What’s the impact so far? Are advertisers rethinking campaign structure and management?
Google’s latest (though probably not final) dismantling of exact match should be fully rolled out now — Google had said it would be completed by the end of October. The change was a regular topic of discussion throughout our SMX East conference in New York, last month. Now that everyone is starting to see the effects, we followed up with several speakers to hear what they’ve seen and if they are rethinking their new campaign builds or existing management workflows.
Bottom line: not everyone sees eye-to-eye on the fallout or next steps, but all agree it’s a sign of dramatic change and cause for giving campaign structure, set up and management fresh looks.
Here’s what we’re hearing about Google’s move to include words or terms deemed by machine learning-powered systems to have the same meaning, or intent as close variants of exact match keywords.
Impact so far?
The perspectives run the gamut.
From the optimistic end of the spectrum: “The change is doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Aaron Levy, director of paid search at digital performance agency Elite SEM. “We’re seeing a wider array of close variants for otherwise pure exact match terms, and 99 percent of them are, indeed, relevant.”
Further, the changes “reflect a bigger theme of where search is going,” said Levy, becoming more like programmatic where numerous signals are processed in real-time. “Performance-wise, yes the change is moving things around, yes it’s annoying, but yes, it is performing better.”
To the “meh” middle: Justin Fried, executive vice president and managing director at pharmaceutical and healthcare agencies CMI/Compas, says they aren’t seeing major performance fluctuations at a macro level, but are seeing changes at the keyword level. “Keywords with more history, higher volume of clicks and ultimately quality score, have begun to receive more impressions,” said Fried. For example, in one ad group, they are now seeing the exact match of “flu treatment” triggering ads more often than the exact match of “treatment for the flu.” Overall performance from cases like these hasn’t changed much, but CPCs have gone up in some, said Fried. – Read More
Businesses must have 100 reviews per country to be eligible for Seller Rating.
Google began notifying advertisers in September that it would start counting and displaying Seller Ratings at the country level as of October 1. After some delay, Chee Lo, head of SEO at reviews platform Trustpilot alerted us that the change went into effect early Friday.
Seller Ratings are the stars that appear in ads on the Google Search Network via an automated extension. Google sources the ratings and reviews from Google Customer Reviews, StellaService, Google Consumer Surveys, third-party review sites and other sources.
What’s changed? Google is taking a more local approach to Seller Ratings to show searchers ratings submitted only by users in their own country, rather than globally. It also means ratings are broken out by country and cannot be viewed globally. A new dropdown allows users to change the country setting, as seen in the screenshot above.
New requirements. Prior to this change, businesses had to have a total of 150 reviews worldwide and an average score of 3.5 for ratings to display. Now, businesses must have 100 reviews per country for their reviews to be eligible to display in those regions.
The implications. For U.S.-based businesses that sell primarily within the U.S., the change actually makes it easier to qualify for Seller Ratings. However, businesses that sell internationally may find themselves ineligible for Seller Ratings in some markets. This is likely to be a bigger challenge for smaller businesses or businesses that ship internationally, but don’t have a physical presence other regions.
How do I see my ratings? Lo noted that Google is still updating its documentation on Seller Ratings, but that the new URL to see your ratings (replace “example” with your own domain name) is: https://www.google.com/shopping/ratings/account/metrics?q=EXAMPLE.com&v=2&c=US
The Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool helps you see which ads are appearing for your keyword.
You can enter a search term and get a preview of how the Google search result page looks to users. It’s better to use this tool than to do an actual search on Google.com, because it won’t affect your ad metrics. If your ads aren’t showing, the tool also diagnoses the reason.
Now, two new features allow you to get a clearer view of who is seeing your ads, and to take immediate action to get your ads to show.
See which ads are showing for a particular audience
Until now, you could use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool to preview ads by search term and filter by location, language, and device. However, you couldn’t filter by audience.
Now, the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool supports Search audiences. You can click on the Audience widget to select your desired audience list. If you are using the “Targeting” setting (previously called “Target and bid”) in your campaigns, you will be able to see which ads are showing for your specified audience. If you are using the “Observation” setting (previously called “Bid only”), you can see how your ad may appear higher or lower on the page, based on your bids for your specified audience.
Take immediate action to get your ads to show
If your ads aren’t showing, the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool also indicates the reason. Previously, after you diagnosed the issue, you would then have to navigate through your account to make the necessary changes to get your ads to show.
Now, you will be able to fix issues directly within the tool itself, starting with adjustments to campaign budgets. If the reason that your ad is not showing is budget-related, you can simply click “Edit budget” and make the budget change directly from the tool.
These two updates to the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool should provide you with more insight on who’s seeing your ads and save you time with related workflows. – Read more
Advertisers who measure store visits can now better understand how many store visits come from new or repeat customers.
Use these insights to tailor your messaging (e.g. promote offers specific to new customers) or adjust your marketing strategy to help reach your most valuable customer segment. For example, if your business goal is to maximize sales from existing customers, identify which campaigns and ad groups reach the most returning customers and focus your budgets, bid increases and keyword expansions there. – Read more
Businesses aren’t happy with competitors using their trademarks in Google search ads, even though these cases aren’t deemed by Google as an infringement of the rules, with some exceptions.
We reached out to Google to understand their stance on such occurrences and what businesses on the receiving end can do to protect themselves.
From the outset, advertising on Google’s search platform is a pretty straightforward process. You set an amount as a bid for a keyword, and whenever someone searches said keyword or a combination of keywords, your listing appears somewhere near the top of the pile—dependent on how relevant and how good your formatting is, and then you get charged whenever someone clicks through on it.
As of 2017, Google owns at least a whopping 86% share of the world’s search market. For businesses, to ignore putting their brand on Google ads is huge missed opportunity.
But as expected with such a far-reaching platform, there have been incidents where businesses have seen fit to leverage upon competitors with better brand visibility and use their identifiable names/trademarks in their ad listings on Google.
Obviously and unsurprisingly, there have already been lawsuits filed over such incidences, and judging by how often they occur, it’s apparent that such cases are a common enough occurrence to warrant a look for a solution.
So wanting to understand how business owners can help themselves in such situations, we reached out to Google for a quick clarification on their policies on third-party trademarks in search advertising, and here’s what they had to tell us.
1. You can’t stop competitors from using your trademarks in anything except the ad texts.
To start, Google pointed us in the direction of their Trademarks information page and we quickly learned that it was pretty much fair game when it came to advertising with competitor-owned trademarks on the world’s largest search engine.
In short, Google detailed that it was fine for businesses to use third-party trademarks in things like their URLs and as keywords, so long as they didn’t appear in the texts and copies themselves.
This means that using a competitor’s name in the URL is okay, and so is bidding on their name as a keyword—there’s only a problem if it appears on any other part of the ad, such as the description or the title.
Relating to the example above, this means that 99.co has grounds to call out SRX.com.sg on a trademark infringement as they’re using ’99co’ in the title of the ad, which isn’t permitted (this is providing that 99.co themselves have already trademarked the word ’99co’ prior to this incident).
On this, the team at Google explained their reasons, saying that it was all in the effort of creating a more competitive market for the benefit of the consumer.
“In terms of keywords, for many years we’ve operated a policy that doesn’t restrict advertisers from bidding against trademark keywords,” a representative from Google said. “Our trademark policy is designed to provide greater choice to users via Google ads.”
“This is similar to the way a shopper benefits when they see a variety of brands’ products on a store shelf.”
2. The best way to protect yourself is to be the better ad.
Google also went on to explain that despite there being ways for a competitor to leverage on trademarks and bidding for their keywords or putting them in the URLs, a business could still come out on top by making sure their own ad result is more relevant than others.
Because of how Google ranks ads, bidding higher for a competitor’s trademarked keyword or using a competitor’s name in the URL, for example, doesn’t guarantee that an ad result appears higher.
Instead, Google takes into account a number of other factors—clickthrough rate, ad quality, and consumer impact—to see whether an ad appears higher on a search than another one will.
This video below explains how Google ranks ads, and shows that paying more doesn’t always mean you appear higher on the list.
So what does this mean for the trademark owner? Google thinks that you should advertise better—make your ads more relevant, provide better formatting, and make sure your landing page outdoes your competitor.
3. But you can still make a complaint.
But despite their all-is-fair attitude to search marketing, Google says that they still take things seriously when it comes to outright trademark infringements.
And if so happens you find a competitor utilising your trademark in a way that directly affects your business by misleading users or putting your business in a bad light, for example, Google wants you to know that it’s still interested in protecting you against such incidences (and also protect themselves from bad press).
Obviously, Google encourages all disputes of this nature to be settled amicably among businesses and their competitors, but should it come time for a formal complaint, here’s what Google recommends you do:
Read up on their advertising terms and conditions and their trademark policy to understand how you are being affected.
File a complaint to Google using this form.
After filing a complaint, you can also authorise specific keywords and trademarked words to be used on affiliate or partner accounts to make it easier in the future.
It’s important to understand where your ads appear on the search results page.
For example, knowing if your ad shows more (or less) often at the very top of the results can help you diagnose significant changes in clickthrough rate. And knowing what percentage of eligible top impressions you are already capturing helps you determine if you should do more to increase your bids and quality.
Contrary to common perception, average position is not meant to describe where the ad appears on the page. Average position reflects the order that your ad appears versus the other ads in the ad auction. As a result, an ad position of “1” means that your ad shows ahead of all other ads, but it doesn’t mean the ad was at the very top of the page. Sometimes no ads are displayed above the organic search results so the ad with a position of “1” appears at the bottom of the page.
Therefore, we’re rolling out four new metrics over the next several weeks that – unlike average position – provide clear insights on where your ads are appearing on the search results page:
Impr. (Absolute Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
Impr. (Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
Search (Absolute Top) IS – the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
Search (Top) IS – the impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
The first two metrics, “Impression (Absolute Top) %” and “Impression (Top) %” are specific indicators of page location. Use these metrics to determine when and where your impressions are showing above the organic search results.
The other two metrics, “Search absolute top impression share” and “Search (Top) IS” convey your share of eligible top impressions. They are the best indicators of the available opportunity to show your ads in more prominent positions. If your goal is to bid on page location, you should use these metrics. We are working on incorporating these metrics into automated bidding options in Google Ads.
To summarize, if you are using average position to understand the location of your ads on the page, it’s better to use Impression (Absolute Top) % and Impression (Top) %. If you are using average position to bid to a page location, it’s better to use Search (Abs Top) IS and Search (Top) IS. – Read More
Despite what you’ve heard, brick-and-mortar isn’t dead. In fact, 61% of shoppers would rather shop with brands that also have a physical location than ones that are online only. Because sometimes, you just need something now — right now. Nearly 80% of shoppers will go to the store to buy when they have an item they need or want immediately.
People may still shop in stores most often, but they’re searching on their smartphones beforehand to make sure it’s worth the trip. As we were reminded during the 2017 holiday shopping season, a great deal of shopping research is coming from mobile: 78% of holiday shoppers who visited a store turned to online search before going into a store. What are they asking for help with before they go? Here’s what we found.
Help inspire my purchase
Shoppers turn to search before heading to the store when they don’t have a product or brand in mind. Mobile searches for “__ brands” are rising, as in “sock brands” (+150%), “men’s watch brands” (+70%), “best purse brands” (+140%), “makeup brands” (+150%). They’re also looking for helpful recommendations on what to buy — searches for reviews on mobile have increased by more than 35% over the past two years.
Help plan my in-store trip
Research tells us that half of people who used search before shopping looked for details about the store itself, such as locations or proximity. Get this: in the past two years, we’ve seen over 150% growth in mobile searches for “__ near me now” (“food near me now,” “gas station near me now,” and “delivery near me open now”). In addition to queries for local businesses near them, people are relying on their phones to check store hours, directions, wait times, contact information, and increasingly, product availability. In fact, 40% of shoppers wish retailers would do a better job of sharing inventory information.
Help narrow down my purchase options
Once they’ve homed in on a few options, people search on mobile to help make a final decision. They’re researching a purchase they plan to make in stores or to find the best option for their needs. We know shoppers are on the hunt for the best deals. How so? Because 43% of those who used their phone in stores over the holidays to shop said they did so to look for deals or savings, and 52% of shoppers think getting deals on their smartphone while in stores is a shopping trend that is both cool and something they’d use. Even more, 50% of shoppers say they use online video while actually shopping in stores.
Making mobile count
With so many people relying on their smartphones before shopping in store, the need for strategic and informed product content has never been more essential. Omnichannel retail leaders must prioritize the mobile experience — it could mean the difference between customers coming into your store primed and ready to buy, or leaving frustrated and empty-handed. – Read more
Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC. British Petroleum turned into BP. And Apple Computer is now simply called Apple.
But rebranding is about more than just changing a name. It’s about redefining a brand’s mission and its message for a new generation of customers.
We did that last July when we relaunched three iconic B2B marketing brands. After 18 years, Google AdWords became Google Ads. DoubleClick merged with Google Analytics 360 to become Google Marketing Platform. And DoubleClick for Publishers folded into Google Ad Manager, some 22 years after its debut.
One reason we made these changes was to help brands, agencies, publishers, and advertisers better meet people’s needs by delivering meaningful and relevant messages. We also realized we needed to be more responsive to our customers.
Here are three rebranding lessons we learned along the way.
Lesson No. 1: Let your customers show you the way
Internet advertising has changed so much over the last two decades. As the ad market evolved, so did our tools for building campaigns, buying media, and measuring ROI. And as video and mobile began to dominate, our ad tools kept pace.
But while our tools evolved, the AdWords brand remained primarily associated with buying search ads. It didn’t resonate with people who wanted to buy app installs or video ads.
Plus, our customers wanted a single platform to create, plan, buy, and measure their campaigns. In fact, many of them were a step ahead of us. They were already using DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 Suite products in tandem to create campaigns and measure their impact. Our customers weren’t merely telling us they needed a change, they were showing us how to do it.
To learn more, we partnered with Bain & Company to interview more than 900 marketers from around the globe. Their message was clear: 80% of U.S. marketers said they wanted to use integrated marketing and advertising technology from a single vendor.1
Lesson No. 2: Cross-functional teams — and expertise — are key
We knew we needed to simplify our offerings and integrate them into a unified platform with a common look and feel. By no means was this going to be a simple task. The two-year effort involved hundreds of people across the organization.
We started by assigning a small group of marketing professionals — called the “core team” — to lead the project. For an engineering-centric company like Google, it was an unusual move. We did it because the job of marketers is to listen to and amplify the voice of the customer. And we had already concluded that, from start to finish, this rebrand would be customer driven.
Beyond that core team, we involved more than 20 cross-functional teams and hundreds of employees from every part of Google — from engineering, product, design, sales, payments, and more.
We relied on the expertise of each group. For example, we asked our internal Brand Studio to design logos. Our training and education team was instrumental in updating thousands of salespeople across the globe. And our engineers made more than 1 million changes to the code base.
Along the way, the team updated the URLs of more than 50 web properties, rebranded multiple social channels, edited hundreds of YouTube videos, and updated more than 500 Think with Google posts and 5,000 help-center articles.
It was up to the core team to keep the project on track by consistently returning to key customer insights as our guiding principles.
Having this many teams involved generated new ideas and diverse opinions. Change was constant. It was up to the core team to keep the project on track by consistently returning to key customer insights as our guiding principles.
Lesson No. 3: Think globally and locally
Another key learning was the importance of adopting a global point of view. We needed to address the concerns of all our customers, not just those in English-speaking countries. We thought deeply about how to introduce the new brands in markets that don’t use Latin characters. As a result, we localized the brand names into Arabic, Japanese, and Russian equivalents to ensure that they were meaningful and locally relevant.
Having regional-specific activations was also key. That meant understanding how each market would respond to the rebranding, and adjusting our approach accordingly. For example, teams in Latin America and Asia Pacific organized their own roadshows, met with top partners in each region, created their own press materials, and presented local examples and case studies. – Read More
Email forwarding sends text messages to your email, so you don’t need to provide a phone number to use message extensions. Responding to the email will automatically send a text reply back to your customer.
Automatic reply sends a preset message back to customers as soon as they message you. For example, you can automatically reply with ‘Thanks for your message. We’ll get back to you within the hour’.
To help measure the success of your click-to-message ads, we’re expanding message reporting to include message conversions. You’ll be able to define the number of user-initiated exchanges needed to count as a conversion. For example, if it typically takes two or more exchanges before a customer orders holiday dinner from your restaurant, you can set that as your conversion threshold. – Read more
The new feature means no more forgetting to enable call reporting for every call extension and call-only ad.
Starting from September, Google Ads advertisers can enable call reporting for all call-only campaigns and call extensions in their accounts in one spot. The new account-level setting will roll out over the next few weeks.
Why use this setting? Until now, advertisers who wanted to enable call reporting have had to make sure to enable it every time they added a new extension or call-only ad. Because there’s no great way to audit this without looking at each individual extension and ad, it’s not uncommon for advertisers to realize they’ve got reporting holes. For advertisers who don’t require distinct call reporting at the extension or ad level, the new account-level call reporting setting will simplify setup and ensure activations don’t fall through the cracks.
When not to use this setting. If you are using different call reporting settings throughout your account, with different conversion actions, and want to keep it that way, then this isn’t for you. It will apply the same call reporting setting across your entire account.
How to set account-level call reporting. To enable call reporting at the account level, navigate to all campaigns and click on “Settings” in the left-hand menu. Then click on the “Account Settings” tab, and you’ll see the call reporting option.
You’ll see an alert warning you that, after opting in, you won’t be able to set or change call reporting at the extension or ad levels: “By selecting account-level call reporting to simplify how you manage your reporting settings, you will not be able to set or adjust call reporting for individual call extensions or call-only ads moving forward.”
Call reporting 101. Call reporting works with Google forwarding numbers to track when call extensions and call-only ads on the Google Search Network generate phone calls. A Google forwarding number gets assigned automatically when call reporting is enabled.
The reporting captures call details such as duration, start and end time, caller area code, and whether a call was connected. Calls can also be recorded as conversions. – read more