We've all been waiting with baited breath (well, perhaps some more than others) for Google's updates for 2018, released via Live Stream yesterday.
The short version: this year will see the launch of several new ad options, which make use of ever-evolving machine learning capabilities for optimisation.
The first of these is 'Responsive Search Ads', which will use Google's algorithms to show different versions of your ads to different audiences depending on their exact searches.
“Simply provide up to 15 headlines and 4 description lines, and Google will do the rest. By testing different combinations, Google learns which ad creative performs best for any search query. So people searching for the same thing might see different ads based on context.”
Google will basically automatically optimise your ad using the most relevant parts of the uploaded information, rather than you having to re-allocate ad spend yourself. Initial results from the testing phase indicate that advertisers who've made use of this option have had up to 15% more clicks on their ads.
But is this useful for everyone?
Firstly, it could also be a huge time saver, eradicating repetitive A/B testing and the creation of hundreds or even thousands of ad variants. On top of this, ads should become increasingly relevant and engaging. However, responsive search ads are still very new and probably need to be tested a lot more and by various different industries. That said, we are excited that machine learning and AI is becoming more integrated and think it could have a lot of potential for advertisers using AdWords.
The second new ad format Google are releasing is 'Local Campaigns', an ad format optimised to drive in-store visits. Because even those of us who grew up with smartphones still like a good browse in-store now and then!
In their own words:
“Whether they start their research on YouTube or Google, people still make the majority of their purchases in physical stores - in fact, mobile searches for “near me” have grown over 3X in the past two years, and almost 80% of shoppers will go in store when there’s an item they want immediately. For many of you, that means driving foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar locations is critical - especially during key moments in the year, like in-store events or promotions.”
What does this mean for advertisers and businesses?
This certainly has been a long time coming and is a very exciting prospect. We potentially report far lower than we could each month as we are missing offline conversions, particularly for certain industries, so the opportunity to report these conversions is huge.
The final major development for ad creation and optimisation will be new options when creating and serving YouTube ads: the chance to reach viewers when most likely to respond to your ads (based on algorithms identifying the viewer's consideration phase from previous search and view data), and an ad option called 'Maximise Lift', which will aid brands in reaching those most likely to consider a brand after seeing a video ad.
In their own words:
“The process automatically adjusts bids at auction time to maximize the impact your video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey.”
With YouTube Ad Conversions growing 150% last year, this is not something to ignore. YouTube is a great way to tell your brands story and this will make targeting a doddle (we hope!).
This new focus on YouTube is unsurprising, given its 1.8 billion monthly users and the rise in popularity that video content has seen recently. The video content giant may become a much bigger part of marketing soon, which in turn may affect the popularity of user extensions such as AdBlock - it all remains to be seen.