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October was a busy month for the big names in paid search. As AdWords continues to improve enhanced campaigns, Facebook strives to increase its ads’ targeting and relevance, and Bing updates and modernizes its platform for usability, the landscape of PPC advertising is rapidly changing.

Below are the biggest updates over the past month from the top 3 in PPC: Google AdWords, Facebook Ads for Business, and Bing Ads. Have a read through!

ADWORDS:

Ad Extensions Are Now Part of Google’s Ad Rank Calculation

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.21.02 AM

Ad Rank, which determines where your paid ads will appear on a given page, has always been determined by two things: your ad’s Quality Score and your max cost-per-click bid. This month, Google is adding a new factor to the equation: what it calls the “expected impact” from your ad’s extensions and formats.

This means the performance of your extensions – sitelinks, call extensions, or map locations – will now influence how your ads are ranked. By doing this, Google hopes to show users more relevant ad extensions and formats by rewarding the ones that perform well. So if your ad extensions could use a bit of a makeover, now’s a good time to get to work on them.

Google Shopping Added To Product Listing Ad Campaign Types

Product listing ads are an excellent way for businesses to display neat, professional images of their products in search results. By now, you’re probably very familiar with the rows of white-backdrop, stock product images that occasionally show up near the top of Google results, with bold prices and domains below them. With this update to AdWords, advertisers can now choose to display these ads in Google Shopping as well as in search.

Shopping campaigns for PLA’s bring a number of benefits for businesses, and the AdWords blog covers them pretty thoroughly. In short, you get a lot of additional flexibility in how you structure and organize your products within AdWords, clear insights into what your competition is doing and looks like, and improved reporting.

Location Targeting Improved for International Searches

Adwords Location Targeting Options Late 2013

Location targeting in AdWords has long taken into account the fact that users not searching from a particular location might still want to see results from that location. For example, if you’re searching for “hotels in Reading, PA,” there’s a pretty good chance you’re not in Pennsylvania at all – you might as well be at home in Seattle still, figuring out your fall tour plans. So you’re in a different location, but local results are still likely to help you as much as anybody in Reading.

The most recent updates to location targeting expand this feature across international borders. So if you’re promoting a concert venue in Prague, you can choose to show ads to users who search for your keywords all over the globe – regardless of the country they search from.

Target Return On Ad Spend Added to Flexible Bidding Strategies

We covered this one in-depth last month, but for those of you who missed it, one of the cooler new features just added to enhanced campaigns is the Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) bidding strategy.

Like the other strategies in enhanced campaigns, Target ROAS helps improve and streamline your automatic bidding at the campaign, ad group, and keyword level. What it adds to the mix is an added degree of flexibility in determining how AdWords bids for you: for businesses that sell products with different conversion values, it’s probably optimal to maximize conversions for the highest-value items (rather than simply all conversions), and so this strategy will bid accordingly to increase the amount of high value conversions you get – effectively targeting a certain return on investment.

Facebook

Google Cuts Deal To Sell Facebook Ads

Advertise on Facebook Screenshot

Pitched by Mashable as “hell freezing over,” a partnership between these tech giants might be surprising to most. But as the senior product manager for Google’s Doubleclick Bid Manager puts it, “a rising tide lifts all ships,” and this agreement does appear to be beneficial for both companies.

Essentially, Google plans to buy a certain amount of ad space on Facebook and sell that space to advertisers using Google’s services. It’ll be managed through Doubleclick, and should expand the freedom and options that Google advertisers have access to. It’s a significant change, given both how closed off Facebook usually is to the rest of the web, and the vast amount of opportunity it offers to advertisers, as a site that just over half of all Internet users visit at least once a month.

Facebook Announces Transition To ‘Objective-based’ Ad Model

As part of its ongoing effort to improve ad relevance on its social network, Facebook is transitioning to a new model for advertising, one that requires businesses to pick their objectives first and foremost before jumping into the rest of the ad creation process. The idea is to not only streamline the setup phase for users, but also to ensure that they pick the strategy that best suits their business needs.

In this new model, advertisers will be prompted to select their objectives in the first stage of the setup process, and then Facebook will select the types of advertisements that will best accomplish those objectives – be they maximizing Likes, driving traffic to the page, or increasing app installs. This should save business owners a lot of time experimenting with the best methods for their needs, and maximize the relevancy of the ads shown on the network.

New App-Specific Calls to Action Added to Facebook Mobile

mobile search on google maps app

In order to boost app engagement for mobile users, Facebook is adding a series of new calls to action (CTA’s) that aim to encourage users to continue using apps they have already installed. One of the major problems for app developers is that while convincing a user to download their application might be easy, convincing them to open it more than a few times is the real challenge. Statistically, the majority of apps only get opened between 1 and 10 times, according to a study by Localytics.

New CTA’s might encourage a user who’s installed a music app to “Listen Now,” or “Watch Video” for an app based around movie releases. Ads for games might suggest the user “Play Now.” Some of these types of ads are already circulating, so it’s unlikely most users will find them disruptive, but hopefully they will increase engagement for apps developers have already invested a considerable amount of time and resources into creating.

BING

Bing | Yahoo Ads SIgn in

Bing Ads’ own site does a pretty good job outlining all the changes this month, but here are the ones we found most significant:

Microsoft account now required for sign-in

Starting this month, Bing advertisers will transition to a login system based exclusively around Microsoft accounts. Existing users have until early 2014 to make the switch, but new customers will be prompted on signup to register with a new or existing Microsoft account. This move is intended to increase security across the platform.

New Updates to Ad Payment Process

Last month, Bing added two new features to improve the payment system system with its platform, intended to both help reduce overages and prevent service interruption as a result of those overages.

Now you can add a backup payment method to Bing Ads to cover you in case there is a problem with your primary form of payment (e.g., credit card or Paypal). Additionally, you have the option of setting a billing threshold to limit the amount you pay from a given source every month, in order to prevent overcharges.

Bing Advertisers Can Now Edit in Excel

Most advertisers, especially those who also use AdWords, can appreciate the convenience of mass-scale editing and data management of Excel. Now, rather than being limited to Bing’s built-in editing interface, advertisers have the option of editing using the Excel Web App.

At the keyword level, you now can click “Open in Excel” to launch the web app and view all relevant keyword data there. Integration between Excel and Bing ads is designed to be seamless, so any work you do using Excel should be immediately reflected back in Bing once you save your changes – offering the best of both worlds.

These are the changes we found the most significant for paid search advertisers. What about you? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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