Google Ads’ latest updates and what they mean for your ad campaigns


Pete Whitmarsh

Head of Paid Media


Industry News

Google Ads is one of the best ad platforms available in the industry, not in the least thanks to its regular updates and advanced machine learning technology which makes it easier for brands to manage their campaigns and improve performance.

As a Google Premier Partner, we are informed of new products and features ahead of the official announcements, and often get to trial beta versions of tools before they are readily available. This gives us additional time to digest the updates and understand how new features will benefit ad campaigns.

In this blog, I run through the latest Google Ads updates and the impact we can expect to see as a result.

Enhancements to Smart Shopping Campaigns

Smart Shopping Campaigns have been around for a while now and are a handy tool for ecommerce businesses. Google will be enhancing and updating many of the features in smart shopping including:

  • A new layout for the showcase shopping format
  • Videos in Smart Shopping Campaigns
  • New customer acquisition goal for Smart Shopping Campaigns.

New layout for Showcase Shopping

The Showcase Shopping format will now feature different retailers on different tabs, meaning consumers need to click onto a tab to see new retailers.

This means being the first retailer listed will be more important than ever for visibility and clicks and it is possible that we will see auctions become more competitive as a result.

Videos in Smart Shopping Campaigns

Smart Shopping Campaigns have been eligible to show on the display network and YouTube for a while, and this update means video can now be used as a new format for these campaigns.

This is an exciting new feature as it allows brands to add more variety to their Smart Shopping Campaigns to improve performance. Smart Shopping Campaigns use machine learning to understand what assets, placements and audiences work best – with video now available as an asset, Google has more options to work with, which means greater scope for testing and more possibilities for success.

New customer acquisition goal for Smart Shopping Campaigns

This update means you are now able to assign additional value to the benefit of getting a sale from a new customer compared to getting a sale from an existing customer.

The new customer acquisition goal means brands can now optimise their Smart Bidding campaigns towards gaining new customers. Being able to tailor campaigns towards this goal can help businesses attract new customers much easier, a key component of business growth.

Having new customer acquisition as a pre-defined goal also makes it easier to apply insights and data on customer lifetime value to your ad campaigns.

Image Extensions

Google is launching its brand-new product, Image Extensions, which is currently in beta. Using Image Extensions means ads in the first position on mobiles are eligible to show an image alongside the text ad on Google Search. Available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Image Extensions improves ad quality and adds to your text ad, increasing click-through rate.

With Image Extensions only available for ads in the first position, it is possible that the performance of ads in the top spot will be further exaggerated in comparison to adding in other positions. Google anticipates the click-through rate for ads with images to improve by up to 10%, so we expect auctions to become even more competitive as brands fight for first place.

Responsive search ads

Responsive search ads are getting several new features and enhancements including:

  • Location insertion
  • Countdown timers in responsive search ads
  • Asset suggestions
  • Channel level asset report.

Location insertion

Brands are now able to dynamically insert the location where someone searches from, into a responsive search ad – an ability which was previously only available to use in regular text ads. Being able to add a location into search ads can improve the click-through rate for users who are looking for a business or product with a local presence.

Countdown timers in responsive search ads

This feature means brands can now include a countdown timer in responsive search ads to highlight deadlines such as the end of the sale. Messages of urgency can increase conversions and being able to include these in ads should improve click-through rate.

Asset suggestions

Google can now provide recommendations for different messaging to use in, or add to, your text ads. Coming up with multiple variations the headlines and descriptions can be difficult, particularly for large ecommerce sites who sell multiple versions of the same or similar products. This new feature should simplify this process and give Google more variation to work with to ensure ads perform as well as possible.

Channel level asset report

This new feature means brands can now report more granularly on the different headlines and descriptions, providing insights into how well they perform. Google currently ranks performance as ‘best’, ‘good’ or ‘low’; while it would useful to have more in-depth stats, this can help brands identify which assets work, which assets should be replaced and what messaging works that can be used on other marketing channels.

Responsive display ads

There have also been updates to responsive display ads, including:

  • New layouts
  • Auto-generated videos for responsive display
  • Improved look and feel for dynamic ads.

New layouts

Responsive display ads use Google’s machine learning to transform your assets into display ads and test different combinations and layouts to maximise your performance. Introducing more layouts gives Google more options to test, which is likely to lead to better results.

Auto-generated videos for responsive display

This feature will take provided assets and generate videos for you to use in your campaigns, making it possible for campaigns to include videos without the need for videos to be made inhouse. While the videos are generated automatically, they will need checking over manually to ensure that the output is brand safe and on-brand.

Improved look and feel for dynamic ads

This update sees an improvement in the design of dynamic remarketing banners. An improved design should generate results, meaning improved performance.

These are exciting and valuable updates, many which we expect will improve campaign performance and reporting when used appropriately. You can see more about the latest updates on Google’s official announcement here.

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