If you’re a digital marketing agency who manages Google AdWords accounts for your clients, then you have probably heard of the recent announcement that the platform is undergoing some changes. Google AdWords will now be “Google Ads,” and outside of the obvious logo change, there are some alterations that you and your clients should be cognizant of going forward.
Although AdWords has encompassed many marketing tools as a part of its platform (GDN, Shopping, YouTube, etc.) the brand has always been synonymous with paid search. This rebrand aims to deliver a more holistic platform that encompasses all of Google’s ad channels under one convenient umbrella.
In this article, I will walk through what I consider to be the biggest changes that could impact your agency’s business operations, allowing you to provide more value for clients as well as creating unique selling points for future prospects.
Something to Keep in Mind
If you’ve been working with Google AdWords for a while, there is one thing that becomes abundantly clear: Their flashy new product features don’t always live up to the hype, and what looks at first like a “missed opportunity” is sometimes a suggestion would actually be detrimental to the account.
To be clear, I am not trying to diminish Google’s innovations in any way. My intention is to advise those whose livelihoods rely upon the success or failures of their clients to take a careful and thoughtful approach when testing or adopting new technologies. Put your feet in the water before you dive in. You may find the temperature to be much different (for better or worse) than you expected.
#1. Responsive Search Ads
Having the ability to write creative expanded text ads has been advantageous for agencies taking on new clients with pre-existing dull or poorly performing ones. The luxury of some added headline room made a world of a difference when making suggestions on how to improve performance.
Flash forward to 2018, and Google has now announced that they will be releasing Responsive Search Ads. These responsive ads will allow you to write up to 15 different headlines and up to four descriptions. Once created, Google will run different combinations through its machine learning process and decide which combinations of copy perform best depending on keyword, device, and past browsing behavior. This differs dramatically from the trial and error of creating multiple stagnant versions of the ad and waiting for the data to play out.
Additionally, responsive search ads will be able to show up to three 30-character headlines and up to two 90-character description fields.
On paper, the prospect has agencies salivating at the opportunity to put their expanded text ads on the shelf in favor of these larger, “smarter” ads. Once again, however, there are some reasons to proceed with caution. As anyone managing accounts has learned, even the smallest of changes can have a dramatic impact on performance.
That said, I think this is an update to be very excited about. I have my reservations about the efficiency of “machine learning” – a term that tech companies often use to make us believe their algorithms rival those from Westworld. The most important takeaway from responsive text ads for agencies is the added value of being able to test something entirely new for your client or prospect. These new ad types have the potential to completely revolutionize account performance by allowing for nearly endless testing and optimization.
#2. Lead Ads on YouTube
YouTube’s audience reach is massive. Combine this with the ability to allow the user to never actually leave the site, and you’ve got an ad type with a lot of potential.
Facebook’s lead ads have proven to be a valuable strategic tool if executed correctly. The sheer number of advertisers using lead ads across Facebook most likely prompted Google’s copycat idea to materialize, and to be honest I’m really happy it did.
The only immediate drawback that I can think of is exactly how Google plans on integrating this feature for businesses using services like Hubspot, Marketo, and Salesforce to process leads and pass them on to sales. If you have to download the leads directly from the Google Ads interface, then it may cause some issues for you and your clients. I don’t anticipate this to be a problem in the long run, but early iterations of the feature may be somewhat limited.
If you are currently running display ads for clients, I would suggest taking a quick look at the placements where those ads are showing. It may seem like a no brainer but if YouTube is a primary driver of clicks then it’s something to keep in mind, especially if CPA’s are too high. If the option is made available (as I assume it will) I would suggest testing out some remarketing audiences of non-converters first.
If your client or prospect is currently using Lead Ads on Facebook with a fair amount of success, this may also be a great opportunity for you to pitch the concept of possibly replicating that success for them across a new platform. If future clients are looking to scale further and you’ve reached a ceiling on Facebook, then having some experience using lead ads for Google can give you a leg up strategically.
#3. Smart Campaigns and Agencies for Small Businesses
Smart Campaigns are being billed as a new simplified way for small businesses to advertise on Google. I mention this not as something for you to capitalize on for smaller prospects, but as a lever to use to your advantage when attempting to bring them on as clients.
If you come across a prospect who is using this service in the future, there are a couple strategies you can use to demonstrate your agency’s capabilities.
Scalability: If you find that your future prospect is using Smart Campaigns successfully it may be an indicator that scaling operations could benefit them dramatically. Alternatively, if they are running them with limited success, it’s an opportunity to persuade them into the benefits of having a more detailed and complex account structure.
Expertise: I envision the average user of Smart Campaigns to be similar to those who have said to me “yeah, we’ve tried those Facebook ads, but they didn’t do anything for us”. Once I’ve asked a few follow-up questions it’s abundantly clear those folks just boosted a post or two and had never actually seen Ads Manager. This will allow you to truly explain the benefits of fully leveraging the platform in ways they have not.
#4. Smart Shopping for Ecommerce
If you’re like the vast majority of digital marketing agencies out there, then there’s a high probability you manage ecommerce clients. Over the past couple months, Google has announced that its machine learning tech will now roll over into its shopping platform.
Smart Shopping gives advertisers the option to select store visits and new customers as goals. After that, machine learning auto-magically takes care of the rest – bid adjustments, ad placement optimization, and which products are featured based on a variety of factors are now rolled into the mix.
I have poked fun at the machine learning quite a bit in this post, but I truly believe this is a revolutionary product update for ecommerce clients. Someone smart somewhere once said “competition breeds innovation,” and this could not be any more evident than with Google’s attempts to top Facebook’s advertising offerings. What’s most interesting to me is the supporting data on how effective Smart Shopping has performed with its beta subjects, indicating a 20% increase in conversion value at a similar cost.
In addition to Smart Shopping, the “automated feeds” feature with be launched as well. This will allow advertisers to create product feeds seamlessly by pulling your products from your website directly into the UI. If you’re currently running catalog ads campaigns for clients in Facebook with relative success, I strongly suggest trying out these features in Google. A valuable integration with Shopify significantly reduces my apprehension about adopting this new feature, something I mentioned was lacking with YouTube lead ads.
So, what are the implications of all this for an agency with ecommerce clients?
Added Value to Existing Clients: If you’re running successful shopping ads for clients, this will give you the opportunity to capitalize on that. As I mentioned above, there are fewer apparent drawbacks to adopting this early on. If your client’s shopping ads are underperforming, this could also be your saving grace to get things back on track.
Selling Point for Prospects: If the prospect has had a rough go of it with their previous agency or account manager, these product updates will give you the opportunity to introduce some fresh ideas.
Testing is the Key to Success: Just because a new feature doesn’t work out initially doesn’t necessarily mean it never will. I recall Gmail ad growing pains that lasted for quite some time. As Google has refined the ad type, adding new features to it, I’ve found I’m not as apprehensive as I once was about suggesting or implementing it for my clients. This goes for most new product launches where there is a period of testing and experimenting that will lead you to some conclusions early on. I suggest keeping up with features that failed for you to see how they evolve over time. Somewhere down the road they may become something you can try again and find success with the next time around.
Every Platform is Different: I’ve made several comparisons to Facebook ad products in this post. Although Google is creating features that are similar to Facebook, you have to keep in mind that they are completely different entities. What works for a client in Facebook isn’t necessarily going to work in Google and vice versa. This shouldn’t deter you from testing new features in either platform, but try to keep your expectations separate and proceed cautiously.
Every Client is Different: You may find that some of these new features are fantastic for your clients, while others fall flat. Every client is different and every placement is different. YouTube lead ads may work while responsive search ads do not. Don’t attribute a failure universally to a specific ad type or placement and project that on new clients.
The Truth Lies in Experience: You never really know until you try it out.