Major Changes to AdWords in 2016

Google just announced a ton of significant changes we can expect to see in AdWords in the coming months. Some of these changes are ones we’ve been waiting for (and begging for) for a long time. Others have come as a very nice surprises.

In this post, I’ll talk about the ones I’m most excited to start using.

Increased Ad Headline & Description Length

adwords ad length 2016
Ads are going to be longer, allowing us to fit more features and benefits in each ad and write more compelling copy.

Instead of one 25-character headline, there will be TWO 30-character headlines!

Instead of two 35-character description lines, there will be one 80-character description line.

This takes the total character count for these components from 95 to 140. The biggest jump is obviously with the headline length, and this is where more ad copy will certainly mean better results for advertisers who know how to utilize the extra characters.

Updated Device Bidding

Currently, you set a desktop/tablet bid and can then adjust your mobile bid down to -100% or up to +300% compared to that. There is no way to decrease desktop bids by 100%, so mobile-only campaigns are impossible.

In the new platform, we will be able to:

  • Adjust bids for all devices separately (mobile vs. tablet vs. desktop).
  • Decrease desktop and/or tablet bids by 100%, allowing for mobile-only campaigns.
  • Increase any device bid by up to 900%.

The ability to make these changes has been a long time coming, and will be very beneficial for those of us who want more control over device bidding and performance.

Promoted Pins

adwords promoted pins
Within the Google maps app, advertisers will be able to promote their locations.

If someone is simply using the app to navigate to a destination, they will see your business pop up as a promoted (paid for) pin.

I think this is going to become the standard for local businesses who need to attract people into their stores, especially impulse-based stores and common necessities like food, gas, and coffee.

This is a crazy-awesome feature and I won’t attempt to explain why, as I think it’s fairly obvious.

Similar Audiences For Search Remarketing Ads

Remarketing for search ads has been around for a while. This is a powerful feature, but for most advertisers it’s not a worthwhile one because their search remarketing lists simply aren’t large enough to justify a separate search campaign.

I anticipate that the similar audience feature will change that. Even if your search remarketing list only contains 1,000 people, Google will find users who have searched for similar terms, and create a new audience that is presumably much larger (and still worth bidding more on).

If we are allowed to create a similar audience list from a search remarketing list that has fewer than the minimum of 1,000 people, this could open up many more opportunities for small businesses that have smaller remarketing lists.

This is a feature I look forward to testing as soon as it gets rolled out.

Demographics For Search Ads

For the first time, Google is going to allow us to combine keyword targeting with demographic targeting on the search network. Specifically, we will be able to adjust bids based on age and gender.

This is huge for businesses with a very specific customer base. The example given in the presentation was AARP, which saw 65% higher CTRs and 15% lower CPAs after adjusting bids for age and gender.

Google says this change will be available to everyone “in the coming months.”

(UPDATE: See some of my initial strategy ideas for this feature here.)

New AdWords Interface

I’m not overly excited about this change because it’s not going to do anything to help performance, but it’s worth mentioning. With all the changes noted above, Google will be releasing a new AdWords dashboard/interface over the next year.

They say the functionality will remain the same, so if you’re used to the current interface it will take some getting used to, but it should not affect performance.

It does look nice, and I’m hoping certain sections are easier to navigate to which will make campaign management less time-consuming.

To end this post, here are a few of the screenshots of the new AdWords interface from the presentation. (Sorry for the poor resolution. This is as good as they looked on YouTube):

adwords interface 2016 update

adwords interface 2016 update 2

adwords interface 2016 update 3

You can watch the entire hour-long presentation here:


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