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Google Ads changes: the good and the bad

Google is set to launch changes to its mobile advertising intended to make it easier for businesses to be successful when using Google Ads. Recently announced at the Google Marketing Live 2019 event, the changes are due to roll out later this year, but what does it mean for digital advertising for online publishers? 

Google Ads and Commerce Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan said the changes revolve around a simple rule for all businesses: “Whether you’re a scrappy entrepreneur or a large company, your marketing goals remains the same: reaching people at the right moments with the right offer. 

“We’ll show how ads can be there, be useful, and be responsible – unlocking more opportunities for you to connect with your customers and grow your business.” 

This means two things for niche publishers: 

  1. It will be easier than ever for small publishers to target their niche via Google Ads
  2. It will be easier than ever for advertising clients to target their niche via Google Ads – at a lower price point than display advertising. 

“Unexpected discovery” targeted by audience 

Google has announced ‘Discovery ads’ to be shown across the Google Discovery feed, YouTube home feed, and Gmail’s Promotions and Social tabs. The ads are to be targeted by audience as opposed to keyword-based search intent to increase the possibility of “unexpected discovery” while a user browses. 

An example of Google Ads in the Discovery feed.
An example of Google Ads in the Discovery feed. Image courtesy of Google.

Raghavan said that these ads are aimed at finding customers “in the moments when they’re open to discovering your products and services”. 

According to Google, the Discovery ads offering is backed by its “incredible reach and creative canvas with Google’s understanding of intent”, which is formulated using information taken from Google-owned properties, such as search activity, YouTube watch behaviour, visits to Google Display Network sites, and Google Play store downloads. 

Discovery ads also incorporates machine learning technology, asking advertisers to upload up to five ad headings and descriptions into the set-up page so that the best-performing combination of heading/description can be defined and served to users. 

Gallery ads

‘Gallery ads’ is due to launch later this year, and aims to bring more visual content into mobile search results. Gallery advertisers will be able to upload up to eight images, each with a different tag line, with the aim of allowing advertisers to efficiently impart more information to users – whether that be about a new product, or a brand story. 

“By combining search intent with a more interactive visual format, gallery ads make it easier for you to communicate what your brand has to offer,” Raghavan said. “We’ve found that, on average, ad groups including one or more gallery ad have up to 25 per cent more interactions – paid clicks or swipes.” 

WordStream’s Online Advertising blog discusses the benefits of Gallery ads to B2C and B2B advertisers, focusing on the visual element as being appealing to consumers, and enabling B2B advertisers to use images and graphics to describe their products, processes and services. 

If you want to hear about the changes straight from Google, the Google Marketing Live event can be accessed on demand here

Will it have an impact on niche publisher digital ad sales?

There are clear benefits to small publishers in using the new Google Ads options to increase brand awareness and find new readership and subscriptions, but the bigger threat lies in any potential fall in display ad revenue that may occur. 

The changes represent additional ‘bang for your buck’ with Google Ads purchases, which already undercut the prices of display advertising. This is likely to hit B2C publications harder than B2B; regardless of Google’s belief that users like an “unexpected discovery”, it is doubtful that a business purchaser browsing their discovery feed has the same purchasing intent as when they are actively seeking news and information about their particular business niche. 

What it does mean is that all publishers need to ensure that they are collecting the right audience and website engagement data, and communicating it to prospective advertisers – clearly demonstrating user engagement, targeted demographics, and any statistics collected on user purchasing decisions. Digital sales teams will need to be comfortable in communicating the latest engagement statistics to advertisers within all their client conversations, not just leaving their media kit to do the talking. 

Stats aside, niche publishers also have the ability to combat the Google beast with their ‘brand’, giving careful consideration to their brand as an ‘influencer’, or their ‘brand’ as representing a community or an association which advertisers may want to be seen to support. 

How do you overcome the objections of advertisers who prefer to use Google Ads or programmatic advertising? Tell us in the comments below. 


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