AdWords Changes in 2016: What You Should Care About

Ryan Moothart

Last month, Google announced some changes coming to AdWords this year, which gives advertisers some additional tools to work with. Unlike some major changes in the past (e.g. enhanced campaigns), you have very little reason to panic over these announcements. Are these changes revolutionary or paradigm shifting? No. Will they have an impact on performance? Probably, yes.

These changes are designed to give advertisers more options to optimize their campaigns and, to Google’s credit, most of them seem pretty useful and intuitive. Here’s an overview of five changes coming your way this year in Google AdWords.

Expanded Character Limits

Some of you may already have access to this feature in your AdWords accounts. This change is tentatively scheduled to roll out to all advertisers in the U.S. by the end of July.

When Google got rid of text ads on the right-hand rail, it opened up some space for character limit expansion for text ads showing up in the middle of the page. Currently, most advertisers are still only allowed 25 characters in the headline and 35 characters each in two separate description lines. That’s changing to 30 characters in the headline and 80 characters in one consolidated description line. Furthermore, this display URL will be automatically generated versus being manually entered.

This change gives you more room to make your ad copy more compelling. The desired impact of this change is higher CTRs for any given ad group compared to historical averages.

Tablet Bid Modifiers

This is something which was never given to advertisers when enhanced campaigns were released, forcing us to merge all device targeting into single campaigns. Many industry leaders have criticized Google for this in the past. Well, Google is going to give us back control over our tablet bidding. Huzzah!

While the structure of enhanced campaigns remains, advertisers will have the ability to set a bid adjustment for tablets just like the existing option for mobile devices. The range to which modifiers can be set is also expanding: you’ll be able to set them as low as -100% to eliminate traffic for a device type (no change) and as high as +900% (up from +300%). Ludicrous bid, GO!

This change should allow you to bring down your average cost per click and, by extension, your average cost per conversion on tablets. Likewise, if you have any campaigns that are particularly strong with tablet devices, you’ll be able to bid up solely for this device type to take advantage of that traffic.

Similar Audiences for Search (RLSA)

Currently, you have the ability to use remarketing lists in your search campaigns to either bid separately for these users or limit your search impressions to these users only. Soon, you’ll be able to do the same thing with similar audiences, which are generated automatically by Google based on your existing remarketing lists and stored in your shared library.

At this point you’re only able to use similar audiences in display network campaigns. Later this year, you’ll be able to do custom bids or isolate these users in search campaigns with RLSA. This is already a great tactic to get search ads in front of users who are familiar with your business. Soon you’ll be able to do the same with users who share similar qualities with those who are already interested in your business.

Demographic Bid Modifiers for Search

Just as you can adjust bids by mobile device, location, or time of day, you’ll soon be able to apply search campaign bid modifiers to demographic criteria, such as age and gender. Got a target audience of females aged 25 – 34? Fantastic! You’ll soon be able to increase bids for that precise group of users, at the moment they search for your already-targeted keywords.

This change should have a positive impact on conversion rates more than anything. It will also likely increase the initial CPCs for highly sought-after demographic segments. You may not see significant shifts in CTR as a direct result of utilizing these bid modifiers. But if you’re able to get in front of your target audience more often with search campaigns, you should hopefully see that reflected in your bottom line.

Display Network Reach and Dynamic Ads

Have you ever looked at your display network placements and said to yourself, “I wish I could reach more websites with Google’s display network?” You have? Funny story: Google read your mind.

Kidding, kidding.

Or am I?

I‘ll skip speculating on the extent of Google’s mind reading powers (“ReadBrain” has a nice ring to it), but they’re giving advertisers access to more ad exchanges nonetheless. And if that’s not good enough for you, they’re also going to release responsive ads for display for a friendlier mobile experience. This feature will allow your ads to adapt to any device and look native to the content a user is viewing.

Are you excited yet? I am! But that may be because I’m going on vacation soon, too. Regardless, these tools look pretty darn good to me. Be on the lookout for these features to be released in your account soon if you don’t have access to one or more of them already.

Ryan Moothart
PPC Architect

Ryan is a PPC architect at Portent, with nearly a decade of experience managing large-scale e-commerce, international B2B lead generation campaigns, and everything in between. He became a published author in 2016 with the release of his book, Towards Cascadia, which is a non-fiction exploration of Pacific Northwest identity, bioregionalism, and nationhood. Outside of work, Ryan and his husband, Paul, enjoy traveling and are avid followers of Sounders FC, Seattle’s Major League Soccer club.

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action
Close search overlay