Broad Match Modifier and Phrase Match Expanded with Close Variants – 31st July 2019
It’s been almost a year since exact match included close variants, and now broad match modifier and phrase match have gained them too. Thus ends the strange period when phrase match keywords were “more exact” than exact match keywords.
The relentless progression towards fewer and fewer keywords continues, and the long-heralded days of keyword-less accounts draw ever near.
AdWords becomes Google Ads – 24th July 2018
After almost 18 years as AdWords, Google’s “self-service advertising program” becomes Google Ads. AdWords has come a long way over the years, and it’s of no surprise that Google are going through a brand refresh. They’re making other changes too, combining DoubleClick and Analytics 360 to become Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager is born from DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange.
Exact Match now Includes Close Variants – 6th September 2018
The need to add every relevant search term to exact match ad groups is now at an end, with the introduction of close variant matching for exact match terms. Using Google’s machine-learning, exact match keywords can now show for terms that have the same intent, including implied words, paraphrases and other terms with the same meaning.
The example Google use is quite a departure from existing exact match rules, matching the keyword [yosemite camping] to “yosemite campground”, “campsites in yosemite” and even “yosemite national park ca camping”. Google estimates 3% more traffic on average could come from existing keywords.
New AdWords Interface Becomes Fully Functional – 7th May 2018
For those of you who have been managing AdWords campaigns for a long time, the impending switch to another new AdWords interface is likely to be met with some trepidation. This latest incarnation has been talked about for a long time, and we’ve had the option to play with it for some time, before being forced back to the tried and tested interface because of missing functionality. Google now assure us that all the features are now in the new interface, including RLSA campaigns, analytics columns and the keyword planner.
For now the ability to switch back and forth is still available, although this is scheduled to stop before the end of 2018, and likely to be before the busy holiday season starts in Novemeber. If you’ve been avoiding the new interface for a while, it’s time to start familiarising yourself!
New Video Format – Outstream Ads – 17th April 2018
From today, outstream video ads can be shown on Google view partners, publisher sites that can show TrueView in-stream and Bumper ads. By default, outstream video ads are muted, and the user can select to turn on the sound and restart the video. Outstream video ads are charged on a viewable CPM basis.
Product Ratings on Shopping Ads – 5th December 2017
Product ratings were first introduced more than 3 years ago, but today they are now available globally, wherever Shopping ads are present (currently more than 30 countries). You can use the approved third-party aggregators to automate the display of these ratings feeds, or you can manually upload a feed via Merchant Center.
Ad Variations – 16th November 2017
In the new user interface, you may have noticed a new tab under drafts and experiments for Ad Variations. This allows for a very quick rollout of an ad testing change for headline text or a change in a call to action for example. Start and End dates for the ad testing can be set, and much like other experiments, you can choose what percentage of budget you would like to allocate to the new variations. Reporting is similar to the familiar experiment reporting as well, allowing comparison of performance for old ads and variations with a 95% confidence asterisk for statistical significance.
Custom Intent Audiences – 16th November 2017
Starting today, Google will leverage their machine learning technology to auto-create custom intent audiences based on its assessment of your account and landing pages. For now, these audiences are in English only.
Promotion Extensions Rollout – 16th November 2017
Promotion Extensions have been in beta in one form or another for over a year, and today they roll out for everyone in the new interface only*. Promotion extensions allow you to push a promotion message without having to change ad copy, allowing quality scores, historical data and ad testing to continue, and avoiding any downtime for ad reviews. Promotion extensions include pre-formatted special occasion text, 2 lines of specific text, percentage or monetary value discounts, and scheduling of promotion dates.
*For users who aren’t fans of the new UI yet, Google are releasing most new features in the new UI only, forcing the adoption of the new interface for features, if not merit.
New Shopping Engagement Metric Available – 9th November 2017
Google has recently released the Absolute Top Impression Share (ATIS) metric. According to Google, shoppers (particularly on mobile) have 3x greater engagement if your ad is at the top of the listings, and the ATIS metric allows us to see the percentage of eligible impressions where the ad was in the most prominent position. ATIS is available at campaign, ad group and product group level.
Remarketing and Dynamic Remarketing extended to Gmail – 9th November 2017
Just in time for the peak shopping period of 2017, Google have extended Dynamic Remarketing ads to Gmail. Now, after browsing products on your site, not only can users be targeted across the rest of the display network, but also whilst checking their email. A dynamic remarketing ad will allow 4 products to be shown within the Gmail interface, even on mobile.
Historical Quality Score Available – 15th May 2017
A long-awaited improvement to visible quality score reporting has launched today with the introduction of 3 new columns. The key components of expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience now have their own columns for both current and historical data, allowing reporting and analysis at scale much easier – no api calls or scripts now nneeded. Historical data goes back to January 22nd 2016, and can be segmented by day, if necessary.
Close Variants Get (Slightly) Further Apart – 17th March 2017
The concept of close variants was introduced almost 7 years ago, and applied to exact match terms almost 5 years ago. Today the concept has been tweaked based on Google’s more advanced understanding of intent to ignore “function words” if they don’t change the meaning of the query. Function words include prepositions (in,to), conjunctions (for,but) articles (a,the) and other words we often find ourselves listing in vast number and differing orders based on the search query data. Examples can be seen in the link below and only apply to exact match queries. Google state an uplift on clicks of 3% can be expected and accounts which contain the more accurate exact match keywords will still see clicks attributed to them.
Price Extension Update – 28th February 2017
Price extensions, which were launched just over 6 months ago, have now been updated to appear on all devices. No additional work needs to be done unless specific mobile URLs need to be updated.
Ad Testing: Green Outline Label widespread – 22nd February 2017
We all know Google like to run tests on text ads from time to time, and they’ve been testing at least a couple of changes in the ad label over the last 30 days. One of those tests, a change from the current green-filled box with the word Ad in white, to the reverse – a green outline white filled box with the word Ad in green is being reported as the default view for many people, signifying an increase in the testing parameters. The black-filled box test seems to have been dropped, whilst we at SF HQ have also noticed a new test today with a much brighter green hyperlink text, a return to emboldened words within the URL and solid-green ad label.
Automatic Call Extensions – 6th February 2017
Google is steadily automating many ad extensions, and now it’s the turn of call extensions. If Google detects a phone number on the landing page of ads in a campaign that isn’t using call extensions, then it will automatically display them if it believes it will improve performance. This will apply to ads on the search network shown on mobile devices only, and you can choose to opt out from the automated extension options link on the ad extensions page. This is especially important for any advertisers who use specific tracking numbers to monitor calls driven from AdWords.
Last day to create standard text ads – 31st January 2017
After today, it will no longer possible to create standard text ads. A date that’s been revised a few times since ETAs were first introduced, today is the last day to get new standard text ads in the account. They will continue to serve for the foreseeable future. For those accounts that continue to see better results from standard text ads, this will be a nervous day, and a reminder to continue ad testing with new ETAs.
Apply Audience Lists at Campaign Level – 8th December 2016
Running RLSA and remarketing campaigns has just got a whole lot easier, as it’s now possible to apply audience lists at the campaign level. Bid adjustments are also at a campaign level, so individual ad group adjustments are no longer necessary.
New ad extension: Click to message ads – 17th October 2016
Launching in the next couple of weeks is a new ad extension, aimed at allowing a user to message an advertiser without visiting their site, or call them on the phone. Message Extensions open the user’s phone SMS app with a customised pre-written message, the potential customer can then edit it if applicable and then send the text. For certain industries, this could massively increase conversions.
Reported Quality Score Update (null instead of default 6) – 12th September 2016
The default value for visible Quality Score is to change from 6, to – (null). New keywords, or keywords with very little data will now be given this null indicator instead of 6 and will be excluded by defualt from reports. Google recommends advertisers check any scripts that use Quality Score to ensure they work as expected.
New Ad Extension: Price Extensions for mobile ads – 18th July 2016
Price Extensions are a new Ad Extension exclusive to mobile devices that display prices of highlighted products or services in separate rows with a short description. They can be used in combination with other ad extensions with the exception of sitelinks. Exclusive to the English language to start with, and ad position 1, you can enter from 3 to 8 separate items, and can even schedule them to keep the pricing accurate.  Price extensions have now been updated to show on all devices – 28th February 2017
The Biggest Changes to Ads for 15 years: Expanded Text Ads – 24th May 2016
Following on from February, when right-hand column ads were removed to make mobile and desktop SERPs look the same, Google is now set to expand text ad limits for the first time since their launch. Called expanded text ads, there will soon be 2 headlines, of 30 characters each, 1 description line of 80 characters and an automatically generated domain in the display URL (you can still customise the path). This increases the number of characters in the headline and description fields from 95 to 140 and will roll out in the coming months.
Shopping ads in image search – 16th May 2016
Having been trialled since Q4 2015, Shopping ads in image search is finally rolled out today. It seems a logical step to display related product shopping ads within Google image search, for some niches it should work quite well. Nothing new is needed to run these ads, your current shopping ads will already be eligible as part of the Google Search Network.
Major AdWords redesign announced – rolling out over 18 months. – 28th March 2016
Based on the developments over the last 15 years, the AdWords of 2030 will be radically different from the AdWords we have today. To make the interface “fit for purpose” for the foreseeable future, the AdWords team have announced an estimated 18-month long program designed to radically redesign AdWords, fundamentally changing the UI, simplifying tools, making data more relevant and the workflow more accommodating.
Removal of Right Hand Side Ads – 19th February 2016
Google has made a dramatic change to the search results pages for desktop devices today and being rolled out globally and in all languages over the next few days. The ads on the right-hand side of the page are being removed, and so up to 4 ads will now show above the natural results and 3 below. PLAs will continue to appear in the right-hand column. This change brings the results much more in line with the mobile results and will have wide-reaching implications for CPCs, CTRs and bid strategies.
Google no longer powering AOL search (to Bing) – 1st January 2016
As of January 1st 2016, Google no longer power AOL search results. In a 10 year deal, Microsoft are now powering both the natural, and paid results for desktop, mobile and tablets. If you notice your search partners’ results changing as of this date, this could be the reason why!
Share data between Analytics and AdWords MCC – 12th November 2015
It is now possible to link Google Analytics directly to your AdWords manager account (MCC), eliminating the need to link each individual AdWords account. New accounts added to MCCs automatically get linked, and goals, metrics and remarketing lists only need to be imported once. In addition to this, you can now create remarketing lists directly in the MCC, and share tags and lists across AdWords accounts.
Gmail ads launch for all advertisers – 1st September 2015
Starting today, Gmail ads are now available for all advertisers. All that’s needed is to simply select the new Gmail ads format from the Ad gallery in a new or existing Display Network campaign. The ads mimic the inbox look and feel by default, and the expanded ad is a full page, visually rich experience. There are several customisable templates to choose from, or a custom HTML format, and all the normal display targeting options are available such as keywords (including domains), affinity audiences, demographics and topics.
New ad extension: Structured Snippets – 27 August 2015
Following the success of dynamic structured snippets, structured snippet extensions starts to roll out today. Simply choose a predefined “header” such as Amenities or Brands and input a select list of examples. Limited to 25 characters per value.
New Report Editor for AdWords – 5th August 2015
A new Report Editor will be rolling out over the next few months. Adding more powerful functionality to the AdWords interface, Report Editor allows the advertiser to produce tables, graphs and charts by simply dragging and dropping dimensions and metrics. Reports can then be saved, scheduled and exported for ease of use.
Quality Score default now 6, not 7 – 27th July 2015
The default Visible Quality Score being applied to new keywords, and keywords with very low impressions is changing from the normal “7” to “6”. Google are keen to stress that this is a visible, reported Quality Score change only, and the actual Quality Score is unaffected. Any scripts or rules that are using Quality Score as a factor should be checked.
Cross account campaign management – 4th June 2015
It’s now possible to view campaigns and make top level edits at MCC level. This makes reporting much easier for some large advertisers as well as agencies who handle a lot of accounts. In addition editing budgets and pausing or starting campaigns can easily be carried out. In addition data freshness at MCC is now also the same as within individual accounts. Previously there has always been a data lag with MCC data being older than at account level. There’s also been one final update – sub-MCCs can be cross-navigated from within the account chooser dropdown by expanding the lists using the arrow next to each MCC.
Call only campaigns – 20th February 2015
A new campaign type is launched today: Call only campaigns. Specifically designed to show only on mobile phones, the ads prominently show your phone number, description and call button. They can be used in conjunction with call extensions, or replace them altogether.
Tools for the Power User: Bulk editing within AdWords – 3rd November 2014
Following on from the ad customisers announced a few months ago, the next raft of updates in the coming month aimed at the power users are for management at scale. Ad rotation, location targeting and ad extension updates can be edited across campaigns. In addition, bulk uploads of spreadsheet data will be improved to be more intuitive and preview functions to check for errors should improve confidence. This comes after AdWords Scripts at MCC level were also recently introduced making edits on a large scale considerably easier for many large advertisers and agencies.
Automatic updates comes to PLAs – 30th September 2014
From today, automatic item updates can be enabled within Merchant Center which will automatically product prices and availability shown on PLAs if there’s a difference between the feed data and what Google detects on your website’s microdata. Google are quick to point out this doesn’t replace the need for accurate feed data, and whilst it should reduce the number of disapprovals that advertisers might currently experience, it’s always best to ensure the feed data is current and accurate.
Tools for the Power User: Ad customizers launched – 25th September 2014
For advertisers with large product inventories or time-specific messaging managing ads can be difficult and time-consuming. Ad customisers allow ads to become more relevant, inserting real-time variables such as pricing, products and count down timings on promotions. There’s a new area within the AdWords interface under shared library called Business Data, where you can link a spreadsheet containing the data to be accessed. You can then create ads with customisers which pull through the variables from the spreadsheet. Now the only limit on ad customisation is your imagination.
Product ratings now appear on Product Listing Ads – 29th July 2014
Product ratings will soon appear on Product Listing Ads in the United States. Similar to seller ratings, the products ratings represent an aggregated rating based on multiple merchants, aggregators and sites. Product ratings are available to merchants who in turn share their review data with Google. A grace period between July and October is available during which the data is available to all.
Link AdWords and Google My Business for easier location extensions – 14th July 2014
Upgraded location extensions are available by linking Google My Business to your AdWords account. Currently campaign-level location extensions contact business information. Now, by linking at an account level all business location information is show across all relevant campaigns.
Shopping campaigns now available globally – 18th February 2014
Although Product Listing Ads have been around for more than 3 years, today Shopping campaigns roll out globally, as a new way to manage products and inventory directly from AdWords. New features such as benchmark CPCs and CTRs make optimising easier.
New Campaign type launched: Search and Display Select – 4th November 2013
It’s long been recognised that search and display targeting should be done in separate campaigns. As a result, many advertisers ignore the GDN altogether, and today Google are trying to change this behaviour by introducing a new campaign type: Search and Display select. Intended to be an option for first time advertisers, advertisers who’d like more reach from their existing search only campaign, or advertisers who currently target both networks from 1 campaign who’d like better performance, Search and Display Select tries to predict the best sites and times on the display network and will limit their ad serving to gain the best performance. Whilst it doesn’t offer much flexibility for advanced advertisers, it could be a good option for many who find themselves in one of the situations above.
Improvements to Ad Rank with Ad extensions – 22nd October 2013
A fundamental change to how ads are ranked in the search results pages is rolling out today. What used to involve just Max CPC and Quality Score, now considers a third component: Expected impact from ad extensions and formats. In addition to this update, Ad Rank is now more influential in determining whether the ad is eligible to be displayed with extensions and formats. The end result of this is that ad extensions are more important than ever to optimise, and if an extension has a low CTR, it needs to be swapped out and new ones trialled. Low-performing ad extensions will directly result in higher actual CPCs.
“Improvements” to geo-targeting – 18th October 2013
Google believes the world is getting smaller. Because of this, in just over 3 weeks’ time advertisers with the default or “location of interest” targeting in their accounts will notice an increase in impressions from people in other countries that weren’t previously being targeted. Google believes from their testing that this increases the reach of the ads and maintains relevancy. What’s clear is that advertisers should carefully monitor their geographical data from that week onwards and use the “people in my targeted location” setting, or introduce country-level exclusions if relevant.
Estimated Total Conversions: what are they? – 1st October 2013
From today, reporting on search ads on Google.com will include “Estimated Total Conversions” which reflects the normal conversions you’re familiar with as well as an estimate of cross-device conversions. Estimated cross-device conversions start as a click on a search ad on Google.com on one device, and finish as a conversion in a different session (on a different device, or a different browser on the same device). This estimate is based on sample data by signed-in users and is useful to take into consideration, but remember it’s only an estimate, and not specific to your website.
Compare dates options comes to AdWords reporting – 5th August 2013
Users of the recently released top movers report in the Dimensions tab will be pleased to learn that it’s now possible to compare dates within the adWords interface for all reporting pages. Simply select the “compare dates” option in the date selector, and a plus symbol (+) will appear in most of the table column headers, allowing you to see, for example, week on week changes to Avg CPC, Clicks and conversions at a glance. No more scribbling down numbers in a pad for quick comparisons, or multiple windows open at the same time!
Update to visible Quality Score – 26th July 2013
Over the next few days, there will be an update to how the keyword level Visible Quality Score of 1-10 is reported. It is being made to more-closely reflect the 3 sub categories of expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience and Google are keen to stress that the reporting change does not affect how the actual real-time quality score is calculated.
New ad extension in beta: Review extensions – 27th June 2013
A new ad extension is in beta for the English language – review extensions. If an advertiser knows of a third-party review of their product or service elsewhere on their web, they’re able to quote or paraphrase the review and include it as a citation to be shown at the bottom of their advert. It makes sense that this will help instill trust in the advertiser and hence increase CTR and conversion rates.
RLSA – 25th June 2013
In beta for almost a year, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads is to be rolled out over the next few days. RLSA can be seen as an extension to remarketing capabilities, applying audience targeting to search ads on the search network. They can be used in a number of ways, such as increasing your position (bids) on more generic terms that normally don’t convert as well for people who have already visited your site, or changing your ad text for people who have viewed certain pages on your site, enticing them back to transact with you.
Top Movers report added to Dimensions tab – 24th June 2013
Ever wondered why performance has changed within your account recently, but find no difference in the top line numbers? Now there’s a new report in the Dimensions tab which clearly shows top-level significant changes in both clicks and cost at either campaign or ad group level for 7, 14 or 28 day comparison periods. It even tries to explain why these changes may have occurred, such as a decrease in campaign budget, or additional keywords added.
Google Display Network views now attributed in analytics reports – 19th June 2013
Google Analytics can now report on (unclicked) views of an advert on the Google Display Network within the Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports. Currently a limited trial it will enable advertisers to see if people converting on their site had previously seen (and perhaps been influenced by) adverts elsewhere within the GDN. The data is reported as “Impression Assisted Conversions” or “Rich Media Assisted Conversions”, and also show up in the top conversion path report.
Enhanced Campaigns come to AdWords – 6th February 2013
Enhanced campaigns are starting to be rolled out today ad over the coming weeks as a response by Google to people’s ever changing use of devices. Instead of having the same user targeted across separate devices by different campaigns, Google believes it will be easier to manage going forward by targeting different devices from within the same campaign. A few key concepts are: bid adjustments – percentage adjustments of bids based on device, location and time/day all within the same campaign. Multiple ad types with more intelligent ad serving enables different ad text, sitelinks and different extensions to be served in different scenarios from a single campaign. Upgrades to conversion types including phone calls only over a certain length and app downloads.
Bulk editing in AdWords – 4th December 2012
Making large-scale changes within the AdWords interface has just got easier from today for all users. Initially released in a limited capacity a month ago, the edit button has now become a drop down and changes at keyword, ad, ad group and campaign level can now be made in bulk. Previewing results is essential when make these kind of changes, and will be especially useful for advertisers who don’t have access to AdWords Editor on the computer they’re on.
Pull analytics metrics into the AdWords interface – 2nd October 2012
Additional metrics are now able to be imported into the AdWords interface meaning less need to analyse certain aspects of your campaigns within Google Analytics. Important indicators of user relevancy such as bounce rate and average visitor duration are now available, and mean that ads and landing pages can be adjusted easily, based on more than just conversion rate.
AdWords scripts limited beta – 14th June 2012
Find out how you compare with the Auction Insights report – 22nd May 2012
Additional data will soon become available over the next few days which give further insight to competition against keywords in your account. In addition to the impression share columns already available the auction insights report enables you to compare impression share, average position, overlap ratem position above rate and top of page percentage against other advertisers who appeared in the same auction (not necessarily the same keyword). This will help advertisers work out who their competition is without having to repeatedly run searches, and how they compare against them over time.
More visibility to Quality score in AdWords – 24th April 2012
Additional data is now available to help quantify the 1-10 numeric visible quality score in the keywords tab of the AdWords interface. A hover box will now appear which give a relative performance for key components of Quality Score; expected-clickthrough rate, Ad relevance and Landing page experience. This is aimed to help give more guidance on what needs to be focussed on to improve account performance.
Change in how exact and phrase match keywords are matched – 17th April 2012
Close variant matching, introduced with modified broad match almost two years ago will soon be applied to phrase and exact match keywords. With this change, huge numbers of misspellings and pluralised forms will no longer need to be included. Remember, stemmings and abbreviations are also categorised as close variants, but synonyms are not. For full control, users will be able to opt out of close variants under keyword matching options in campaign settings in the coming weeks.
Enhanced Sitelinks – 14th February 2012
Google state that ads with sitelinks on average have a 30% higher clickthrough rate than ads without sitelinks. Starting today, enhanced sitelinks (sitelinks with 2 description lines below each link) will start showing automatically under certain criteria. To be eligible, your account must contain ads which are closely related to the sitelinks in use.
New Ad Placement: ads showing below the search results – 2nd November 2011
Starting today, ads which were previously shown in the right-hand column will instead be displayed below the search results at the bottom of the page in some cases. Early tests indicated to Google higher click through rates for ads at the bottom of the page, and results can be seen by advertisers by segmenting the data for Top vs Other.
How to advertise ever-changing inventory: Dynamic Search Ads – 20th October 2011
Google are making it easier for advertisers with ever-changing product and availability on their websites to keep their AdWords campaigns up-to-date and relevant for searchers. Using Google’s knowledge of your website inventory from its web-crawling technology, advertisers can choose to target their whole website, or only parts of it, and Google automatically generates the ad and destination url based on the query and the content on your page. Negative keywords and CPCs can be used to optimise the results.
Tablet targeting now an option – 12th July 2011
Subtle changes to the targeting of tablets has now come into effect in AdWords. Before it was possible to specifically target iPad devices under mobiles, and this has now been moved into its own category. The categories for targeting are now Desktop and laptops, Mobile devices with full browsers, and Tablets with full browsers. Advanced targeting includes operating systems and carriers. Default settings will target all tablets. For those who want to keep targeting only iPads, you’d need to target Tablets and select iOS.
Targeting by physical location or location of interest – 22nd March 2011
Starting today, targeting options are changing based on physical user location, or their location of interest.
This gives advertisers more control over the precise targeting of where the ads will appear, but special planning and attention needs to be given to its use, as it could produce unexpected results. For example if you’re using geographically based keywords in your campaign but targeting a different physical location, the ads for those keywords won’t show even if you’d expect them too.
Longer headlines for sentences – 3rd February 2011
Over the next few days, ads at the top of the search results can start to show description line one on the end of the headline separated by a hyphen, in an effort to create a longer headline. In order for this to happen, each description line needs to appear to be a distinct sentence, with proper punctuation. For ads where description line 1 and 2 follow on from each other, this won’t happen. Google tells us the resulting longer headline increases CTR, and you can aid the chances of this happening to your ads by introducing appropriate punctuation at the end of description line 1.
Negative keywords can now be added in lists – 10th January 2011
We all know how useful negative keywords are. That’s why they’ve been in the ecosystem since its inception. Today, in its first radical overhaul in more than 10 years, negative keywords can be kept in lists, and applied across multiple campaigns. For those who keep a core list of negatives that are applicable to almost all clients and campaigns, this is a welcome relief, and will dramatically simplify the management of negative keywords.
New automated bidding feature: Enhanced CPC – 16th August 2010
For advertisers using conversion tracking, a new feature called enhanced CPC is available from today. Enhanced CPC enables the AdWords system to increase your bid by up to 30% if it believes that the chances for a conversion are high in that auction. Similarly if the statistics are low for a particular auction then it can decrease the Max CPC bid. The data it uses to determine these probabilities include a particular search or display partner site, specific words used in the search query as well as a user’s location, language, browsers and operating system.
New ad extension released: introducing seller rating extensions – 28th June 2010
Starting today, Seller Rating Extensions have been released. There will be a visible 1-5 star rating in the ads on Google.com. The star ratings are fed from Google Product Search which aggregate the results from various review sites around the web. In order for the ratings to show, you need to have an aggregate score of more than 4 out of 5 and more than 30 reviews. You don’t need to do anything for the ratings to show and they will begin rolling out in the English language today. Clicks on the ratings are free.
New keyword targeting feature – Broad Match Modifier in beta – 11th May 2010
A new match-type is available for UK and Canadian advertisers from today. Modified broad match sits somewhere between broad match and phrase match and is a powerful new way of making broad match more relevant, but not being as restricted as phrase match. For most advertisers, phrase match keywords might become a thing of the past depending on the close variant matching. By adding a plus symbol (+) immediately in front of a keyword indicates to Google that that word (and its close variants) must appear in the search query. “Close variants” is described as misspellings, singular/plurals, abbreviations and acronyms as well as stemmings. Close variants do not include synonyms and related searches. You can include the plus symbol (+) before as many words in the keyword as is relevant to make the “broadness” as refined as necessary.
Retiring Google Advertising Professionals (GAP) program – 26th April 2010
GAP is Dead. Long-live GACp. The long-standing (over 5 years) Google Advertising Professionals programme is getting a make-over in an effort to raise the bar, with harder exams aimed at best-practice knowledge instead of recalling facts learnt by rote. The exams are becoming specific to different areas of AdWords knowledge such as search, display and reporting & analysis. There is also a new portal for advertisers to find qualified agencies, and a badge that will click through to real-time verified status. Along with the new Google AdWords Certified Partners status comes preferential API pricing whereby qualified agencies receive an amount of API data inline with their managed spend for free.
iPad device targeting now possible – 15 April 2010
The long-awaited ability to target iPad devices specifically (or exclude them) is now available in the campaign settings. This naturally extends the ability to link directly to iOS/Android apps from within the ad.
Remarketing comes to AdWords – 25th March 2010
This week, a brand new way to target users is being rolled out to AdWords. Following on from last year’s interest-based advertising beta, remarketing is about to be released. By placing a small piece of code on your site, you can create different lists of people (“audiences”) that you can then target with relevant ads throughout the content network. You can also reach users who have visited your YouTube channel. The more you think about how powerful re-targeting people who have viewed certain parts of your site with tailored ads, the more exciting the prospect is.
AdWords attribution reporting beta – 23rd March 2010
Anyone who has run paid search campaigns for a while knows that last-click conversion reporting is only really showing the tip of the iceberg. Depending on the sector, and the strength of the advertisers brand, last-click reporting only ever shows a very small part of the user journey, and by optimising purely against conversions, can quickly lead an account to stagnation. The top-of-the-funnel searches are now able to be reported in AdWords using a new report called “Search Funnels”. These will detail the keywords that were responsible for “assisted clicks” and even “assisted impressions” which later resulted in a conversion. With this data, path length and time lag reports are also available, and mean that if you’re tempted to turn off generics and only bid on brand or specific long-tail terms, extra data is available to make these decisions. Search funnels are rolling out over the next few weeks and will only show data from search ads on Google.com.
New ad extension released: phone extensions – 2nd March 2010
Recently click-to-call phone numbers were made available on local ads using the merchant center feed. This week phone extensions are released to extend this functionality to national campaigns. To view the calls made from these extensions, you can segment the data by click type.
Click to call for local ads – 28th January 2010
Google have just made it much easier to drive phone calls to individual locations straight from the ads in the serps. Starting today, if you have a phone number for each of the locations within your location extensions, and the ads are set to show on mobile phones with full internet browsers, then the phone numbers will appear in the ads. You can check how many calls are received by clicking the filter and views dropdown and viewing the “click type”.
AdWords Product Listing Ads – 11th November 2009
From today, users in the US will notice a dramatic difference in the ads being served against certain product searches. Product Listing Ads work directly with data from advertisers’ Google Merchant Center accounts and display ads without the use of keywords on a risk free basis – paying only when a transaction has occurred. With this new type of ad, it’s possible to create ads featuring images, prices and the merchant name on thousands of products in a very short space of time.
Ad Sitelinks – 3rd November 2009
Ad Sitelinks is a new feature aimed at providing deep links into relevant parts of your site directly from the ad. The headline will continue to point to your destination URL, however, 4 additional URLs will be able to target relevant pages for ads which are of a high-quality.
Updated MCC interface – 23rd October 2009
Management of multiple client accounts has just got easier with the new MCC interface rolling out. It’s now possible to edit account descriptions inline, as well as being able to select accounts and remove with the click of a button without needing to drill down into each account.
Content network tracking: introducing View-through conversions – 30th September 2009
How can you justify a content network campaign you know has had an uplift on conversions, but none are being reported in AdWords? Introducing View-through conversions, which measure the number of conversions that occurred within 30 days of your ad being seen, but without obtaining any clicks
Opportunities Tab beta – 8th September 2009
Starting today, the Opportunities tab is being expanded to UK, Australia and all English language accounts in the next few days. The opportunities tab gives (helpful) suggestions towards keyword and budget ideas. The AdWords Tools are now also included in this tab, so if you can’t find them in your account anymore, it means you’re part of the beta!
New Bid Simulator Tool – 3rd August 2009
The new bid simulator tool will use data from the last 7 days to show you how many more (/less) impressions and how much more (/less) the clicks would have cost if you had a set different max CPC. of course, past performance doesn’t necessarily reflect future performance!
More data in Search Query Reports – 19th May 2009
Starting today, every query which received a click and where the user hasn’t blocked their referral URL will show in search query reports. For those of us frustrated by “1400 other unique queries” being grouped at the bottom of SQRs which contained all the conversion data, this is welcome news!
Update to US trademark policy – 14th May 2009
From the 15th of June 2009, advertisers in the US under certain criteria, will be able to use trademarks in their ads even if they don’t own them or have explicit approval for use. For example, if the advertiser legitimately sells products on their website, then running an ad for those specific products which includes the brand name is going to be allowed. The search based keyword tool can be used to identify which brands Google believes are relevant to the landing pages which should give an indication as to the approval outcome. This will massively impact the ad landscape as we know it, so everyone will need to keep a close(r) eye on performance.
New AdWords Interface trials – 26th March 2009
A beta for the new AdWords interface is being expanded to more countries and languages. Some of the highlights include:
– new performance graphs on every page, tabs for each level of campaign structure, allowing all ad groups or all keywords on one page for example.
– In-line editing, just want to change a quick max cpc? Adjust a budget? You can now do that without having to keep loading new pages.
– a new networks tab to provide more detail on the content network placements.
Whilst the new interface is in beta, advertisers have the ability to switch between old and new interfaces, so don’t get too worried!
New targeting comes to the Content Network – 11th March 2009
A new beta has been launched allowing advertisers to target users based on their interests, rather than the topics or content they’re currently reading. Following on from the demographic targeting brought to the content network this time last year, this is Google’s attempt at targeting advertising based on the individual, not what they’re currently searching for or happen to be reading at the time.
Local Business Ads get new features – 13th January 2009
Up until now, clicks within the local business ad would go through to your website. From today, additional links will be present giving users different options such as “Get Directions”, “Street View” and “Save to My Maps”. Additionally a local business ad report will be available in a few weeks showing their interaction with your ad.
Extending AdWords Ads to the iPhone – 8th December 2008
There is now a new campaign level option extending the reach of text ads to mobile devices with full internet browsers, such as the T-Mobile G1 and the iPhone. No specific formatting is necessary, and campaigns are automatically opted-in. You can choose to create campaigns only targeting these devices, or not target them at all.
Search Keyword Tool beta – 18th November 2008
Ever wondered what keywords Google thinks are relevant for your website? Now you can find out. Instead of trying to discover keywords through guesswork and association with other keywords, you can type in your website address and let Google suggest keywords.
Quality Score improvements – 30th October 2008
The first adjustment will better account for positioning of the ad when considering the relevancy of the CTR.
The second adjustment will change the way the quality threshold for top position slots are applied. Up until now, if the ad with the highest Ad Rank did not meet the threshold, there would be no ads in the top positions. Now, every ad is evaluated against this threshold and ads with lower Ad rank can leapfrog ads that don’t meet the threshold into the much-coveted top ad slots.
Display Ad Builder now launched – 15th October 2008
There are no longer any excuses not to be able to run ads on the Google content network. Google’s display ad builder allows advertisers to adjust images, text, colours and backgrounds easily via a web interface. Currently limited to the US and Canada.
Conversion Optimizer update – 13th October 2008
The conversion Optimizer has now lowered the threshold for running campaigns with CPA bidding to just 50 conversions in 30 days (down from 200 and originally 300)
Google Site Stats update – 17th September 2008
Real-time updates to Quality Score – 21st August 2008
Quality Score will soon be calculated every time a search query is performed – leading to more accurate results. This “real-time” Quality Score means ads will no longer be marked as “Inactive for search”, as that status is constantly being evaluated. The Quality Score for ads currently “inactive for search” are likely to remain low however. Lastly, minimum bids are to be replaced with “first-page bids” giving an indication of a bid amount to reach the first page in recent search results.
Pay Per Action beta being retired – 30th June 2008
The former Doubleclick performics affiliate network has now become the Google Affiliate Network, and with that the retirement of the 17-month long pay-per-action beta in AdWords. The Conversion Optimiser still allows CPA bidding on the search and content networks through AdWords whilst the GAN has CPA and custom bid models for specific publishers.
Ad Planner launched – 24th June 2008
Google Ad Planner, available by invitation only, enables ad planners to type in demographics and websites associated with a particular audience to view associated websites with useful information about sites both on the content network, and those not on it.
Google TV Ads out of beta – 30th April 2008
Google TV ads has been in private beta since June 2007, but is now released to all advertisers in the US. Target by network and dayparting, search for tv programme content and set a maximum CPM to let the Google TV ad auction decide who should get airtime.
Website Optimizer out of beta – 16th April 2008
Website Optimizer, Google’s content testing and optimisation tool has come out of beta. Now available to users who aren’t using AdWords, everyone will be able to perform multivariate testing and improve their website’s conversion rate.
Audio Ads now included in AdWords and Analytics reports 7th March 2008
Google Audio ad data from AdWords now appears in Google Analytics, showing important Audio ad data broadcast on over 1,600 radio stations integrated with (possibly) relevant site data such as increases in website traffic.
Landing page load time to be a factor in Quality Score – 6th March 2008
Long landing page load times are a bad user experience, and Google soon be factoring this metric into Quality Score in order to “encourage” slow websites to speed up, and to reward fast loading websites with lower minimum bids. A 1 month review period will begin in the next few weeks and go live by mid-June.
Demographic targeting on the content network beta – 23rd January 2008
Demographic targeting on the content network beta has launched. You’re now able to amend bids, or even stop ads showing for demographic profiles on certain websites who know their audience profiles. Update: Released from beta 21st March 2008
Conversion Optimiser released – 10th January 2008
First released in September 2007, Conversion Optimizer now comes out of beta and with it, the threshold lowers to 200 conversions a month being tracked through AdWords conversion tracking. Just set a max CPA bid per ad group, and let Google adjust the bids to reach your CPA goals.
Conversion Optimizer beta – 24th September 2007
Another way to use CPA bidding is now available in AdWords by using the conversion optimizer tool. Conversion Optimizer can be used on both the Search and Content network however, in contrast to the Pay Per Action beta launched in March. The website needs to be using AdWords conversion tracking, and 300 conversions in the last 30 days must have been tracked. You set a maximum CPA bid and AdWords then automatically adjusts your keyword bids to try and hit your maximum CPA goal. There is no guarantee of hitting your target CPA however, if your conversion rate drops, then your CPA may be higher than you’d like.
Pay Per Action beta launched – 29th March 2007
Pay Per Action is a new pricing model that allows the advertiser to only pay once actions such as sales, leads or pageviews have been completed after clicking on an ad. The pricing model is restricted to the content network, and advertisers purely have to choose an action, set up conversion tracking, create the ad and set their desired CPA. Currently limited to the US.
Quality Score column introduced – 16th February 2007
Further updates to the Quality Score this week. First of all, minimum bids for brand new keywords which don’t have much history in the ecosystem shouldn’t be prohibitively high like we’ve all seen in the past. Secondly, more accurate prediction of ad quality should further benefit everyone if it’s supposed to do what it’s meant to.
Site Exclusion tool unlimited – 22nd January 2007
You can now exclude an unlimited number of sites in the Site Exclusion tool on the content network. Previously you were limited to just 500 exclusions, so this is a massive improvement in flexibility towards increasing the ROI of this network.
New Ad Format: Local Business Listings – 31st March 2006
From today there is now a new ad format available: local business ad. You can create these in your existing ad groups and are associated with business listings in the local business centre.
Demographic site selection brought to the content network in the US – 9th March 2006
Google have integrated data from comscore to profile sites on the content network in the US. You can now choose 22 different demographics to tailor which sites you want to run ads on. These demographics include age, gender, ethnicity and household income so should help to focus the targeting on the content network to make your ads more relevant.
Backup credit cards introduced to AdWords – 9th February 2006
Ever had an account go offline due to a billing issue? Chances are you have, and today Google have addressed this issue by allowing a backup credit card to be added to an account. Although this doesn’t guarantee your account won’t go offline again, it will certainly help for a large number of cases.
Google trial printed ads auctions in AdWords – 08th February 2006
Google are experimenting with auctioning space in well-known magazines. You can view which magazines are in the trial, and bid on full, half and quarter page ad units. Similar principles to AdWords bidding are involved – you set a max bid amount, and you may get to pay less than this figure. After the auction closes, there’s a manual intervention. Hurry though, as the bid closes on February 20th.
AdWords Editor beta soft launch – 24th January 2006
For those of you who haven’t heard, the AdWords Editor is a desktop application which allows you to download AdWords accounts and work on them offline. Currently a closed beta, we hope the testing goes well and this long-awaited piece of software is released to everyone soon!
Separate Bids for the Content Network – 21st November 2005
It is now possible to apply bids for the search network and the content network separately. Eligibility for each network has also been separated, so it’s now possible to see the status “inactive for search” against keywords. Being forced to run search-level bids on the content network was obviously a bad idea for Google, and it hopes to re-engage disillusioned users with the content network.
Google Analytics integrated with AdWords – 15th November 2005
Google AdWords is now integrated with the recently released Google Analytics. There’s now an “analytics” tab within the AdWords interface so you never have to leave AdWords to view the useful analytics reports. That’s as far as the integration goes – for now.
AdWords login updated to Google Accounts – 18 October 2005
AdWords logins are going to be a thing of the past. By January 15th, all AdWords logins will have to be done via a Google Account.
Site Sections allows more targeted site targeting – 11 October 2005
Some websites on the content network are massive, and performance can vary accordingly. Site sections now allow more granularity on sections or specific pages of a particular site.
My Change History Tool launched – 08 September 2005
Ever looked back in your AdWords account and wondered why certain keyword performance changed 4 months’ ago? Do you currently manually keep a change history? Google have just made your life much easier! The AdWords Tools page now contains a link to the My Change History tool to see what changed, when and by whom!
Introduction of Quality Score – 16 August 2005
Quality Score introduced as part of the update to minimum bids. Quality score now determines minimum-bids, and if your maximum CPC is above this level, your keyword will become active. Gone are the old keyword states of ‘normal’, ‘in trial’, ‘on hold’ and ‘disabled’.
Link My Client Center (MCC) accounts – 21 July 2005
For agencies managing large numbers of accounts, the MCC was a great addition, but you can still find yourself logging in and out of accounts all day long. Now, a hierarchical AdWords system can be created linking multiple MCC accounts together.
Google advertising professionals promotional credits available outside US – 29 June 2005
AdWords promotional credits comes to Google Advertising Professionals in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands and the UK.
Create a new account directly from My Client Center – 29 June 2005
Gone are the days of having to create individual AdWords accounts with individual email addresses. Starting today, advertisers can create brand new accounts directly from the MCC.
Site Targeting introduced – 16 June 2005
From today, keywords are no longer the only way of targeting on the content network. Site targeting now allows the advertiser to choose specific sites to appear on.
AdWords Policy update for Affiliates – 14th January 2005
If you run a search for most competitive commercial term on Google, you will find many paid ads all pointing to the same page. Google thinks this is a bad result for the end user, and so today it’s updated its AdWords policy to only “display one ad for affiliates and parent companies sharing the same display URL per search query”. This will be a major concern for affiliates who don’t have their own sites to send traffic to and must compete to be the affiliate with the highest ad rank from now on. Additionally, affiliates will no longer have to identify themselves as affiliates by way of an “aff” text identifier at the end of the ad.
Content network launched – May 2003
Google launches the Adsense program, enabling individual publishers to display targeted AdWords ads on their own websites reaching more than 100,000 advertisers. Currently only available in English.
Launch of AdWords – 23rd October 2000
Google launch their “self-service advertising program” as an extension to the premium sponsorship program. Originally in beta featuring 350 businesses, AdWords(TM) launches immediately offering instant ads (to appear on the right-hand side only), advanced keyword targeting and web-based reporting. Prices start at $10 CPM for the bottom unit and rise to $12 for the medium and $15 for the top unit.