Earlier this month, Google announced its latest changes to Google Ads and, more specifically the phasing out of modified broad match modifier keywords (you can read more about it here). With more changes on the horizon we look at what actions you can take now to ensure your biddable media campaigns are in the best shape possible for the year ahead.

Trial dynamic search ads in preparation for the removal of match types completely.

It’s been some time since exact match keywords have been truly exact match, with changes to close variants becoming the norm some 18 months ago.
In the short-term, we can expect removal of several match types to be replaced by one uniform match type and, in the current landscape, we’d anticipate phrase match type becoming the new normal moving forwards.

What this means for you: If you haven’t already, start to look at trialling DSA (dynamic search ads) activity to measure performance vs traditional search keywords. Where possible look to condense keyword lists / match types and coverage to avoid new potential keyword overlap and inflated CPC’s.

Make the most of SMART bidding.

There have been significant changes to SMART (automated) bidding strategies and deployment of these within the Google Ads platform over the last 12 months, really accelerating their value and bringing these strategies to the fore across activity. There have also been some subtle and less publicised changes such as campaign goals and conversion action sets.
Ultimately, these updates allow you to build-out multiple different conversion types for each area of the user journey and assign them to specific campaigns. This means there isn’t a SMART bidding rule or campaign goal that wouldn’t cover any brand advertisers objectives.

Realistically we can expect to see manual CPC bidding phased out of accounts in the very near future, and advertisers who are using the platform for traffic/reach are well placed to optimise towards maximum click opportunity and targeting impression share through SMART bidding?

What this means for you: Ensure you are building out specific goals across all advertising campaigns and think about the measurement framework you want to use to measure success on a campaign by campaign or cluster level.

Get stuck into Universal Campaigns.

We’ve all seen the value DSA (Dynamic Search Ads) campaigns can bring to your advertising campaigns and as well as the development of both responsive search and responsive display ads, Google are making it even easier for users to expand across all of their properties than ever before.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we could shortly see BETAs of universal campaigns which allows users to upload their audience-based targeting, headlines, descriptions, logo and GMC (Google Merchant Center) product feed. These could then be served across all Google properties in-line with the campaign objectives, conversion action sets and SMART bidding targets set by the advertiser, ultimately bringing an end to separate network campaigns.

What this means for you: Ensure that a testing framework is already underway where you are utilising RSA (responsive search ads) and RDA (responsive display ads) where you can understand your best performing headlines, descriptions and calls to action.

Prepare for keyword-less accounts by maximising the use of existing audience data.

The emphasis Google has placed on audience lists, SMART bidding, campaign goals and conversion action sets can be seen as indicators that we are not too far away from the phasing out keywords within Google Ads accounts altogether.

This move would bring a huge reliance, not only on audience data and remarketing lists, but also on the relevancy of landing pages to your audience and the content that sits on there. This means that advertisers will need to ensure there is greater harmony between PPC/SEO/content teams so they can deliver a seamless user journey for their audience.

What this means for you: It is imperative that audience data, whether it is Google’s first party audiences, or your own first party remarketing or CRM lists are at the forefront of your paid search activity. Ensure you’re using as many audiences as possible and always measure performance of each audience. Also, ensure content on your landing pages is highly relevant to your target end-user as this will help instruct more accurate targeting of automated campaigns.

Remember to analyse the value of your activity in advance of signed-in only queries.

Keyword-less accounts can only really work to their full potential if we get closer to users being signed into a Google account so they can submit queries across the platform. This would represent a huge shift for Google but, it would remove a lot of the “unknown” data that can still be seen when pulling reporting from the platform.
The shift would help to stimulate the accuracy and size of Google’s first party audiences such as affinity and in-market audiences, and finally help Google navigate their way through the cookie-less future.

What this means for you: If you are not already doing so, look to profile your audience in greater depth by leveraging your existing first party data and get stuck into analysing the value of your activity. With only a year to go until all major browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari) block the use of third-party cookies, it’s imperative you plan well in advance for life in a cookie-less world.