Google’s new AdWords innovations

Google has announced their planned improvements to AdWords which they will be rolling out in the near future. Any online marketer worth their salt has already watched the live stream and come to their own conclusions about what these planned changes means to them. As an online marketer myself I have a few thoughts I’d like to share.

Google has been driving home the importance of mobile devices for a while now and they even go so far to admit it themselves. They were smart enough to anticipate mobile adoption, especially since they had a vested interest with the Android platform and the Google Play store falling under their umbrella. However they can’t bank on AdWords advertisers being similarly enlightened or forward thinking and have altered how AdWords campaigns are set up to naturally include mobile devices. This way the mobile ad market won’t be under populated or monopolized by the enlightened few.

However this is all old hat for those in the know.  Google stresses that we shouldn’t be focusing on the devices themselves, but instead the users of those devices, especially since it’s the user that will be buying your product and not their smartphone. It was probably inevitable that the focus did shift from people to devices in the bid for mobile advertising adoption to pick up. Google would like to realign our efforts to back to the customer.

Using cross device data to supplement a user’s search results is one way of doing this. If a user does a mobile search, and that search is relevant to an app on their device, then an ad can display to take the user directly to the relevant content in the app. This aids users in learning the value of apps that they have installed but haven’t come to use often yet.

This sounds like an elegant re-engagement mechanism, if it weren’t for the fact that the ads still need to be paid for. It could too easily become habitual for users to use this shortcut as the method for accessing relevant content on the app, at the cost of the advertiser, instead of converting to using the app naturally. This might not matter to Google very much, because they are keeping true to their promise of offering user re-engagement tools whilst making a healthy income from it.

Google mentions that there is an 80% drop off rate in app usage after installation. This is a horrifying statistic for app developers, who wish to retain all of their users if they could. It might just be me but I feel there’s an intense effort here to minimize an ugly statistic, which is otherwise just natural human behavior in my opinion, by introducing a monetization mechanic. I’ve sampled lots of things, never to return to them for a reason. If I only use an app once it is most likely because it wasn’t useful or engaging enough in the first place or had some other irredeemable quality. Granted it is good practice to delete apps that you don’t intend on using from your device but that is not a human behavior that comes naturally to most.

All said Google will nonetheless let app owners remind their audience that they do in fact have their app installed. It would be interesting to see how online marketers ultimately respond.

Moving along, Google announced new bulk action tools for AdWords. The idea might be that we shouldn’t be dependent on external methods (like AdWords Editor) for general edits, even if they affect a large number of variables. This extends further to their announcement of Advanced Reporting, to discourage downloading data and manually manipulating it, and instead seeing all the information you need live inside AdWords.

I’m excited for these last two mostly because they are core, elegant and thoughtful improvements to the tools we use most often every day. Their addition should have immediate noticeable effect on one’s day to day usage of AdWords.

Google’s also expanding with experiments, where you can make changes to your campaigns and compare them side by side. This might become one of the most useful and used tools in AdWords. Why implement any changes immediately when you can sample what results you would gain from it beforehand? It has the potential to change online advertisers’ penchant for acting on guesstimates and instead have every change be done in significant security about what it will cause to happen.

All in all while not revolutionary Google are continuing to update and improve AdWords whilst trying to stay ahead of the game.

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