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Google’s Shift Towards a Mobile-First World

The tech world has always been about trends and the need to provide what consumers need and want. It’s a mixture of responding quickly and predicting what will come, and plenty of brands have fallen by the wayside because they’ve got that wrong. So far Google is not one of those brands, and has managed to stay on top on several tech fronts while absorbing the impact of stumbles, so its shift to a mobile-first world can be taken as a sign-post to us all.

This shift in particular focuses on the way its PPC is managed through mobile bidding in Google AdWords and how these ads work on mobile, where over 50% of searches and website visits are now coming from, according to Google’s VP of ads and commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy. He summed it up at Google’s recent Performance Summit by saying: “The shift to mobile is not something that is happening. It has happened.” So if you’re working in marketing and using PPC, it’s time to get used to that.

Ramaswamy went on to say: “When we asked people to describe the role smartphones play in their lives, they used phrases like ‘attached to my hip’, ‘butler’ and ‘lifeline.’ Smartphones have become the companion that people turn to in I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do and I want-to-buy moments throughout the day. To help marketers succeed in this mobile-first world, we have redesigned AdWords — from the ground-up — and re-thought everything from creatives and bidding, to workflow and measurement.”

The two main changes are how ads display and the way bidding works. Here’s how Google explains the differences with regards to adverts: “How do display ads look in a mobile-first world? From sites to apps to videos, mobile has unlocked a universe of new spaces to reach consumers. Responsive ads for display adapt to the diverse content across the more than two million publisher sites and apps on the Google Display Network (GDN). They also unlock new native inventory so you can engage consumers with ads that match the look and feel of the content they’re browsing. Simply provide headlines, a description, an image, and a URL — and Google will automatically design these beautiful responsive ads.”

What does that mean? Strip away the fluff and it means that all you need to do is choose a headline, a description, an image and URL and you’ll get a responsive advert from Google. Simple, in theory, and good for creating ads on the fly, but not necessarily ideal for everyone to let Google do all the heavy lifting. For text ads, the main changes are the following:


  • Two 30-character headlines instead of the current 25-character headline
  • One 80-character line of description line instead of the current two 35-character lines.
  • The root-level domain of the destination URL will be set as the display URL.


As for mobile bidding, Google explains: “What does bidding look like in a mobile-first world? Marketers need more control and flexibility to optimise bids on specific devices. In the next few months, you’ll be able to set individual bid adjustments for each device type — mobile, desktop and tablet. This lets you anchor your base keyword bid to the device most valuable to your business and then set bid adjustments for each of the other devices. You will also have a wider range to adjust bids, up to +900%. With more controls, you can now optimise with greater precision while keeping things simple with a single campaign that reaches consumers across devices.”

So, again, to simplify, this means marketers will be able to bid different amounts for each platform in each campaign, which makes a huge amount of sense given the differing audiences out there and their varying needs. With real-time bidding having come into play last year on AdWords, marketers now have plenty of versatile tools at their disposal when it comes to mobile bidding.

Other changes Google announced include adding Promoted Pins to Google Maps, allowing search ads linked to pins, which is another big development, given that almost a third of mobile searches are location-specific. You can see this being just the start of this kind of advertising as Google looks to get even smarter about how it applies your ads to your mobile audiences and relate them to what they are searching and what they are using to search.

These changes are due to come into effect towards the end of the year and show that when it comes to PPC, Google isn’t standing still, so neither should you when you’re planning how to use AdWords.


What do you make of Google’s latest changes to AdWords? Will it affect how you advertise on mobile for better or worse? Let us know in the comments section or via social media, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive more articles straight to your inbox.

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