Google Shifts its Mobile Focus to Paid Search

Andrew Gorry | May 14th 2015

We’ve heard a lot about the dubiously named “Mobilegeddon”, which worried businesses into thinking they were about to lose valuable search rankings when mobile-friendliness became a more important ranking factor. But Google’s focus on mobile isn’t restricted to organic. Paid search has been getting some serious attention of late.

On May 5 Google’s VP of AdWords Product Management Jerry Dischler took to the stage at Google’s AdWords Livestream event and detailed a series of coming updates to the AdWords platform.

The main emphasis was on capturing and tracking users whilst in the ‘micro-moment’ – specifically, whilst using mobile devices. This came as little surprise as mobile search has now overtaken desktop, yet driving and tracking those mobile ad conversions remains a challenge for most advertisers.

It’s not uncommon for many advertisers to neglect mobile search entirely or bid much lower on mobile; this is due to the fact that conversion rates that can be attributed on mobile are typically much lower than on desktop, which drives CPAs up – not a desirable situation.

To combat this and to increase ad spend on mobile, Google’s upcoming AdWords enhancements aim to increase mobile conversion for ads in the finance, hotel and automotive verticals, and allow much greater depth of data when it comes to tracking and attributing mobile users and cross-device conversions. Google is also promising improved forecasting and automation for CPA targeting.

Mobile Ads for Automotive, Hotels and Finance

Mobile users searching for hotel rooms will soon see mobile ads designed for ease of use and clarity of information. Users can swipe to see images of rooms, pools and bars, fro example. They will be able to compare options and book through mobile without once hitting the advertiser’s site.

Phone screenshots

Mobile users searching for vehicles can expect a similar experience, comparing vehicles, swiping through images of vehicles and locating nearby dealerships.

Mobile users searching for financial products will see a greater range of unbiased results detailing a range of product information important to the consumer. Insurer rating will allow users to select insurers based on customer rating instead of price alone. Mortgage ads for Google compare will allow searches to compare the latest rates and better understand their options, again with each lender’s rating being clear to the consumer.

GDN auto resize

Google will now auto-resize display creatives, meaning the 14 ad formats needed to maximise exposure and reach across the entire GDN have now been reduced to just three. This should be a huge time-saver. Trials for this have already seen positive results; Google’s test campaign resulted in a 20% increase in conversions and a CPA reduction of 16%.

Compare exampleCross-device Conversions

Tracking conversions which begin on one device and complete on another is a difficult task, but one that is increasing in importance as more users make initial product enquires on mobile and later convert via desktop or tablet once the transaction has been considered. Tracking this process should become much easier with Google’s upcoming updates. Marketers will soon be able to track initial enquiries beginning on for example mobile and completing later on desktop or tablet.

AdWords Attribution Model

Google’s new data-driven attribution modelling should simplify the process of correctly attributing conversions within AdWords. With your own conversion data you will no longer be tied to a last click attribution model and will be able to properly optimise bids for conversion either manually or with Google’s automated bidding. This should be rolled out in the coming few months.

Dynamic Search Ads

Greater visibility and control of dynamic search ads (DSAs) will allow marketers to better understand category targets, CPCs and landing pages. This improved clarity should prove to be extremely useful for those using the current DSAs.

Automatic Bidding Tools

Google’s new CPA simulation tools should allow for more accurate forecasting when building or researching new campaigns with a target CPA. Volume and Cost metrics will be estimated based on the specified target CPA. Automated bidding with CPA will also be improved.

Google’s main focus is clearly on improving the mobile user experience and increasing advertising spend across mobile devices, delivering the right information at the right time and allowing advertisers greater insights into the user journey. There is also a great emphasis on improved automation and a reduction in the more labour-intensive aspects of AdWords. A developing area seems to be dynamic search ads; I would expect to see continued progress in this area in the coming months and years. The biggest takeaway from the event was that advertisers wanting to continue brand growth, user engagement and drive conversions should look to mobile as this area continues to grow and develop.