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Paid Search Updates - October 2020

Google Ads turning 20, WhatsApp investigating eCommerce functionality, and Google Ads restricting the search query visibility. It's been a busy few weeks for PPC.


WhatsApp New Shopping Feature


Whilst other popular apps, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. have been quick to monetize their app for advertisers, WhatsApp has struggled. This is mainly due to the privacy focus of the app.


Recently, WhatsApp has detailed its plans to expand its offering to focus on shopping, payments and also customer service. WhatsApp is planning to expand its shopping features for the customers, allowing users to view different products within the chat. You can see a video displaying how this could look here.


WhatsApp will add different ways for the customers to check out the available products and also make their purchases from the messaging service. This will offer more options to the people to manage their WhatsApp exchanges that include via remote workers on various management platforms.


WhatsApp will be including new notifications on several B2C exchanges that are conducted through Facebook hosting. This surely will give flexibility in management, and communications transparency, but the thing to be noted here is that it may come with an increased cost.


What exactly WhatsApp plans to charge and when will it begin charging is not clear at this stage, but there are chances that Facebook plans to monetize WhatsApp by charging some fees for the merchants as compared to pushing ads in-stream.


This may not be the worst trade-off, but it depends on the involved costs and what are WhatsApp’s plans to scale its options in this respect. Facebook hopes to make WhatsApp an essential app for everything in Europe. WeChat is a template for this approach and has gained popularity to become a critical app for the Chinese citizens in order to keep them connected digitally.


Google Ads Turns 20 – The key changes we’ve seen in the last 5 years


More info here.


Google Ads is 20 years old, and in the past five years, the ad revenue has more than doubled as compared to the previous 15 years. Yahoo surrendered its search ads to Microsoft, mobile has gained importance, and free listings can be seen on Google Shopping.


On top of this, machine learning and AI have transformed the way Google Ads work and the advertisers work with it accordingly. This year Ecommerce marketing for small businesses has also surged because of the pandemic. Still, Google is ready to dominate the online and offline economy, and all this is a result of more than a decade of planning and groundwork.


Google launched Customer Match in 2015 several years after Twitter and Facebook launched the first-party targeting products. This way, Google's leap into audiences beyond the standard web targeting was marked. Later, it also introduced its in-market and interest audience targeting.


Yet one of the most significant changes that can be acknowledged in the past five years occurred in 2017 when Google allowed its users to account data to be used for YouTube targeting. This also included demographic and research behaviour information for those users who were signed into Google. This was helpful to boost YouTube’s ad revenue, thus opening up the ability to combine the signals from YouTube and Search from the Google audience.


On top of this, one of the biggest shifts we've seen in the paid search industry as a whole is the increase of automation. Google Ads has it's own simplified ad interface for small advertisers looking to get online quickly, and in the 'Expert Mode' interface - there's an increase of 'Smart' campaigns that allow advertisers to plug in a CPA and budget and let the system run the campaign. As the industry moves to a more automated approach, we're likely to see this increase and manual optimisations reduce further.


Google Ads limits its search term visibility


More info here.


On 1st September, Google has announced that the search terms report in Google Ads will be showing search term reports from now on that reach a volume threshold. This has reduced visibility in the ad campaign reporting, something many advertisers rely on to optimise performance.


These types of terms have been historically low, but with the change, there are chances that fewer search terms will appear. By late September, a substantial increase in the percentage of hidden queries has been seen. Advertisers are quite concerned about visibility decrease as search terms are always crucial for performance.


This again looks like another play by Google to reduce advertisers manual control over accounts, as more advertisers switch to the 'smart' campaigns and automations.


What impact do you think this will have on paid search?





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