Roundup of the 3 big AdWords changes announced in the past week
In the midst of the fallout of last month's exposé in the Times that ads on Google Display Network (GDN) were appearing on terrorist or pornographic websites, Google has been busy making announcements about how they're helping brands and being transparent with their metrics.
In a brilliant move to increase the data at users fingertips, or a desperate ploy to detract from the fallout from the revelations about GDN (delete according to your take on the Google ads debacle), Google have just announced two new metrics they'll be providing to AdWords users. They've also introduced a close variants feature which changes how exact match keywords work.
Unique Reach Metric
To show users how many people are really seeing their ad content, they've created the new 'unique reach' metric. This allows you to see the number of unique users and average impressions-per-user across devices, screens and platforms. This brings AdWords metrics into line with Facebook's 'exact reach' metric which shows the number of plays per user and number of unique views. It's about time AdWords introduce this kind of reporting, but useful for users now it has arrived.
Watch time metric
When delivering video ad impressions, the number of people seeing the video is only one part of the equation. You also want to know how long people watch the video for. If most are only watching for 6 seconds or less than your content probably isn't really having much of an impression, whilst if people are sticking around for over 15 seconds your message may well be getting through. AdWords will now be reporting on watch time as well as viewability and audibility metrics, for in-stream and bumper campaigns. Bumpers are the 6-second unskippable videos at the start of YouTube videos, for those that aren't aware of that latest video marketing jargon.
Close variants - Diluting Exact Match Keywords
Another change coming out of AdWords HQ this week is Google's changing of the rules for establishing what counts as an 'Exact Match' for Exact Match keywords, with a feature called 'close variants'. Funnily enough, the new rules mean it doesn't have to be that exact. With this change, Google will ignore word order and function words when determining whether to trigger an Ad for an 'Exact Match' keyword. This shows a new level of trust in the machine learning algorithm to deliver matches even when word order can differ. Google says it will not fire exact match keyword Ads when it's algorithm establishes that changing the word order will change the meaning of the search. 'London to Budapest flights' obviously has a different meaning from 'Budapest to London flights' for example despite containing the same words.
You can select keywords you definitely don't want ads to fire on - For example, if you sell car themed stationary, you would want your ads to appear on 'car stationary', but not on 'stationary car'. But the onus is on you to say what you don't want bidding on, rather than what you do, which puts a lot of power in Google's hands and very little in the advertisers. Often you may only discover Google is firing ads on the keywords you didn't want bidding on, and then add them to your exclude list- after you've spent a load of money bidding on keywords you didn't want to.
Google is essentially saying, better to end up wasting some bid on useless keywords than risk missing out on lots of good ones. But Google would say that since it means more bids and thus more revenue for them. You might find Google's changes to 'Exact Match' keywords lets you reach more people and bring in more business, but it sends power to Google in a way that may well be bad for users in the long run.