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2019 Benchmarks: The Google Updates Impacting Retailers’ Search Marketing Strategy

Mike Baber

Google rolled out several new features and updates across Google Ads over the last year, particularly in its paid search and shopping channels. Here at Sidecar, we’re seeing some of these updates play larger roles than others. In the 2019 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retail, we look at recent updates in Google Ads and what each means for retailers in 2019.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Sidecar’s 2019 Benchmarks Report. Read the complete report here.

Expanded Text Ads…Expand (August)

Google made alterations to the text ad display in August after initially updating the ad format in 2016. The latest update includes more text in headlines and descriptions. Retail marketers can now write up to three headlines of 30 characters each. Additionally, each ad allows up to two descriptions of 90 characters each, totaling a max of 300 characters.

Expanded text ads differ from Responsive Search Ads in that marketers have complete control over how they appear on the SERP. Instead of Google automatically pulling permutations of ad copy, marketers can test manually to see which variations are most effective.

What this means for retail in 2019

Expanded text ads could potentially be an attractive play for retail marketers who want more control over brand messaging. For instance, manual testing which permutations are most effective gives retail marketers more liberty in choosing which copy displays in their ads, compared to automated permutations with RSAs.

Google may truncate a portion of an ad, which is a challenge marketers have faced for several years. However, Google has said it is minimizing truncation with expanded text ads to make ad display more predictable.

Target ROAS Gets an Update (November)

When it debuted in late 2013, Target ROAS focused on number of conversions. The Smart Bidding strategy now operates to conversion value (revenue) at a set return on ad spend. Average ROAS strives to be equal to the Target ROAS across all Search Network and Display Network, Shopping, and Universal app campaigns. Bids adjust using real-time tools like location and time of day.

In the 2019 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retail, we look at recent updates in Google Ads and what each means for retailers in 2019.

What this means for retail in 2019

Target ROAS is a Smart Bidding strategy frequently used by retailers new to Google Shopping or paid search and sensitive to ROAS. It requires retail marketers to be flexible with their campaign priorities as their business needs change.

While not an ideal Smart Bidding solution for retailers who want to grow their business, Target ROAS can help free up time and resources with automated bidding and adjusting to a specific goal.

New Audiences and Video Comes to Showcase Shopping Ads (November)

Showcase Shopping ads began registering for lower-funnel queries at the onset of the holiday season. This was Google’s push to show that Showcase ads have the potential to be a full-funnel ad format that can successfully engage high-intent shoppers and rake in higher conversions.

Google also revealed video in Showcase ads, which allows retailers to display videos of any length within their Showcase ads. While still a nascent ad format, video in Showcase ads offer another way to grab shoppers’ attention atop the SERP.

What this means for retail in 2019

Updates like video in Showcase ads drive brand exposure rather than supporting retailers’ focus on efficiency. However, Showcase ads can help retail marketers fill the equally important top of funnel. Google’s image-driven focus meshes well with the increasing importance of visuals in e-commerce. Similarly, marketers face increased pressure to produce compelling creative assets that reflect their brand and products.

Read More

Want the complete list of updates rolled out across Google Ads, Google paid search, and Google Shopping? Get the 2019 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retail and learn how retailers can stay ahead of the curve in 2019 and beyond.