Thanks to the fun of Enhanced Campaigns, 2013 was an extremely interesting year for PPC. Google made
a ton of changes that we all had to learn to adapt to. Looking ahead to 2014 don’t expect anything as
radical again, but there will be some major areas of change for us to focus on:
Ads Will Be More Obvious
Have you seen the orange Google “Ad” images yet? If not, you’ll probably start to see them soon.
After an FCC ruling earlier in the year told the major search engines that they had to be more visible about what is an ad and what isn’t, Google has been quietly testing the impact of these changes.
I’m interested to see what happens with this. Most likely is that CTRs will dip slightly across the board,
in which case don’t expect Google to implement it without a fight. On the other hand, the orange buttons
are actually kind of eye catching. We’ll keep you in the loop as results start to trickle in.
The Search Results Page Is Getting Prettier!
Or should that be more cluttered? This one really depends on your perspective. We’ve already seen a
load of reports about Google testing large banner ads on brand terms. What this tells us is that Google
seems to be more open than ever to testing everything and anything that will improve the user experience.
On top of the above “Visual Search Ads” Google also announced on the AdWords blog that they were
experimenting with Image Ad Extensions (see below). By adding these image extensions, not only are
PPC ads getting more real-estate (and thus higher CTRs) but they also become much more appealing to
the average user.
This approach is shown outside of PPC too. You might have started to notice the new aesthetic to a lot of
image-based search results using the new black bar at the top of the page:
We don’t expect all of these changes to be fully implemented anytime soon, but they will start to play a
larger role in PPC. Until Google can develop a more efficient way to get through image approvals, it should
be slow going.
PLAs Become Even More Important
PLAs are moving from the right hand side of the SERP to the top spots on the left hand side. Not only have
PLAs been growing at a huge rate for Google, they’ve also been outperforming regular text ads.
What this means for you:
- More traffic for your PLA campaigns
- Less traffic for your non-PLA campaigns that bid on product terms
- Potentially higher CPCs for PLA term as competition increases
- Managing PLAs will become even more important – make sure you get your feed well optimized and
- negative keyword strategy in place
- Expect lots of updates to make PLAs easier to use. We’ve already seen Google Shopping campaigns
- introduced and if Google has proved anything with Enhanced Campaigns it is their commitment to
- simplifying things for small advertisers. At present PLAs & feed management can be restrictive to less
- experienced advertisers.