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8 Recent (Important!) Google Ads Updates You Might Have Missed

8 Recent (Important!) Google Ads Updates You Might Have Missed

Let’s face it, no one likes the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). Whether it’s a group project you were excluded from or a concert that sold out tickets before you could snag one, FOMO is sadly found in every corner of life. 

Don’t let FOMO creep into your PPC, too! We can help keep you in the loop on everything going on in Google Ads so no update slips through the cracks.

That being said, here are the latest and greatest Google Ads updates from the past month or two that you might have missed:

Changes in keyword matching behavior
More automation for Display campaigns
Data added to the search terms report
The sunsetting of expanded text ads
The new “about this ad” page
A new travel ad type
New Google Shopping ad attributes
More attribution models for Display and YouTube campaigns
1. Changes in keyword matching behavior

Announced on: September 23, 2021.Short version: Google shares that broad match has improved and what its new rules are for prioritizing keywords.Overall sentiment: Mixed (from neutral to cautious to seriously?).

In itsSeptember 23 announcement, Google shared that BERT, which helps Google to understand the context and intent of search queries, is now being applied to keyword matching in Google Ads. This, Google says, has enabled it to change keyword matching rules for broad and phrase match.

We cover it all in this post, but here’s the gist of it:

Broad match and phrase match keywords identical to a query will now be preferred in the absence of an exact match keyword.
If you have multiple match types for a keyword that are relevant to a query but not identical, Google will not decide solely based on Ad Rank, but on relevancy too (thanks to BERT).
Here’s the chart it provides:

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Google said that this will allow you to get more qualified traffic with fewer keywords, and that when using broad match with Smart Bidding in particular, there is “no added benefit” to using multiple match types.

But many advertisers disagree. Check out our coverage on this change to find out why!

2. More automation for Display campaigns

Announced on: September 15, 2021.Short version: Google combined the previously separate standard Display and Smart Display campaign setups into one flow.Overall sentiment: Mix of neutral and confused.

Google announced on September 15 that standard Display and Smart Display campaigns have been merged into one campaign type. This does not mean that we can’t run standard Display campaigns or Smart Display campaigns as we know them.

What it means is, when choosing a campaign type, you will now only see one Display option, and then once you select it, you can then choose whether it will be a standard Display or Smart Display campaign.

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Google also announced that Display campaigns are now automatically put into optimized targeting, which can allow you to pull in clicks from folks outside of your selected audiences based on your goals (I explain optimized targeting here!)

However, as noted in the screenshot below, you can opt out of this targeting option if you don’t wish to use it.

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For now, existing standard Display and Smart Display campaigns will continue to run as usual.​

With this change, advertisers will have added flexibility in their selected levels of automation for creative, targeting, and bidding.

In her Search Engine Journal coverage on the announcement, Amy Bishop states that this makes sense, since we now have so many automation features in standard Display campaigns that setup is not much different from Smart.

Many advertisers are confused by this update and also have mixed feelings on optimized targeting. Learn more in thePPC chat discussion on this announcement.

3. Data added to the search terms report

Announced on: September 9, 2021.Short version: Google added some new data back to the search terms report, but will also be removing some in February 2022.Overall sentiment: Exciting for some, not a big improvement for others.

Google announced on September 9 that it listened to advertisers’ call for more information in the search terms report, which became restricted in September 2020.

This report, which shows advertisers which queries their ads showed for, began to only display terms of a high enough volume to maintain searcher anonymity, with at least one click. Now, advertisers will be able to also see search terms (that meet the threshold volume) they gained impressions on—regardless of whether they pulled in a click or not.

In the same announcement, Google shared that in February of 2022, it will be removing historical (pre-September 2020) search terms that don’t meet the privacy threshold volume. With this, Google is able to accommodate advertisers while also maintaining privacy among searchers.

We tell you everything you need to know here.

4. The sunsetting of expanded text ads

Announced on: August 31, 2021.Short version: As of June 2022, you will not be able to create new ETAs.Overall sentiment: Not surprised, but still, not ideal.

Expanded text ads (ETAs) have been a long-time go-to for search advertisers.  We shared back in March that Google replaced ETAs with responsive search ads (RSAs) as the default ad type for standard Search campaigns. And then on August 31,Google told us it will be sunsetting ETAs in June of 2022.

What this means is RSAs will be the only available Search ad type (aside from call or dynamic ads) at the ready to create. Existing ETAs will still be able to run indefinitely. However, advertisers will not be able to edit them, but only pause or remove them.

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We provide all the details you need here, but here are some quick tips on what you can do:

Create and test your ETAs like crazy.
Create evergreen ETAs.
Get familiar with RSAs.
Don’t forget about call ads.
5. New “about this ad” pages

Announced on: September 22, 2021.Short version: Google released the page version of those little boxes you see when you click “Why am I seeing this ad?”Overall sentiment: Seems neutral (but let us know if you think otherwise!).

Google is continuing to take privacy and quality assurance measures for consumers. According to its September 22 announcement, users can now see an “about this ad page” in Display, Video, and Shopping ad placements. On that page, they can click to see other ads that brand has posted within the last 30 days.

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This is to help advertisers to show that they’re credible and consumers to know that the content they’re viewing is credible. To adapt to this change, be sure to always be running high-quality and consistent ads.

6. New “things to do” travel ads

Announced on: September 22, 2021.Short version: Travel brands will have more ways to list their booking options along with a new “things to do” ad type that has room for more details.Overall sentiment: Positive.

As businesses slowly bounce back from the pandemic, Google has been providing tools to travel-based advertisers that allow chances for a revenue boost.

According to its September 22 announcement, when people search tourist attractions on Google, instead of seeing just general information on that attraction, there will be booking links for tickets and reservations, and eventually the same for other experiences in that area.

Plus, travel advertisers now get to play around with a “things to do” ad where they have wiggle room to add in information on pricing, images, reviews, and more. Google encourages trying this ad out since its purpose is to promote discovery and drive bookings.

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7. Google Shopping holiday updates

Announced on: August 31, 2021.Short version: New shipping, return, veteran-owned, and women-owned attributes for Shopping ads.Overall sentiment: Positive.

In preparation for the 2021 holiday season,, Google released some updates to accommodate increased ecommerce demands. There will be new shipping annotations available for Shopping campaigns, like  “Get it by Dec 24” as well as return policy annotations like “free 90-day returns.” See below:

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Plus, in addition to their opt-in labels for black-owned businesses, there’s now an option for veteran-owned and businesses to self-identify as such!

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For more helpful tips, learn how to improve your Google Shopping ROI with the priority bidding structure.

8. Improved attribution modeling for YouTube and Display

Announced on: August 9, 2021.Short version: Last-click attribution is no longer the only model available for YouTube and Display campaigns.Overall sentiment: Helpful.

As we covered in our Google Marketing Live 2021 recap, YouTube and Display campaigns have been developing more sophisticated strategies. This year, value-based bidding became available on these two campaign types. And in Google’s August 9 announcement, advanced attribution modeling options for these campaigns have also just become available.

Previously, Display and YouTube Video campaigns were defaulted to last click attribution. Now, attribution model types that we’re already familiar with from Search campaigns, can be applied to these campaign types—including time-decay, linear, or even data-driven models, which can impact how you credit each conversion you get.

To check how this might impact your visual campaigns, try using the model comparison report feature under the Measurement and Attribution sections of the platform. This will show you in real-time how changing your attribution model could positively or negatively impact your performance metrics.

We’ll be including the announcement covering the changes to data-driven attribution modeling in next month’s roundup. But you can get the full scoop in our coverage here!

Google Ads updates roundup [September 2021]

Updates to broad and phrase match
More automation for Display
Search terms report improvements
Sunsetting of ETAs
The updated “about this ad” page
A new travel ad type
Google Shopping ad attributes
Improved attribution modeling for Display and YouTube campaigns

Here's What You Need to Do to Get More Financial Aid for College. It Could Hurt Your Finances if You Don't

Today, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens. If you have a high school senior at home and plan to help him or her pay for college, you need to file the FAFSA. Even if you can fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool with all of your $100 bills, you should file the FAFSA. (Read: Even if you think you make too much money, you should file the FAFSA.)

Depositphotos.com contributor/Depositphotos.com – MarketBeat

Despite recurring advice from admission counselors and school officials, many families don’t heed the filing-the-FAFSA-advice. Among fall 2009 ninth-graders who graduated from high school, approximately 65% of students reported completing a FAFSA and 24% did not file, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).Further statistics from the survey showed that of the ninth graders who graduated from high school and reported not completing a FAFSA:
33% thought college would be affordable for them without financial aid.
32% thought they might not qualify for financial aid.
28% reported that they didn’t want to take on debt.
23% didn’t have enough information to complete a FAFSA.
22% didn’t plan to continue their education after high school.
15% didn’t know they had the option to complete a FAFSA.
9% thought the FAFSA forms were too much work or took too much time.
Of this group, 62% reported that they thought their family’s income was too high to file the FAFSA.The fact of the matter is that everyone should file, no matter how high their income. We’ll go over the reasons why in this article. Why Should You File the FAFSA?Let’s take a look at the reasons you should file the FAFSA. Reason 1: Your child can qualify for federal aid.Many people believe that they can only qualify for federal student loans, which isn’t the case. The U.S. Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine your child’s eligibility for federal student aid, including grants and work-study. Federal work-study is a way you can earn money while your child works a part-time on-campus job.However, if you want your child to qualify for federal student loans, you do need to file the FAFSA. It’s to your child’s advantage to take out federal loans over private loans, which have higher interest rates and lack the consumer protections that federal student loans include. Federal student loans also have forgiveness options that private student loans don’t offer.Unfortunately, more than half of all students who took out private education loans were eligible to borrow more from the federal government than actually did. A full 30% of students did not use government-backed loans at all, according to American Banker.Reason 2: You might need to file for other aid.You may need to file in order to qualify for state, college and university grants. Sometimes, you might need to file it to qualify for private scholarships as well.Colleges and universities use their own matrices to determine how much students will receive based on need. You never know their thresholds for aid, so file the FAFSA. You might be pleasantly surprised by the amount of aid you receive.Reason 3: Financial situations change.We saw it firsthand: The national unemployment rate hit 14.9% in April 2020, the highest rate seen since the federal government started tracking the data point in 1948. It led to an estimated 20.5 million Americans being temporarily or permanently out of work.While we may not see numbers quite like that again, what happens if you experience a change in income? You’ll be glad you filed the FAFSA. You can always appeal if you file with a certain income level and it changes later.Reason 4: You can gather just a few materials to fill it out.It’s really not hard and doesn’t take that long to file the FAFSA — promise. Here’s what you can gather in advance to fill it out:
Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account
Social Security Number for both you and your student
Driver’s license number (if you have one)
Your 2020 tax records for the 2022–23 FAFSA form — you report your 2020 income information on this year’s form.
Records of untaxed income, such as child support, interest income and veterans’ non-education benefits
Your assets (money) from savings and checking account balances, investments and real estate
List of the school(s) on your child’s list — you can list up to 10 schools at a time on the FAFSA
Reason 5: It (could) encourage your child to go to college. According to NCES, 90% of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA proceed directly to college, versus only 55% who don’t complete the FAFSA. If all you have to do to encourage your child to attend college is to file the FAFSA, why not do it?Reason 6: Colleges use the CSS Profile with the FAFSA to understand your full financial picture.The CSS Profile helps schools award non-federal institutional aid, and not every college requires it. However, filling out the CSS Profile does not take the place of the FAFSA. Rather, it is an additional application for non-federal financial aid.Schools that require the CSS typically meet 90% to 100% of a family’s financial need and package their financial aid with institutional grant money.How Not Filing the FAFSA Can Hurt Your FinancesWhen you plan to help your child pay for college, it could hurt your finances if you don’t file the FAFSA. Let’s find out why. Reason 7: You rely on yourself to pay for everything.If you don’t file the FAFSA, you don’t give yourself the option to allow your child to take on federal student loans, grants and more. If you don’t have the money to cover college expenses, you may pull from your regular budget, reach into your savings account or investments to cover college costs. What happens if you say bye-bye to all your liquid assets? It could wreak havoc on your finances and maybe even stymie your savings for retirement. (You should always prioritize your retirement over paying for college, but you might feel guilt or even stress over not paying for college.)Reason 8: You could fall back on private student loans.When you eliminate the FAFSA from your priorities, you and your students may revert to private student loans, which can negatively impact your student’s finances later on, after they graduate. You want to make sure that your child takes advantage of the best student loan options.File the FAFSA Starting TodayThe FAFSA opens October 1! There’s good news on the horizon for future FAFSAs, too. It’ll go down from 108 questions to 36 questions next year.Still not convinced you need to file the FAFSA? Talk to the admission counselors at the schools your child is looking at. They’ll encourage you to do it, so get going!