I had the opportunity to attend Google Marketing Live this week in San Francisco where Google unveiled a slew of new ad products and innovations. Google Marketing Live is an annual invite-only event where Google brings 5,000 of their partners together from across the globe to share their roadmap for the upcoming year. Some of the more notable announcements applicable to the tier 3 automotive space were Discovery Ads, Gallery Ads, and Smart Bidding towards Store Visits. The overarching theme this year was adding more image-focused ad units across Google’s platforms, allowing them to more directly compete with Facebook, Instagram and Amazon for marketer’s dollars. I’ve broken down the three announcements that we are most excited to begin testing, and believe will have the biggest impact on the retail automotive space in 2019.
This new ad format is set to be released to all Google Ads users later in 2019, and is Google’s latest native ad format built for both branding and direct response objectives. Discovery Ads will be served across three feed-based properties including Google’s Discover feed, mobile YouTube feed, and Gmail in the promotions and social tabs. The ad units are image heavy, very similar to ads seen on social networks like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
In order to run Discovery ads, you will need to create new campaigns dedicated to the new format. As for creative assets, you will need:
- At least one landscape image
- One logo
- Up to 5 descriptions
- Up to 5 headlines
Google’s machine learning will work on your behalf to dynamically serve the combination of creative assets that they deem most impactful for each user based on context, previous ad interactions, audience data, etc. Google says that their Discovery feed alone now reaches over 800 million users globally, so scale should not be an issue for local advertisers like car dealers considering YouTube and Gmail will also be in the mix. To start, there will not be an option to exclude any of the Google properties Discovery ads are served on.
Gallery ads for search
This was one of the only search specific announcements that came out of Google Marketing Live 2019, and I cannot wait to start testing the new format. Gallery ads for search will be the first publicly released Google paid search ad that includes a visual element. Previously, Google had beta tested a few different variations of image extensions, but never made them available to all advertisers.
The new ad unit prominently features 4- 8 swipeable images, a 70 character description, and up to 3 headlines. Users can click on an image to expand the gallery and explore the images in a larger, vertical format. The final image in the gallery prompts users with a call to action to visit the advertiser’s website. Gallery ads are only eligible to show in the top position on mobile searches for now. That said, I’d bet they will release a desktop version down the line after advertisers see success on mobile. As of now, no extensions will show alongside the gallery ad, but Google has hinted that extensions will be coming down the line for gallery ads.
These ads will be charged a bit differently than standard text ads. You will be charged in two different ways. When a user swipes through 3 of the images. (Minimum of 4 images required) Or when a user clicks through to the advertiser’s website, just like standard text ads. In addition, these ads will compete in the same auction as standard text ads, so they are built with the intention of running them alongside your existing text ads.
Gallery ads are exciting as it opens up the realm of possibilities for paid search strategies. With large and engaging images of vehicle exteriors, interiors, etc., dealers can start exploring things like off-brand competitive conquest with far more impact than is possible with text-only ads. Initial testing from Google shows that ad groups containing gallery ads have up to 25% more interactions in the top position of mobile SERPS than those without gallery ads. We’ve got a handful of strategies we are excited to begin testing ranging from new car campaigns, to used, to service, and beyond.
Smart Bidding towards store visits
This one was seemingly snuck into the other updates surrounding the changes coming for Smart Bidding like campaign level conversions, conversion value rules, and seasonality adjustments. But in my humble opinion, the ability to automatically bid towards store visits is the most exciting change of the lot.
Store visits reporting has been out for a while and has recently become more widely available to smaller dealers with less volume than the big boys. That said, store visits were not included in the Smart Bidding options, so there was no way to automatically adjust bids based on the goal of achieving more physical store visits which was a major limitation. Floor traffic is a critical metric to measure for car dealers, and having the ability to take action on the store visits reporting is a big improvement.
All three of these products are very promising for the automotive retail space, and I highly recommend testing them out at your dealership. We can’t wait to get going with these new products here at Octane, and will be sure to share the results of our testing in the coming months. Feel free to drop a comment below, or reach out if you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share.