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A new report shows that paid search ads are the fastest growing way to advertise online for retailers. 

According to the findings from eMarketer, retail advertisers in the US will spend a combined $13.12 billion on search ads in 2019, up more than 20% from last year. 

In 2020, it is projected that spending will grow even more, to $15.65 billion. 

While search engine advertising is an effective advertising method for most industries, the report suggests that retailers benefit more than other sectors due to specific tools and features. For example, it cites how search ads may appear in Google Maps and show local stock of specific products, which can help drive real-world traffic and sales. 

Based on their data, the report estimates that 46.3% of digital ad spend from retailers will be used on search engine advertising, compared to the industry average of 41.5%.

Similarly, this rate is expected to grow even more in 2020 to account for 47.3% of total retail digital ad spending:

“Retail overindexes on search because bottom-funnel search ads are essential for driving ecommerce, and Google Shopping ads have become a go-to ad product for retail advertisers. Conversion rates for retailers using Google Shopping ads range from 1.1% to 3.1%.”

Part of this growth may be attributed to new burgeoning opportunities outside of Google’s search ecosystem. For example, the report identifies Amazon search as a potential driving force for future retail advertising.

This week Google held its annual Marketing Live event to reveal the latest innovations in online advertising, and the latest ad units aim to provide a more consistent experience across all of Google’s advertising platforms while also introducing new ways to advertise across the web.

The new ad units, including Discovery ads, Gallery ads, and Showcase Shopping ads, are all highly visual and highly automated, relying on the same automation model as Universal App Campaigns.

Here’s what you need to know about all the newest ways to advertise with Google:

Discovery Ads

Google has used the “Discovery” section of its platform to highlight content and sites it feels may be relevant to your interests. Now, brands and websites can also target this section with ads in the Discovery area, visible under the search box in the Google mobile app, in Gmail under the social promotions tabs, and in the YouTube home feed.

As Google VP of Product Management Brad Bender explained during the Marketing Live event, Discovery ads are intended to be “visually rich, mobile first, and use the ‘power of intent’”, meaning the ad service relies strongly on signals from users like past site visits, app downloads, or video views.

The company says the Discovery feed now reaches more than 800 million users around the world, making this a highly attractive area to target with ads.

Gallery Ads

Another new format introduced at the Marketing Live event is Gallery ads, which present a carousel of swipeable images at the top of mobile search results. The carousel includes between four to eight images, with up to 70 characters of copy possible for each image.

Notably, this changes the way Google charges for ads. Gallery ads are paid for on a CPC basis, which means you are charged if someone clicks on the ad. However, Google also tracks how far a person swipes through the carousel. When they wipe past the third image in the sequence, that also counts as a “click” or form of engagement. This means that you may be paying for ad interactions that do not include an actual click or landing page visit.

In testing, the search engine says Gallery ads saw “25% more interactions” compared to other search ad formats. Though, it is unclear how the actual CTR of these ads stacks up.

Increased Visibility for Showcase Shopping Ads

Showcase Shopping ads have been around since 2016 as a way for retailers to highlight a curated list of products in non-branded searches (which Google says accounts for 40% of queries).

Now Google is expanding these ads to a variety of new areas of the platform, including Google Images, the Discover feed, and the YouTube feed.

The ads include a large main image, as well as smaller images. When clicked these ads expand to showcase a variety of relevant products from the retailer, and may include other information such as store locations or in-store availability.

Don’t you wish you could somehow run one set of ads with the perfect headline for anyone who sees it, even when they have different needs or interests? AdWords is bringing that fantasy a little closer to reality with Responsive Search Ads.

These ad formats, currently in beta and available to some advertisers, allow you to set up one ad with multiple varying headlines and a few different descriptions which are alternated based on your advertising goal and the user’s intent.

Interestingly, these ads also get more screen real estate than standard text ads while Google is giving them a try.

The idea is to make your ad more versatile and to do the function of A/B testing for you without all the manual work. This also allows you to have a wider variety of keywords trigger your ads.

You can set up to 15 different headlines and four unique descriptions in a responsive search ad. With these, you can include headlines or descriptions for any scenario that might bring potential customers upon your services or products.

When shown, the ads will include up to three headlines instead of two, and up to two 90-character descriptions instead of the usual one 80-character description.

To best plan for this, Google recommends writing your first three headlines as if they will be shown together (in any order).

Google also suggests making headlines distinct by focusing on different features, benefits, or offers.

You can also “pin” certain headlines or descriptions into specific positions. This allows you to guarantee one headline will always be shown on top or a disclaimer is consistently positioned at the bottom of the ad.

If you’re a business investing any amount of your budget into online marketing, there’s a good chance you are running ads on Google. So, it may raise your eyebrows to learn the company operating one of the largest online ad platforms is about to release a new feature that will block ads on Chrome.

Indeed, Google is updating its web browser to block ads by default. However, it appears Chrome’s ad blocker will only filter specific types of ads which are considered “unacceptable” by the Coalition for Better Ads standards.

As the original report about the new feature from The Wall Street Journal explains:

“Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and ‘prestitial’ ads with countdown timers are deemed to be ‘beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability’.”

The news makes it fairly certain that Chrome’s ad blockers will be significantly less aggressive than many third-party options, but it is unclear exactly how it will work. It is possible the site may only block specific offending ads, but the report indicates Google is also considering blocking ads across an entire site if any ads are deemed unacceptable.

In other words, play by Google’s rules or have all your ads on your site blocked.

Many consider the news that Google is preparing an ad blocker to be a surprise, but there is a reasonable argument for the decision. The rise of ad blocker usage isn’t going away, with many citing malicious, aggressive, or annoying ads as their primary reason for using a third-party blocker.

By taking a proactive action to block offending ads by default, the company may be able to pull some users back from blocking all ads entirely. That means the typical ads across their platform would continue getting shown and generating revenue instead of being removed by a third-party app.

There are a lot of questions about how exactly the ad blocker will function, but the WSJ says you can expect to learn more about the feature “within weeks.”

It’s no secret that there are lots of bad people trying to operate scams online. Bing’s latest report on bad ads makes that crystal clear, as the search engine has removed over 130 million ads and banned 175,000 advertisers in just the last year.

Somewhat surprisingly, that number is actually 120 million fewer ads than in 2015. In comparison, both those ads combined are still dwarfed by Google’s 1.7 billion blocked ads in 2016.

As the Bing Ads’ Ad Quality in Review 2016 report explains, the ads were rejected for “direct policy compliance issues or intention to mislead users.” It continues:

“We introduced new policy around software download advertising that reduced unwanted and potentially malicious ads for many top free software programs. We ramped up systems that detect browser hijacking ads, phishing attempts, scareware ads, ads targeting the most common sites on the internet, and ads with multimedia content. We also enforced policies directed towards gender determination ads to comply with country specific regulations.”

The report specifically highlights six different types of bad ads it removed in 2016:

1-1

  • Phishing: More than 5,000 advertisers and 7,000 sites were blocked for phishing.
  • Counterfeit: More than 1 million ads were blocked for selling counterfeit goods.
  • Tech Support Scams: More than 17 million ads were blocked for third-party tech support scams.
  • Download: More than 4 million ads were rejected for violating download-related guidelines.
  • Scareware: More than 300 advertisers were blocked for ads that highjack the browser or scare users that their PC is infected.
  • Misleading Ads: 7 million ads were blocked for misleading content. This is a huge drop compared to 2015, when Bing rejected 30 million ads.

Bing emphasized the scale of their efforts with a final comparison, saying “if one person took a minute to find and take down a bad ad or actor, it would take them nearly 500 years to remove the same number of bad ads or actors found by our automated methods in 2016.”

GoogleAdWords

Google is giving AdWords’ price extensions a makeover this week to make prices even more prominent in search results, according to an announcement Monday.

Price extensions are one of Google’s many extended ad formats designed to highlight individual products and services and allow searchers to easily compare prices.

The extension was first released in July as a simple list, similar to how sitelinks are displayed. Now, Google has redesigned the extensions to appear in a card carousel near the top of search results. You can get a preview what these cards look like in the tweet AdWords released to announce the change:

The 10 languages included in the release are English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.

While the new price extensions put the emphasis on cost, it is also useful for highlighting your brand, events, products, and related services. The ad format includes a header, description, and price.

Unlike some ad formats, price extension ads don’t direct users to a landing page. Instead, they serve as direct links to sales pages for the specific item highlighted.

The best part of this redesign is that price extension ads now take up even more valuable space at the top of search results, without costing any more than a typical ad. That means you get to make an even bigger splash without costing you anything extra.

GoogleAdWords

As more people are searching for businesses from a variety of devices like smartphones and tablets, it is important that businesses provide a diverse number of ways to get in touch. Now Google is testing a new AdWords extension that will allow users to contact advertisers in an entirely new way.

In the past, Google has used ad extensions to make it easy for searchers to call businesses they were interested in. With the latest ad format, you can now text or SMS advertisers directly from their ad.

Here is an example of how the ad format looks:

TextAdExtension

By clicking the text icon, you will be taken to your default messaging app, where a prefilled text message is started with the advertiser’s information. For example, if you click the icon in the results above, the pre-filled text message reads, “[Zipwip] I’m interested to learn more about Zipwhip.”

Judging by other results like the one below, the text ad extension can be combined with ad call buttons to provide a variety of ways to contact your business.

TextAdExtension2

Barry Schwarz was the first to report this new ad format. When he reached out to Google for more information, he was provided with this statement:

We’re always experimenting with new ways to connect our advertisers to customers but don’t have further details to share at this time.

iphone-410324_640

Since its launch in 2010, Apple’s ad service known as iAd has seemed largely like an afterthought. In fact, the company had announced earlier this year that iAd’s services were being discontinued. This all makes the iPhone maker’s latest announcement a bit of a surprise.

Ahead of this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced it is revamping its App Store. One major part of this reworking is the introduction of paid search ads for apps in the company’s app store.

Apple is starting small by adding a single paid ad to the top of search results within the App Store for users in the US. However, there already appears to be pushback from users and developers who say they would prefer improvements to the organic search results before including paid ads.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller, explained that the company believes paid search ads will allow developers to focus their marketing budgets specifically in places where people are most likely to download their apps.

“There are hundreds of millions of searches on the App Store every week, and 65pc of app downloads are driven by search,” he said. “It’s a very valuable tool for users and developers. For developers, this will be very efficient marketing.”

The ads will be available in a self-serve auction-based platform similar to Google’s AdWords with no initial minimum spends.

To prepare for the revamp of the app store, Apple is adding ad features like its Search Match feature, which is comparable to Google AdWords Universal App Campaigns. The feature allows advertisers who aren’t familiar with the platform or are limited on time to create an ad campaign in as few steps as possible.

Apple Search Ads will not officially launch until the fall, but the company is allowing developers and marketers to get familiar with the platform through an opt-in beta from Apple’s developer portal.

googladextensions

In the past, Google AdWords used a complex and confusing algorithm for deciding when to display ad extensions. Recently, the company changed this by introducing a new policy which adjusts the impact of ad formats in the ad rank formula and allows AdWords to provide an estimate of how visible an ad would be on search engine results pages (SERPs).

As of now, an ad’s visibility will depend on ad position and ad formats, meaning ads with higher positions in the SERPs will display more ad extensions than ads in lower positions. This is a shift away from past systems which allowed lower ranked ads to show more ad formats than those above them.

The term ‘ad formats’ refers specifically to visual extensions that appear on ads in search results that display extra information about a business, including phone numbers, addresses, consumer ratings, and more.

In a way, this change ads even more incentive for businesses to make sure they get the top rankings in search results pages, as they will be rewarded by having it be more likely their ad extensions are shown along with their ad. Those who are able to score the top spots will certainly be happy with the change, though, as it means they are less likely to be outshined by a lower ad on the page.

Pinterest-logo

Pinterest’s promoted pins and ads have made a huge splash in the 18 months of beta testing its small platform with select brands, and now it is set to become even bigger. The site is rolling out its ad tool, Promoted Pins Ad Manager, to all small and midsize brands in the United States.

The company also announced it would be increasing the number of interest-level targeting options from 30 to 420. In the past, advertisers could only choose from 30 broad interest groups such as food, beauty, and fashion. The new options are more specific, so marketers can target their audience much more accurately with categories like “healthy food,” “sustainable architecture,” and “street-style fashion.”

“Pinterest knows more about the interest of its users than any other platforms,” said Nipoon Malhotra, Pinterest’s ad products lead. “This is very different from a graph that represents something you browsed a month ago.”

Pinterest also noted that marketers who spend at least $1 per day advertising on Pinterest see a 20 percent increase in clicks on their posts.

Pinterest Pins function just like normal Pins on the site, however, they are shown to more people than a typical Pin. By using the Pinterest Ads Manager, you can target exactly who you want to see your Pins based on interest targeting, keywords, or customer database targeting using your customer list.