Every year, Google introduces new ad formats, changes AdWords settings and introduces a few high profile tests into the wild.
This year saw a lot more aggressive monetization by Google, with several high profile changes that increased the real estate for ads at the expense of unpaid listings.
This roundup covers eight key changes introduced to AdWords in 2012:
- Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads
- Overhauled Location Targeting
- Dynamic Search Ads
- Enhanced Sitelinks
- Offer Extensions
- Dynamic Display Ads
- Mobile App Extensions
- AdWords for Video
1. Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads
Google Product Search, formerly Froogle, was once a free tool to allow anyone with a Merchant Center account to include their products in the visual product listings that sometimes appeared in search results.
This year, Google shifted those results to be entirely commercial and rebranded it Google Shopping. These ads are now powered entirely by Product Listing Ads and take two forms.
First, they appear as a band of sponsored image ads, with product pictures, price and vendor, underneath the top search results listing:
Second, certain specific product searches will replace the right column of search results with a product description and links to retailers:
This is a dramatic change to the search results, how Google monetizes and paid search in general. It furthers the 2-year-old march towards paid search without keywords. Every retailer must incorporate these ads as a part of their AdWords strategy.
For more education, check out these resources.
How to create Product Listing Ads:
How to optimize your Product Listing Ads:
Watch Rimm-Kauffman Group’s webinar with Google about Product Listing Ads and read Google’s best practices for Google Shopping (pdf). Google blog post, Google Shopping: momentum and merchant success, details some of the other changes and highlights merchants who have had success.
2. Overhauled Location Targeting
Location Targeting in AdWords got an overhaul with a new location targeting tool and some more sophisticated options for local targeting. This change is particularly relevant for brick-and-mortar retailers with a limited service area and companies that need or want to target specific areas.
The most prominent change is the introduction of ZIP code targeting.
This targeting works well with location insertions for ads with location extensions, which automatically creates custom ads based on the users location.
Other features, like airport targeting, can be a huge boon for car rental companies or local hotels:
Politicians got a break with Congressional district targeting:
Watch this video to learn the basics:
3. Dynamic Search Ads
If you really want to catch a glimpse of the future of paid search, pay close attention to Dynamic Search Ads. This new technology will automatically crawl your site, according to logic you define, and created dynamic ads that combine information from their crawl with your ad template:
The ads only trigger for search queries that aren’t eligible to match existing keywords in your account. Theoretically, this allows you to address gaps in your account and more quickly adapt to changing inventory.
There are many technical nuances to setting up and tracking these new ads.
4. Enhanced Sitelinks
In many ways, paid search has become a competitor to organic listings. This has become especially true in the top listing, which appears above organic results and pushes them lower on the page.
Most recently, Google expanded their sitelinks with enhanced sitelinks:
This creates a block of essentially five ads in the premier results location. Google automatically looks for text ads elsewhere in your account that match the sitelinks for your campaign and pulls in lines 1 and 2.
Read more: Enhanced sitelinks rolling out globally.
5. Offer Extensions
Google Offer Extensions add an offer below your text, similar to sitelinks. Offers can be redeemed online (trackable) or offline(not measurable in AdWords).
Offers only appear when you’re ad is in the top position. They’re primarily meant for brick-and-mortar retailers, but offers can be used online as well.
SEER Interactive has a nice write-up on the ins-and-outs of Offers extensions.
6. Dynamic Display Ads
Three years ago (!) Google acquired a company called Teracent whose technology:
…creates display ads entirely customized to the specific consumer and site. The startup’s proprietary algorithms automatically pick the creative parts of a display ad (images, colors, text) in real-time determined by like geographic location, language, the content of the website, the time of day or the past performance of different ads.
This year, that acquisition finally came to fruition with the introduction of Dynamic Display Ads. The ad is one template whose featured product varies based on where the ad is shown.
Like Dynamic Search Ads, this is a step towards full automating the advertising process. In this case, it makes scaling ecommerce display much more efficient.
Watch Google’s brief overview:
7. Mobile App Extensions
Apple’s App Store isn’t very marketer friendly. Google answered the call of advertisers looking to promote their apps for download with new Mobile App Extensions.
This adds a sitelinks-like option underneath your main text ad:
These are an optional extension to your existing ads:
You can even track downloads in iOS if you integrate a snippet of code into your app.
Watch Google’s video for a high level overview:
8. AdWords for Video
YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google and in the top 5 sites on the entire Internet. Google simplified the buying of video ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network with AdWords for video.
Targeting, measurement, and reporting for video ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network are integrated into AdWords.
To get a general overview read about Google video ads or watch Google’s overview video:
For detailed tactical advice, start with their step-by-step guide to YouTube (pdf).