Google’s new custom intent audiences and you

In mid-November, pre-empting the hellish holiday shopping season, Google unveiled a slew of new features designed to help advertisers maximize their AdWords budgets. While promotion extensions and ad variations are neat and all, the thing I’m most stoked about is the new custom intent audiences feature on Google Display Network (GDN).
If you haven’t checked out Ginny Marvin’s quick summary of what they are (linked above), here’s the gist: Custom intent audiences offer advertisers the opportunity to use the GDN to find “people who want to buy the specific products you offer — based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel.” They come in two distinct flavors:

Create-your-own. Like a trip to your favorite pizza chain (but for the GDN), you can mash topics and URLs together like mushrooms and pepperoni in order to target net-new prospects who are probably into your product or service.
Auto-created. No idea where to start with the Display Network? Let your ol’ pal Google help!

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Is holiday paid search more competitive in 2017 than 2016?

The busy 2017 holiday shopping season is now in full swing, and we’ve already witnessed impressive Y/Y sales growth on key shopping days.
As advertisers dig into their own performance, many are taking stock of the competition to get a sense for what other brands are doing. This was a key topic for a #ppcchat Twitter conversation immediately following Cyber Weekend, in which host Kirk Williams posed the following question to chat-goers.

As you can see, most brands felt they saw more competition this year than last year, though 39 percent felt it was about the same. Zero respondents felt that there was less competition this year than last.
Taking a look at Auction Insights reports from Google for a sample of large Merkle retail advertisers, we can get a sense for how many brands were bidding on paid search keywords this year compared to last. As always, the metrics found in these reports and the stories they tell will

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The lowdown on driving app downloads with Universal App campaigns

Universal App campaigns (UAC) help you find new app users across Google’s largest properties: Google Play, Search, YouTube and Gmail, as well as millions of websites and apps across the Google Display Network. Back in August, Google (my employer) announced that all app install campaigns in AdWords are becoming UACs.
Whether you’re starting UACs for the first time or are looking to get the most out of existing UACs, here are some best practices that I’ve discovered from talking with a bunch of other Googlers.
Getting up and running with UAC
The first key step is defining your goal. You’ll need to set a target based on one of these key performance indicators:

If you care about different metrics in different situations, create separate campaigns for each desired outcome.
From there, you’ll need to set up a few more items:

A daily budget. When you’re driving installs, this should be your target CPI multiplied by the number of daily installs you want (shoot

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Google Manufacturer Center for product data expands scope, launches API

With the growing importance of Google Shopping campaigns in paid search results for brands and manufacturers, getting product data correct and consistent has become an increasingly urgent task. It’s been a somewhat sleepy product, but this week, Google announced new features and an expansion of Manufacturer Center.
Launched in 2015, Google Manufacturer Center was designed to be a central repository for the product data that powers Google Shopping campaigns. Now, Google is using that data in knowledge panels in the US, including product features, images and descriptions. Earlier this month, Google began showing much more content in knowledge panels on mobile, including product features as shown in the example below.

Google Manufacturer Center is now available in more countries: Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
With the launch of a new Manufacturer Center API, brands and third-party data partners can add, update and delete products without having to rely on manual feed uploads.
In addition to streamlining product

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Google AdWords Editor updates to support budget type option for video ads & more

Google has rolled out version 12.2 of the AdWords Editor. It brings a nice number of new features including Gmail asset-based ads, full support for promotion and video extensions and a new budget-type option for video ads.
The last update to the AdWords Editor was version 12.1, which brought Shopping Showcase Ads support.
Here is a list of features added with the version 12.2 update:

Gmail asset-based ads: Asset-based ads in Gmail are now fully supported in AdWords Editor.
Campaign total budgets: Video campaigns now have the option of choosing Campaign Total budget type.
Custom rules updated: New built-in custom rules are now available for structured snippet extensions and non-serving campaigns and ad groups.
Semantic location: You can now set a bid modifier to target your ads by location with AdWords Editor.
Promotion extensions: Promotion extensions are now fully supported by AdWords Editor.
Life events: “Life events” is now a category of audience targeting.
Video campaign extensions: All video campaign extensions are now supported.
Ad group level

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Google beefs up mobile shopping results for the holidays, adds more product info & buying guides

Google is beefing up its mobile shopping experience to prepare for the holidays, now showing buying guides for broad categories like “sewing machine” and “coffee grinder” searches and adding more product-related information for specific product searches.
“When you search for a specific product, now shows you other helpful information, like related items, and allows you to compare reviews, prices and other specs, side by side,” writes Google product management director for Google Shopping, Jennifer Liu on Google’s The Keyword blog.

Google says it has added a “newer model available” label to tech-gadget product listings so searchers know if they’re browsing the most recent version of tech products.
According to the announcement, Google’s recently redesigned mobile shopping experience has helped bring more product information to the forefront with features like a “Quick View” button in Google Shopping ads that lets users preview detailed product information.
Google also noted its recent knowledge panel updates that quickly surface product photos, videos, reviews and

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Google rolls out AdWords promotion extensions, custom intent audiences & ad variations for testing

Google made a few announcements for AdWords advertisers just in time, before Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season in the US next week.
About a year ago, Google started testing promotion extensions in text ads. That beta extended to the new AdWords interface this summer. Now, they are rolling out globally in all supported AdWords languages and currencies in the new AdWords interface (aka the new AdWords experience). Promotion extensions let advertisers display specific offers in their text ads without having to create new ads. They can include a percentage off, a promotion code and offer period.

Custom intent audiences
On the Google Display Network, Google is rolling out custom intent audiences to enable advertisers to target “people who want to buy the specific products you offer — based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel.”
Anthony Chavez, director of product management for AdWords, explained in a phone interview yesterday that there are two flavors of custom intent audiences.

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Four key holiday paid search trends to keep an eye on

During the holidays, there are a million different data points advertisers can look at to see how paid search is performing throughout this crucial shopping period. Depending on business goals and the type of products sold, which of those data points are most important for a particular site can vary widely from one brand to the next.
That said, there are a few overarching trends that apply to many advertisers and which help to set the stage for performance expectations over the coming weeks. Here I’ll outline four interesting paid search trends I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Will Black Friday continue to close the paid search sales gap on Cyber Monday?
Black Friday is for doorbusters. Cyber Monday is for online deals. That’s the way this thing is supposed to go, right?
The lines are blurring on those distinctions, with Black Friday Google paid search sales growth far outpacing that of Cyber Monday last year.
Paid search sales growth from 2015

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Alphabet (GOOG) third quarter beats estimates: $27.8 billion, revenues up 24%

Google parent Alphabet announced third-quarter results. Both revenues and earnings per share beat Wall Street estimates.
The company reported roughly $27.8 billion in total revenues (up 24 percent), with Google contributing all but $302 million of that amount. Earnings per share were $9.57, which was about $1.24 higher than expected.
Advertising generated just over $24 billion in quarterly revenue. Operating income was about $7.8 billion. However, traffic acquisition costs (TAC) rose to $3.1 billion (vs. $2.6 billion a year ago). There are sure to be analyst questions about that item.
The revenue breakdown by segment:

Google properties: $19.7 billion
Google network: $4.3 billion
Google “other revenues”: $3.4 billion
Other bets: $302 billion

Paid clicks on Google properties were up 6 percent year over year and aggregate cost per click (CPC) was up 1 percent. Here’s more detail:

Aggregate paid clicks overall up 47 percent (year over year).
Paid clicks on Google properties up 55 percent.
Paid clicks on the Google Network up 10 percent.
Aggregate CPCs down 18 percent year over

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5 ways to sell more this holiday season with Google’s updates to shopping ads

With the biggest e-commerce days of the year just around the corner, it’s not too late to take advantage of some of Google’s newest ways to help you sell more stuff online.
Attract users earlier in the buying process with showcase ads
For consumers who are further along the path to an online purchase, Google is good for finding the best price and doing more in-depth research, but it traditionally hasn’t been the best place to help consumers make choices earlier in their decision process.
But with Showcase Shopping ads, Google is delivering a better discovery process for these shoppers. This ad format was introduced in limited beta in 2016 and is now available to every retailer. The idea behind it is that it allows advertisers to use a mix of lifestyle images and products to showcase its brand for generic e-commerce searches where ads for specific products wouldn’t be relevant.
Showcase Shopping ads allow retailers to promote their brand to

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