Enhanced campaigns, image extensions, third party reviews... the list goes on. Fantastic features that have improved performance for search marketers.
But we always want more, don't we?
What do we hope that 2014 will bring from Google to make us really happy?
What We Want
The lists below aren't sorted by importance or even feasibility. This is speculative stuff.
- More and better demographic data. Demographic data in search is a tricky business, but if anybody can solve this it's Google. Their data quality has come a long way in the last couple of years but it still has the scope to get better.
- Third party data in search. If I have a cookied list of people who have made a phone call to my business, I want to be able to adjust my bids and targeting for those users. In fact, I'd like to be able to buy third party data and apply that to my search targeting. There's a lot of it out there I can use on my display campaigns, and think how great the performance could be on search!
- - Better RLSA remarketing lists (minimum volume, longer duration, YouTube audiences, etc.). I can see why this product launched with restrictions on these lists, but boy do I wish we had more flexibility. I'd love to have a list containing people who bought insurance from me 11-12 months ago. As soon as they search for insurance terms again I want to make sure I'm appearing. But with a 180 day duration limit I can't do that at the moment. Any time Google want to open this up, I'll be ecstatic. Let me use my Google Analytics lists too!
- Richer ad formats. Surprise me. I kind of don't mind what's included. Google have been pretty inventive about these in the past, and sitelink descriptions, image extensions etc have made massive impacts to my regular search ads. Combine what's been done with PLAs and we're in a good place now. All this improvement has just whetted my apetite. Give me more!
- Relaxed character restrictions. I know these limits have been fixed since time immemorial, but think how good an ad you could write with a few more characters in your headline, now that you've got years of experience writing such concise, neat ads!
- Video content. Google have been experimenting with videos in ads for a while, but it's been quite limited. I have quite a nice video, so let me put it in my ad so people can watch it if they want to.
- Campaign and ad group IDs, and ad parameters in AdWords Editor. This one really would make a difference. We use the API for a lot, but for ad hoc tools a spreadsheet is still the easiest way for a campaign manager to make bulk changes. Unfortunately I can't make bulk changes to things like ad group names, because then there is no way to upload that back into AdWords Editor with the tool totally aware which group has changed to which new name. Each campaign and ad group has an ID, let us export it and make changes around it, the way we can in the API.
The other API only tool that we like is the ability to change ad parameters. These sit at keyword level, and we want to be able to change these on the fly please, without having to build new API tools each time we need to do something different and inventive with them.
- Better filters in the Dimensions tab. If I'm looking at the Dimensions tab, I can't filter by campaign or ad group. What? That seems like a ridiculous oversight. Sure I can look at just one of these at a time by using the left nav bar, but are my choices really to look at a single campaign or the entire account? Why can't I, for instance, include every campaign that doesn't contain the word "Brand" in the campaign name, thereby looking at all my non-brand activity together?
- Bulk add/remove in Client Center level reporting. This one is personal, folks. On a regular basis I need to extract data from across all our accounts. That's 250+, of which some should be included and not others. My choices are to include all accounts, or to add them one at a time. Dammit! I want to be able to add all, but still have individual controls to add or remove.
What Might we Actually Get?
Of the above list, only some.
Expect the demographic data to improve, but I'd be surprised to see much change to RLSA remarketing lists. I'll eat my hat if we get third party data in search in 2014.
RLSA remarketing lists are dominated by the implicit user terms people agree to every time they do a search on Google. They're already stricter for users who have signed in (they've explicitly told Google what can be done with their data, and it's hard to change that for new products). Third party data is a step too far, probably.
We'll definitely get some richer ad formats, probably including video. I suspect new formats on mobile will be prevalent too. That's just continuing an existing set of trends. Relaxed character limits seem unlikely. There is no pressure on Google to change this, and the amount of upheaval for a lot of AdWords accounts makes it tricky to implement.
Regarding the management/reporting changes: your guess is as good as mine. Speak to your AdWords reps until they consider these as problems that affect multiple people. As long as its just a few lone voices asking for these changes they'll be considered low priority.
What Changes Would be Actively Bad?
There are always still a few of these, generally regarding changes to defaults or removal of useful granularity of control. Each of these makes campaign management more complicated in order to recreate the level of control we used to have.
Example: since enhanced campaigns removed the ability to ability to have different mobile bids easily for different keywords, some PPC commentators discuss using one keyword per ad group to regain that control. It's the kind of change we shouldn't have to make, but in some cases we simply do.
I'd like to see Google avoid those kinds of changes this year. A small core of AdWords users spend the most time using the platform, and changes to benefit the rest that harm the sophisticated users are sure to reduce the good will towards Google.
What's Your Single Biggest Wish for AdWords in 2014?
Leave your suggestions in the comments below, describing the change you'd like to see and how likely you think it is to come true.