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Google Ads Updates – The Latest Changes to Impact Your Ads

Google processes over 5.6 billion searches per day, translating to approximately 63.000 queries every second. And, with four times as many people likely to click on a paid search ad on Google than on any other search engine, it’s no surprise 96% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising.

For many businesses, Google Ads are the driving force behind their marketing campaigns. They provide a cost-effective way to reach the targeted audience and are extremely flexible. Whether you’re a law firm or selling golf equipment online, Google Ads can give you valuable insights about your perfect customers, all while raising brand awareness and increasing sales.

You can spend hours just dissecting the sheer volume of advertising data before coming up with the right bid strategy, or you can or let an agency manage your campaigns and get your time back to concentrate on the business itself. The latter option is a no-brainer, especially when you consider the ever-changing nature of Google Ads.

Google Ads Changes

Since its first launch in October 2000, Google AdWords, as it was called until 2018, has grown into an entire science, with global trends and tendencies dictating its evolution. Initially launched on a pay-per-impression basis, Google AdWords saw a major overhaul in 2002 with the introduction of CPC (Cost Per Click).

From there on, Google gradually rolled out new features such as AdSense, Native Gmail Ads, Customer Match, Shopping Remarketing lists, and many more, culminating with today’s AI-focused changes. But one thing has remained constant all the time – what works today may not work tomorrow.

That’s online advertising, in a nutshell. Always changing and evolving like a living organism. To illustrate this point, we’ll show you the latest Google Ads updates and their impact on advertisers. So, without delay, let’s get started.

Enhanced CPC is now default

Google first introduced the enhanced cost-per-click (eCPC) feature in 2010 to reduce the workload for busy advertisers overwhelmed by endless lists of keywords, metrics, and bid adjustments. With eCPC, Google dynamically adjusted your bid within 30% for searches that were more likely to convert. Since then, eCPC bidding has become the default bidding strategy for new campaigns.

In 2017, Google removed the 30% bid cap to control better the differences in conversion rates across audiences and locations. If it deemed the search query and user more relevant, it would automatically adjust your bid by more than 30%. Still, the eCPC respected your manual bids by trying to keep your average CPC below your max CPC over time.

This Google Ads update affected any advertiser who used eCPC bidding, prompting them to adapt and adjust their bids for remarketing audiences and specific locations, which convert at a much higher rate than 30%. The change didn’t influence the CPA and the maximum CPC bid.

Reduced Visibility in Search Term Report

Every time Google tweaks one of its popular features, it’s met with initial disapproval. But the disappointment quickly fades as advertisers adjust to the new reality. The reduced visibility in Search Term Reports (STR) is no exception. Until 2020, you could see any search term for any clicks, but a routine Google Ads change diminished your search range to just terms that reach a certain volume threshold.

So, if for instance, you targeted the keyword “bushcraft equipment”, and someone searched for “bushcraft fire starter kit”, it would also appear in your Search Terms Report. But with the latest update, you may not see the latter keyword if it has lower volume, and Google doesn’t think it’s relevant enough.

Unsurprisingly, many advertisers thought of it as another power grab by Google, further reducing transparency and control over ad campaigns. But since no one can’t do anything about it, you should continue optimizing and following the best Google Ads practices.

Adding one new negative keyword that stops wasting 100 clicks on bad traffic is just as effective as adding 100 keywords that would waste one click each. You can also get insight from Bing Search Query Report that shares similar search trends and launch Dynamic Search Ads to find new keywords. As you can see, it’s not the end of the world if you think creatively and diversify your way of operating.

Modified Broad Match is removed

Among Google’s Ads features that no longer exist was also the modified broad match. This neat option allowed users to select specific keywords that would trigger ads to show, with the use of a plus sign. Here’s an example of how it worked: Let’s say you wanted ads to display for “bushcraft” and “axe.” For the broad match modifier keyword, you’d pick “+bushcraft +axe.” In this case, ads could show for “buy bushcraft axe” or “bushcraft axe and knife”. However, ads wouldn’t show for “buy cheap axes” or “bushcraft knives.”

Now, that modified broad match is gone, you’re left with broad match, phrase match, and exact match options. Google said these changes would “bring the best of broad match modifiers and phrase match” to easier reach customers and manage keywords in your account. In essence, exact match and phrase match are no longer as accurate as they were but more dynamic to allow for more automation. For this reason, the modified broad match has become redundant.

Many advertisers didn’t warm to yet another Googled Ads update. But for accounts that get more traffic from phrase match keywords, it was a welcome change, as their ad clicks, costs, and ultimately conversions could potentially increase. As always, when Google rolls out a major update, your best bet is to optimize your account, stay up to date, and learn more about automated bidding.

Responsive Search Ads are now Default

On June 30, 2022, Google will retire the Expanded Text Ads (ETA). In what seems like never-ending changes focused heavily on automation, this particular Google Ads update brought mixed reactions within the advertising industry. The Responsive Search Ads (RSA) are already the default option and soon will be the only one. For advertisers, this latest change affects the way they create and structure copy.

Google’s stance is clear: with 15% of new search queries per day, “automation is the key to keeping pace with these trends.” Thus, RSA is the way forward. With RSA, you can create up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, giving you more variety in the ad copy. Google’s AI then takes care of the rest by dynamically combining your entries when performing live searches. In comparison, an ETA allows you to submit just 3 headlines and two descriptions.

How to deal with this update? Adjustment and optimizations are crucial. Learn to expand your ad copy and follow the best practices. The simple things will always make a difference, so don’t forget to capitalize the first letter of each word in your ad copy. Take advantage of accompanying features such as Ad Extensions and Dynamic Keywords Insertion, and run tests to ensure a smooth transition to the new way of structuring your ads.

Automated Bidding

In one of the latest Google Ads updates, two of the oldest automated bidding strategies, Target CPA (TCPA) and Target ROAS (ROAS), will make way to Max Conversions and Max Conversion value strategies. This doesn’t mean TCPA and TROAS won’t be available anymore. You can still use them from within the Max Conversions and Max Conversion Value strategies.

TCPA and ROAS were first introduced in 2010. But a decade seems like an eternity on the Web, and with Google’s tendency to improve the automated campaigns, a change was somewhat overdue. This is a technical update that won’t impact your performance or require action on your part.

Google will convert your TCPA and ROAS campaigns for you to either Max Conversions or Max Conversion Value with the same inherited target CPA or ROAS, accordingly. All you have to do is to monitor for now. If you don’t use automated bidding, now is the perfect time to consider its new features to stay ahead of the competition.

3 Strikes Ad Policy

With so much at stake, Google’s ad policies have always focused on transparency, credibility, and the ultimate satisfaction of all parties involved. But with digital data and users growing by the day, Google revises its ad rules from time to time.

The latest Google Ads changes feature a new policy program in which repeat offenders of Google’s three core non-negotiables will get three penalties (strikes), with the third one resulting in indefinite account termination. Google is piloting its new system around the following policies:

  1. Enabling dishonest behavior policy
  2. Unapproved pharmaceuticals or supplements
  3. Dangerous products or services

If you violate the above policies, you’ll first get a “warning”, and the offending ads will be taken down. You’ll receive the first strike if you commit a similar infringement within 90 days of the original warning. This time, your account will be suspended for three days, and your ads won’t run. Do it again within 90 days of the first strike, and your account will be put on hold for a week. The third strike will kick in if you repeatedly breach Google’s terms within 90 days of the second strike. Google will suspend your account indefinitely upon the third strike.

The 3-strikes ad policy came into force on September 21, 20021, with gradual implementation over three months. If you have any outstanding disputes, now is the time to sort them out.

Other Future Trends

It’s safe to assume that most of the future Google Ads updates will heavily depend on automation. As machine learning progresses, Google will come up with complex algorithms to take charge of optimization and repetitive tasks, so you can focus on the bigger picture. Mobile ads and automation will take the central stage as more and more users migrate from conventional desktops to smartphones and other pocket devices.

The rise of identity-based pay-per-click marketing will also be a game-changer. With the ability to target influencers with ultra-specific ads based on their phone number and email, your content will go viral in no time.

Content remarketing will also become a big thing, and it already gathers pace within the most proactive circles. By skilfully converging paid and organic traffic, you’ll elevate your outreach and increase conversions, all while providing value and remaining engaged with your audience.

Final Words

Since its inception, Google Ads have undergone dozens of updates and changes, some welcome and others controversial, but all of them were driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning developments. Today, we’ve arrived at a point where automation takes the spotlight and is here to stay.

While Google’s ultimate goal is to make Google Ads more accessible and easy for the average user and more efficient for agencies, this service remains hyper-specialized, where data analysis and knowledge of the latest trends are imperative to creating successful ads. If you want quick and cost-effective results, hire an experienced agency to manage your ad campaigns, because going alone is like swimming against the current.