Google Teases April 22 AdWords News, More Than 10 Announcements Coming

new-google-adwords-logoOn April 22, Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management for AdWords, will unveil a slew of new features and tools that are coming out of beta during a livestream from an AdWords customer event.

Google has given Search Engine Land an exclusive early look at a blog post going up later today (now live here) that gives a few more (albeit subtle) hints of what’s in store.

The latest tease is short on specifics other than to say Dischler will announce “10+ new AdWords products, features and research studies” developed over the past year. But, with a closer look, there are some hints of what might be coming.

Don’t Expect An “Enhanced” Curveball

There has been some anxiety in the paid search world about whether Google is planning to toss out another big curveball like it did with enhanced campaigns. That seems unlikely. First of all, these features are being broadcast during a customer event. Have you ever seen a company announce controversial new features at a booster showcase? Nor have I.

Second, the language of the post echoes what the company has been expressing since enhanced campaigns launched — when it effectively changed the search marketing narrative to focus on user context and forced the issue of delivering relevant advertising and landing page experiences to users no matter what device they use. We can expect announcements that build on what we’ve seen from enhanced campaigns as well as Estimated Total Conversions.

Beyond that, it’s a bit like reading tea leaves.

In the upcoming post, the AdWords team outlines the three concepts it says drove the updates, written in what is now familiar, post-enhanced campaigns Google-ese. There are a few nuggets to grab onto, however.

1. It’s no longer about devices.  Consumers are constantly connected, and the average American today owns four digital devices and spends 60 hours per week consuming content across platforms. In this multi-device world, the way people use desktops, laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones is blurring. This means people don’t think about which device they’re using, they just expect the right content to appear seamlessly wherever they are ready to engage.

2. Context matters more than ever. The ways people connect — whether that’s on a computer, a mobile website or an app — have become increasingly important in showing people the right content — and the right ads. With more insight into people’s contexts, we can make more meaningful connections and create better consumer experiences.

3. Connecting people to content. With more consumer touchpoints than ever, it can become increasingly complex to reach people in the moments that matter. At Google we work hard to develop innovations that let technology do the hard work so that businesses can focus on reaching their customers.

Now, let’s also look back at what the AdWords team first wrote about the event in March (bolding is mine):

We’ve designed new tools so you can increase awareness and engagement everywhere your customers are online – from the web, to the mobile web, to mobile apps. And when it’s time to manage your campaigns and measure performance, we want to help you do so efficiently in AdWords with new functionality designed for the multi-screen world.

Let the tea leaf reading begin

Based on Google’s statements, here are a few by-no-means-exhaustive thoughts on what’s coming.

Multi-Screen Takes Over Multi-Device: For the most part, it’s true: device only matters now in terms of how content and ads render on various screen sizes. How we use these devices, particularly for search, is becoming less and less differentiated, even when it comes to app and phone call functionality. Perhaps we’ll see more sophisticated ad messaging tools than the simple mobile-preferred option that help advertisers deliver ads to users “seamlessly wherever they are ready to engage”.

In-App Ad Features: Most of the mobile innovation in AdWords has focused on mobile websites. Both posts about the April 22 event happen to mention mobile apps. It seems likely that Dischler will unveil new features and tools around in-app targeting and potentially new formats for in-app ads.

New Measurement Metrics:  Estimated Total Conversions rolled out in September — with Estimated Cross-Device Conversions that taps into sampled data from signed-in users as a part of the new equation — to give advertisers a way to measure the impact of their campaigns across all channels and devices. But with in-store conversions missing, the equation is not yet complete. As we covered over the weekend, based on the tests Google has been conducting on this front, it seems likely Dischler will introduce at least the beginning of Estimated In-store Conversions.

More Secondary Signals: Google again reiterates that context is key, and the company has a lot more secondary signals — i.e. “more insight into people’s contexts” — than what’s currently being used in AdWords. It seems a safe bet that Google will introduce more signals about users that advertisers can use for audience targeting and to deliver more relevant messaging. Demographics have been known to be in beta with a set of advertisers for several months now, for example.

With the blog post preview, Google suggested I speak with Jeremy Hull, director of bought media at iProspect, who will be attending the event next week to get his thoughts on what might be announced. We spoke yesterday by phone. Hull believes the addition of secondary signals that advertisers can tap into based on the wealth of data Google knows about users will be the biggest news of the event.

Automation & Bid Strategies: When Google added new conversion types for phone calls, it added the ability to set bidding strategies based each on conversion action. To help advertisers be “in the moments that matter,” it makes sense that Google gives advertisers ways to set bidding strategies (recently made available in AdWords Editor) around any new signals it introduces. I asked Hull about privacy concerns around leveraging more information from signed-in users, and he thinks Google would probably put targeting for any new signals in a bid modifier or ad copy modifier as it does already for location and mobile targeting in part because of privacy concerns.

Hull also sees Google Now as a huge area of potential that Google may be looking to monetize now that users have shown they’re comfortable with the predictive search service. “Google Now is the future of where search is going. It gives you information before you type a search in a way that offers value to the user.”

Lastly, I asked Hull where he thinks keyword targeting stands in light of more audience targeting levers getting added to search and last week’s move to top passing search query referrer data to Analytics.  He doesn’t see keywords going anywhere soon, particularly when coupled with the added context signals. “The declared intent of [search queries] gives marketers real-time messaging opportunities that will continue to make search more valuable to marketers.”

So what else? Anything sound way off base? This surely doesn’t begin to cover everything that might come up. We could see announcements around retargeting and RLSA. Then there’s the research aspect. Maybe Google will give updates on features for brand advertisers such as data on how image extensions have been performing.

Let the predictions begin! Share your thoughts in the comments. You can register for the livestream here.