Jun 2, 2017

What Does the New AdWords Interface Mean for Marketers?

by Digital Marketing Institute

The new AdWords interface is more than a slick visual update to the existing AdWords layout: it's a total rebuild from the bottom up. In this post, you'll find out what's on offer within the new user interface and discover why mobile-first marketing is important for success in your digital career.

First things first, the new interface is great, it's really great, but it wasn't always that way. Google has learned a lot from Advertiser feedback and fast-moving consumer trends, specifically around the area of mobile micro-moments, since its last major User Interface (UI) overhaul in 2012 – a lifetime ago in the world of digital marketing!

Today, we can see that the history of the new AdWords interface has its roots in 2016 when Google announced a number of changes to the platform. The most notable of which was the introduction of mobile, desktop and tablet bid adjustments. This gave advertisers the ability to control their device spending again (since device targeting was so cruelly taken away from us with the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns in 2013) and positioned AdWords as a mobile-first platform in a multi-device universe.

And that's exactly what this new AdWords interface is all about: Mobile-first digital marketing for search, video and display.

What Is Mobile-First Digital Marketing?

The first question you might have is: what is mobile-first marketing and why is it important to me? Consumers are increasingly turning to their phones or smart devices to resolve certain need states, as digital marketers, we need to be there with the right message in the right context to the maximise the value we can add for consumers. These are called micro-moments.

A micro-moment is when you have an urge to know or do something immediately. It's a relatively new consumer trend that rose to prominence with the spread of mobile internet access. With mobile, we can instantly search for products, watch a video, or ask a question at any time and in any place - removing the need for a computer to satisfy these need states.

In recent years, this significant change in consumer behaviour created a tipping point that saw increased prominence of mobile search and the decline of desktop search. While AdWords gave advertisers the ability to write mobile only ads, click to call ads (including call extensions) and set mobile bid adjustments, these features only went some way to address the requirements of a PPC campaign in a mobile-first consumer landscape.

However, the integration of AMP (accelerated mobile pages) as a landing page option for mobile audiences in the new interface will give advertisers the ability to provide the best possible mobile experience from their marketing campaigns. Many AdWords users would say that the functionality around mobile video, in-app display and mobile display on the Google Display Network seemed somewhat sluggish in recent years compared to mobile-native platforms like Facebook. Until now.

See What's New in the New AdWords UI

The first thing you'll notice about the new AdWords interface is that everything looks different! An understatement I know, but I mean everything. The menu tabs for your campaign levels (ad groups, keyword, ads & extensions) are along the left-hand side of the page and - in a Demolition Man style twist - they now reside within the three dots (we'll talk more about the three dots later).

The most obvious and striking difference to the interface is the colour change. AdWords now comes in a sophisticated black finish, easier on the eyes when staring down the barrel of slow search campaigns, trying to squeeze the last bit of juice out of your traffic! So, want to see the AdWords interface in action? Have a look at this 5-minute video demonstration and walkthrough:

So that's an overview of the surface level changes, what about the nuts and bolts of the new UI? Let’s dig in!

Data Visualization

Understanding how and when your consumers search for your keywords, interact with your display ads or watch your video pre-rolls allows digital marketers to create the PPC, YouTube, Google Display Network marketing experiences that users want in their micro-moments.

In the 2015 Digital Video and the Connected Consumer report, Accenture found that 87% of consumers use more than one device at a time, highlighting the importance of understanding the behaviour of who you are targeting and the use of buyer personas (Read our free guide on how to define your buyer personas). Focusing on this will allow brands and clients to add the most value to an increasingly multiscreen consumer experience.

87% of consumers use more than one device at a time.

The most valuable output is how this data is presented. With the new visualization reporting tools, data can be very easily interpreted and shared with your team, your boss or your clients to help shape the critical optimisation decisions that will have the most impact on your campaign ROI and performance.

. With the new visualisation reporting tools, data can be very easily interpreted and shared with your team, your boss or your clients to help shape the critical optimisation decisions that will have the most impact on your campaign ROI and performance.

While I don’t envisage an end to the days of number crunching in Excel or endless pivot tables, the reporting features within the new ‘Overview’ tab, which has replaced the rarely used ‘Home’ tab in the original interface (good riddance!), are an excellent user-friendly addition that will save time and drive much better results.

Has the AdWords functionality changed?

Not at all. It's still campaigns, ad groups, keywords, match type, ads and audiences. Everything that you've ever learned about AdWords is still exactly the same. The fundamentals of search and display (including video campaigns) have not changed in the slightest.


The Search with Display Select campaign has been removed from the new AdWords Interface.

Except what? Look closely. See anything missing from the police line-up? That's right, Search with Display Select is no more! This campaign type has thankfully been gracefully put out to pasture in this AdWords update and search marketers everywhere have rejoiced at its demise as a campaign option. Its uncontrolled, blended targeting features had been driving terrible results for those who dared to use it for far too long. And finally, this brings me to the three dots.

The Three Dots

This is your new best friend containing the most outstanding AdWords tools. Shared library, bulk actions, billing & set up and a panic button to switch back to the old AdWords interface are all contained within these understated three dots.

New AdWords Interface changes 2017.

All of your favourite tools to measure, test and optimize your campaigns are here, tucked away in these three little dots. For experienced and new AdWords users, the layout and grouped-presentation of the tools adds a subtle layer of understanding to the reasons why you might use these options when managing your campaigns, so swot up on the three dots, they’re going to be an essential part of your success as a search marketer!

Is that it?

No there's more!

This update is the first step in a wider enhancement process, with Google Analytics getting a facelift and further integrations between AdWords, Google Optimize and Surveys 360 being rolled out.

The new AdWords interface is a significant step-up to meet the needs of new and seasoned AdWords managers in a mobile-first world. It rivals Facebook Ads Manager with its stylish look and feel and will save you time by visualising your most important data in very accessible reporting formats. What's more, you'll have the option to upgrade manually to the new AdWords interface before everything is automatically migrated.

Finally, while this update is exciting and significant, the fundamental principles of AdWords functionality have not changed and through the deeper integrations of the Google marketing portfolio, advertisers are now able to get a 360 view of their audiences and stitch data together like never before - but that's a topic for a future blog post. In the meantime, enjoy the new AdWords interface and let us know what you think of it in the comments below.

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