Table of contents
Google Ads is constantly making changes to its algorithm. It’s safe to say that 2022 was a year of further modifications toward greater use of machine learning and automation. One of the biggest changes in the past year was the complete shutdown of expanded text ads (initiated in 2021) and the transition to flexible ads. Also not to be overlooked are performance max campaigns, which have completely replaced earlier product campaigns (smart shopping). On the analytics side, augmented conversions based on native Google Ads tracking are expected to allow for the collection of better-quality data. It’s time to take a closer look at the changes made and the prospects for the coming year!
The increased cost of leads
Inflation has also completely taken hold of advertising systems. According to a report Wordstream the cost of leads obtained from Google Ads has increased by an average of 91% over the year. One reason is simply that it’s more expensive to buy traffic. In other words, more competition for phrases not directly related to purchase intent. So it can be said that the long-tail strategy is no longer a stranger to the market and more and more companies are using it, creating more competition and increased auction rates. Analyzing the year-on-year conversion cost now, it will be very difficult to get positive results. Keeping this cost in check already seems to be an above-standard achievement. In 2023. cost per click can be expected to continue to rise, and optimizing quality scores, landing pages, mobility, and speed will be even more important.
New campaigns in some sectors
Google has introduced several unique ad formats for specific industries: primarily the travel and auto-moto sectors.
In March, at the NADA conference, Google announced vehicle listing ads (vehicle ads) to help car dealers highlight the new and used cars they have in their listings. Similar to Google’s local product range ad, the new car listing ad is highlighted at the top of the SERPs and includes the graphic, price, condition, and location of the car. Incidentally, it’s worth noting that Bing has introduced a similar automotive ad format for local dealers.
The new vehicle listing ads are managed almost identically to product ads and require regular upload and approval of an active assortment data file via Google Merchant Center. Currently, Google Vehicle Ads is available in the United States, but it can be assumed that it will also reach Poland in the coming quarters.
End of expanded text ads
Over the years, Google has introduced new search ad formats. In 2016, Google doubled the size of standard text ads with expanded text ads, and in 2018, expanded text ads became even larger again. But after several years of changes, Google completely abandoned expanded text ads in June, not allowing manual ad layout and content management.
Instead, Google’s new default ad type is flexible search advertising (RSA), which allows advertisers to create several different text assets that Google can virtually freely combine to build an ad. The signal is simple – we’ll optimize advertising for you better, and faster, so you can allocate bigger ad budgets and focus on strategic issues.
Maximizing your resources, you can get up to 40,000 different ad combinations. But on the other hand, flexible text ads can create poor combinations and don’t always work best. The change effectively limits brands’ control over the messages of their ads. The way back, however, will not be there.
Likely, Google Ads will further expand the number of resources in flexible ads so that it has more automation capabilities.
Enter Performance Max, format-all-formats
Performance Max is intended to be a kind of black box from which Google conjures up the best possible effect. Google Ads wants to give advertisers a fraction of the control, or rather the illusion, that they can have such control within PMax.
E-commerce advertisers have long mastered perfection in product ads. In 2018, Google released a type of smart product campaign to help advertise products on its search engine, ad network, and YouTube. A product data file in Google Merchant Center was enough, and Google’s reach effectively helped boost sales. Similarly, Google introduced local campaigns in 2019 to make it easier for small businesses to promote local offerings on Google in Google Search, Maps, Gmail, the ad network, and YouTube.
However, in early 2022, Google stopped allowing advertisers to create both of these campaign types and began automatically “upgrading” them to Google’s newest campaign type, Performance Max. Google Performance Max campaigns have several unique features and offer even greater reach in new ad destinations, including the Google Discovery channel. More reach, more destinations, and more automation seem like a leap into the future. Is this the case and will it be? That question will certainly be answered in 2023. What we know for sure is that we have no way out. We have ended up in a bag of automation with no way out. So it’s time to adapt to this environment and optimize your Performance Max campaigns, to the max.
Farewell to similar audiences
Nearly a decade ago, Google introduced the Similar Audiences feature to provide new opportunities to reach customers. Somewhat riding the wave of Facebook’s success in this area, Google sought to match its competitor. However, new privacy standards have hit both Google and Facebook’s audience solutions hard. That’s why, among other reasons, Google announced in November that it plans to move away from similar audiences altogether next year.
Advertisers still have about six months to use Google Similar Audiences in their campaigns. Starting in May 2023, the Similar Audiences feature will no longer be available to add to new campaigns or ad groups. Shortly thereafter, in August 2023, they will be removed from all campaign referrals
Google is now focusing on maximizing the use of so-called audience expansion. This is a Google Ads feature that allows you to increase the reach of your ad group, as long as, in the eyes of Google Ads, such an increase is effective. What does this mean? Well, it is not known. I suggest as much to use this feature judiciously, starting with the smallest “extensions”.
Is this a change that benefits the market? I must admit that I have had the opportunity to test similar audiences in campaigns many times, and I remember only isolated cases where it gave positive results. Most experiments with them were unsuccessful. In this battle of Facebook vs. Google, FB gets a bold two points from me, and Google is left with zero. Advertisers will not miss similar audiences, of that I am sure.
In 2021, Google announced that it would expand its advertiser verification program and offer greater ad transparency to users who see hundreds of ads daily. And here again, based on the Ads Library previously made available by Facebook, Google launched My Ad Center in October.
Among the features of My Ads Center is, first of all, transparent information about who the creator of the ad is, as well as why this ad appeared to me. Any user can also submit preferences to Google Ads on a topic of their choice and for a particular brand. More interestingly, you can also click the “See more ads displayed by this advertiser” option. Here you can see all the ads displayed by the advertiser in the last 30 days. You can even filter these results between text, image, and video ads.
This new tool aims to provide more transparency to Google users but also has great potential for more accurate competitive analysis. Until now, this has been difficult and requires access to external technologies or tools.
The new tool is a great way to do this.
New resources: company name and logo
In mid-October, Google announced the introduction of new resources for flexible text ads. Now as a beta, Google is allowing business names and logos to be added to text ads. To make the process faster, Google assures that it will automatically add these resources if it finds them on a web page. Of course, the advertiser will be able to edit them later in Google Ads.
To access this feature, you will need to verify your business in Google Ads early on. It is to be expected that Google Ads will continue to develop resources related to brands to enrich text ads with new elements.
The new feature is expected to be released shortly.
Youtube audio ads
Audio, a new subtype of video campaigns, is designed for advertisers who want to reach users while listening to music or podcasts. Wherever the visual sphere is not the most important, or often not used at all.
To complement this new audio ad format, Google has also introduced targeting to new content destinations on YouTube, such music lineups and podcast lineups, so advertisers can target their audio ads to the destinations most likely to reach listening audiences. Lineups are categorized groups of video or audio content where you don’t have to search through channels or use another form of targeting manually. A change definitely for the better and perfectly on trend for 2023!
Keyword match types
And for dessert, you can play with guessing trends. Over time, Google is aiming to convert advertisers from strict matches to broad matches. It is doing this in steps, of course, to continue to give a sense of control over campaign settings. However, it seems inevitable that there will eventually come a time when matching will cease to exist. Will it be as early as 2023? I doubt it will happen, but I assume at least one more change in this regard, e.g. getting rid of close or expression matches, and the whole operation will be called “simplification.”
What awaits us in 2023? in Google Ads?
Whether we like it or not, the next era of automation, personalization, and machine learning is coming. The impact on manual campaign management will be reduced, thus freeing up some time and resources. Time will come in handy and should be put to good use. For what? I would start with analytics: Google Analytics 4, augmented conversions, implementing conversion value tracking, and optimizing for ROAS. It’s also a good time to log out of Google Ads and audit your landing pages: for speed, mobility, and content transparency. When was the last time you set up a landing page experiment? Well, that’s right, it’s time to change that and put testing permanently on your calendar.
CEO and managing partner at Up&More. He is responsible for the development of the agency and coordinates the work of the SEM/SEO and paid social departments. He oversees the introduction of new products and advertising tools in the company and the automation of processes.