18th January 2022

Who Broke Google Ads Plus 7 Hot Trends & Google Ads Hacks for 2022!

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Want to know what to look out for in 2022? In this blog post, I will be covering off some of the hottest topics in Google Ads for the year ahead including:

  1. Ad Formats & Extensions
  2. Maximising Quality
  3. Google Display
  4. Who Broke Google Ads?
  5. The Metaverse
  6. Pacing, Tools & Tech
  7. Optimisation Score

So let’s get straight into it!

Ad Formats, Extensions & Sunsetting Legacy Variants:

Coming up in June 2022, Google Ads will no longer support the creation of legacy ad variants (anything which isn’t a responsive search ad (RSA)). 

RSA’s have been around for some time now and offer a much more flexible approach to finding that sweet spot. With advanced machine learning to optimise headlines & descriptions in real-time, utilising this format is a no brainer and I feel this is a somewhat rare good move by the Google Ads team. 

Make sure your ad account is prepared for this by upgrading your existing legacy variants before June.

TOP TIP FOR RSAs: The more detailed you make your RSA’s, the higher the ad strength will be which will enable you to achieve better CPC’s and CTR’s. If you’re struggling with ideas to max out on all available descriptive tools and headlines, you can always come back to these with suggestions in the interface or have a quick scout of your competitors!

In terms of the all-important ad extensions, here are some other and often undermined extensions to look out for which should be absolutely be included and a focus for your account optimisations: 

  • Image: A great way to add that visual appeal to your ads. First launched about 5 or 6 years ago in BETA, the CTR was ridiculous and prompted a swift removal. Now making a comeback in a slightly more subtle manner.
  • Lead Forms (If applicable): Nurture instant leads without disrupting a user journey, a relatively new feature added in 2019. Particularly useful if your website isn’t well optimised or has poor UX/UXD.
  • Promotion: These offer some nice automation functionality with scheduling so you don’t have to worry about leaving any old copy running. Also, stand out nicely with a promotion type pin to get that all-important additional CTR!
  • Automated: These are hidden away typically at the end of the extensions page, it’s interesting to see what’s being pulled through and we’ve seen some great performance with increased CTR and reduced CPC for these!

Maximise Quality With Structure:

Having typically always been a strong advocate of SKAG (Single Keyword Ad Groups), I’ve now veered away from that and more towards the STAG (Single Themed Ad Group) format. 

4 key reasons for this:

  1. The recent match type update and the removal of our beloved phrase matching
  2. Increased importance & flexibility on offer from RSA’s
  3. Less stagnant keywords and general bloating of the account. STAG results in a leaner more efficient account set-up
  4. Budgeting & optimisation to feed to algorithms with more data to improve the quality of the machine learning (a minimum threshold of 30-50 conversions a month per campaign is recommended so over segmenting can be detrimental)

With the ability to add up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions in responsive search ads, it’s easier to allocate more keywords per ad group. The main caveat to STAG format is maximising ad relevance and ad strength en masse, with just one shot. 

Often you’ll find the initial launch can be around 70% optimised (vs STAG which is typically 90%-100%), then it’s just a matter of identifying the top traffic drivers and adding further layers of optimisation. 

Another downfall of RSA’s is the reduction in ad strength when pinning headlines. Try to limit any headline pinning unless it’s absolutely vital! This can make it particularly difficult to run promotions but there are other ways to make specific messaging work.

Identifying top-performing keywords can always be useful. Place these in an isolated environment to help further reduce CPCs or allocate more budget, only if they meet the conversion threshold and don’t take valuable conversion data away from the existing STAG. 

TOP TIP:  Don’t forget to cross-match type negative where possible to make sure you’re well optimised for head terms and managing the longer tail queries!

Increased Reach & Flexibility With Google Display Ads:

Many Google Ads experts, have found Google Display Ads frustrating in recent years. 

I believe this will be the year Google Display Ads could rise like a phoenix from the ashes. 

SMART Display and broad audience targeting, allowing the algorithm more flexibility seems to have really turned a corner in terms of performance recently. 

The introduction of new devices will play a key part in the transformation of Google Display as we know it. 

Buying media space through Google is now not exclusive to websites alone. Increased reach on devices now includes Smart TV’s, Games Consoles and connected devices like Chromecast. 

YouTube now has over 2bn active monthly users and continues to grow. This is great news for advertisers as more impressions typically yield cheaper CPMs.

Bugs & Glitches:

Did someone break Google Ads last year? 

Many advertisers noticed extreme fluctuations in budget pacing and performance in 2021.
Google Ads Broken

This happened multiple times towards the end of the year. Will this continue in 2022? 

The impact wasn’t just on Google Shopping, but also a total loss of control on search budgeting seemed to be another major concern. Budgets would see an overspend of more than triple the daily budget in some instances with an accompanying poor performance. Whilst this can be common due to Google’s flexible approach to daily budgets, the sways seemed more aggressive than normal.

The New Meta:

The ultimate internet creep just got even creepier. If you already found Mark Zukerberg gives you the shivers, that’s now been accelerated into an entirely new hemisphere (or stratosphere, or metaverse..).

Despite the cringey name, will Google feel threatened and/or should they take any learnings from the newly launched metasverse? 

As of yet, we are still yet to truly launch into the virtual 3D Metaverse, however, Facebook (or Meta), does still offer an array of useful tools to generate sales and leads to grow your business. 

You can find out more on Meta here – https://about.facebook.com/meta/

Pacing, Tools & Tech:

As the Google Ads platform becomes more volatile and unpredictable, tools & tech are only going to become more and more valuable to those looking to really turn the dial on performance. 

Google Ads Scripts

As you can see, Google reps don’t seem to think so and suggest that all you need to do is press a button like magic, your account is fully optimised…

Over the last 10 or so years working in online advertising, I’ve used automation and scripting in various forms. Some were great, some were not so and some of the good ones just aren’t required anymore due to advancements made by Google (automated bidding for example).

Real-time budgeting scripts can help to capitalise on any unforeseen performance fluctuations. These are best setup to run on real-time data signals (I’m talking hourly if needed), but that’s obviously dependent on the volume of signals you’re getting on a regular basis to optimise towards.

Creating regular scripts which tap into dashboards and optimise towards a monthly pacing target can also be really useful and save a lot of time.

I’ve also helped a recent client when particular sizes of their product frequently went in and out of stock. Processing real-time website information such as stock and feeding that back to the Google Ads platform can help to limit wasted spending.

Those 2 examples really just scratching the surface. For me, it’s about a balance. Yes, give some control to Google, but, give them too much you will get burnt.

Optimisation Score :

This irritating feature is one we cannot escape and seems to be here for the long run. It does seem, however, that even having a low optimisation score doesn’t really impact the performance of accounts. Will Google begin to penalise accounts that have a low optimisation score in 2022?

First introduced in 2018, this Google Ads feature recommends improvements to your accounts using an automated algorithm-based model.

The Google definition of Optimisation Score: “​​Your optimisation score is an estimate from Google Ads of how well your Google Ads account is set to perform. Apply the recommendations below to help your campaigns perform better and raise your score.

Optimisation score is currently available for Search, Display, Shopping and Video Action campaigns.”

So, why do I call this an “irritating feature”? Well, some of these suggestions are purely based on making Google more money, with zero net gains on your clients’ account performance. I do think they could have just made a tool that was super relevant and didn’t waste so much time trawling through all of the poor suggestions to get to any decent ones.

These can quickly be bypassed in a few clicks of a button to dismiss any suggested recommendations which you think are not relevant due to budgets, performance or other factors.

The recommendations are worth checking out at least on a monthly basis as there is sometimes useful information that can improve performance.