Highlights from Google’s 2015 AdWords Livestream: Our Take on New Ad, Automation & Measurement Opportunities

Post by Dan Malachowski, Marketing Director with insights from Leo Dalakos, VP of Digital Strategy

At this year’s AdWords Livestream, Google unleashed a number of search and display innovations aimed at aiding advertisers in engaging consumers, in-the-moment, based on intent and immediacy. Catering to searchers during micro-moments—especially on mobile—was a key theme for Google this year. Innovations fell into three categories: (1) Ad Experiences, (2) Automation and (3) Measurement.


Google’s new (and evolving) ad experiences are focused on helping searchers “know,” “go” and “buy.” The common threads between the new experiences are (1) mobile/local and (2) vertical specialization—both major themes in performance marketing in recent years. More people in the U.S. are now searching from mobile devices than desktops (Google, 2015). Furthermore, vertical specialization in search fosters relevancy; Google is becoming a niche engine based on searcher need. Google has recently “verticalized” its results pages for categories like shopping and flights, and it’s now turning attention to auto, finance (car insurance, credit cards, mortgages) and hotels:

Highlights (in beta) include:

  • Awareness Mobile Auto Ads, featuring a “mobile showroom” with deep creative and multiple images for brand keywords, as well as Action-Oriented Mobile Auto Ads, focused on local dealer directions and click-to-call:

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  • Car Insurance Quote Ads, which leverage Google Compare and launched earlier this year in California. These ads are now expanding to Illinois, Texas and New York and also feature connections to local insurance agents, with ratings/reviews:

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  • Mortgage Comparison Ads, also featuring Google Compare data:

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  • Conversion-Focused Hotel Ads, enabling users to book directly through the ad:

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  • Search Ads on Google Play, helping advertisers drive app downloads directly within the app store
  • Expansion of Credit Card Ads to smaller credit providers, like local banks. These ads show for generic searches like “compare credit cards” and “low APR” and feature local info, ratings and reviews.

Performics’ Take

Our past prediction about the prevalence of niche search experiences is definitely occurring at this point. Google is creating micro-search experiences vertical by vertical. The expansion that occurred in retail and PLAs will occur in every major vertical—one by one. In the midst of this vertical specialization, all advertisers must evaluate the new ad units available for their categories. Local optimization is often closely tied to this, as advertisers must ensure that their local outlet information (directions, phone, ratings, reviews, etc.) is properly distributed and optimized for the new experiences.

Furthermore, many of these new ad experiences are focused on conversions (e.g. book a hotel, call a dealership)—more so than in the past. Direct response B2C advertisers should take advantage of these new opportunities. However, as the focus is on B2C, it will be interesting how B2B advertisers will aim to use these features.


Google is continuing to automate optimization processes within AdWords that would normally be part of third-party search management platforms. Automation includes:

  • Dynamic Search Ads Enhancements: New automation and sorting for Dynamic Ads (advertisers can now search within campaigns and customize (1) which ads appear and (2) the landing page experience). Google is also offering a suggested cost-per-click (CPC) per category.
  • Automated Bidding Enhancements: Automated Bidding continues to expand to consider more factors in making bid decisions, including target CPA landscapes, which is a bid simulator at the campaign level that shows what would happen—in terms of performance in search and display (e.g. conversions)—at different CPA targets.
  • Auto-Resizing Image Ads for the Google Display Network (GDN), based on website and device


Lastly, Google is extending its attribution and measurement capabilities, particularly through Google Estimated Total Conversions (ETC), which will now extend to apps. Advertisers will be able to measure conversions that started on the web and finished on an app. ETC will also integrate with Automated Bidding. AdWords attribution for search will also now feature six data-driven models to choose from.

Performics’ Take

These advancements enable advertisers to bid differently, based on assist keywords or channels, not just the last click. Innovations like these give advertisers more opportunity to shift away from last-click ROI, as well as answer questions like:

  • How do keywords/channels/devices interact with each other?
  • Where (and when) is the right place to spend each marketing dollar?

By investing in keywords and channels (e.g. apps) with direct and assist value, marketers can increase performance while decreasing media costs.

For more opportunities to leverage Google’s new ad formats, automation or measurement tools, please contact your performance account team today.


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