The world did not stop spinning for the past year and Google did not stop making changes to their paid search (SEM) advertising platform. Some of Google’s changes for 2019 were seismic, others less noteworthy. However, it is important for marketers to watch Google’s changes as they often signal an evolution in digital advertising.
Probably the most noteworthy change for the year was the end of “average position”. Average position was a metric that reported where an ad placed relative to other ads on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). As one of the oldest metrics on its’ platform the removal of average position was noteworthy. Google’s justification for the change was that average position did not always correlate to where on a page an ad placed. A paid ad in first position could still be below the organic results. Instead, Google reasoned that Top Impression Rate and Top Impression Share were better indicators of where ads were generally showing.
Another major change this year was the modification of Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifier. Google announced that phrase match and broad match modifier keywords are now eligible to show for same-meaning close variants such as synonyms and paraphrases. Prior to this announcement, the only close variants that could trigger a phrase match or broad match modifier keyword were plurals and misspellings. To understand the changes, it helps to know the original requirements. For Phrase Match the standard requirement was queries that include the entirety of the keyword in its specified order. So “Children’s Shoe Store” would match “Best Children’s Shoe Store”, because all of the keywords were in the query in order. Now, “Children’s Shoe Retailer” is considered a phrase match. Why? Because the meaning is the same, even if the words do not match.
The same now applies for Broad Match Modifier. In other words, intent matters more than semantics. As an advertiser you should keep a close eye on your Search Terms report and write ad copy and web site copy carefully.
A couple of new audience tools were introduced this year, one for Search and one for Display. The new Display opportunity is Google’s Audience Expansion Tool. It is much like Facebook’s Look-Alike Audience in that it allows an advertiser to increase their audience by reaching prospects who behave like their customers. Google believes this will increase Impressions, Clicks, and Conversions without increasing budgets. Search advertisers can now access Affinity Audiences. An Affinity Audience is anyone who has shown an interest in (affinity) for a particular product or service. By looking at audience search and browsing history Google has created affinity audiences that can be layered on top of keywords. This should allow more precise delivery of ads.
Lead Form Ad Extensions
For lead generation advertisers Google now offers Lead Form Ad Extensions. An Ad Extension is the copy below a paid search ad that provides additional information such as business hours, or a click to call option. As many people know, filling out a form on a smart phone can be a challenge. The Lead Form ad extension can now appear at the bottom of an ad. When clicked, it pulls up the lead form making it quicker and easier for the user. And, if the user is already signed into Google the form will auto-populate contact information, thus reducing friction. Lead Form Ad Extensions should increase conversion rates.
The over-riding theme of many of Google’s Big Changes for 2019 seem to be pointing towards a greater reliance on AI. As automated features increase, Google is changing the platform to take advantage of new capabilities. If all of this seems like more than you can implement yourself, contact us for a free Google Ads Audit to learn how these features can benefit your business in 2020.