Google's Ad Innovations model doesn't just help advertisers, it helps consumers make navigating the internet more efficient, enabling us to find what we're looking for in the fewest possible clicks.
Paid search has long been the hallmark of simplicity, but what Google and its Ad Innovations team have in store for you will revolutionize the medium, and much of it is available now. For a more in-depth look, please visit the Google Innovations site.
Google understands that the best answer is not always the text link. Often the information that is most efficient includes pictures, video, and maps. As an example, notice "universal search" in Google's main results. It culls information from across its system and presents a page that is richer in content.
At part two of Google's sponsored Spotlight presentation at ad:tech San Francisco, the Ad Innovations team unveiled what it is bringing to advertisers as its first universal search concept for the industry.
"Useful, measurable, and efficient" is the mantra for this group.
How is Google going to do this, and how will it impact your existing campaigns? This is where Google shines. What's really impressive is how Google not only listened to customers, but it is developing a way that extends that simplicity and makes it considerably more powerful.
Which keywords help other keywords? "Search Funnels"
First off, this is something that has profound implications for solving one of the most vexing problems in online advertising: the last cookie problem. Your last ad on Google got all the credit for the conversion, even though the consumer may have been doing various searches before that, but they didn't click.
For example, say you're looking for a vacation and searched various different keywords like "hotels in San Francisco" during the month, but then a week later you went back, typed in something different like Orbitz.com because you remember seeing some of their ads on Google, and then clicked on a paid link for them. Orbitz would normally just count that its branded keyword "Orbitz" actually generated the sale. It also knows that other keywords were providing assistance to that conversion, but which ones? Now the company will be able to tell which keywords "assisted" in that conversion using Search Funnels, with what they call "assists."
This is a great way to prune your AdWords lists to the words that are actually providing assistance. It also increases confidence in the decisions you are making as to which keywords are valuable to you as an advertiser.
And it's available today, under the "Reporting" tab. As long as you have conversion tracking set up, they can enable it for you. So expand your keyword lists, find the words that are actually assisting in your sales, and then prune them back to be more efficient, brilliant, useful, and measurable.
Not every page on your site is important. "Ad Extension"
The next innovation from Google is Ad Extension, and there are three main kinds that will impact your existing AdWords campaigns: Ad Site links, Click to Call Phone Extension, and Location Extension. Think of this as multiplying your existing ads' effectiveness.
Ad Extension offers a way for you to make your ads more useful and relevant to users searching for information on Google. While the standard text ad format can often provide enough information for users to find what they're looking for, sometimes additional information is necessary to help provide the best response. Click here for more information.
For example, when you're trying to describe a product, including a picture or a video can make the message more relevant and valuable. Or when trying to describe a location, an ad that only contains text can be confusing. In this case, using an AdWords Local Extension and having a map can help someone find your location more easily right from the ad.
What if you're a company that has multiple divisions or multiple pages, and you would like someone to be able to visit them from a single keyword? Just use the Ad Extension and voilà, you can highlight the important pages on your site right up front.
Branded terms are often the most efficient keywords you can buy, but they are often the most clicked-on words adding to the cost, and brands often question what additional value they add. With the combination of Search Funnels and Ad Sites links, these debates should finally be laid to rest.
So what is the added benefit of Ad Site links? Basically Google is seeing a 30 percent increase in click-through rates when they are used. Combine that with the fact that a brand gets deeper site penetration to the pages they want to drive consumers to, and this is a no-brainer.
What about mobile? Google has a new mobile interface, and its "Click to Call" phone numbers on mobile devices is in beta trial and saw a 5-30 percent increase in CTR.
Deeper product exposure for your Google Merchant account
Now in limited release, the second main part of Ad Extension is Product Extension, which allows you to enrich your existing AdWords ads with more relevant and specific information about retail merchandise. When your AdWords text ad appears, and your Google Merchant Center account contains products that are relevant to the user's query, Product Extension shows the images, titles, and prices of your products under your ad.
The advantage here is you're charged the same price per-click on anything within the ad, increasing your click-through and conversion rates at no additional cost. It's really bringing the old-world concept of window shopping to online. Merchants for years put their most significant products in windows to catch foot traffic and drive people into their stores. Product Extension takes the same concept online.
HP was one of the first on board with Product Extension, and Dell indicated it was the single most significant change it has made. Additionally, Google is seeing a 10-50 percent expansion of the product box (a click that is free), and a 10 percent increase in conversions and beyond.
What? No pay-per-click? I wouldn't be doing the Google presentation justice if I didn't mention Google's "New Ad Models" section of Ad Innovations. Maybe paying per-click isn't the best way to go. It may be better to pay for qualified leads, or a percentage of sales, or even have an interactive table available for comparison shopping. Click here to learn more.
All these new models are currently being tested. In the end, Ad Innovation models don't just help advertisers, they help consumers make navigating the internet more efficient, enabling us to find what we are looking for in the fewest possible clicks. And advertising that doesn't impede but makes us more efficient is great advertising indeed.
For more information on Google's presentation at ad:tech San Francisco, please see the Google Ad Innovations page.