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Google Performance Summit 2016: Product Updates

Yesterday, Google hosted their fourth annual Performance Summit (GPS) in San Francisco, where they revealed the AdWords and Analytics product roadmap for the coming year. The presentation re-emphasised Google’s commitment to helping advertisers enhance their ‘mobile first’ strategies as well as harnessing the power of intent and context in order to win the moments that matter. 

We have prepared this blog as a summary of all key changes that are going to be rolled out gradually in the 2nd half of the year across the globe. The precise dates for when they are going to land in Ireland aren’t clear, but you should start seeing Google testing certain elements prior to these changes & updates becoming widely available.

The two features we at iProspect Ireland are most excited about are the introduction of Expanded Text Ads (ETA) that will give advertisers nearly 50% more space for their ad copy, as well as changes to Device Bid Adjustments that will allow for a more device-specific strategy, with -100% to +900% bid modifiers for mobile, desktop and tablet.

Below are the highlights of key innovations and updates, paired with iProspect’s initial reactions and views:


Google have released a brand new text ad format that provides nearly 50% more ad text space and a more prominent headline, which is probably the greatest change to the ad structure since the inception of AdWords.

The headline has been expanded from 25 characters to 30 and a second 30 character long headline has been introduced; while this may seem like a minor change, brands with long names that may have had to compromise between using their brand and product name in the headline will really appreciate this. Additionally, the two description lines of 35 characters each have been merged into a combined 80 character long line. Although it’s a very simple change, it will help advertisers spend more time on distilling their message, rather than searching for the right length words to fit them nicely into two restrictive lines.

The main benefits of ETAs, however, are their mobile-friendliness and effect on clickthrough rates, as can be expected from more prominence on the search engine results page: the initial tests run by iProspect USA have shown a 20% increase in clickthrough rates, you can download their full POV report here


Advertisers will be able to adjust bid multipliers from -100% to +900% for mobile, desktop as well as tablet, individually. Previously the bid adjustments could be done only for mobile, against desktop & tablet combined, within the range of -100% to +300%.

Advertisers will now be able to set the base-level bid using the device of their choice, and have 3 separate device strategies instead of 2. This contributes to ‘mobile first’ strategy, as it will be possible to run proper mobile-only campaigns for the first time since introduction of Enhanced Campaigns, without having to artificially downweight desktop & tablet bid.

As a result, we would expect to see some initial CPC fluctuation as advertisers take advantage of the new bid modifiers and adapt their strategy to fit different devices. We are very excited about this change as it will allow for greater control for all devices. However, it’s worth noting that neither Google nor iProspect recommend going back to separate device level campaigns as this might make your account unnecessarily complex; the new bid adjustment limits are in place precisely for better control over bid modifiers and a more refined and integrated paid search strategy.


Responsive Display Ads – Display ads will now adjust to fit any site or app on the Google Display Network no matter which device they are viewed on, while the old standard text ads will now include an option to add an image. This is going to give a native ad feel to Google Display Network’s ads.

Cross-Exchange Buying on GDN – while the network already claims to reach 90% of all internet users, Google is expanding the reach & inventory of the Google Display Network further, with the addition of 30 more networks.

Local Search Ads – Ads will now show in local search results on Google Search as well as in Google Maps to adapt to user intent (according to Google’s own data, 30% of all searches have local intent and this volume continues to double each year). Google will also be testing new branding elements, such as Promoted Pins. It is worth noting that our Organic Search Team have spotted maps on the search engine results page for non-local, high-volume keywords such as ‘Car Insurance’ and ‘Home Insurance’ recently, which is something Google must have been testing as well.

Online-to-offline Measurement – Google is improving the accuracy for footfall measurement by utilising Bluetooth Beacons. This is a big step for advertisers that want to connect their online and offline data strategy, as AdWords will be able to record data such as how long someone stays in a store, where they came from, and even their physical position within the store.

Similar Audiences in Search – this is audience lookalike targeting in Search via RLSAs and eventually Customer Match, similarly to what is done in Display and Facebook already.

Demographics in Search Ads – Coming out of a 2 year Beta, this change will allow for better reporting and targeting capabilities for age and gender. We would expect other audience signals to be rolled out later in time as well.

AdWords Next – Google have formally announced that the modernised, responsive and advertiser-centric upgrade of the AdWords interface will be a focus in the remainder of 2016.

Google Analytics 360 Suite – Google announced the arrival of their suite early in March, you can read more about what it means to advertisers in our blogpost right here. A quick demo was shown yesterday, although no further updates were issued.

Look out for more updates, case studies and insights in iProspect Blog as these changes are rolled out in the coming months.