The latest quarterly data from Kenshoo indicates that 62% of clicks and 60% of impressions from search ads now come from ad types other those that involve bidding on keywords entered into desktop searches. 

So what makes up these other clicks and impressions and why? 

1. Phone and tablet ads

No prizes for guessing that mobile ads are now one of the biggest areas of search advertising, and smartphones lead the way.

In fact, in the second quarter of this year, spend directed at search ads on smartphones grew 63% year-on-year, and made up 41% of clicks and 30% of spend in the quarter.

If tablets are added to the mix, those percentages jump to 54% and 44%, respectively.

The influence of mobile is likely to grow and Google is introducing changes to support it, such as the announcement of a new expanded format for text ads.

The new format is optimised for mobile, being visually larger (taking up two lines for the heading). 

It also allows an extra 35 characters of text in the ad copy which lets advertisers provide more detailed information.

At the same time, Google has announced support for bid modifiers for a wider range of device categories. 

This provides greater control and flexibility for advertisers, allowing them to more precisely control bids on ads shown on smartphone and tablet devices.

Bids on one device can then be adjusted by +/- 900% for the other two, so a mobile bid can be modified for desktop and tablet, for example.

Previously, this was +/-300% and was always in reference to the desktop bid. More importantly, this change empowers advertisers to plan for mobile first, and not just as an alteration of desktop strategy.


2. Product Listing Ads

Budgets directed to Product Listing Ads (PLAs) climbed 71% in Q2 this year, with total clicks on PLAs more than doubling (going up 2.21x) since the same quarter last year.

PLAs are not linked to an advertiser’s keyword bids.

To appear in PLAs, online retailers need to upload their product information, including images and prices (and details of any special promotions) directly into their merchant accounts and Google uses this to generate PLAs. 

It decides when to display these ads based on the product or product category and the cost per click bid.

If you are an online retailer, PLAs are an attractive option because the ad images stand out on the search results page and attract more clicks.

Also because they do not involve keyword bids, they are relatively easy to manage.

3. Mobile App Install Ads

As the name suggests, Google’s mobile app install ads are used by app owners to promote their mobile apps and drive app installs via search results.

If you are an app owner, Google will automatically generate ads for you based on the app icon and reviews of the app in the Google Play or Apple App store, allowing you to set the keywords and budget.

For Android apps in Google Play, Google automatically tracks installs as conversions, so the default bid strategy is cost-per-action (CPA).

As well as search, Google allows app owners to run mobile app install ads on the Google Play Store, YouTube, and its Display Network (a collection of websites, apps, videos and blogs where you can place AdWords ads).

4. Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads are search ads that Google generates automatically, based on the content of your website, selecting the keyword searches against which your ads will be displayed. 

For example if you are a retailer, Google will keep an up-to-date index of the product content appearing on your pages using its organic web crawling technology.

When a relevant search occurs, it generates an ad with a headline based on the query, and the text generated from the most relevant product or landing page.

It has been suggested that around “16% of the searches that occur are ones that Google has never seen before”.

Dynamic Search Ads allow you to target these new searches, which might uncover demand for your offerings that you are not aware of.

So there you have it. Search advertising is constantly evolving, across devices and functionality, leading to a growing number of options for advertisers.

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