Google Performance Summit 2016: Winning in the Mobile-First World

Today, Google kicked off their fourth annual Performance Summit (GPS), an exclusive event at which they reveal the AdWords and Analytics product roadmap for the coming year. This year, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President, Ads and Commerce, kicked off the summit with a discussion about how Google is driving business growth in a mobile-first world and how they are uniquely positioned to harness the power of intent and context to help advertisers achieve their business objectives. The presentation reviewed four key aspects of intent – Mobile, Local, Audience, and Tools.  Below are the highlights of these new innovations and iProspect’s initial reaction to what’s on the docket for 2016.

Intent + Mobile

Expanded Text Ads (ETA) – After years of testing expanded headlines, Google has released an ad that provides nearly 50% more ad text space, including a more prominent headline. This change is such a big deal, we have written a whole separate POV on it – check out our formal POV and initial results on ETA here.

Device Bid Adjustments – Advertisers will now be able to adjust bid multipliers from -100% to +900% for mobile, desktop, AND tablet. (Previously the range was -100% to +300% for mobile devices only, no tablet-only option.) This change also allows advertisers to set the base-level bid using the device of their choice, rather than having to set mobile as a modifier of desktop/tablet. While Google emphasizes that no structural campaign changes are necessary to take advantage of with this update, the change does mean that advertisers will be able to have device-only campaigns for the first time since Enhanced Campaigns.  iProspect will be testing both approaches to determine if there is additional benefit to the increased complexity of splitting campaigns by device.  This is another huge update for Google and one we are very excited about. Be sure to check back for further blog posts on this one.

Responsive Display Ads – Display ads will now adjust to fit any site or app on the GDN. All that’s needed is a headline, description, image, and URL. This is Google’s way of having native-like ads on the Google Display Network, and it will make advertising within the Google Display Network even easier for our advertisers. 

Intent + Local

Local Search Ads – Ads will now show in local results on Google Search and in Google Maps. Google will also be testing new, branded experiences on Google Maps this year, including Promoted Pins. 30% of all searches have local intent and this volume continues to double each year (Google internal data). It does not surprise us that Google would want to expand paid coverage to Google Maps and at the same time be able to provide more relevant brand experiences to the searcher based on their local intent. We see this as just one of many local map improvements Google will be making this year and next.

Online-to-offline Measurement – Google is improving the accuracy for store location data by utilizing Bluetooth beacons. Additional analytics will then be available directly within AdWords including how long someone stays in a store, where they came from, and their physical position within the store. Beacon technology has been around for years, but this latest application is Google’s way of striking a balance between the value of personalization and the need for sensitivity around personal identifying information. This is another important way for advertisers with a brick-and-mortar presence to connect their online and offline data in order to provide super relevant experiences for the consumer. 

Intent + Audience

Cross-Exchange Buying on GDN – Google is expanding the reach of the Google Display Network. Today, they are announcing new additional networks in an expansion that will extend reach for remarketing campaigns by giving advertisers access to the ad exchange inventory available beyond Google.

Similar Audiences in Search – This targeting ability is Google’s third huge step toward bringing audience targeting to Search. Complementing the release of RLSA a few years back, and Customer Match last year, Similar Audiences in Search brings the Display concept of lookalike targeting to the Search world. This development has been in Beta over the last few months and, now that’s released, will be a key targeting approach to master this year as we head into Q4.

Demographics in Search Ads – After a two-year Beta, this bid-targeting capability will be officially released to all advertisers this year. For now, current demographic targeting will focus on just Age and Gender; but we predict that additional audience signals will follow later this year and next. When this capability first came out, match rates were low, however more recent data shows match rates of greater than 60%. This continues to be a powerful audience segmentation opportunity that helps advertisers optimize both budget management and targeting.

Intent + Tools

AdWords Redesign – Following initial reports on the AdWords blog, buzz has been building about a possible AdWords redesign. Google has now formally announced that this will be a focus in 2016. The interface will be modern, responsive, and advertiser-centric. We are super excited about this development. The updates cannot come soon enough!

Google Analytics 360 Suite Google announced this new suite early in March. More details around this solution for enterprise clients, including a quick demo, were reviewed today. No new updates or news with this one yet, but it’s still exciting to see further iterations and improvements within the Google Stack.

Look for these features and more to be available in AdWords in the coming months, and look for more information from iProspect as we continue to test these ad types, audience targeting, reports, and data integrations.