Important Pay Per Click Changes In 2014 and What it Means For Advertisers

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Paid internet advertising changes more than most people change their clothes, so it’s no surprise that we’ve already seen several changes this year In Adwords and Bing Ads. Normally these changes are insignificant, small interface changes, which serve no purpose other than making it more difficult for advertisers to find what they are looking for in their account. But there were a few important changes this year that are worth noting, some of which might actually have a big effect on advertisers.

No one can discuss recent Adwords changes these days without mentioning the infamous switch to “Shopping Campaigns.”

Shopping Campaigns are what google used to call “Product Listing Ads” (the shopping results that show up in the SERP with a picture, price and description). Although the switch from PLAs to Shopping is voluntary at this point, Adwords has said it will switch everyone over automatically in mid-August (so it’s a good idea to prepare now).

So what is the difference between shopping campaigns and regular Product Listing Ads? The main difference is that shopping campaigns allows you to separate your products and bid differently on different products. This is a huge advantage for advertisers, because they can now allocate more budget to higher profit margin items, and less budget to lower profit margin items.

Google says that shopping campaigns will ultimately be easier for Advertiser to use and result in higher ROI. One disadvantage is that a Shopping Campaign is considered a new campaign in the eyes of Google, and, as with any new campaign, advertisers will have to pay more at the beginning. But hang in there, because if Google is right, these new campaigns will pay off big for advertisers.

Another big Google development this year is the change in the look of the Search Results Page. In the past, the product listing ads usually appeared to the right of the regular organic results, in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Now, they are often found at the very top of the page, above the top 3 ads in what Google calls its carousel (the scrolling ribbon of images at the top of the screen).

This may seem insignificant, but it is huge for advertisers and for Google. It means that paid advertising pretty much takes up all the space above the fold of the page (what someone sees before they scroll down the screen). We all know that people often click on what they see first on the screen, without ever scrolling down the page. The change in the SERP layout means more clicks on Ads, more revenue for Google, and more potential revenue for Adwords users.

Bing ads had an important, and much anticipated change this year: url auto tagging. In the past, if a Bing Ads user wanted to see analytics data for their account, he or she had to manually put each destination url into a url builder tool. Those users who were more html savvy could make the tagged urls on their own, but still had to manually put the custom parameters into each url. Bottom line, it was a pain. Now, all an advertiser has to do is check off one box in their account, and, like magic, the destination urls of their ads are tagged.

One not-so-welcome change this year was Google’s announcement that “not provided” is coming to Adwords search queries. As most of us already know, search queries for organic clicks have been listed as “not provided” in analytics for several months.

Right now the search queries for paid ads are still appearing in Google analytics and the Adwords interface. If Google follows through on this threat, it’s unclear whether or not the search queries will appear as “not provided” only in Analytics, or if this unwelcome change will also affect what appears in Adwords.

Paid advertising is constantly changing whether we like it or not. For Google, changes are often necessary in order to compete, and stay ahead of competitors like Facebook and Microsoft. As internet advertisers, it is our job to stay on top of these changes and reap the maximum benefits of everything that paid search has to offer. At 1SEO.com, we are excited to see what else 2014 has in store.

Lance Bachmann

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