Google Shopping, the Search Network, and AdWords as a whole have been the subject of plenty of change this year. We’ve seen the implementation of new ad formats, the influence of mobile optimization, and a countless list of others.
Trying to keep track of every new announcement and staying up-to-date on the latest trends can be a pretty daunting task. We put together a list of the 10 biggest CPC Strategy blog posts of the year to have the most popular AdWords announcements of 2016 consolidated in one place.
1. Google GTIN Requirements for Advertisers
A GTIN is a unique and internationally recognized identifier for a product that helps Google understand exactly what advertisers are selling. And while that might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, the subject was a popular matter of discussion this year.
In 2015, Google announced that they had begun requiring Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for products from a specific list of 50 brands. In May of this year, that requirement expanded beyond those 50 brands and started including all products with a GTIN assigned by the manufacturer.
So why is this important? Well, it’s now a requirement, so it’s important retailers understand GTINs in their entirety.
More importantly, Google has stated that GTINs will assist them in better understanding the types of products retailers are selling. In turn, they will be able to ensure the ads being served to users are as relevant as possible.
Hit the link below to find out more about GTINs for product feeds as well as a few tips advertisers can use to prepare.
2. Using Search Queries to Target Google Shopping with ISO Campaigns™
This next post was one segment of a 3-part series on Targeting Search Terms for Google Shopping.
ISO campaigns, often considered an advanced strategy for advertisers, saw major boosts in implementation this year. And rightfully so, as ISO campaigns can be a crucial component in driving conversions.
ISO campaigns are intricate and require an in-depth understanding of they work to really take advantage of their value. The post covers creating ISO Campaign™ & Broad Match Campaigns,assigning priority settings, building out keyword terms lists, and implementing negative keywords & search terms.
The entire post is incredibly detailed, breaking down each portion of your structure for ISO campaigns. But the main takeaway is that shifts in the market are inevitable due to seasonality or trends.
It’s critical that advertisers keep a close pulse on which search queries are performing well, and ISO Campaigns™ are one of the best ways to do just that.
3. Google’s Announcement of the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project
Coming in at #3 was the creation of Google’s AMP project. This was a bit of a no-brainer. Mobile optimization has been huge this year, and from the looks of it, that trend is staying the course for the foreseeable future.
AMP was a big deal for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s all about the user-experience. Slow load times are a major deterrent for online shoppers. If pages don’t load quickly for a user, they’re likely to move to another site. This, in turn, can have a negative influence on bounce rates and affect SEO rankings.
Accelerated Mobile Pages – lightweight mobile pages with near-instant load times – are built with AMP HTML open source code.
Initially launching with a lack of ad-support, Google followed up stating, “There is early code for an implementation of AMP-powered ads from Google’s AdSense ad network, and the plan is to also add support for Google’s DoubleClick ad exchange.”
AMP is going to continue to be adopted by site owners across the web, and considering Google’s search engine-dominance, it’s important for eCommerce retailers to consider the adoption of AMP as well.
4. Google Discontinues Right Side Desktop Ads
This happened pretty early on in 2016, so a lot of us have gotten used to it at this point, but it was a big change that created a lot of noise at the time.
In February, Google announced that they were going to be removing text ads displayed on the right sight of the SERP on desktop search results. Instead, text ads displayed above and below the organic search results would increase from the typical two or three, up to four.
However, this change only applied to text ads. Product Listing Ads (PLAs) – which are displayed above or to the right of search results – and ads shown in the knowledge panel would remain unaffected.
The discontinuation of the right side desktop ads meant a lot of things for advertisers. It suggested increased competition, a bigger emphasis on the use of ad extensions, and potential impacts on cost-per-clicks and impression shares.
At this point, most advertisers have adjusted to the changes in the SERP’s real estate, but the effects have been lasting.
5. Google Seller Rating Product Reviews
Seller Ratings and Product Reviews have proven in being major influencers in ad quality and performance. Product and seller reviews enhance Product Listing Ads because they provide social credibility to interested customers.
Because product and seller reviews are so valuable to shoppers, there are a variety of services available to help retailers build up this specific type of credibility on Google Shopping.
Seller ratings are an automated extension that let people know which advertisers are highly rated for quality service. Google gathers seller ratings from reputable sources that aggregate business reviews.
Product ratings show on Product Listing Ads with a 5-star rating system and a count of total reviews.
According to Google, these star ratings represent aggregated rating and review data for the product, compiled from multiple sources, including merchants, third party aggregates, editorial sites and users.
The post compared 12 of the most well-known Google Shopping product and seller review platforms on the basis of products, services, location and price.
6. Google Expanded Text Ads, Responsive Ads, and Device Bid Adjustments
A couple months ago, Google announced its latest implementation to Search advertising with the introduction of Expanded Text Ads. The new installment, which Google touted as being the biggest update to creative since the introduction of AdWords itself, prompted a bit of buzz among the ecommerce community.
Starting in January 2017, AdWords will no longer support the creation or editing of standard text ads, which will be completely replaced by the new Google expanded text ads format. Until then, both ad types will run alongside one another until the date draws nearer. At that point, any existing standard text ads will continue to run until dismissed.
The new Google expanded text ads are similar to standard text ads in a number of ways, but are highlighted by a few key differences:
- Two headline fields instead of one
- The two description lines merging into one field
- The domain of your display URL is now based on final URL domain
With a nearly 50% increase in text space, advertisers now have the ability to highlight products or services more extensively than ever before.
7. Google Assisted Impression Reporting Beta
Because there are so many different touch points available within an online purchase, such as email, social media, PPC, display, and video ads, it can be challenging to understand how each of these channels relate to and support each other
Through the integration of the Google Display Network (GDN) and Google Analytics, Assisted Impression Reporting (which has been available through a limited beta for over a year now) can break down the separation between clicks and impressions and give a more complete view of the customer journey.
This post does a great job of breaking down metrics in the Multi-Channel Funnels Overview Report, the impact of Display on conversions, and assigning partial credit to Display interaction.
8. Whitelisting Search Terms in Google Shopping
Coming in at #8, this post was the first segment of our 3-part series, Targeting Search Terms for Google Shopping.
Ads being displayed for unqualified searches is one of the biggest problems advertisers often face. However, there are several opportunities for retailers to “compete smarter” and lever advanced search term targeting techniques. One of the most popular techniques is whitelisting certain terms.
Shopping whitelists automate the process of picking out and approving the keywords (exact or phrase) that are relevant and profitable for products. This can help close the gap between a search query and a product pairing relationship so that your products only show up for the searches they are most likely to convert on.
The post breaks down how the Shopping whitelist works, which includes the likes of harvesting top performing search terms, adding negative keywords, sculpting PLA traffic, and the pros and cons of Shopping whitelists.
9. Google Shopping Product Feed Specifications
A product specification is a valuable source of information that Google needs to run Shopping ads for your products. Each year, Google makes updates to their feed specifications with the goal of creating better experiences for users searching for products online.
Google recently announced several updates to their 2016 Google Shopping Product Feed Specifications.
Some of the updates require changes to a retailers current product data that need to be implemented by Sept. 1st, 2016 and Feb. 14th, 2017.
The feed specification updates included the likes of unit pricing, color & size, GTIN & Google product category requirements, minimum image size, and maximum file size.
10. Targeting Search Terms for Google Shopping
This post is the introductory segment of our Targeting Search Terms for Google Shopping series and is pivotal in understanding the parts of the series that follow.
Unlike ads in the Search network, ads displayed in Google Shopping are based off of product feeds instead of search terms.
As a result, Google Shopping can lead to mismatched products being served in the Shopping ad box on the SERP, which can potentially hurt a retailer’s ROI. It can also serve a seemingly random array of ‘related’ products which might not be your best converters, which can be garful to impressions space and potentially hurt overall return.
Although there is no such thing as an “exact match” in Google Shopping campaigns, there is a way to simulate this strategy through whitelists, ISO Campaigns™ and Programmatic ISO Campaigns™.