AdWords Innovations to Test in 2016

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Dr. Dave Chaffey shares his insights into three new development themes that have taken place with AdWords this year and explains why these will prove important to digital marketers in 2016.

For many years, the innovations in natural search ranking factors seemed bigger and more frequent than new features in Google AdWords. Now, this situation is reversed with many many changes in AdWords that can potentially improve ROI. If you take a look at the Moz Algorithm change history for SEO you can see that in 2015 there have been far fewer enhancements to ranking factors than in previous years. Arguably, the last major one was the move to favour ‘Mobile-friendly’ sites for smartphone search users back in April.

To help marketers using AdWords take advantage of the latest changes in AdWords, Zoe O’Neil, our Director of Paid Search at ClickThrough Marketing, will be summarising the implications of the main changes in a free webinar: Future proofing your AdWords account & strategy for 2016. Her talk is part of a series of talks in the Smart Insights Digital Marketing Priorities 2016.

The Latest Changes in AdWords

In this post I’ll take a look at some of the changes to AdWords that have caught my eye in the last three months or so when referencing Google’s New AdWords features listing.

Unless you work closely with AdWords, you may not know this listing hidden away in AdWords help and launched in April 2015. If you manage digital marketing or marketing as a whole, it’s well worth knowing about it, since it gives a great way to review with your in-house AdWords specialist or agency account director.

AdWords developments

So, what’s hot? Here are three of the themes I have picked out.

Increasing Simplicity and Competition

Scanning the listing you can see that, unsurprisingly, there are some features that are aimed at simplifying AdWords and which at the same time are likely to increase competition and so the cost-per-click. For example:

  • Bid for top content on the Display Network - 2 November
  • Get your ad in the first position of search results - 5 October


Improving targeting of messages through more relevant ads. Changes include:

  • Customize your ad based on your potential customer’s location. - 28 September
  • Find your negative keywords and search terms faster - 25 September

Google explains the degree of sophistication now possible for dynamic ads: “Ad customizers can now adapt your text ads to what someone is searching for, which device she’s using, where he’s located, or even the date, time of day, or day of the week. They can insert a price, the time left before a sale ends, and any other text that you define. For example, a line of text that says 'Hurry, sale ends in ____ days!' could be filled in with the right number of days—and that’s just the beginning.”


The biggest change here is Customer Match which lets you upload a list of email addresses and, when users are signed into Google Search, YouTube or Gmail, you can show them ads.

  • Upload email lists to reach new and existing customers across Google Search, Gmail and YouTube - 1 October
  • Share Google Analytics data and remarketing lists more efficiently using manager accounts (MCC) - 20 November


There are a number of tools here to help with more efficient spending and giving better cross-channel visibility:

  • Estimate your results with bid simulators - 11 October
  • Get actionable audience insights based on your remarketing lists - 30 September
  • Viewing performance across campaign types with interaction columns (Text, image, Trueview video) - 2 September

The bid simulator is important since there are so many types of bid adjustments that are now available including: Mobile, Location, Ad scheduling, Top content,Targeting methods - it’s worth knowing what you’re changing.

So you can see there is a LOT going on with AdWords innovations - these are just from the last three months… To find our more, including many changes I haven’t mentioned, don’t miss Zoe O’Neil’s free AdWords webinar. It covers much more with best practices, examples and forecasting, all to help in 2016.

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