PPC

21 March 2024

GA4 “Key Event” Update Initially Perplexes Advertisers

Google announced a push for “greater consistency” with Google Ads, with an impending GA4 update that replaces ‘conversions’ with ‘key events’.

Most advertisers and GA4 users are used to using the same terminology as Google Ads (“conversion”), making the insistence from Kamal Janardhan, Google’s Senior Director of Product Management, that this is an “improved, more unified experience” a bit confusing.

How this will impact advertisers predominantly using GA4 goal tracking remains to be seen, but in the meantime, this could be a key step in differentiating Analytics and Ad platforms more definitively for the industry: Google Ads is a platform for performance and optimisation (conversion), whereas Analytics is arguably for reporting and measuring user behaviour (key events).

A minor difference, but an important one to keep in mind.

Read more on Google's blog announcement
12 March 2024

Microsoft Ads Introduces Insights Navigator – March 2024

Microsoft announced the launch of Insights Navigator, a new tool designed to streamline access to data and performance insights.

This AI-powered tool provides users with quick access to category and query insights, offering valuable information on user search patterns across the Microsoft ad network as well as behavioural trends.

Additionally, automatic data reports can be delivered directly to your inbox within minutes, allowing you to stay updated on relevant trends that may impact your account’s performance (positively or negatively).

With Insights Navigator, you can make swift, data-driven strategy adjustments that align with current consumer behaviour and trends, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of your campaigns.

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5 March 2024

Microsoft Ads Launches Performance Max Globally – March 2024

Microsoft has been gradually launching their answer to Google’s “Performance Max” (named, funnily enough “Microsoft Ads Performance Max”), and now Microsoft have announced that this premier campaign type is now available to users globally as of today.

Similarly to Google’s own offering, Microsoft Ads Performance Max aims to target users across Bing’s own “messy middle”, and give advertisers a simple workflow for getting e-commerce campaigns off the ground.

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This has been a long time coming from Microsoft, following Google’s path after a couple of years, but brings a whole new way to approach microsoft ads and reaching new traffic.

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3 March 2024

Consent Mode v2 & Enhanced Conversions Presents both a Risk & Opportunity

This month, advertisers across the UK & Europe will begin navigating the minefield that the mandatory Consent Mode v2 update presents.

In a bid to strengthen compliance with data privacy laws, Consent Mode v2 requires advertisers to be more strict on their cookie policies, giving users a heightened ability to disregard cookies.

This poses a massive risk to all advertisers regardless of their preferred ad network, but Google Ads especially relies on cookie data in order to bid and optimise profitably.

The good news is that this will motivate users to migrate fully to gtag tracking – a long-standing best practice for goal tracking, and a method that Google continuously recommends for accuracy and optimisation. The other opportunity for advertisers is utilising Enhanced Conversions – an advanced user-tracking datalayer that improves Google Ads attribution and reveals “true” insight into how important assisted conversions are.

This update will undoubtedly cause a headache for advertisers as they implement and troubleshoot Consent Mode v2, but a strong focus on gtag and Enhanced Conversions will help mitigate the impacts on tracked revenue.

Read more on Google's Support hub
22 February 2024

Gemini AI Model Integration into Performance Max – February 2024

In November, Google introduced generated AI asset functionality into Performance Max, and it looks like even more complex asset generation tools are rolling out soon – globally!

Gemini (previously known as “Bard”), will be integrated into text assets, to give advertisers more capability to properly build out their headlines and descriptions.

Google are also upgrading its image asset generation models to Imagen2, allowing advertisers to scale their creatives even further. Image editing via Imagen2 is currently only being rolled out within the US, but is expected to roll out globally within the next few months.

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18 January 2024

Consent Mode V2 – The New Requirements for Personalised Ads Across Europe – January 2024

Google will be enforcing new requirements for Google Ads throughout Europe in March, and advertisers will be required to adopt consent mode V2 to continue to show personalised or remarketing ads.

This fast rollout and deadline is due to the large legislative push regarding user consent & privacy across search engine networks.

Advertisers will need to urgently prioritise their consent & google tag manager scope, otherwise risk losing critical advertising capabilities including accurate tracking, reporting – and vitally – leveraging the strength of automated bidding, which relies on plentiful and accurate user data.

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14 December 2023

Google Readies Itself To Phase Out Third-Party Cookies Across Chrome – December 2023

Google has begun its plans to restrict third-party cookies by default, rolling out on January 1st to 1% of Chrome users globally.

This is the start to retire third-party cookies entirely in the latter half of 2024 as part of their Privacy Sandbox initiative to safeguard online privacy and limit cross-site data tracking.

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Advertisers will need to ensure they have up-to-date solutions in order to continue to accurately track and not miss out on any points throughout the customer journey.

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12 December 2023

YouTube Shorts Are Now Available in Video Reach Campaigns – December 2023

As consumers engage more with YouTube Shorts on their mobiles and begin watching more online content via their TV’s – YouTube has become a prime landscape for brands to connect with their target audience.

Video Reach campaigns now offers reaching users by scaling video creative to in-feed and YouTube shorts in Google Ads.

This new development will allow advertisers to uplift their brand awareness across high-engagement networks.

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6 December 2023

Google Introduces Gemini: Its Largest & Most Capable AI Model Yet – December 2023

Abandoning the “Bard” moniker, Google announced its ‘largest and most capable’ AI model – known as “Gemini”.

On the face of it, Gemini’s main purpose is to significantly enhance the way developers and enterprise customers build and scale with AI. But reading behind the lines, this is the next step in the “AI arms race”, as Google looks to retain its status as the defacto “everything” engine – a status it has enjoyed since beating out other search engines such as Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves and Dogpile (anyone else feel old?)

This model will be used within Google Products globally, including Google Ads, Search, Shopping & More throughout the coming months. While it is currently only being tested in the US, we expect this to be a fully functional part of the Google Search experience by the end of 2024. Advertisers will soon be able to use Gemini to create AI generated ad copy and sitelinks to improve the quality of their ads.

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1 December 2023

Google Merchant Center Next To Support Supplemental Feeds & Rules – December 2023

Advertisers using Google Merchant Center Next (GMCN) can look to breathe a sigh of relief as Google announces GMCN will be supporting supplemental feeds & rules early next year.

The simplified version of Google Merchant Center (GMC) unveiled in May lacked many tools its predecessor had available, leading advertisers to revert back to ‘classic mode’ in order to restore functionality that is integral to optimising Google ad shopping performance.

Important to note: Once reverted back to classic, access to GMCN is unavailable until the classic GMC is retired next year.

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26 October 2023

Search Themes on Performance Max – October 2023

Performance Max has seen another new update – this time its on audience targeting. ‘Search Themes’ is the new way to target users based on keyword “themes”, which appears to be a consolidated method of targeting both “user searched for” and “purchase intention” terms used in Pmax Audience Signals.

Google have stated that Audience Signals will eventually be phased out, with “Search Themes” being the sole method of targeting users via search terms. This is in line with Google Ads’ gradual shift towards broader and more automated-targeting, challenging marketers to consider that being TOO exact is detrimental to success (as we’ve seen with increased Broad Match performance).

How Google plans on integrating this new targeting method with other Audience Signal factors, like customer data or in-market audience targeting, remains to be seen…

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10 October 2023

Demand Generation Campaigns Rolled Out – October 2023

Following the removal of “Similar Audiences” in 2023, Google has launched its new flagship campaign type – Demand Generation (Demand Gen).

Vitally, this new product re-introduced “Similar Audiences” as “Lookalikes”, utilising the campaign’s Awareness & Consideration focus to find new customers based on customer/client data (such as email addresses and phone numbers).

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While having more of an upper-funnel focus than Performance Max (targeting users across Display, Android Feed, Gmail and YouTube placements), Google has stated that Demand Gen will be a performance driver, and using Data Driven attribution, give revenue & conversion credit as appropriate.

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21 September 2023

Microsoft Ads & AI-Generative Content – September 2023

Just one day after Google’s own announcement, Microsoft Ads now also aims to “transform search and advertising” with new AI tools.

Having previously beaten Google to the “AI battlefront”, Microsoft is continuing to find ways to advance AI-integration with PPC. One such feature known as “Compare and Decide” ads, which allow product shoppers to compare different product offerings from advertisers, leveraging product feed data attributes to inform this decision making.

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Feed quality & optimisation has always been key to ecommerce success in PPC, but with this useful feature directly showing product attributes vs others, its clear that the more detailed attributes will win out.

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20 September 2023

Google Rolls Out Automatically Created Assets Across Ads – September 2023

As Google begins to automate more of their advertising processes, “Automatically Created Assets” (or “ACA” for short) have now been rolled out for general availability and in 7 new languages.

These are campaign-level settings that generate custom headlines and descriptions based on your ad’s context and landing pages to further enhance the ad relevance of your search ads.

Advertisers will need to look out for ‘enable automatically created assets’ within their recommendations or opt in via their campaign settings to trial ACA’s for themselves.

While this may not be suitable for all industries and audiences, especially those with strict compliance policies, It may be an interesting way to bring new content to your ads, and improve your ad strength.

This is the latest step in giving advertisers more tools to get more varied ad copy added to their campaigns – a practice that many do not typically adopt.

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13 September 2023

Enhanced Conversions: The First Steps into the First-Party Data Focus for Google – September 2023

In the ever-ongoing digital privacy discussion, Google has prepared for new legislation & greater accuracy in targeting, by announcing Enhanced Conversions, a key method of moving toward “first party” data in audience targeting.

This will be a high priority for PPC advertisers in particular, as the rollout potentially raises the bar for competitive bidding in the marketplace – advertisers with Enhanced Conversions will be able to bid more effectively than those without.

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15 August 2023

Discovery Campaigns Upgraded To The New AI-Powered Demand Gen Campaigns – August 2023

When Google Discovery launched, it was a sign that Google were moving more and more into “Messy Middle” multichannel campaigns. Discovery replaced the individual Gmail campaign and consolidated it into a cross-network group, similar to Performance Max and Smart Shopping. Google has continued it’s move into integrated AI-powered campaigns with the reveal of Demand Gen.

Today Discovery ended it’s short lifespan, and just as Smart Shopping became Performance Max, Discovery is evolving into Demand Gen.

Upgraded from Discovery campaigns, Demand Gen is a creative-based campaign consolidating Discovery’s networks, as well as Display & YouTube (including Shorts) to create and drive demand within the middle funnel.

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(image source: Google)

This campaign type will also be the only way to use ‘lookalike segments’ which were removed from account audience segments previously. Similar to Smart Shopping, all discovery campaigns automatically upgraded between January to March 2024 – so advertisers may want to trial this out prior to the mandatory switch.

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1 July 2023

Google Analytics 4 Officially Replaces Universal Analytics

The forced migration away from the long-serving Universal Analytics (UA) to Google’s newest analytical platform Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a historic transitional moment in digital marketing. Advertisers now have no choice if they were previously using UA but to use GA4 if they to track the performance of their websites as UA officially stops processing website visitors as of today. It is now imperative for any advertisers to migrate from UA to GA4 in order to stop any potential data loss.

Find Out More at Wordstream
20 June 2023

Store Sales Reporting & Bidding in Performance Max

Did you know that Omnichannel shoppers make 2.9X more purchases and spend 2.3X more than single-channel shoppers? As such, it has become increasingly more important to effectively measure impact across online and in-store purchases.

Google has stepped in to answer this call with store sale reporting and bidding now available within Performance Max campaigns.

This new level of reporting will allow advertisers to see the impact and value of their ads by using your sales data in a privacy-safe way. By unlocking this reporting tool, you will be able to: – use smart bidding to optimise towards shop sale conversions. – have a holistic measurement for ROAS across both online and offline sales – align your reporting across shop and online sales so advertisers can learn about ad-to-shop conversion rate by campaign. If you have a brick-and-mortar store and are looking to see more easily the impact of your paid search campaigns, then uploading your store sales data is the right way to go

14 June 2023

Automatically Created Assets Are Coming To Performance Max

Google has started testing its automatically created assets feature on Performance Max campaigns

Performance Max is continuing to be Google’s favourite test-bed, with Google now testing “automatically created assets”. By using advanced AI generative process, this feature takes advertiser’s already-uploaded text & image assets to create something new.

If you’re familiar with Google’s Responsive Display Ads, or Discovery Ads, you’ll understand how this works: Google will “mix and match” text and visual assets together, in order to create visual ads (similar to Display ads) to increase visibility of your ads across networks outside of Search & Shopping. As usual with Performance Max, advertisers can choose to let “the machine” handle decision making here, although how closely these “auto-assets” will adhere to brand guidelines remains to be seen…

6 April 2023

First-Click, Time Decay and Position-based Attribution Models Are Being Removed

First-Click, Time Decay and Position-Based attribution models will no longer be available within Google Ads, in favour of the Data-Driven attribution model by September 2023.

As per their strong focus on Performance Max, Google has increasingly catered to the variety and number of touch-points prior to a conversion (shorthandly referred to as “The Messy Middle”). Data-driven attribution has been found to improve performance when used in combination with Smart Bidding, however for years, Data-Driven was only available to accounts that had thousands of conversions a month, making it inaccessible for many.

Now that Data-Driven attribution’s requirements are lower, more advertisers can leverage Smart Bidding and enter “The Messy Middle” for themselves.

These days only 3% of web conversion actions use First-Click, Time Decay or Position-Based attribution, and with Data-Driven now being the gold standard, it is no surprise Google has decided to move away from these outdated models completely.

Advertisers not using Data-Driven or Last Click will be automatically switched by the end of September 2023.