10 Google Trends That Impacted Advertisers in 2020

By Tinuiti Team

2020 is coming to an end, and this year has seen no shortage of updates for Google advertisers. Google continues to release new ad formats and features at an astounding rate either through Google Marketing Live or other announcements.

Although there are probably too many to mention, we spoke with our team experts to highlight the most exciting new features. In this post, we’ll run through some of the most important Google trends across advertising that rolled out in 2020 — so you can stay ahead of the curve in 2021.

Here are 10 Google advertising updates to apply in 2021:


1. New Opportunity To Reach Audiences via Google Discovery Ads


Google Discovery Ads appear on several Google properties (including the YouTube home feed, Gmail Promotions, the Google Discover feed) and can be used to reach potential new customers with relevant & rich content throughout a user’s purchasing journey. 

“Discovery Ads open up a great new inventory source and medium to reach targeted audiences with. The ad format itself is engaging and gives advertisers another tool to drive action across the funnel.”

Josh Brisco, VP of Growth Media, at Tinuiti


2. Buy on Google Shopping Listings Are Now Free


Google announced a major update to the Shopping Actions marketplace program they’re now calling Buy on Google. Google will waive the 5% to 15% commission fees for merchants selling products through Buy on Google marketplace listings. Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and other marketplaces typically charge merchants 10% to 15% for their commission fees. Google also announced integrations with PayPal and Shopify to improve merchant onboarding, a common pain point for new merchants. 


3. New Updates For The Merchant Center Product Feed


Google announced some exciting enhancements and requirements for Shopping product feeds submitted through the Google Merchant Center. The new updates come as a time when Google’s product feed is becoming increasingly important for retail brands; it’s the foundation for Shopping ads, the new unpaid Shopping listings, Google Shopping Actions marketplace units, and feed-based dynamic retargeting ads on the Google Display Network.


4. Google Launches Curbside Pickup for Local Inventory Ads


The new feature comes at a time when consumer demand for safe ways to shop locally continues to rise as online inventory is stretched to the limits.

“If curbside becomes a big differentiator for merchants, which at least in the immediate short-term we believe it will be, it means not only do merchants need to prioritize getting Local Inventory Ads live, they also need to do more than the basics and invest in capabilities at the store-level to compete.”

Evan Kirkpatrick, VP of Shopping & Feed Management at Tinuiti


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5. Unpaid Product Listings For Shopping


Googled opened up its Google Shopping property to include organic listings from merchants that opt-in (for free) by submitting an optimized product feed through the Google Merchant Center.

“We see this as a positive change for our clients and all advertisers that have invested in product data and feed management. While the volume from this program will be low, advertisers will be able to scale up the efficiency of their Shopping programs by supplementing paid Shopping ads with free product listings.”

Evan Kirkpatrick, VP of Shopping & Feed Management at Tinuiti


6. New Features Focused on Offline Sales


According to Google, searches for “available near me” have grown globally by more than 100% since 2019 and 66% of shoppers said they plan to shop more at local small businesses. It makes sense that Google is investing in local commerce including several new products and features that focus on Offline Sales including “pick up later” features in Inventory Ads and New Actions Bidding for Local Campaigns.

“This is a solid improvement in Google’s local campaign capabilities for advertisers which offers a new degree of flexibility and potential ROI for local businesses.”

Josh Brisco, VP, Growth Media at Tinuiti


7. Google Expands Lead Extensions and Improves Customer Match, Offline Conversion Tracking


The latest features will improve your ability to capture leads across different Google properties from lead form extensions to YouTube and Discovery Ads, to better Customer Match rates and Zapier integrations.

“Google is doubling down on helping businesses find new ways to easily generate leads right from ads versus having to go to the site, helping make lead acquisition a more seamless process. The ability to track offline conversions without a GCLID is also a nice improvement that should help businesses more easily close the loop on lead quality & offline sales while improving optimization capabilities within Google Ads itself.”

–  Josh Brisco, VP of Growth Media at Tinuiti


8. Reach more mobile Shoppers with Showcase Shopping ads


While many marketers tend to think of Shopping as a revenue driver for capturing and converting demand, you also can target upper-funnel search queries using Google Showcase Shopping Ads. New Shopping features and inventory, like Showcase Shopping ads, have added powerful capabilities that enable you to reach shoppers at all stages of the buyer’s journey.

“Showcase Shopping Ads should be used in any account where growth is a priority. There are an increasing number of queries for which only the Showcase format is served, and if the campaign is not running, a retailer will lose out on those potential impressions, and thus customers.”

–  Josh Brisco, VP of Growth Media at Tinuiti
If you’re already running Showcase ads (or have been running these ads for quite some time), 2021 is an ideal time to reevaluate your campaigns:

Don’t be rooted in optimizing Showcase campaigns with just bid changes. While showcase ads are a type of PLA, they require a lot more attention to achieve growth. Be sure to highlight promotions, change out ads based on seasonality, and finally, pay attention to search trends that you can expand on.”

James Wallace, Shopping and Feed Strategist at Tinuiti


9. More Search Advertisers Deploy Amazon Attribution


 In Q3 2020, there were more than six times as many search advertisers deploying Amazon Attribution as in Q1 2019, as Amazon sellers are including these measures in helping to account for the full value of marketing channels. For Google advertisers that sell on Amazon, Amazon Attribution is a tracking tool that gives brands insight into the impact that marketing through channels other than Amazon has on Amazon sales.


10. Significant updates to Search Terms Report


In September 2020, Google made a significant update to its search terms reports, stripping out queries that were deemed not to have been searched for by enough unique searchers in a move to protect privacy, according to Google. In turn, the share of spend attributable to search queries tumbled meaningfully across device types and ad formats, and advertisers now have less visibility into the terms users search for before clicking ads. 

“For the most part, this update isn’t a deal-breaker in terms of driving advertisers away from Google, but it is an annoyance. That said, advertisers still have visibility into most of the queries accounting for ad spend. Paid search marketers should continue using search query reports for optimizations today, as well as in recording any known query types which tend to cause issues to use for reference in the long run. If Google’s trend towards broader definitions of close variants is any indicator of how Google might end up widening the pool of queries that are excluded from search query reports over time, it may not be long before we see a further reduction in visibility.” 

Andy Taylor, Head of Research at Tinuiti

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