December is the most “wonderful time of the year”. However, for PPC marketers, it is also the busiest. Therefore, you can forgive yourself for not keeping up to date with all the goings-on in the busy world of PPC. But of course, that's where we come in! As always, we have compiled some of the more interesting updates and news from the past month for your reading pleasure. In no particular order...
Google tested a new interface for mobile search results page
The new interface will display fewer search results on the mobile search results page, but will include a “more results” button so the user can expand to show more. Typically, Google is displaying as little as two or three organic search results per page on mobile; with more displaying after the “More Results” button is clicked. This is still being tested at the time of writing, and it is unclear when the new interface will roll out; it is also unclear if PPC ads will be affected by the change.
Google tested images in PPC ads
It seems that December is the month for Google tests; the latest being images within text ads. The image will appear to the right of the description and will be taken from the landing page. Twitter user Sergey Alakov tweeted an image of the test (see below):
This is something which some advertisers have been desiring for a while, and is sure to give even more prominence to PPC ads on the search results page.
Google announced the end of review extensions
The ad extension will no longer be displayed from January. Launched in 2013, review extensions were envisioned as a way for advertisers to display quotes about their business – However, many found it difficult to get the reviews approved, and therefore left the extension out completely. Google has updated the review support page to include the following message:
The message reminds advertisers to download their data if they want to keep a copy, as all historical data will be removed along with the ad extension. We see this as a rather inconsequential move from Google, removing an extension which many viewed as a failed experiment.
Twitter now include analytics in their AMP support
According to Twitter, when an AMP version of an article is loaded within their interface it will now ping the original URL to record the view, as well as passing the query arguments from the original redirect into the AMP run-time.
This update will allow advertisers to receive data using the AMP-analytics component, and allow for a much deeper insight into how their AMP marketing content is performing.
Google updated the policy for non-profit ad grants
The grant includes up to $10,000 per-month of free PPC advertising for non-profit charities, with only a few rules and guidelines into the grants use. Some of the policy updates have already taken effect (as of the 1st of January) and include the withdrawal of the $2 CPC bid cap for campaigns using the Maximise Conversions Bidding Strategy. This update is surely a welcome change for smaller charities who have struggled to compete with those who invest their own money on top of the grant.
Another of the more critical changes is the requirement for a minimum click-through rate of 5% for all accounts using the grant. Accounts which don’t meet the 5% threshold for two consecutive months will be suspended (you will be alerted through the AdWords interface if you are in danger of suspension).
Further Google tests gave Express more prominence in search
Users have noticed that tests have given Google Express more prominence in mobile search, with a new call-out and ad treatment. A new promotion has been seen by users just underneath the navigation bar, as well as prominence for Google Express in the shopping carousel.
These tests are, at the moment, limited to the US. It is certainly an interesting move by Google; which will give their delivery service (founded in 2013 to rival Amazon) a much greater prominence on the search results page.
AdWords allowed the use of phone numbers & addresses for custom match
AdWords users are now able to upload phone numbers and addresses for Custom Match remarketing and similar audiences, along with email lists. Google will attempt to match the phone numbers and addresses with user-provided data in Google accounts.
Advertisers can use Custom Match for targeting customers with text ads, shopping, display, YouTube and Gmail; with the option to use the lists to create similar audiences for YouTube and Gmail. To do this, navigate to the shared library and select the Audience Manager – although keep in mind that you must be using the new AdWords interface to access this feature.
Yahoo sued Mozilla for replacing it with Google as default search
Last month we covered Firefox’s decision to switch their default search engine from Yahoo to Google, and the potential repercussions on PPC traffic this could have. As it turns out, Yahoo have sued Mozilla over the switch, and Mozilla have countersued.
Mozilla claim that Yahoo never delivered on its promise to invest in improving the search engine, and claim that this is the reason for the decline in Firefox users. Yahoo are suing due to their belief that the switch was in breach of contract. For now, Firefox continues to use Google as the default search option.
Bing announced support for call conversion imports
Advertisers using Bing Ads are now able to import call conversion data, allowing for a better understanding of how calls tie back to campaign attribution. The Offline Conversion Import Tool can integrate call-tracking systems with Bing ads directly; with CallTrackingMetrics being the first third party service to participate in the pilot.
Apple launched new Search Ads for the app store
Referred to by Apple as “Search Ads Basic”, the new format is designed for simplicity; with no keywords and no bidding involved. Apple’s search ads have been running since September 2016, with many marketers utilizing the platform to drive app downloads.
The new format is aimed at those without the time or expertise to manage their own search campaigns, and is are expected to run “at a predictable cost”. Currently Search Ads Basic is available only for US advertisers.