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Thoughts on the 2015 AdWords Product Summit

Published: May 6, 2015

Author: Eric Smith

In yesterday’s AdWords Product Summit, Google introduced a slew of new features and improvements covering a lot of range in the AdWords ecosystem. The main takeaways: Google has made it easier to advertise on many different levels of AdWords, and we should be better able to measure effects of ads across devices, but Google still hasn’t addressed the issue of how AdWords ads should be valued within the larger ecosystem of outside channels.
I’m going to go over a bunch of highlighted features from the summit and discuss the impact (good and not so good, significant and not so significant) those features will have on advertisers. Note that I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the vertical-specific ad formats introduced for auto and finance, since they don’t affect a majority of SEMs.

Dynamic Search Ads – Greater Transparency, Still Not Much Control

DSA campaigns are getting a revamp with new tools that provide for more transparency – the tool shows example queries, ads, and landing pages. We’re also getting a rework for how DSA categorizes different parts of your site; we’ll have some editing capabilities there.
I’m not sure this addresses the main issue with DSA: the lack of control for what ads are serving and where you are driving people.  It doesn’t look like Google is relinquishing that control, but they are at least giving us more of an idea of the kinds of ads DSA will spit out.

Google Display Network – Image Scaling #FTW

GDN banner ads are getting an overhaul.  Currently there are over 50 unique image ad sizes, which is a huge headache.  Google has developed an automated solution that scales images into almost all sizes seamlessly.  You now only need to upload three distinct key sizes, and Google will take care of the rest.  This will cover 95%+ of GDN inventory (currently only about 55% can be covered with 3 ads). This is a godsend.

Conversion Optimizer Upgrades

Conversion Optimizer is already proving invaluable, but Google introduced a tool that evaluates volume vs. efficiency for CO. Similar to the existing tool that shows click volume at different bid levels, this would estimate conversion volume at different CPA targets.  If this is at all accurate, it would be an incredible way to easily analyze these kind of trades and would make profit maximization much easier.
We’ll also be able to track CO’s performance relative to goal over time in the Shared Library, which will show advertisers how CO is doing, if it is learning, etc. There’s also a  move towards (estimated) cross-devices conversions and the ability to have CO bid on cross-device conversions.

Attribution Modeling – What Elephant?

New attribution modeling uses the Adometry approach of modeling conversion rate for all paths and quantifying incremental conversion improvement at each step in a multi-click conversion, which is a nice idea. AdWords will have functionality around viewing performance while looking at different models and using Conversion Optimizer.
The issue with this is that Google is talking about attribution within AdWords for different keywords, which 99% of the time is not a huge deal.  It definitely makes sense to give credit to nonbrand searches if they are driving downstream brand conversions, but the elephant in the room is that AdWords attribution assigns value to touches within AdWords only, which restricts visibility for all brands marketing in channels like Facebook, Twitter, and display.
Overall, the new features introduced should help SEMs work more effectively within AdWords, and advertisers who are only working within AdWords will benefit from the ability to measure value of clicks across devices. But advertisers working in a larger ecosystem of channels are still missing a critical perspective on attribution — which means, basically, that Google’s new features are all about one thing: spending more money in AdWords.

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