September 23, 2014

What Do the New AdWords Changes Mean for Small Businesses?

new adwords changes

Paid search can be a minefield for small businesses, and any time Google announces a big change to the AdWords platform, people tend to freak out – including experienced search marketers who really should know better. Heaven forbid Google disrupts the status quo by introducing new product features!

However, unlike last year’s announcement of Enhanced Campaigns (which some small business owners are still trying to get their heads around), today’s news of new AdWords changes should serve as a glimpse into what Google has planned for the future – and not just in terms of paid search, either.

What the New AdWords Changes Mean

There’s an App for That

One of the biggest parts of today’s AdWords announcement was the introduction of new tools for businesses to promote their apps.

According to Jerry Dischler, Google’s VP of Product Management, there had been more than 50 billion downloads of more than 1 million apps from the Google Play Store across 190 countries as of May last year. However, around 60% of these apps weren’t installed, and roughly 80% were only used once before being deleted. This poses serious challenges for small to mid-sized businesses that want to get into apps.

Google hopes to make this easier for advertisers by introducing new tools for businesses to advertise their apps to prospective users based on the apps they already have installed on their phones, as well as their download behavior.

What This Means for Small Businesses

Simply put, if you don’t already have an app, you could be at a disadvantage. With the amount of time users spend browsing the mobile Web on the decline, but the number of hours spent using apps actually increasing, the ways in which users interact with businesses online are changing – and Google knows this.

Online, Offline, Bottom Line

Remember when you could quantify and account for every stage of the conversion process? Yeah, those days are long gone.

Today, very few prospective customers begin and end their online journey, from discovery to conversion, on a single device. This can be a major headache for smaller businesses, especially considering how complex Google’s existing reporting tools can be.

new adwords changes

That’s why Google’s second big reveal today may come as a relief to small businesses trying to figure out what their prospective customers are doing offline.

Google’s Estimated Total Conversions will see a number of major improvements to make tracking users’ offline behavior – and how this impacts in-store sales, for example – a lot easier.

What This Means for Small Businesses

Consumers are becoming increasingly difficult to track. How do you account for a sale that may have begun with an online search or paid ad, but resulted in an in-store sale?

The planned improvements to Estimated Total Conversions is what Google says will make this kind of conversion tracking easier for businesses of all sizes. Precisely how they’re going to accomplish this is still under wraps, but the potential is definitely there.

Big Ideas, Large Scale

Google’s third major announcement today won’t be as interesting to most small businesses, simply because the tools and functionality Jerry Dischler announced just won’t be applicable to most small companies. However, it’s worth mentioning them for no other reason than it shows just how sophisticated Google’s AdWords platform has become in recent years.

Let’s say your paid search efforts encompass hundreds of campaigns, with thousands of ads – think Amazon, eBay, etc. Now let’s say you wanted to adjust several broad parameters of these campaigns at once, without having to go in and micromanage each individual campaign or ad group.

This is what Google promised in its announcement.

new adwords changes

Soon, advertisers will be able to perform “bulk” actions across even the most massive campaigns, including location targeting and ad rotation. Automated bidding will also be a feature introduced as part of this rollout, as well as the introduction of some pretty cool drag-and-drop reporting tools – think Excel for AdWords without those pesky formulas that always manage to go wrong.

This is what Google describes as its “Enterprise-Class” tools.

What This Means for Small Businesses

Interestingly, despite their name, these enterprise-class tools will actually be available to all AdWords advertisers, suggesting that Google is trying to get smaller businesses to spend more – all in the name of making things easier, of course.

These tools will probably make their biggest customers very happy, but that goes without saying.

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Larry Kim


Larry Kim Larry Kim founded WordStream in 2007. He serves as company CTO and is the author of 4 Award-Winning Books on Software Development. Larry also blogs at the WordStream Blog and practices photography in his spare time.

4 Reactions

  1. I like the idea behind Estimated Total Conversions but I’d like to see a little more transparency from Google on how they’re arriving at the number. Then you can assess how much bias the number may have in your specific situation and correct accordingly.

  2. Google will continue to change the rules. They either are working to make Adwords more valuable or non-advertising promotion less valuable. Google is an online commodity attempting to monetize their product. Businesses will have to start paying for their message to reach their audience.

  3. I guess the best way to promote a business is now in an app. Instead of letting people head to Google to find stuff, it is better to talk to your market solo with your own app. Surprising that Google is promoting this when it can actually pull people away from Google somehow.

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