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How search advertising has changed

Google’s search advertising has changed beyond recognition in recent years, first with an option to let machine learning design the most effective adverts, then moving to a near insistence on it. Once upon a time we wrote a headline and a bit of text underneath, and saw that exact advert show only where we specified. Now we have to feed the machine with lots of potential components to the advert, and let it mix and match them to create an optimal advertisement on the fly. What’s more, the precise control on where and when the advert shows has also been taken away from us to an extent.

Most Google Ads professionals will agree that the reasons for this are sound; it’s more likely that Google will be able to identify potentially relevant searches that we might not have specified, and creating ads for searches which are unknown will be, well, challenging. However, we also miss the control we once had, and many of us will argue that the old precise specification on where an advert appeared was quite sufficient. We’re also uneasy knowing that ads will show with combinations of headlines and descriptions that we may never have considered.

Worst of all, the reporting on the different advertisement text combinations has largely gone missing, which gives a feeling of no longer being in control.

However, there are ways around this. Be careful with ‘pinning’ parts of the adverts, or even the entire advert, and comparing this (within the same ad group) to an identical advert where all the elements are ‘unpinned’, as you’ll get differing Quality Scores. It’s probably better to just submit to the machine’s design of the advert, and use your time to compare different advert themes and messages instead. There’s still lots of management and testing to do, it’s just changed quite a lot.