Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is constantly changing and evolving. You could go on a week long vacation, and by the time you get back you’re faced by a completely new set of tools and features!
This fast-paced, ever-changing environment really pushes Traffic Managers to stay up-to-date on the latest features available to them.
We have to remain in tune to the pulse of the PPC environment always.
To keep you in the loop, I’ve put together a list of 10 recent PPC features and how we have used them to rock out our PPC campaigns at Honeypot Marketing.
We’ll also give you a sneak peak at three of our favourite features that are “coming soon” from AdWords, Bing, Facebook, and when to expect them.
#1) Google Location & Call Extension Updates
Google recently announced that they would be making two very important updates to location and call extensions.
Starting in January, 2017, location extensions now automatically include phone numbers from Google My Business.
Additionally, automated call extensions in mobile search ads will automatically pull phone numbers from the landing page.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is.
Well, this will be great in the long-run, but it does have some immediate implications.
As of January 19th, Google may begin showing local retail phone numbers when a location extension is shown, even if a different number is specified in a call extension set for that campaign.
These calls can potentially go untracked, skewing paid search results.
These numbers may also see an increase in call volume, which can be an issue if they are unprepared for the change.
In order to make sure calls are directed appropriately, advertisers should ensure their Google My Business listings have the accurate phone numbers for each listed location.
But what if you prefer to have calls directed to a central number or call center?
To opt out of having local numbers show in location extensions, Google is offering a limited time form.
However, they advise users that this opt-out could negatively impact ad impressions.
At the time of this writing, Google is exploring conversion tracking on location-specific phone numbers, but in the meantime, opting-out may be the best option for advertisers.
As of February 6th, Google introduced automated call extensions in mobile search ads that are set to automatically pull phone numbers featured on landing pages.
This is great because if you are currently not using call extensions but are directing traffic to a landing page with strong call-to-action for searchers to place a phone call, Google will automatically create call extensions from these numbers!
Unfortunately, there is also a downside to this.
If advertisers don’t opt-out, they will be able to receive call attribution and call duration reports, but may lose caller metadata insights, differentiation between new and return callers, conversion analytics, integrations to CRMs, and spam prevention.
If these metrics are significant to your business, fear not because you can opt-out of automated extensions, preserving precious data and insights!
#2) Facebook Introduces Interest-Based Targeting For Dynamic Ads
Facebook recently announced a large expansion to their Dynamic Ads service.
The update will combine user’s browsing history, along with factors such as likes, ad clicks, and demographic information, to find users who exhibit similar behaviours on Facebook and e-commerce sites across the web.
Currently, this update is only available for a select number of e-commerce and retail advertisers, who have already experienced great success.
Wayfair.ca was able to increase customer acquisition targets by 20% simply by adding leveraging expanded Dynamic Ads to their paid marketing strategy.
The update will be gradually rolled out to more advertisers and industries over 2017, so hold tight on this one!
#3) Facebook Mid-roll Ads
Facebook recently announced that they will start showing ads in the middle of videos.
With 55% of all sales going to the publishers, this announcement mirrors the current YouTube offer set up.
This update presents a great opportunity for advertisers to monetize Facebook video, but some are skeptical that the actual results may include reduced video engagement.
As reported by Marketing Land, these ads will be limited to 15-seconds.
Advertisements will only appear after viewers have watched the video for at least 20 seconds, and they can only appear in videos that are at least 90 seconds long.
The thought with these limitations is that once a viewer has invested 20 seconds into a video, they will stay through the advertisement to see the end.
Limiting these spots to videos that are at least 90 seconds also urges publishers to lengthen content and create truly compelling videos.
On the back-end, these advertisements will appear as a placement labeled “In-Stream Videos”.
If an advertiser wishes to opt out of the placement, they will simply have to uncheck the placement box in the campaign set up.
Advertisers can also specify the categories of videos in which they want their ads to run, as well as where they don’t want their ads to run.
Facebook has declined to comment on the details, so we’re not 100% sure on release dates and details surrounding the new format.
For now, however, agencies are urged to ramp up their video content production in a BIG way!
#4) Standard Google Text Ads Are Dead. Long Live Extended Text Ads
This one’s been on Traffic Managers radars for a while, but now it’s actually happening. Standard Google Text Ads (STAs) are dead and Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are here to stay.
In fact, they are now your only option.
As of January 31st, advertisers have lost the ability to create and edit STAs.
Existing STAs that have not been expanded will continue to serve, but you won’t be able to modify their content.
Although this update presented us with a bit of tedious legwork, overall it’s a great move by Google. It gives us more space (almost 50% more, to be exact) at the same price, and additional headline text!
To make the most of this new format, consider this an opportunity to revamp your entire advertisement.
Take advantage of your new character limits and don’t be afraid to max out your real estate.
In their short time in existence, we’ve already seen a large increase in CTR and decrease in Avg. CPC!
#5) YouTube In-App Messaging
Quick question (and no Googling allowed). What the #2 largest site on the internet?
You guessed it…YouTube.
Interestingly with the publicity of up and coming social networks and mobile tools YouTube has become “mainstream” in a very short period of time.
YouTube is one of the most powerful advertising channels around and all of their new features can have a massive impact on your demand generation campaigns.
YouTube has been testing the In-App Messaging feature since last May, and we are super excited to have learned that it has now officially launched!
Only available in Canada (at this time), the messaging feature is built directly in YouTube’s platform, making it easier for users to chat and share videos.
Overall, the update will encourage users to interact more on YouTube, rather than leaving the platform for social alternatives.
The update fosters more of a conversation around video content, which has the potential to increase video views and sharing.
YouTube also wants to capitalize on the messenger mega-boom happening now, with the world’s top four messaging apps claiming nearly 3 billion monthly active users combined.
This change has a huge impact on viral-ability.
The ability to share content without ever leaving the application is a giant step for YouTube and we are excited to see its impact on the social landscape!
#6) Live Audio Content on Facebook
Launched in December, the Facebook Live Audio feature lets users listen to voice recordings and publish audio-only content.
You’ve probably noticed that Live Videos on Facebook have really begun to heat up.
It’s not uncommon for large brands to use this tool as a part of their social strategy.
We’ve seen great success with it, using the tool to promote everything from events to various weekly series.
Think about Live Audio in the same way. Users simply go live from their Facebook app with the press of a button.
The audience is then able to tune in and listen live. After the broadcast, the content remains on the user’s profile as an audio file.
The feature is currently only available to a handful of publishers and authors, including BBC World Service, HarperCollins and Adam Grant, but will be rolling out to users periodically throughout this year and the next.
When available, it presents a tremendous opportunity for advertisers, with the potential to capitalize how brands are currently winning over audiences with Live Video.
#7) The Google Mobile First Index
Now, this is a big one. So big, in fact, that we covered it in a blog of its own, which you can find here!
In short, Google announced a new index and “way of working” called the Google Mobile First Index.
Mobile devices are fast outpacing desktop and laptop devices, and Google wants to capitalize on this by presenting search results specifically designed for mobile devices and likewise for desktop searches.
“The introduction of the Mobile First Index is a critical change for Google and will change the way we all create, optimize, create content for our web properties.”
For more information on this update, visit our post: Worried About The Google Mobile First Index? We Can Help.
#8) Ad Extensions Scheduling from Bing Ads
Bing announced on January 19th the release of their Ad Extension Scheduling tool. You are now able to control when your ad extensions appear, which can save you big-time money and clicks!
The feature allows you to enhance your ads with time-sensitive offers, deals and promotions.
It is available for the following extension types: app extension, sitelink extension, callout extension, call extension, review extension, location extension and structures snippet extension.
We’ve been using and loving this feature when it comes to call extensions (mainly because it has had a huge impact on campaign performance).
The ability to only show call extensions during office hours (aka, the times when someone can actually pick up the phone!) has been a game changer for our projects.
You can access this settings like this…
#9) Instagram Story Ads
When Instagram originally announced that they had plans to release the Story feature, we all knew this was coming eventually.
On January 11th, Facebook announced that they are starting to let brands test advertising in their 24-hour video stories section.
AdWeek reported that 30 brands are already trying the new full-screen ads, including Capital One, Asos, Nike, Buick and Airbnb.
These ad placements present a huge opportunity because of Instagram’s ad technology and audience targeting.
Advertisements will be sold on the platform’s auction-style, automated system that charges cost-per-thousand-impression rates.
These placements are currently only available to the clients currently testing with Instagram. However, we can expect a huge splash in digital marketing when they are released on a large scale.
#10) The Facebook Journalism Project
On January 11th, Facebook announced the much anticipated Facebook Journalism Project. This project is a collaboration with publishers and journalists to improve the quality of online news.
Along with the project, Facebook has also taken steps to reduce the spread of news hoaxes.
This includes measures for people to report fake stories easily, minimized financial incentives for spammers, and collaborations with fact-checking organizations.
“We will be collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.”
Along with this project, Facebook launched a series of e-courses for journalists to discover content and engage with readers.
Although this announcement won’t have an immediate impact on PPC campaigns, we can assume it will impact Traffic Managers in the long run.
Coming Soon to Your PPC Campaigns…
A huge part of being a great Traffic Manager is keeping an eye (and ear) on future trends. A few exciting features that we expect will be released soon…
Amazon/Google Product Listing Ads
Until now, Amazon has refused to participate in Google Shopping, only running text ads.
However, in late 2016, Amazon began testing Google Product Listing Ads in certain categories. The details on this one are still very much still in the air.
BUT, as a potential competitor for nearly all retailer search advertisers, if Amazon decides to pursue PLA’s, it will have major ramifications for Digital Marketing.
Facebook Instant Articles Updates
For online publishers, Facebook Instant Articles have been a Godsend.
Having the capability to serve up content, all without leaving the application, has had a huge impact on readership and distribution.
And it gets better…
Facebook is currently testing a way for publishers to combine multiple Instant Articles into one post, allowing the reader to swipe through multiple unrelated stories. Expect this update to come by the end of the year and make huge splashed when it does!
Google AdWords Dashboard Upgrades
To be honest, this is the update I am most looking forward too.
The new interface is designed around three main principles: data at your fingertips, focus on your business, and powerful, yet simple.
We can expect new dashboards, an improved navigation system, new AdWords campaign creation wizards, and possibly the removal of the AdWords Dimensions tab.
Google aims to release by the end of the year, and we have our fingers crossed that this comes true.
To see some screenshots and get more details, check out this post from our friends at WordStream!