Google Ads Makes Updates to Automated Extensions

Here are the facts: Google announced that automated extensions will be able to show alongside the manually added extensions. Updates are coming to sitelink, callout, and structured snippet extensions. However, there’s always some fine print in Google’s glowy improvements.

How was your experience with Google extensions so far? Which extensions do you think are most effective?

At Quantikal, we like to use different extensions and analyze them in comparison to non-brand base search ads (ads that show without any extensions). With our top client, we can compare call, image, and callout extensions to our base click-through rate (CTR), which was 4.5%*. Our call extensions ads showed a 7.7% CTR, image extensions a 4.9%, and callout extensions 6.2%. In general, we see that extensions do create opportunities for a lift in CTR. Therefore, we believe that a proper setting for extensions needs to be in order, and that’s why we care about any feature that Google decides to put out in this area.

These Google changes are soon to be available in mid-March. Let’s take a closer look at the details, shall we?

Previously, if your ads had manual extensions created, your ad would only be eligible to show those. With this update, your ad would now be able to show your manual extensions and automated extensions simultaneously. This is another ongoing automation move from Google, trying to provide ads with more tools to allow advertisers to increase their ad’s CTR. Keep in mind that your account must be opted into automated extensions to show. You will be able to pause or remove any automated extension, allowing easier management of your campaigns. You can now identify which extensions were created manually and which ones were automatically created by Google.

With this new feature, ad eligibility will change. Extensions are eligible to show if Google’s machine learning algorithm predicts that your ads will improve performance. As always, Google assumes that advertisers prefer their machine algorithm above their team-created ad version. Are we sure that their algorithmically generated ads are failproof?

Google’s constant push towards automation means that advertisers will continue to give up control for easier implementation. To give you more intel, we want to share some of our experiences with Google automation tools gone awry.

At Quantikal, we had some mishaps recently with Responsive Display Ads (RDA). With this format, Google allows you to upload a series of headlines and descriptions so that the algorithm can automatically mix and match to optimal combinations. However, we found an example where the combined ad headlines were missing a critical piece of information. In this particular case, we were selling car tires through RDAs with an automobile accessories client of ours that has many important financial offerings. Things went amiss when we realized that the combined ads listed out these financial offerings without detailing that the product was a specific car accessory and not a car itself, so the ad was easily mistaken for a new car advertisement. 

Google’s faulty ad combination algorithm could never figure out if the ad created with this method makes actual sense. This automation feature does not allow advertisers to anchor specific titles that they want to make sure are included, so sometimes the main product descriptor is missing to create an effective ad. Today, still, machines can’t grasp semantics as well as humans, so clearly there are limitations to these types of automation.  

So, creators beware: although these changes allow for easier management and visibility regarding the automated extensions created and allow higher lift in performance, you must review extensions in their final stage, as it would be shown to the consumer to make sure it all makes sense.

Without fail and as we always do, we will review these features and analyze them as soon as they hit the market to keep you in the loop of Google’s changes. Stick around!

*Quantikal MCC Google Ads aggregated account data from different client 23/01/2022 to 21/02/2022

Google Launches Placement Reports for Performance Max campaigns

Google recently launched new placement reports for Performance Max campaigns, but nothing is ever quite as shiny as it seems. Have you tried it yet? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Here’s the lowdown: Google Ads’ placement reports were made for advertisers to see where ads are placed for Performance Max campaigns along with the amount of impressions they get. The catch? Despite this alluring new feature, Performance Max campaigns have been poorly designed from the start.

For those not familiar with this campaign type, Performance Max campaigns allow advertisers to access their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign that’s designed to complement keyword-based search campaigns in order to find more converting customers. It can “drive better performance against your goals, unlock new audiences across all Google channels, steer automation with your campaign inputs and simplify campaign management,” according to the Google Ads Help platform. But according to us, this is just a clever new way to mask something mediocre by trying to sell it as “easy.”

Google has explained that now the Ads platform provides more in-depth information about where the Performance Max campaign ads are being displayed, but the data provided only shows where they are served and the amount of impressions. This leaves out a very important detail: click data. Why wouldn’t they show the most important part of the ad landscape?

Although this campaign type combines search, display, and shopping ads, the available metrics and control settings are very limited.  For example, metrics are not broken down by search term or keyword, so branded keywords cannot be separated from non-branded keywords—a critical oversight. Also, there isn’t any control offered for selective placements or excluding placements.

The only allowed base setting that’s now included in this campaign type is location and ad scheduling, which makes it incredibly visible that this type of campaign is inadequate in terms of control. Did Google really think that advertisers would be happy about this launch?

Google’s public launch statement says: “Placement reports for Performance Max campaigns are a new reporting resource for advertisers to easily see where on Google’s channels ads have served and associated impressions. We created these reports to give advertisers more transparency and assurance around where their ads are showing.”

That’s all well and good, except that we wouldn’t call it “transparent” if it only provides mainly two aspects of ad control. It looks like Google is targeting small account advertisers with this campaign type. Even for advertisers that want to minimize the complexity of their ad setup, the sacrifice of control is just too much of a downside to make the change worthwhile.

It’s understandable that Google wants to help smaller advertisers grow, but giving up so much agency on critical settings like keywords, negative keywords, and negative placements—just to name a few—simply doesn’t add up.

As this story unfolds, we intend to follow along with this blind-as-a-bat campaign type and its placement reports to see if it evolves or gets any advertiser adoption. We’ll make sure to share any updates or changes over time. Stay tuned!