Google recently announced major changes to the AdWords search marketing platform and ad formats at its Performance Summit, held in Mountain View, California. Important new improvements in the pipeline include 50 percent more ad copy in text search ads, more bidding control by user device (smartphone, tablet, desktop), and a redesigned AdWords interface and reporting functionality.

Increased Text Ad Copy
Pay-per-click (PPC) text search ads still provide the vast majority of Google’s revenue, and they do the day in and day out work of reaching many millions of searchers with the right information at exactly the right time – within real-time user search results.

This year, Google made the big move of removing text ads from the desktop “right rail” – the right side of the page – placing more emphasis on top positions. This move is in alignment with the ever increasing dominance of mobile search (where there is no “right rail”). It also freed up more space for text in top position ads.

Google’s new text ad format, to take effect this year, will allow longer headlines and more ad copy – approximately 50 percent more. Early Google tests not surprisingly show higher clickthrough rates for the expanded format. Speaking of expanded formats, be sure your search ads include already-existing ways to expand your advertising footprint – sitelinks and other types of extensions.

Mobile Breakout Bidding
“Mobile changes everything,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s Senior Vice President of Advertising & Commerce. Ramaswamy announced that more Google searches now take place on smartphones than on desktops and laptops. “So we are completely redesigning AdWords and Analytics for a mobile-first world.”

Among the more important upgrades, Google will be rolling out the ability to manage completely separate bids for smartphones, desktop/laptop, and tablets. This change has been a priority for the agencies and other ads managers, and will finally be implemented this year.

Google also announced an impressive, but less heralded feature – the ability to create mobile ads simply by entering four elements: headline, description copy, image, and URL, and letting Google adapt nice-looking ads to the many size and shape formats found on mobile devices (see image).

New AdWords Interface With Better Reporting

The new Google AdWords interface.

Samantha Lemonnier, Google’s Director of Engineering, AdWords Platform, presented a preview of the new AdWords interface, to be rolled out this year. From the agency perspective, a big improvement is a more visual and graphical interface (see image) that also helps surface important AdWords PPC campaign parameters. I was very relieved to hear that Google won’t be “dumbing down” the interface and taking away some of the fine controls that help create successful campaigns.

One more announcement of note: Google will be strengthening local advertiser presence and opportunities within the very popular and useful Google Maps utility. New “promoted pins” including tap-on advertising lightbox messaging is one example.

Overall, the Performance Summit revealed some terrific new features without some of the smack-your-forehead “I can’t believe they did that,” moments Google has given us in past announcements.