examine the pros and cons of using Google Ads, so you can make an informed decision before you start using it.
First, let’s talk about the good stuff!
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Google is still the leading search engine, undisputed, maintaining a market share of over 90%. Google search ads allow you to reach audiences you probably couldn’t have with other platforms. And remember – we aren’t only talking about Google search itself here.
Google Ads also allows you to advertise on Gmail, Youtube, and millions of sites in Google Search and Google Display Network. So, regardless of the type of campaign you choose to run, you are guaranteed to reach many users.
Needless to say, if exposure is what you’re looking for, then Google Ads is your best bet.
This is one of the most attractive benefits of using Google Ads, especially when comparing it to SEO. Getting your page on top of organic search results requires a lot of effort, and it can take months to get to that result.
With the right bid, Google Ads guarantees you a top space in the search engine instantly. With paid search you can move up from your competitors and reach your audience a lot quicker.
This is especially useful for new businesses that are looking to promote their services locally, for example.
Looking to start running Google Ads campaigns? Learn how to use GetResponse for creating paid search Google Ads to make the process fast and easy!
Google Ads is equipped with quite impressive analytics about your user base, campaigns, ad campaigns, and the keywords you use. This gives you plenty of space for optimization. The interface itself makes it easy to skim through the data and find the information you care about the most.
When it comes to data, the most important benefit is the possibility to link your Google Ads account to Google Analytics (you can check how to do it here.)
This way, you unlock multiple insights, such as:
Today’s digital advertising scene is oversaturated. That’s why, having a clear-cut target user base that much more important.
With Google Ads, you can choose the demographic you want to target by numerous factors:
You can also target users by more advanced criteria, such as:
By making use of audience exclusions, you also ensure that your shopping ads won’t show to audiences less likely to be interested in your product. This narrows your target audience even further.
With such a detailed audience targeting system, you’re able to get the most out of the money you put into your ads and make your case for a better ROI.
You don’t need to worry about exceeding the budget for your ad spend.
Google Ads makes it possible for you to set up a monthly budget on an account level, as well as daily budgets for each ad campaign. When you spend that budget, your ads will simply stop running.
By using manual bidding, you’re also able to set the maximum CPC per keyword to make sure you won’t exceed that amount. This is especially beneficial for smaller businesses, which are more often constrained by tight PPC budgets.
Note: Google specifies that because of fluctuations in traffic, there might be some days when your campaign will overdeliver. However, this won’t make you exceed your monthly ad spend limit.
Now that we have talked about what’s good about the platform, let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges that come with using it.
While Google has put a lot of effort into automating many tasks and functions on the platform, it (unfortunately) doesn’t mean you can just sit back and enjoy the show after setting up your campaigns. In order to make the most out of the money you invested in advertising, you need to keep an eye on your campaigns, especially during the early stages.
There’s plenty for you to do:
If you just let your campaigns be, you’ll most likely end up burning through your budget and failing to get the results you expected.
Pro tip: Setting Google Search Ads inside GetResponse will save you the time you’d otherwise spend connecting your ads with landing pages and email campaigns. Learn how to set up Google Ads in our step-by-step guide.
Burning through your budget because of improper optimization or strategy is one thing that you need to be mindful of, but not the only one. Google Ads is one of them flexible advertising platforms, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to run a successful campaign.
While that is true, it’s also worth noting that the price of digital advertising is way bigger than it used to be. There are many more players in the game right now, which is why Google Ads itself is experiencing a 14% YOY increase of CPC.
Because of the oversaturation in the advertising market, it’s way harder to stand out from the crowd than it used to be. And to achieve that you’ll need a proper budget.
Pay-per-click ads, for example, are costly by default. For ecommerce companies, PPC can reach anything between $400 to $5,000 each month, depending on the approach you take with your ad spend. So approach your budgets wisely!
A huge mistake many businesses make when opting for Google Ads is focusing only on, well, the ads themselves. A well-crafted campaign may persuade users to click on your ad, yet this advertising platform is the place they’re directed to is where they’ll make a final decision to convert.
Using Google Ads means making sure your website is in top-notch shape.
Pro tip: You will most likely have to create landing pages specifically for ad purposes since Google wants the pages to match user intent the best they can. The visuals, the copy you use, and even the page load speed are all factors you need to think about when crafting your campaigns.
Before you start advertising on Google Ads, it’s best to get informed about what’s currently going on on the advertising platform. Here are some of the most important changes.
Advertisers have been talking about this update since last year when Google first announced the news. As of June 30th, advertisers are no longer able to create new expanded ads or edit their existing ones. Instead, Google wants us to use responsive search ads.
Expanded ads allowed advertisers to add up to three headlines and two descriptions, and that’s exactly what a user would see.
Responsive text ads, on the other hand, let us add up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for each ad. Then Google displays different sets so that it is able to learn which combinations are performing best among your target audience.
While responsive search ads are great for getting conversions, you have less control over the copy that’s displayed to users and need to remember to always make sure that each headline and description combination match each other.
…eventually. While Google initially wanted to introduce the change sometime in 2023, it has recently postponed those plans until 2024.
Having user privacy in mind, Google announced some time ago that it was planning to block the use of third-party cookies from external websites. Third-party cookies track users’ behavior across many different websites. That information later helped to craft relevant target groups for different ad campaigns.
What will the change mean to advertisers? Well, you’re most likely need to get used to less specific and more random targeting, especially when it comes to remarketing campaigns. For example, you could try switching to obtaining user data through lead magnets (such as newsletters).
Performance Max campaigns can be run across all Google Ads inventory. This means that with a single campaign, Google is able to search for your target audience through all channels: Search, Display, Discover, Gmail, Youtube, and Maps. The ads are automatically created, based on the assets that the advertiser provides.
Google has been focused on enhancing Performance Max ever since it first came out in 2020 and has come up with a lot of new features for it 2022.
Remember: Performance Max is replacing Smart Shopping campaigns, so it’s best for advertisers need to get more familiar with this campaign type.
If you want to promote your products or services and get yourself noticed among competitors, then Google Ads is an awesome tool to do so (especially if you have a local business and want to put yourself out there!)
But before you start your journey with the platform, you should remember that Google Ads isn’t some magical device that will gather sales-qualified leads from the get-go. It takes time and effort to get things going. Advertising on Google Ads also doesn’t automatically mean sales, especially if we’re talking about B2B customers where the process is more complex and takes way more time.
If you’d like to start advertising on Google Ads, make sure you’re familiar with the best practices to follow when starting out. With the right strategy, a thought-out budget, and careful optimization, you’ll make the most out of the platform and test whether it’s the right channel for your PPC advertising.
Responsive search ads (RSA) testing can be daunting yet rewarding.
Google sending the expanded text ad (ETA) the way of the dinosaur disappointed many advertisers and marketers.
But the opportunities that await those willing to test RSAs are considerable, especially when paired with the intelligence of broad match.
However, if you haven’t been keeping a close eye on these changes – or if running Google Ads campaigns is just one of your job responsibilities – it can be confusing to know what to do.
So today, I’m going to walk you through three RSA experiments you can run the next time you create a search campaign.
But first, let’s ensure you have the context you need for RSA testing.
Testing with ETAs was fairly straightforward.
You’d run two (or more) ads with fixed headlines and descriptions, compare their click-through rates (CTRs), and possibly keep an eye on conversions from the landing page.
This approach was possible because ETAs mostly:
All other considerations being equal, an RSA gets 4X more impressions than an ETA.
This requires using a metric called conversions per impression, which you can calculate by multiplying an ad’s CTR by its conversion rate.
In other words:
Read: How to A/B Test Responsive Search Ads.
The first test you should consider running is to see the effects of pinning on your campaigns.
By default, RSAs mix and match headlines and descriptions to test and find the combinations that people respond to best.
Pinning lets you tell Google which headline and description positions should appear exactly where you put them.
Create two identical RSAs. You can fill in as many of the 15 headlines and four descriptions as you like; make sure it’s the same in both ads.
Then, pin a few of the headlines and descriptions in one ad, while leaving the other one unmodified.
Studies have shown that RSAs with all elements pinned can still get great CTR and conversion rates, but these go up when you don’t pin (or pin sparingly).
Running identical ads with one having pinned elements is a great way to learn just how much of a gap Google will create between the two, all else being equal.
Next is arguably the most important aspect of RSA testing – and, as a copywriter, my personal favorite.
With ad platforms handling more campaign management through their automation, messaging is more important than it’s been in some time.
You can create up to three RSAs per ad group, so for this experiment, you might want to consider maxing out.
Each ad group should have a distinct theme centered around a group of keywords and utilize broad match. You might address different personas, pain points, or even offers for topics.
This experiment should show you what subjects get a response and what queries they show for.
There’s no substitute for knowing what your customers are looking for and want to hear.
And, when everyone is using the same base automations in Google, it’s one of the ways you can unlevel the playing field to capture a competitive edge.
While an argument can be made that re-creating ETAs via pinning defeats the purpose of RSAs, some advertisers still crave (or need) that control.
Credit for this approach goes to Chris Ridley, who identified it as a way to cope with the limit of three RSAs per ad group.
Create two pseudo-ETAs by pinning three headlines and two descriptions (no other copy).
The third ad is a true RSA where you leave everything unpinned, instead using the space to test out new messaging.
This experiment allows you to benchmark the performance (in particular CTR) of pseudo-ETAs.
This can be helpful for advertisers who need to display certain information at all times, such as those operating in regulated industries.
Read: 4 Reasons Click Volume Decreases & What To Do.
Unfortunately, Google still doesn’t show you which ad showed for a search term (the report limits this connection to the ad group level).
It also doesn’t show you performance based on headlines and descriptions.
While there’s a certain element of guesswork involved with deciphering RSA performance, you can still structure your campaigns according to the data Google does show.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you test your next RSA campaign:
RSAs are one of the best examples of Google’s automation changes that require a shift in mindset.
Optimize the periphery of your campaigns – structure, creative, and data – and exercise a degree of patience.
There is space for creative, clever advertisers to win big.
Featured Image: Shaiith/Shutterstock
Google is changing how it formats search results on mobile, the company announced today. Paid results will now carry a larger “Sponsored” tag rather than the simple “Ad” tag they had before, and each website’s name is now listed at the top of each search result. The “size and shape” of each website’s favicons are also getting updated to make them easier to see. The new search results format is rolling out now on mobile, and Google says it plans to test a “similar experience” for desktop searches “soon.”
In its blog post, the company explains that the new “Sponsored” tag is being introduced to ensure that “ads are clearly labeled” with a tag that’s “prominent and clear across different types of paid content.” Meanwhile, showing site names and favicons more prominently in search results is aimed at making it easier to “identify the website that’s associated with each result at a glance.”
Google’s changes to the formatting of search results have occasionally been criticized for making it harder to tell where paid results end and organic results begin.
The timeline in this tweet from 2019 (via TechCrunch) shows how the search giant has changed the formatting of sponsored results on desktop over time. It has gradually moved away from formatting paid results with a different background color to simply showing them with a small “Ad” tag on desktop.
The criticism was most intense in 2020 when Google rolled out a new look for desktop search results that added favicons to organic results. The problem was that these small icons were almost the exact same size as the “Ad” tag on paid results, which made it difficult to tell the two apart at a glance. After an outcry, the company backtracked on the design change and said it would “experiment with new placements for favicons.”
As of this writing, favicons still haven’t been widely rolled out for desktop search results.
Google’s paid results are still harder to distinguish than when the search giant used to use different colored backgrounds, but switching from the two-letter “Ad” tag to the much larger “Sponsored” tag on mobile feels like a step in the right direction.
Over the years, Google has made it harder to separate ads from organic search results at a glance. In its current iteration, when users perform a search, the only distinction between the two is “Ad” written in bold — and it’s easy to miss.
The search giant is making a small change to that today by replacing the “Ad” label with the “Sponsored” label in bold next to the advertisements appearing in search results. The company is also moving the label above the site URL in a separate line, instead of showing it next to the URL.
Currently, Google is slowly rolling out this update across mobile and said it will start testing these changes on the desktop without specifying a date.
“This new label and its prominent position continues to meet our high standards for being distinguishable from search results and builds on our existing efforts to make information about paid content clear,” Google said in a statement.
But these changes still might not be enough for users to clearly separate ads and organic search results. If you’re studying this story and looking at the changes side-by-side, you would notice a difference between “Ad” and “Sponsered.” But in daily usage, when you’re scrolling through thousands of search results, you may not have these modifications in mind.
Ginny Marvin, Google’s Ads Product Liaison, has tweeted the visual history of the company’s ad labeling many times over the years. While the tweet below captures changes only till 2019, it’s easy to see how Google has slowly blurred the lines between ads and search results.
When Google rolled out the new bold “Ad” label in 2020, many folks pointed out dark patterns in this design change that made users squint to separate out paid content. But it took the company two years to make any kind of change.
The ad business is the main money maker for Google: The company earned $56.3 billion in ad revenue in Q2 2022. So it’s important for the search giant to keep churning out money from that funnel in different ways. Given the position Google holds in the ads space, many watchdogs are looking to probe the company’s ads business through an antitrust lens.
Along with changing the ad labels, Google will also display site names in search results. Until now, you could only see URLs in the search results, making it confusing to identify some sites. Plus, it is making website favicons more prominent so users can easily recognize familiar site logos. The company said it will also extend these changes to ads to increase transparency for users.
Update October 14, 8 PM IST: After the story was published, a Google spokesperson sent a statement highlighting that changes to the design of the ad were after testing it with users for more than a year.
“Changes to the appearance of Search ads and ads labeling are the result of rigorous user testing across many different dimensions and methodologies, including user understanding and response, advertiser quality and effectiveness, and overall impact of the Search experience. We’ve been conducting these tests for more than a year to ensure that users can identify the source of their Search ads and where they are coming from, and that paid content is clearly labeled and distinguishable from search results as Google Search continues to evolve,” the statement said.
Google Search is popular for people all over the world to find information from various sources and formats (text, images and video). The technology giant has been bringing changes to both mobile as well as web search since the feature’s launch. Google is now introducing a few updates. These updates are essentially tweaks to the Search page on mobiles that will make it easy for users to differentiate between search results from trusted sources and advertisements.
“The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.
Today’s column is written by Lukasz Wlodarczyk, VP of programmatic ecosystem growth & innovation at RTB House.
Everyone in our industry has been on the edge of their seat since Google first began developing the Privacy Sandbox more than three years ago. But things have been moving slowly.
Testing for Google’s FLEDGE, a remarketing tool that serves ads to custom audiences without the need for cross-site tracking of individuals, has finally opened up to the industry earlier this year. Yet, the industry hasn’t jumped at the opportunity to participate.
As it stands, only three companies are actively testing FLEDGE: RTB House, Criteo and Google itself. And, though Google Chrome continues to publish articles on the applications of Privacy Sandbox APIs and host regular events, there is little desire from other parties to get involved.
This is concerning. The cookieless future is virtually here, and the time to experiment with alternatives is now.
Little support supplied
SSPs have been particularly unwilling to engage with the concepts proposed in the Privacy Sandbox. Some are concerned that FLEDGE would make it difficult for them to provide added value to publishers. Others say that FLEDGE is not an ideal solution because it focuses on retargeting, while most of the demand on the supply side actually comes from non-retargeting campaigns.
There’s also a lack of clarity regarding how Google Ad Manager will support multi-SSP auctions, and FLEDGE’s design doesn’t enable SSPs to build a cross-site interest group to represent multiple buyers bidding against each other for the same impression as an alternative for subjects API.
Publishers have been more willing to participate than SSPs, including leading players like CafeMedia and Ringier Axel Springer. However, most were initially unaware of the testing possibilities and had little clarity around how integrations between SSPs and publisher ad servers would work.
In fact, the scarcity of knowledge and involvement in the FLEDGE trials has not just been a problem on the supply side, but also across the entire advertising ecosystem.
Google needs to find ways to incentivize members of the ecosystem to get involved. It could do this by opening up the privacy-preserving way of provisioning additional data to the ecosystem or by restricting the capabilities of alternative, privacy-intrusive tracking mechanisms, such as fingerprinting.
While FLEDGE represents a major step toward a more privacy-preserving digital advertising, it’s clear that it is still far from production-ready. This origin trial is just a start.
More focus needs to be paid to the integrations between the buy and supply side. A lot of effort is required to evaluate, develop and validate the different types of FLEDGE implementation on the SSP side, while the tech stacks on both sides of the ecosystem need to be adjusted or replaced. The key elements of FLEDGE need to be enabled for testing. Plus, the FLEDGE-enabled Chrome user base needs to reach a sufficiently high level, so that the data can be properly analyzed and compared against cookie-based and alternative tools.
Many key elements have never been tested in the browser and adjustments will almost certainly be required. But, with support across the digital advertising industry, a workable solution is certainly achievable.
Follow RTB House (@RTBHouse) and AdExchanger (@AdExchanger) on Twitter.
Google is replacing the ‘ad’ label on its search results with a ‘sponsored’ tag. The tweak is slowly rolling out on mobile. The tech giant will start testing the change on desktop soon. The ‘sponsored’ label in bold will appear above the site URL in a separate line.
Google said in its statement, “This new label and its prominent position continues to meet our high standards for being distinguishable from search results and builds on our existing efforts to make information about paid content clear.”
The modification help users distinguish paid content from search results. Along with labels, Google will display site names in search results. These changes to the ad design were tested by Google for more than a year, according to a Google spokesperson.
"Changes to the appearance of Search ads and ads labelling are the result of rigorous user testing across many dimensions and methodologies, including user understanding and response, advertiser quality and effectiveness, and overall impact of the Search experience," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
A new setting in beta allows Google the ability to automatically create additional ad assets (header and description). The feature uses the creative content from the following sources:
How auto-created assets work. If you have access to this new feature, you’ll instruct Google to generate the assets from eligible sources based on relevance and predicted performance.
These assets can take the form of entire sentences, phrases, or paraphrasing while retaining the original meaning. The generated assets are added to the pool of eligible assets for your responsive search ad (RSA). When your ad is eligible to serve for a query, the system will look at the pool of eligible assets (both advertiser provided and automatically created) and select the assets that are predicted to perform best.
Performance reports. Advertisers can view the performance of their automatically-created assets by navigating to the reporting section of their ads account.
Asset Report. You can see which assets are being used in the RSAs by navigating to “Asset report” from the Ad level to “View asset details” and viewing all of the assets used.
Combination report. The real combinations and ads that are served can be viewed by going to “combination report” and viewing all the ads that are served.
Opt-out. You can choose to opt-out of automatically generated assets by going into your Google Ads account, navigating to Settings, then clicking Automatically created assets, then selecting Off: Use only assets I provide directly for my ads.
Dig deeper. Learn more about automatically generated assets by studying the Google help documentation.
Why we care. As with any new feature, test, test, test. If you have access to the beta and are interested in using automatically-generated assets, make sure that option is checked in your account. Monitor the ads and performance closely. If you have access to the beta and are not interested in using automatically generated assets, be sure to opt-out.
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Google is rolling out a new search ad label, replacing the black “Ad” label with a new bold black text “Sponsored” label. This is rolling out in conjunction with the new site names and larger favicons in the mobile search results, Google announced.
What is looks like. Here is a screenshot of the new bold black “Sponsored” text ad label for the Google Ads:
Why the change. Google said this is to help “make sense of the information you see is ensuring that ads are clearly labeled.” A more prominent ad label, should do that, the search company said.
The new ad label, labeled “Sponsored,” is now featured on its own line in the top-left corner of Google Search ads.
Some ad label history. We will be updating our visual history of Google ad labels at some point, but for a quick refresher, Google rolled out a new treatment for labeling text ads in mobile search results in May 2019. In January 2020, Google extended that ad labeling and favicon treatment to desktop and quickly faced broad backlash over the further blurring of ads and organic listings, which Google hadn’t seen with the change to mobile. The company almost immediately backtracked and began experimenting with several treatment variations on desktop.
In 2007, Google changed the long-standing shaded background indicating the ads section of the page from blue to yellow. In 2008, it then briefly tried a green background before reverting back to yellow. Google continued to test variations of background colors including bright blue and a light violet. In 2010, violet officially replaced the yellow, but only lasted about a year before yellow reappeared in 2011. In 2013, Google tweaked the yellow to a paler shade, which would close out the era of background shading.
At the end of 2013, Google removed the background shading and began testing a yellow ad label next to each text ad. The yellow “Ad” label rolled out globally in 2014 in a much smaller size than first appeared in the initial testing. In 2016, a new green label marked the first time the color of an ad demarcation matched the color of an element in both the ads and organic listings: the display URL. A year later, Google kept the green, but inverted the treatments so that the font was green with a thin green border on a white background. This past year’s update to the black label does away with the border altogether, further, the display URL is now black to match the “Ad” label.
Note, we also spotted Google testing the Sponsored label many months ago.
Why we care. Google said “this new label and its prominent position continues to meet our high standards for being distinguishable from search results and builds on our existing efforts to make information about paid content clear.”
A more distinguishable ad label may result in changes to your click through rates on your ads, so take notice and track to see if clicks go up or down over a period of time.
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