6 Google Ads Trends to Consider in Your 2023 Marketing Strategy

By Tinuiti Team

As we close the proverbial door on 2022, it is clear one thing that hasn’t changed—and will not change—is the persistence of change itself. Just two short years ago, many of us optimistically believed that “things would slowly return to normal” once vaccines were widely available. And, in some ways, they have.

But we’ve also been facing new changes—many of which are at least tangentially tied to the pandemic, but are monumental in their own right. In the ecommerce space, top concerns and challenges include: increasing data privacy restrictions; deprecation of third-party cookies; supply chain issues; rising fuel / goods transport costs; increasing demand for ad personalization; learning how to best leverage automation while retaining quality and strategy control.

It’s a lot to think about and account for. And as marketers, in building our strategies, it’s important to focus not just on the changes themselves, but also why they’re happening.

For example…

With 57% of people starting their online shopping journey on Google, we wanted to see what Google advertisers specifically were most focused on heading into 2023. Here’s what Tinuiti’s Google experts had to say…

1. More Focus on Growing First-Party Data

First-party data is the gold bullion of marketing, and you might already have more in the bank than you realize.

If you aren’t already working closely with your Lifecycle Marketing team, you should be. Email and mobile marketing campaigns are built on privacy-compliant zero-party (0P) and first-party (1P) data from subscribers who have opted-in to receive personalized communication tailored to their interests and shopping behavior. This information might include their browsing and purchase history, top categories of interest, if they’ve abandoned their cart, and more.

And that same information that powers lifecycle marketing campaigns can also be leveraged across other channels.

“As we move into a future where user privacy continues to remain a focus and the privacy sandbox continues to evolve, the need to grow your 1st party data becomes all that much more prevalent. Similar audiences are being phased out and privacy-centric alternatives have arised. These alternatives will continue to rely heavily on your 1st party data.”

— Brett Bodofsky, Sr. Specialist, Paid Search at Tinuiti

“Leveraging solutions that will marry online actions and offline conversions to reflect consumer journey is going to become a higher priority. While a privacy-centric solution has not been fully developed, we can count on first-party data to play a big role. This data will be crucial in measuring overall advertising impact while also providing optimization signals for campaigns. Advertisers should look towards creating better incentives for users to provide personal data prior to an offline or in-store sale to help generate more first-party data.”

— Natalie Russo, Sr. Strategist, Paid Search at Tinuiti

“Google has been pushing advertisers to connect offline data and implement “value-based bidding” strategies in 2022, and the select group of advertisers that have so far are seeing the benefits. All B2B and lead-gen advertisers should make CRM data importing their primary goal in 2023 (if it wasn’t already in 2022). Don’t expect it to be a quick or easy process, but with automation fully taking over all Google Ads campaigns, having offline data in the engines for reporting and bidding will be imperative to continue growing these businesses in 2023 and beyond.”

— Davis Clark, Sr. Strategist, Paid Search at Tinuiti

2. AI & Machine Learning Help Advertisers Reach Their Audiences

15% of Google searches performed each day have never been searched before, with advances in visual search tools like Google Lens providing an important lesson for marketers across all channels: People are having a hard time quickly finding what they want.

The re-emergence of broad match ties into answering for that struggle, as marketers aim to make their ads servable for folks whose sometimes-unique queries deserve a relevant answer. Pairing that up with Google automation—leveraging all the signals that Google has about people’s intent, device, time of day, and more—today we’re able to be much more successful using a broad keyword strategy than we might have been historically. The new broad match has evolved, and is currently the only match type that includes audience signals. When paired with smart bidding, our teams have seen it make smarter decisions, relative to broad match of years past.

“Advertising on Google has become less about, “How granular can I get in my targeting?,” and more about, “How do I best feed the algorithm the inputs it needs to be successful?” Effectively actioning on that question requires an increasing amount of both strategic & technical execution.”

Josh Brisco, GVP, Acquisition Media at Tinuiti

“We have continued to progress through the era of intent-based marketing, with further evolution of dynamically created assets. Looking ahead, I expect to see further adoption of Dynamic Search Ads as a go-to tactic–with the blending integration into Performance Max. Similarly, Responsive Search Ads will continue to evolve in two ways; First there will be more insights into combination reporting for advertisers to tap in to, and second, look for Responsive Search Ads to dynamically generate ad copy based on the landing page your ads/keywords are driving to, similar to Dynamic Search Ads.”

— Matt Devinney, Director, Paid Search at Tinuiti

“Advertisers should focus on long-term growth when it comes to customers and the signals they are feeding to Google and Microsoft. As automation and artificial intelligence continue to become more dominant, it’s important to leverage LTV signals and sophisticated predictive modeling to inform what long-term profitability looks like from a user standpoint.” 

— Scott Dickson, Sr. Strategist, Paid Search at Tinuiti

3. Automation Marches Forward

Google has greatly improved automation’s ability to drive better results for advertisers, while also saving time from an account management perspective. The tradeoff is a certain lack of control and insight, with the key takeaway being to automate as much as you can while retaining a good degree of control and strategy—strive for balance.

Setting and forgetting a campaign will not give it the tools it needs to do its job properly. Instead, regularly evaluate the performance of these campaigns, and leverage those insights to continually optimize them for maximum performance.

Today, it’s not a question of the available technology, but how to best leverage that technology to accomplish your goals. All the automation in the world is only as good as the information you feed it; if you only give it the best tools to work with, it can only provide you with the best output.

“The impact of increased automation comes as a blessing to marketers in that it frees up more time to leverage our experience and insights to think and execute strategically. This level of strategic focus is increasingly important in the age of signal loss.”

— Josh Brisco, GVP, Acquisition Media at Tinuiti

“We expect Google will lean more into automation in 2023 while introducing better ways to measure creative. Right now, the social publishers have more capabilities for marketers to edit creative assets and measure the impact of creative assets directly in the ad platform. Google is in a good position to catch up though as they build out more support for Performance Max campaigns. Successful clients will be able to iterate on their creative assets through A/B testing and/or lift measurement testing.” 

— Mike Wojciechowski, Sr. Director, Shoppable Media at Tinuiti

4. Google Performance Max is Just Getting Started

Performance Max campaigns impact all channels in differing ways to various degrees, with the impact to Smart Shopping being among the most direct hits. Both Smart Shopping and traditional Local campaigns (not including Local Search Ads and Local Inventory Ads) have now been transitioned to Performance Max. This makes leveraging PMax with feeds absolutely essential for advertisers looking to continue the success they saw with Smart Shopping.

‘Performance’ is a word we hear often in advertising, but with Performance Max, it’s not just a goal, but a compass. As their name implies, these campaigns are quite literally designed for maximum performance. A democratic campaign type, they are singularly focused on finding an audience that is ready to convert, no matter which channel that person is using in the Google ecosystem. This is achieved through AI-driven optimization.

Google’s continual advance toward increased automation is evident through many updates, with the launch of Performance Max campaigns being one of the most visible and impactful.

“2022 was the year of Performance Max. Many advertisers have gotten familiar with the campaign type by now, but it hasn’t yet garnered a significant share of the budget outside of ecommerce. Looking into 2023, I expect to see broader adoption of the campaign type from advertisers in all verticals as Google focuses on further development of targeting and reporting features. I also expect Google to develop some level of cross-network support for awareness and consideration goals, which currently are not compatible with Performance Max.” 

— Josh O’Donnell, Sr. Strategist, Paid Search at Tinuiti

5. YouTube Advertising More Essential than Ever

Today, YouTube is the second most popular website in the world—and the second-largest search engine—with taking the #1 spot for both.

According to recent data shared by eMarketer, YouTube ad revenues are expected to surpass $8 billion in 2023, accounting for more than 15% of Google’s gross ad revenues. And with the ongoing advances on YouTube itself—and a larger overall focus on both video and streaming advertising in general—we expect that number will continue to climb.

YouTube has officially cemented itself as a destination. In addition to videos about a countless number of topics, people also flock to the site for YouTube Shorts, YouTube Shopping live streams, YouTube TV, content from their favorite Influencers, and more. And with the success of YouTube TV in particular, we find an increasing number of users are watching not only on their mobile device, but also on bigger screens; 2022 marked the first time Mobile didn’t make up greater than 50% of time spent on the channel. For advertisers, that provides a canvas that is typically larger and louder.

Similar to Paid Search, YouTube is for everyone. From music videos and DIY renovation inspo, to teens sharing their clothing hauls, there are hundreds of millions of videos to satisfy viewers of all ages and interests. That makes YouTube an important advertising avenue for brands and services of all shapes and sizes, particularly as video’s dominance in all advertising continues to grow. YouTube currently offers more performance campaigns types than ever before, and is increasingly including Product/Shopping Ads to make it a true performance medium.

“With so many consumers leveraging YouTube for product reviews and recommendations, advertisers really need to prioritize their Influencer strategy to capitalize on those influential voices. Influencers have the power to create brand love, product interest and ultimately conversions.”

— Crystal Duncan, SVP, Influencer Marketing at Tinuiti

“The way people search for and find information across the web is changing as digital content preferences are shifting increasingly towards short-form video, especially with younger generations. As a result, I expect to see increases in visual components of the SERP, and with that, new ways that Google advertisers can use visual creatives such as images and videos to promote their businesses both on and off the SERP.” 

— Josh O’Donnell, Sr. Strategist, Paid Search at Tinuiti

6. It’s Time to Leverage Local Inventory Ads

The world is officially open for business again, and Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) play a huge role in helping you secure shoppers who want their items ASAP.

Google has advanced several features around local inventory ads this past year. They are primed to take advantage of their unique market position where many stores that are already uploading information to Google Maps and managing their information in Google My Business Center can connect that information to Google Ads campaigns.

Pickup today and pickup later features have been tweaked to allow more advertisers to show this callout in the auction. Google also made their merchant-hosted storefront program more robust and available to a wider audience. Instead of sending customers from a local inventory ad to a Google-hosted page that has a map, store location, and hours, the merchant-hosted storefront program sends potential customers directly to your landing page, as long as you meet the landing page requirements.

If you’re working with Tinuiti and aren’t yet investing in Local Inventory Ads, schedule some time on the calendar with your account manager. Tinuiti is one of a few official Local Inventory Ad Partners who can help with LIA enablement.

“As we ease out of the pandemic and see a softening in ecommerce growth, we are noticing a renewed interest in omnichannel marketing and investment in store-driving tactics on digital channels, like Google’s Local Inventory Ads. Brands that have a heavy store count can rely on their digital presence to offer customers the ability to research, and then buy in-store, after a few years of relying on ecommerce to drive overall growth.”

— Connor Sheridan, Sr. Manager, Shoppable Media at Tinuiti

Be sure to download our 2023 Google Marketing Guide for more tips, insights, and must-knows for the year ahead.

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