Google AdWords launches new features for a mobile-first world

Over the last few months we have featured several articles in Insights that focus on the incredible growth of consumer shift towards mobile. According to Google, more than half of all web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets.

How Mobile is Your Advertising explored this growth in more depth whilst How to Improve your Mobile Search Rankings explained how different approaches are often needed when marketing to mobile rather than desktop.

We have also looked at how Google is constantly evolving its algorithms to boost the rankings of mobile-friendly pages – i.e. pages that are legible and usable on mobile devices – in mobile search results worldwide. Over half of Google’s annual searches are now initiated from mobile phones.

Never one to stay off the bandwagon that is mobile technology, Google has recently introduced new tools and features to AdWords to specifically address mobile demand. The changes and additions were announced at Google’s San Francisco Performance Summit in May ( Google’s annual event for key AdWords and Google Analytics customers).

We summarise the four main implications here:

1. Expanded headers and descriptions

Later this year headers in AdWords will change from one 25 character header to two 30 character headers, enabling a consumer to read more about products and services before clicking the link. The description will also increase from two 35-character description lines to one consolidated 80 character description line.

The aim of these upgrades is to make it easier for advertisers to reach the “on-the-go mobile consumer” who needs to be clear on what products and services are available before tapping into a website.

According to Sridhar Ramaswamy – Google’s Senior Vice President, Ads and Commerce – during testing some advertisers have reported increases in click-through rates of up to 20% compared to the currently formatted text ads.

2. Responsive display ads

Consumers on mobile devices are already able to engage with content from mobile sites, apps and video. Marketers will therefore now welcome Google’s new tool – responsive ads for display. It is designed to help advertisers develop ads to fit different device sizes and formats and to encompass the diverse range of content, shapes, and sizes across the sites and apps on Google’s Display Network (GDN).

This is a significant move forward because it means that advertisers will no longer have to resize display ads to be appropriate for the site or device they will be viewed on. Headlines, a description, an image, and a URL will now be enough for Google to not only automatically resize the responsive ads but also be more in line with the look and feel of the content they are already browsing.

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3. Device-related bidding options

Google AdWords are also going to introduce more customised bidding options that will enable advertisers to set individual bid adjustments according to device type eg mobile, desktop and tablet. Advertisers will be able to “anchor” a base keyword bid to the device most valuable to a business. They can then set bid adjustments – up to +900% – for one or more other devices. This replaces the current manual bidding system whereby each device is embedded into ad campaigns via Google’s Enhanced Campaigns tool.

4. More business information on Google Maps

There are two new features being piloted on Google Maps to enable businesses to introduce more information about their businesses and offer more branded and customised experiences.

I. Google is experimenting with different ad formats on Maps in order to make it easier for users to find businesses in their location. For example, a Map user could see promoted pins for nearby coffee shops or pubs or shops or petrol stations along their driving route.

II. Local businesses can now include more detail about their businesses including product descriptions and such as special offers.

All the above changes from Google reinforce the need for all businesses to understand the importance of mobile and adapt their digital marketing strategy accordingly. Consumers have already made this shift, and it is time for businesses to catch up.

Sridhar Ramaswamy summarises this by saying “As consumers live their lives online and blur the lines between online and offline, it’s more important than ever to build business for mobile”. This is an area that is constantly evolving and one that we will return to again before long in Insights