26 June 2024

Google Ads Rolls Out a Useful AI Update for Brand Keyword Matching

Keyword Match Types and the logic that goes into matching them to Search Terms has been evolving and changing for years. The saying goes “Exact Match is no longer Exact”, with Google continuously trending toward less precise targeting, instead leaning on machine learning to widen the scope of keyword targeting to include longtail and new search terms that can’t be predicted.

The latest announcement from Google includes 4 key changes that will have PPC advertisers changing the way they work with their brand and the unique search terms in that sphere.

  1. Mispelled search terms are becoming easier to manage! If you’ve ever struggled to add negatives of all the potential mispells of a brand term, this AI-driven update means advertisers need only add the core brand term. AI will ensure that mispells are included.
  2. Brand Exclusions across ALL keywords and DSA campaigns are rolling out, expanding the Performance Max feature to core campaign types.
  3. Additional suggestions for Brand keywords and search terms, which turns a Broad Match keyword into a wider brand “sphere” targeting-signal, allowing for “Brand Generic” keywords to filter through more often.
  4. Previously un-trackable “Other” search terms will now start showing, giving advertisers more direct control over targeting and exclusions – this last one allows PPCers to “rein in” the expanded targeting that the expansion caters to.

All of this trends towards more consolidation in Google Ads campaign structure, encouraging less fragmentation between Brand and Non-Brand campaigns, joining them up to act as a “Messy Middle Search Campaign”.


10 May 2024

Google Adds “Conversion Annotations” to Shopping Placements

In a world of GA4s, Consent Modes and Enhanced Conversions, we’re always grateful to see a simple, sensical update from Google, and happy days – a new one has just rolled out.

“Conversion Annotations” allow advertisers to give Social Proofing labels to products based on the specific product popularity.

For example, in PLAs you’ll start seeing things like

  • “best selling”
  • “1k shopped here recently”
  • “100+ shopped in the past month”

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The good news is this is a simple setup (IF you already have conversion tracking setup in your Google Merchant Center settings) – check out Google’s instructions in our link below.

This update is bound to increase CTR and Conversion Rate for advertisers. We’re keen on seeing what it’ll do for our own clients.

Read more on Google's Support hub
29 April 2024

Google Adds ANOTHER 5 New AI Features To Performance Max – April 2024

Following on from the Generative AI image generation and expansion on “auto assets”, Google has announced new AI features (some of which are only accessible via select beta-testing) to Performance Max campaigns. These updates are:

  1. Customer value mode: In beta, meant to help advertisers who use conversion goals to reach high-value customers – this is similar to leveraging conversion value on lead gen campaigns to use ROAS-based bidding
  2. Customer retention goal: This one is also in beta, designed to win back lost customers – how effective this will be remains to be seen, but it does sound quite exciting doesn’t it?
  3. Detailed demographics: Audience insights are now available for pmax for age and gender data – at last!
  4. Budget pacing insights: see real-time tracking, current and projected spend and forecast conversion performance – somewhat similar to Performance Planner, but with more active insight
  5. Account-level IP address exclusions: Pmax can now exclude specific IP addresses – this is very “use case” but could be useful depending on your specific circumstance rather than an account-level exclusion, this can now be limited to specific Pmax campaigns.

If you want to trial these Beta tests for yourself, speak with your Google account team.

16 April 2024

Google Demand Gen Gets Generative Imagery Tools – April 2024

Google have announced that the new AI-powered Generative Imagery tools will soon be available to advertisers running Demand Gen campaigns.

While this is a sensical (and completely expected) update from Google, having previously brought Generative tools to Performance Max, a particularly interesting note in this update was the addition of a “Generate More Like This” feature, wherein advertisers can generate imagery similar to their best-performing assets.

(source: blog.google)

While Generative AI is currently in its infancy for Google Ads, we’re keen to see what this new feature will produce, and of course, how the assets will perform.

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11 April 2024

Google Tests ‘People Also Consider’ On Google Ads – April 2024

Google have been known to “secretly” A/B test UX and UI updates to SERPs in the past, but this new announcement from Google hints that it could be a permanent change, rather than a cloak-and-dagger test… In a nutshell, products in e-commerce and Shopping network campaigns will soon be eligible to show their competitor’s products too.

Just as e-commerce websites will suggest “You May Also Like” products to users, Google will begin testing “People Also Consider” product placements embedded within a Shopping ad placement.

This new update from Google could be controversial, as its unclear how much additional visibility could be gained on competitor products, and poses a risk that advertisers could be paying to drive purchases to competitor websites, instead of their own.

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21 March 2024

GA4 “Key Event” Update Initially Perplexes Advertisers – March 2024

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 – March 2024

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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