Google recently announced two updates that will enhance their current ad offerings: first is an increase in rich media ad units and the second is a circular-type ad unit.
Google recently announced two updates that will enhance their current ad offerings: first is an increase in rich media ad units and the second is a circular-type ad unit. Advertisers will see an increase in the proportion of text vs. enhanced ads up from one quarter to one third of its paid search results inventory. Secondly, Google is working on a new ad unit that mimics that of a newspaper circular insert. This is in line with Google’s vision to provide richer information to consumers with the credo that “search ads should be beautiful and informative as well as useful to the consumer as an answer”.
Google launched a newly dedicated promotional website touting these changes and qualifying them with numerous data points. The promotional website provides marketers and advertisers with figures such as:
• The +1 button is being served 2.3 billion times a day all over the web (source: Google)
• More than 20% of searches on Google on a desktop are related to location. On mobile, it‘s about 40% (source: Google)
• 80% of reviews on the site of a given retailer are written by the top 20% of their customers (source: Google)
The news of this new circular ad type comes with little information on the ad itself other than it’s in partnership with Macy’s Inc and Best Buy. Beyond its availability announcement in the space on Tuesday October 4th, there is also speculation that this may tie back to an ad unit creation methodology that was similar to a company, Teracent) Google acquired a couple of years ago. It could essentially create and deliver dynamic display ads based on various factors, very similar to what sources are claiming.
What Does This Mean?
With regards to the circular ad unit and from what we can gauge from sporadic sources, it will be displayed when someone clicks on a regular search ad on Google but it’s still unclear if this is an overlay on the search results page, or if this is a new page altogether (interstitial for example). The ad itself will be formed on the fly, in coordination with the query, the location of the consumer clicking and other factors. In the coming weeks, this should become clearly apparent to all marketers as it rolls in market.
This positions Google competitively with eMarketer projecting a 78% market share in 2012 up from 76% this year. This new Google format also launches in the heels of the new social experience Google+ Project. What this may give advertisers and marketers is the integration sustenance to quell the cross channel mapping craving in display and searchthey have been looking for. Thinking a bit ahead, Google announced that the ad unit could effectively provide multiple clicks through to individual products with a projected increase of 15 to 50 percent as compared to traditional ad types.
At Reprise, we believe that this could also mean a small step towards online to offline attribution by way of providing value in this visual ad unit as a takeaway, which can be plugged into something like Google Wallet or even printed and brought in-store. The tie-in Google can create from the SERP to offline, assuming the new data points this will provide, and subsequent shifts in media buying optimization based on this data, could very well create a paradigm shift in how marketers and advertisers plan and buy media. This is all fairly speculative of course, but the writing is on the wall.
How Do Advertisers and Marketers Ensure Opt-In to Rich Search Results Inventory?
On the search inventory front, advertisers may or may not already be opted into this pool of ad types. Those that have not opted into rich extensions such as site links, promoted video’s, location extensions, product extensions, Google+1 and new betas need to ensure this becomes a part of their ad mix and optimization framework. Those that have already opted into these are well positioned to show up against this new inventory push.
Advantages to the End User
Anytime Google creates a richer experience for the end users, it will be advantageous to the end user and provide more succinct — and in this case visually pleasing— “answers”. The fact that Google’s new ambitious ad unit will mimic something that is deeply embedded in the age agnostic psyche of us all, is a testament to its move towards something a bit more aligned with consumers “wants” out of the web vs. the web trying to shift consumers tendencies. Overlaying the aforementioned with a forceful shift in rich search results from text based, will help solidify this as the norm across all advertisers and marketers search media buys.
Advantages to the Advertiser
Specifically to the new ad unit: The opportunity for brands to get in front of the end user with relevant products/services, tied to specific queries, and aligned with a “known” format like a circular, has almost limitless implications.
It could be advantageous for traditional click to online conversions and most importantly helping to solve the looming online to offline intent of the consumer. If we assume that analytics will come with the newly enhanced display search ad format and if Google allows the consumer to “take” the ad unit with them via the phone or by printing it, while subsequently providing added value with a unique identification number…..it may have the ability to be tracked in-store and fed back to online data helping marketers optimize and plan. Essentially, we’ll get closer to finely tuned online to offline media spend modeling.
Disadvantages to the End User
Not many. Since this increase in rich search results proportion to text based ads and new circular ad unit are positioned to benefit the consumer, the only downside might be load times or imposition of the ad unit pending further hands on experience. If the ad unit does not provide added value to the consumer in-store, that would be a huge miss since these ad units are geared towards retailers.
Disadvantages to the Advertiser
Advertisers are presented with a myriad of existing and new challenges, but only for the ill-prepared. Those advertisers and marketers that have created a campaign architecture, optimization framework, and process workflow with fluidity at the helm.
On the existing challenges front, advertisers and marketers lagging behind in the ad extension space will lose to competitors well positioned to take advantage of the inventory increase towards rich ad types. For example, those advertisers who have not opted into product extensions and who have not figured out a direct feed to this opportunity will have trouble catching up. CTRs may shift to those who show up more often with rich ads vs. those of whom do not, and an eroding of quality score may occur for advertisers who do not react quickly. Lastly, given the positions you must be in for contention of these rich ad units (typically 1-3), the premium inventory space will get a bit more crowded and expensive. This may have implications for those retailers that like to play position roulette on the right-hand rail. A good way to mitigate this risk to leverage a combination of competitive reporting, to exploit engine tactical gaps and monitor SOV and position strategies, and your own analytics that allows you to review your own natural position shifts against your average CPC costs.
The new challenge this represents to advertisers lives with those who choose to watch the search landscape change before them and then react, rather than adapt in the “now” as it relates to new ad adoptions.
The bottom line here is that those advertisers that have not figured out rich ad extensions in Google will suffer against competition that have. If they are not shifting in line with rich ad experiences from an ad type and inventory standpoint, they are missing out on exception opportunities to answer consumers questions in a form that tends to resonate well from a CTR and conversion perspective.
Advertisers should keep an eye on their metrics, and compare them to pre- and post- when this inventory shift was implemented.