Google’s Sundeep Jain on the Expanded Text Ad roll out, device bidding, similar audiences & more

In a keynote discussion at SMX Advanced Thursday, Google’s Sundeep Jain, Director of Product Management for Search Ads, discussed the roll out for Expanded Text Ads, what brought about the green Ad label for text ads, and a couple of product announcements among other topics. Jain oversees ads quality, personalization, formats, user interface, and optimization for text ads. He also leads the product strategy and design of some of the vertical-specific search ads, like the interactive automotive ads on mobile.

Here’s what Jain shared in his wide-ranging keynote:

Expanded Text Ads: A total rethink

We know some advertisers have already been white-listed to start testing the new ad format that allows for two, longer headlines and a longer description, but little has been said about what the roll out will look like. Jain said that first and foremost advertisers need to rethink their entire creative. Do not try to tack on copy to existing ads. Initial tests show that advertisers that rewrite their ads are seeing better performance.

What will the roll out look like? For a “reasonably long period of time” ETAs will serve alongside current text ads. Then there will be a period of time when the only new ads that will be accepted are ETAs, though the old ads can continue to run. There are no specific dates set for these transitions, but the expectation is that ETAs will roll out to everyone by the end of the year. Jain said advertisers will receive plenty of notification before Google no longer accepts the old format.

“We are incredibly thoughtful that writing for extended text ads is a lot of effort,” said Jain, also acknowledging that advertisers will want to have sufficient time to test old and new formats against each other to ensure they’re making the most of ETAs.

Customer Match + RLSA: Lift in clicks

Jain recommended combining Customer Match and RLSA targeting. He says that advertisers that are using Customer Match (to target existing customers) and RLSA (to target past site visitors) in the same campaign are seeing up to 20 percent more search clicks from those audiences.

The lift has been even higher for the CPG and Entertainment verticals, which have seen up to 50 percent increase in clicks.

Customer Match Uploader Launch

Earlier this month, Google launched an import solution for Salesforce, enabling advertisers to automatically port email data for Customer Match targeting. Jain announced that Customer Match Uploader has now launched with partners including Liveramp, PMG, Merkle and Neustar. Unlike the Salesforce solution that uses the AdWords API, Customer Match Uploader is powered by a partner API.

Similar Audiences & Demographic Targeting Updates

Jain announced that Similar Audience targeting for Gmail and YouTube is now out of beta. Similar audiences expand targeting based on signals from current customers and match them against users demonstrating similar behaviors and attributes to find new users.

Similar Audiences for Search is in early testing. It “takes signals that are available to search to identify users that might have similar patterns of behavior to user lists,” explained Jain. Like that of YouTube and Gmail, Similar Audiences for Search uses pattern recognition to extend reach.

Demographic Targeting for Search also is still in beta, but Jain says there has been widespread adoption of targeting using age brackets, gender and household income.

Asked why Google has finally decided to make this kind of data targeting available, Jain said it wasn’t so much that Google has been holding this kind of information close to the vest, but that it’s a “natural evolution of targeting”. Jain noted that advertisers have been asking for this kind of targeting and Google has found it to be very effective – particularly on mobile.

Device Bidding is Back

Google announced last month that it will soon reinstate device bidding, separating tablet and desktop and allowing for mobile base bids. Why now? Jain said the decision was brought about by the evolution of user behavior on mobile.

They have started seeing some businesses getting the bulk or all conversions from mobile. “Advertisers need and desire to find those users online and offline, and we found it important to give advertisers more control to do so,” said Jain, adding that in addition to changing user behavior, Google has also seen a significant change in advertiser efforts to address users in a mobile environment.

I’ll point out here that Jain mentioned “online and offline” multiple times, underscoring Google’s focus on giving advertisers ways of tracking ad campaigns to in-store visits and purchases.

Ad Labeling: Green is the new Yellow

A couple of weeks ago, Google changed the ad label next to text ads from yellow to green.

Jain said of the change that “In this particular case, we’re starting to find … that users have much lower attention spans on mobile.

“We want to make it easier for users to digest information on the page, so we’re gradually trying to reduce the number of variations of colors and patterns on the page and bring a little bit more harmony to the page, which is why we reduced one of the color elements on the page.”

Jain reiterated that user testing showed there was no more confusion between what’s an ad and what’s organic when a green label was used instead of green. Regardless of how much stock you put in those tests, it’s worth noting for your own conversion optimization Google’s findings that reducing colors and patterns on mobile pages reduces friction.

To prepare for the holidays, Jain recommends advertisers rethink bid strategies, ad creative and targeting to take into account users’ shifting mobile behaviors and shorter attention spans. Watch the full interview here.

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