Google confirms major AdWords changes happening now

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 30 Mar, 2016
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After 15 years in business, Google has confirmed that AdWords will undergo a major change unlike anything in its history. The search engine has unveiled plans to completely redesign the platform. According to inside sources, the new look advertising service will offer users an easier, clearer and more intuitive experience.

While rumors surrounding changes have been swirling for a while now,  AdWords head Jerry Dischler waited until Monday to confirm the changes. In his keynote at last weekend’s SMX Advanced conference in Seattle, Dischler formally announced the AdWords overhaul. Noting that the redevelopment is in response to the continually changing online landscape, and the renewed needs of marketers, Dischler said some advertisers will start to see the impact of more than a year-and-a-half’s work to get to this point as early as today – less than 48 hours after the changes were announced.

Why is Google making these changes?

With over a decade and a half of development under its belt, Google AdWords is starting to bend under the weight of the hundreds of features and functions it has amassed. Set to be rolled out over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, the AdWords interface will undergo a major redesign process which Google says will be the most comprehensive in its history. Product Management Director Paul Feng says that the goal is to remedy a number of commonly encountered issues, become more ‘mobile friendly’ and better meet requests from advertisers.

“The reason we’re rebuilding AdWords is because the world has changed so much in the past two years. AdWords is now over 15 years old and launched when Google was just figuring out what search advertising was. We rebuilt it several years ago for a desktop world — smartphones were only [a] year old. Now we are in probably the biggest shift since AdWords was introduced (and I’d argue perhaps ever) with mobile,” said Feng.

Listening to the needs of marketers

Google has underpinned the revamp with feedback drawn from across its advertiser spectrum. Three key themes were identified as being problematic with the current setup. Advertisers citing un-intuitive navigation, overcomplicated features and outdated design as major issues will form key components of the revamp, informing Google’s design process as it looks to overhaul AdWords for a new generation of advertisers.

“The goal is to create a flexible platform for the future,” added Feng.

Feng told Search Engine Land yesterday that the entire redesign is built around Material Design, Google’s in-house ‘living document’ design language. Currently used in products such as Search, Maps and Gmail, the visual language will be modified for a B2B application.  

What changes should advertisers expect?

Advertisers should not expect to see major changes to AdWords functionality, although it’s possible that some changes such as last month’s move to a four advert format will cause waves. Much of the upgrade will be navigational and aesthetic, though that’s not to say they won’t be significant.

Users will be introduced to an “Overview” screen, a dashboard that can be accessed when clicking on an individual campaign, ad group or ad level. Here, advertisers will view a visual snapshot of performance featuring four key metrics. This type of data visualization and summary access makes AdWords much easier for those accessing on mobile devices; something Google is known to be keen to encourage.

Secondary navigation will now run exclusively along the left hand side of the screen, meaning that options such as Devices, Locations and Sitelinks will be easily located and just a click or two away from the log-in screen.

Developers have also introduced an element of intuitivism, with users only shown relevant navigation in each view. This means that if users are viewing a keyword-less display campaign for example, they won’t be shown the “keywords” tab.

While the process won’t happen overnight, Feng has revealed that “We’re building the product as we speak.” He’s also confirmed that Google will “expose features as they become available,” meaning users can take advantage of the upgrades as they go live. Testing and feedback is expected to take place at each stage, with new aspects rolled out to small test groups as is Google’s usual practice, to iron out the kinks.

What do you think of the planned AdWords changes? Is the platform ready for such a comprehensive update? Let us know in the comments.


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