Google has announced that the “average position” metric will no longer be supported starting in September.
Having been a Googler myself for almost a decade, I can only imagine the trepidation the Google Ads marketing team must have felt before making this announcement.
With the near continuous change that is part of Google Ads, any update could set off a firestorm in the advertising community.
The retirement of one of the oldest metrics certainly seems like it could have been received poorly.
But as it turns out, most advertisers are OK with the announced change, especially in light of some of the new position metrics Google has introduced to replace average position.
Here’s how the new “top” and “absolute top” metrics can do a better job than average position ever could when guiding advertisers to optimizing their PPC accounts.
The Metrics Replacing Average Position
First, here are the new metrics Google introduced in the past year that they feel can help advertisers better understand how their ads are doing, and that are hence seen as the replacement for the average position metric that is being retired. – Read more
Google appears to be looking to switch up the way it labels text ads again.
It’s been a little over two years since Google last played with the “Ad” label it shows next to text ads on Google.com. Since February 2017, Google has used green text and a green border to delineate text ads from organic listings in the search results. Now, it looks to be testing a simpler, more subtle ad label treatment.
The latest label test. On Wednesday, UK-based marketing consultant Darren Taylor, who runs The Big Marketer, spotted “Ad” labels with bolded black text and no border. The label appears at the top of the ad with the display URL appears next to it.
Others in the EU region have also spotted it.
We reached out for comment. “We’re always testing new ways to improve our experience for our users and advertisers, but don’t have anything specific to announce right now,” a Google spokesperson said.
Why you should care. Presumably, greater differentiation between ads and organic will have a negative impact on click-through rates on ads. Google doesn’t share this data, of course, but it has a long history of modifying the way it signifies ads from organic content. – Read more
Get some insights into how changes in spend could impact campaign performance.
Google is rolling out a new Budget Planner tool for Google Ads campaigns.
Kim Clinkunbroomer, who heads Clink Digital Marketing, alerted us to the new feature, available under the Tools menu in Google Ads. It appears to still be rolling out, so you may not see it in your accounts quite yet.
I’ve tried it out, and it’s pretty straightforward. A quick tutorial is also available to guide you through when you first get started.
The basics of how it works.
You can create a budget plan based on either clicks or conversions as a key metric. There is also the option to choose a target: clicks, spend or average CPC if you select clicks as the primary metric, or conversions, spend or average CPA when conversions is your key metric.
If you choose a target, you can manually enter a target amount, or (pretty handy) you can choose from “previous period” or the “same time last year.”
After you set the variables, Google will generate a draft budget plan. The forecast chart will show a gray point showing how your campaigns are expected perform with the existing settings if you make no changes. A blue line indicates how changes in spend will impact your key metric (clicks or conversions). – Read more
Google encourages businesses not to think of mobile speed as a one-and-done fix. It should be an ongoing priority.
Mary Ellen Coe, president of Google Customer Solutions, penned an article outlining the reasons why mobile speed should be taken more seriously.
“While there are as many growth strategies as there are types of businesses, there’s one area where nearly every business has room to improve: the mobile web.”
Having a mobile presence is no longer enough. In order for businesses to grow, they need to continue delivering speedy mobile experiences.
Fifty-four percent of people say that as the load time for a brand’s mobile site increases, so does their frustration.
To that end, a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversion rates by up to twenty percent.
Conversely, a fast mobile experience can help attract and retain customers.
Milliseconds can earn millions, Coe says. No matter how fast a site is today, the will eventually degrade over time if it’s not an ongoing priority. – Read more
Available on Pixel phones, it will be rolling out to other Android and iOS users in the near future.
Google announced that Pixel phone users can now use Duplex via the Google Assistant to book restaurant reservations over the phone. Google said it was available in 43 states in the U.S.
Duplex is an AI-powered phone based-system for booking appointments with local businesses that don’t have online scheduling. It was first demonstrated at Google’s developer conference in May 2018. The demo, though controlled, was impressive and very “natural language” sounding.
Request a reservation, get a notification. Here’s Google’s description of the process (also shown in the video below):
Just ask the Assistant on your phone, “Book a table for four people at [restaurant name] tomorrow night.” The Assistant will then call the restaurant to see if it can accommodate your request. Once your reservation is successfully made, you’ll receive a notification on your phone, an email update and a calendar invite so you don’t forget.
Google says it will be rolling out Duplex restaurant booking via the Assistant on other Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks.
Hello, I’m a bot. Duplex is intended to mimic the cadence and sound of natural human speech. In the video the hypothetical exchange clearly discloses that Google Assistant (a machine) is on the other end and that the call will be recorded. The disclosure is mandated by a new California law. And many states require disclosures when calls are being recorded. – Read more
Google is introducing a new way for retailers to promote products in image search with shoppable ads.
This new ad format lets retailers highlight multiple products within a single ad unit, which will appear among Google Images results.
These ad units behave like shoppable pins on Pinterest where multiple items within a photo are tagged for sale.
Google’s shoppable ads will appear in image search results with a “Sponsored” label as well as a price tag icon.
Hovering over the price tag icon will reveal the prices of the items, along with the brand name and other information.
See an example in the GIF below:
Users can click on their product of choice to visit the product page and make a purchase.
Shoppable ads on Google Images are currently being tested on a small percentage of traffic with select retailers. – Read more
What you and I are likely to see in Google differs a lot even if we search for the same thing.
The results we get depend on our:
- Search habits.
- The devices we use.
- And, most importantly, our current location.
This makes perfect sense to users who often search Google for places and services nearby.
At the same time, this leaves marketers blind to what customers really see in Google in all the different locations their business targets.
So, today we’ll dig deeper into localized search results and look into every possible way to search Google from another location – both manually and using tools.
Do All SERP Elements Depend on Location?
The short answer is “yes.”
Even though we often think of local search as something related to “local 3-pack” blocks, the rest of the SERP is also tailored for the searcher’s specific geo-location (especially for queries with an obvious local intent).
In different locations, you may see changes in organic listings (the 10 blue links include different local businesses and directories), knowledge panels, universal search blocks, and paid ads. – Read more
The information in Shopping Ads is now available to all retailers (free of cost) and can be submitted directly to Google in real-time, not just by adding schema markup to your site.
Google Merchant Center is a tool and central dashboard where online retailers can upload store and product data and manage the appearance of their e-commerce products. Perhaps its biggest benefit is that the feed is uploaded directly to Google in real-time, ensuring that all information displayed is accurate at the time of a given search.
This data was used to primarily to power Google Shopping Ads, which meant that the benefits of the merchant center were not readily available to non-AdWords users. Retailers generally relied on schema markup to display information in rich results and rich product image results. Information displayed usually included ratings, price, availability, etc.
But in its latest news, Google announced that it would be opening up its merchant center capabilities to all online retailers, regardless of whether they run AdWords campaigns. This comes after its recent updates to the product report in Search Console and improvements to product visibility through Google Manufacturer Center.
So why is the merchant center update important? – Read more
Fred Vallaeys explains why advertisers need to rethink bidding strategies and position metrics now that Google has announced it will sunset one of its oldest metrics later this year.
Average Position was one of the original metrics in Google Ads when they launched their search advertising product called AdWords. But as search advertising has evolved, what used to be a primary metric for making optimization decisions has lost its usefulness and so Google has announced that it will disappear later this year.
This means advertisers will need to rethink some dated bidding strategies, update reports they share with stakeholders and figure out how the new position metrics can replace what is being deprecated. But first, let me share my take on why this change is being made.
Why ‘average position’ is a poor metric to understand position
Historically the average position metric was useful because ads reliably showed up in consistent locations on the page. Knowing the average position of an ad meant you knew where your ad showed on a web page. Its physical “position” on the page correlated to the “average position” in reports.
For example, in the earliest days of AdWords, premium ads that were sold to big companies on a CPM basis were shown above the search results. Ads on the right side were reserved for smaller advertisers who paid on a CPC basis through what was then known as AdWords Select. So if you were an AdWords Select advertiser and your ad was reported as having an average position of 1, you understood it was the first ad on the right side of the SERP.
But then Google realized that the ads they were putting in premium locations on the page from advertisers paying on a CPM basis were making less money than the CPC ads on the right side. So they merged the two advertising programs and made all advertisers compete for all slots on the page based on Ad Rank, a metric comprised of the CPC bid and the CTR. Position still equated to a physical location on the page, except for the fact that Google made one more change in its effort to ensure only the most relevant ads would occupy the top of the page. – Read more
Average position has become less valuable in recent years. Prepare to adjust your reporting, management with newer metrics.
The signs have been popping up, but now it’s official. Google will retire average position reporting from Google Ads later this year.
What were the signs?
We can point to two key ones. The first and most significant: In November, Google introduced four new ad position metrics to indicate the percentage of impressions and impression share your ads received in the absolute top (the first ad at the very top of the page) and top of page (above the organic results) ad slots.
With that announcement, Google explained that average position, which has been around long before ads were removed from the right rail of desktop search results, had never been intended to show where your ads were showing on the page. Instead, it “reflects the order that your ad appears versus the other ads in the ad auction.”
With Tuesday’s announcement, Pallavi Naresh, Google Ads product manager, said, “These new metrics give you a much clearer view of your prominence on the page than average position does.”
The second (granted, more tangential) sign was the addition of click share reporting to Search campaigns earlier this month. Google first introduced click share in Shopping campaigns — where there is no position reporting — to give advertisers some of the insights they were used to getting from average position in Search campaigns. – Read more