As the world’s largest search engine, Google reigns supreme in the digital advertising world, controlling most of the market. Because of that, a single update to the Google platform or its advertising functions can really affect an advertising strategy and force digital marketing teams to reassess, mid-campaign. Here are three recent Google updates currently affecting the digital landscape:
Limits to Search Terms Report
Google has recently notified advertisers about its latest update to the search terms report, used within the Google Ads platform. Currently, this tool is used for advertisers to gain insight and awareness as to what search queries are triggering their respective ads. From here, advertisers are able to identify new potential search terms and keywords depending on their frequency, CTR, and other important metrics.
Google is going to start limiting the terms listed on this report by only including “significant” terms. The term significant here applies to the number of users. Consequently, advertisers and users of the platform are expected to see fewer terms going forward. This update aligns with Google’s commitment to user data integrity and high standards for privacy.
We don’t quite know how many terms this is going to impact, but we’re anticipating terms with impressions or clicks as low as 1. As we adapt to this new restriction, search query management will move towards negative keywords management.
While these low-volume queries aren’t always crucial, they still are receiving some portion of your Google Ads budget, and advertisers are concerned that their dollars are going to waste on data they are never going to see.
As we still aren’t entirely sure of the scope of these implications, we can assume this is just a small update of a large and ever-evolving movement. Advertisers will still have high-volume keyword data and will be able to hold onto their historical data. From here, we can continue to optimize – employing dynamic search ads, utilizing audience segments, and leveraging organic search terms. What we can count on is that Google’s algorithm is continually getting “smarter” and finding new ways to understand user search queries.
New Search Features for Personal Brand Visibility
In mid-August, Google announced public search profile cards, “People Cards,” for mobile search users in India. The feature acts similar to the current Google Knowledge Panel and will show up in the same fashion as celebrities and businesses in the right-hand section in search. Google appears to be testing the feature and has yet to announce plans for a complete roll-out.
People Cards are intended to help improve visibility for personal brands by including useful links and information for potential employers, customers, and clients. This feature is designed with business professionals, influencers, performers, entrepreneurs, job seekers, and anyone else looking to grow their online presence in mind. Similar to LinkedIn, Google users will be able to enter information that could be beneficial to others, such as a personal description, contact information, website, occupation, employer, social media accounts. The card will also include the profile image from the user’s Google account.
To create a card, one must sign in to a Google account and search their own name. After submitting the search, select “Add me to search” or “Edit my Google card” then complete all profile prompts. Requirements include a Google account and phone number, used for authentication. If users share a name with another card user, multiple People Cards will show up in search results. A card can be deleted by its owner at any time.
As with all digital platforms, there is a risk of spam and abuse of this feature. Google claims to have a strong vetting system in line to mitigate potential threats, such as impersonations and inappropriate content. Expect measures similar to those for other Google features, such as account authentication and limited use per Google account.
New Restrictions on Housing, Employment, and Credit Advertising
Google prides itself on having users’ best interests and privacy in mind, including policies created to protect users and advertisers from unlawful behavior such as discrimination. Examples of these policies include preventing advertisers from targeting based on ethnicity, religious affiliations, sexual orientation, or race.
As a part of Google’s ongoing commitment to advertising integrity, Google is rolling out new restrictions on housing, employment, and credit opportunities. Organizations advertising these types of services will be impacted as they will no longer be able to target based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or zip code.
These new policies will take effect on October 19, 2020, and will apply in the U.S. and Canada only. Advertisers that have not made appropriate adjustments by this date will be unable to create any new campaigns until they click to accept the changes.
If your ads fall under one of these categories, anticipate an impact on both Paid Search and Display campaigns within Google as both currently utilize these targeting features. As the update rolls out, anticipate a potential shift in performance. Targeting is going to be less granular and ad dollars will not be able to be prioritized towards the same exact audience. It is important to remember that these classifications should be universal and would therefore affect competitors as well, leveling the playing field.
These changes will require more creativity than ever with reaching demographic-specific audiences. Fortunately, interest and behavior targeting are still available through target affinity and in-market audiences, however ongoing conversation around new interests and details around key personas will be key.
In most cases, it will be necessary to work through shifting any geo-targeting from zip codes to cities, regions, and radius targeting. Depending on the location and surrounding populations, adjusting the size of the radius may be an option. The power of negative keywords is really going to come into play here. Consistently reviewing search terms and removing irrelevant search queries will help weed out extraneous individuals.
Staying on top of changes within the Google Marketing Platform and taking advantage of all available resources is key.