Google is always honing and updating their Google Ads platform to be more efficient, targeted and quality driven. Staying on top of these changes and utilizing them to their fullest potential is crucial for any advertiser, especially those in the aggressive and competitive automotive marketplace. Here are the top recent changes and trends in Google Ads you should be aware and taking advantage of in your dealership.
1. Smart Bidding and AI Audience Creation
In recent years, Google and all other ad platforms have been getting progressively smarter with their optimization methods. Google is on the forefront of AI and machine learning, and unsurprisingly that technology is making its way into the way we target and bid on ad inventory.
Google introduced Smart Bidding, a beefed-up version of their previous AI aided bidding strategies. Smart Bidding enables advertisers to harness AI in ways we never have before. We can now target specifically by Cost per Acquisition, Target Return on Ad Spend, or even Maximize Conversions across the board.
Let’s say your phone call totals are a little off this month, and you need to get the phones ringing. With a few clicks, campaigns can be optimized to bring more phone calls in. Or if you notice conversions that come through a particular form on your website are turning into sales faster than the others, Google’s AI driven Smart Bidding can focus on traffic likely to convert at that particular form. In the end though, it’s all about balance and getting the most out of your budget.
Google’s AI touch doesn’t stop at bidding strategy. Recently Google introduced expansions to their targeting with Affinity and In Market audience segments. The main expansion came to the Affinity audiences, which are built around interests and browsing patterns. Think of these as a reflection of a user’s hobbies. Recently, Volkswagen tapped into affinity audiences to achieve a 250% increase in conversion rates compared to non-audience traffic.
In-market audiences have received seasonal event segments, most recently tapped into by Toyota during the holiday season. These audience segments are for people further down the purchase funnel and actively researching specific purchases. Toyota used Black Friday and Christmas in-market audiences to increase their conversion rate by 67% and reduce their cost per conversion 34% over the holiday season.
2. New Extensions – The Lead Form Extensions
In late October of 2019, Google rolled out a beta for lead ads on their Search Engine Marketing campaigns. Seemingly taking a que from Facebook, Google has made it easier than ever for mobile browsers to contact your business directly. This mitigates some of the user experience shortcomings that dealership mobile sites can have and cuts down on clicks needed to convert.
Lead extensions are easy to set up and allows users to create custom forms for the appropriate disclosures and offer details. Just choose the offer you want to showcase, fill in the relevant information and disclosures for the deal, choose which information you want to collect and set it live. You can even upload a background image (1200 x 628) to give your form a bit of flair. Leads can either be download in CSV format or sent directly to your CRM with certain integrations.
3. The Disappearance of the Cookie
This is perhaps the biggest development in digital advertising in over a decade. Google has announced that it plans to kill 3rd party cookie support in Google Chrome by 2022. While it wasn’t completely unexpected, it undeniably is a large-scale shift in the $565 Billion dollar industry that is advertising.
3rd party cookies have been the standard in data collection for years. They enabled data farms and advertisers to tag users with a small piece of code which categorizes them anonymously into audiences. It’s the backbone of programmatic advertising as we know it, and a huge part of how campaigns are targeted and executed.
In the next two years, this policy shift at Google is going to re-structure the online advertising ecosystem in a more user privacy friendly way. So, the clock has started ticking for advertisers and big data providers to find a solution that protects user privacy while maintaining the integrity of their data. Nobody knows for sure where this will lead, but the brightest minds in the industry are already working tirelessly to find a solution. We’ll keep our ear to the ground and keep you updated on the most promising prospects as they become known.
As the 2020’s kick-off, there are plenty of new and exciting developments in the world of Google and across online advertising. Staying ahead of the curve and taking advantage of every tool available to you is crucial to your success in 2020 and beyond. These are important points to bring up to your automotive digital marketing company to stay ahead of the curve. If you’re feeling stuck or want to discuss any of these changes, please reach out to our digital team. We’d love to get the conversation started and help you plot your 2020 course. For additional tips on planning a 2020 marketing strategy, visit our 4 steps blog.
Michael is a Digital Marketing Strategist with over 7 years of experience implementing and managing digital media campaigns of all types and sizes. Over the course of his career, he has held a variety of certifications from Google Ads, Google Analytics, Facebook, Programmatic DSP’s and more.
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