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White Papers

The Best of the Best Industry Updates of 2017

Produced by Hanapin Marketing

You have probably seen the insane amount of updates that platforms have been rolling out in 2017 so far. From search to social to display, there have been some awesome new tools to play with in your marketing strategy. But which ones are worth giving your precious time and effort to?


Every month, the PPC experts at Hanapin have a day of training that includes the newest updates and features our team needs to know. We know how hard it is to keep up with all the consistent changes in the PPC world, and we want to help you out. In this whitepaper, we’ll discuss what we’ve dubbed as our favorite updates that you can’t miss out on when you’re seeking a refresh in your marketing mix.




Cross Device Conversions


Cross Device Conversions (CDCs) is a really exciting update from Google, because it has been a long-standing issue in the world of PPC and SEO – tracking the customer journey when it crosses multiple touchpoints. On March 14th, Google started adding in CDCs for search and shopping campaigns, with display cross device conversions to come soon.



Google does this by taking aggregate data from any clients or users that are signed into any services that Google has to offer.


From the backend, Google then pieces together the story of how a user went from clicking on an ad on mobile, to doing some research on tablet, to ultimately converting on desktop.


If they are able to pick up enough data points to tell an accurate story, they then pass the data back to you as a conversion. Instead of contributing the conversion to a direct desktop (the last click), we’d want to be able to attribute the conversion to a paid search effort because the user clicked on the mobile ad first.


Google revealed that advertisers that are using cross device conversions have seen an average lift of 16% more conversions when they pay attention to that data point. So this is definitely a point of information to know and be aware of. With cross device conversions,


  • You can get a more accurate and complete view of your campaign performance
  • You can be more informed about how your AdWords campaigns influence conversion decisions across different devices
  • You can better allocate funds to campaigns that are driving the most conversions at various device levels.


Eventually, they’ll allow us to do cross-device remarketing, so keep an eye out for that!


The New AdWords Interface


Who else is loving the spiffy new AdWords interface? I bet the answer is everyone, because the last time Google touched up the interface was 2008. Talk about old school, am I right?


Google is definitely taking steps to make AdWords more intuitive, and one of the neat things about the redesign is that most of the feedback has come from advertisers and agencies – the people that are using the product and in the weeds daily. As an agency, we’re very excited about the ability to slice up data and more deeply analyze account performance.


New features include the ability to see a graphical overview dashboard at the campaign, ad group and ad level. A lot of the hidden settings – like location, sitelinks, ad schedule, bid adjustments and device settings – are now pulled out and added to the main side navigation. There are other neat features meant to make it easier to get to the most commonly performed tasks in an account.



Exact Match Variant


Google’s definition of Exact Match keywords changed this year. The latest definition makes the concept of “exact” a little looser. Google is now using machine learning to match search queries to exact match keywords, with some slight variations thanks to function words and reordering words.


According to Google, early tests show that advertisers could see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average while maintaining comparable click-through and conversion rates.


Here is how it works:


Function words are binding words phrases and sentences like the and that, conjunctions like and and but, prepositions, pronouns, quantifiers like all and some, modals like could and would and auxiliary/ hedging verbs like be or might or will. Essentially, they are words that don’t have meaning on their own, but could change the meaning of an exact match keyword to match what someone is actually typing into Google. In the new definition of exact match, function words can be ignored, replaced, or added like you see below. Eg. Restaurants Toronto could match a query for Restaurants In Toronto.



Word Order means that the order you have put your exact match keyword in can be shuffled, if the algorithm thinks the user is not using a natural word order. For example, the keyword [Mothers’ day gift ideas] could be triggered by gift ideas Mothers’ day or Mothers’ day ideas gifts.


Google won’t change word order or add function words IF it would change the meaning of keyword string. For example, if someone searches “Quebec to New York Flights”, it would make no sense to serve ads for NY to Quebec flights.


Google will still prioritize identical keywords first, so if you have the identical keyword or keyword string in your account, Google will go with that first before trying to get funky with the exact match variant.


This could result in more conversions, especially since people don’t typically use perfect grammar structure in their searches. Sometimes it’s more natural to use an unnatural word order. But it is important to check SQRs regularly and filter your Search Queries for the match type called Exact (close variant) to see if added or removed function words or word order changes the intention of your keywords. If you don’t want those included in your account, make sure you select those variants as negatives.


If Function Ads

The next update from Google is a spin on ad customizers. IF functions allow you to insert a specific message in your text ad when a condition is met, and there is a default text when it does not. This makes your ads tailored to each search and more relevant. Essentially, IF functions give advertisers the ability to customize their ads in the same way ad customizers traditionally would do, but without needing a product feed. If you’ve ever had to deal with product feeds, you know all too well that they can be a handful and very daunting, so the IF function ad makes it a little easier.



Marketers can use ad customizers to insert a price, a countdown (aka the time left before a sale ends), number of products left in stock, and any other information that they feel could be a valuable selling point to shoppers.


NOTE! IF Functions can be used anywhere in your ad except for the final URL. The only supported dimensions are “audience” and “device” . IF Function ads are only available on the search network.


With IF functions, text ads can be tailored based on whether users are on mobile and/or are members of an audience list. They can also be used to customize the description offer based on whether a user is in the advertiser’s “Cart Abandoners” retargeting list. If they are on the list, users will see a “15% off” promotion; if not, they’ll get a “10% off” offer. If functions can also tell if a user is on a certain device in order to give them more customized ad copy. You can then customize and give special offers.


This is an excellent way to target high intent visitors, and if you know a little about your visitors and the triggers that historically signal a conversion, you could have some really successful ads. Additionally, you can have more personalized and relevant messaging which always helps to increase conversions.


A LOOK TO THE FUTURE: Insider gossip suggests that down the road, support is coming to create ads for time dimension, gender and age!


Smart Display


Another step into Google’s efforts to use machine learning to improve targeting through the newly launched Smart display campaign. Smart Display just came out of Beta mode in May 2017 and allows advertisers to target their ads to audiences and placements that are most likely to drive conversions for their business, without requiring any set targeting. All advertisers need to do is pick a CPA goal and upload some ad assets. Google handles the rest.


This tool requires you to relinquish some control over creative and can interfere with ad testing, so if you are a PPC control freak this may not be for you. You also need at least 50 display conversions or at least 100 search conversions in the last 30 days in order to be eligible. But, with Smart Display you can create a top-performing campaign in minutes. Simply enter the building blocks for your ads—like headlines, images, and logos—and Google will “Frankenstein” it together to find you as many customers as they can within the CPA bid and budget you control.


This new update also allows you to work smarter, not harder, by doing a lot of the optimization for you.

Smart display campaigns automatically optimize within days. Your campaign automatically selects the best combination of assets to give you the best performance. In this way, you can learn which of your headlines, descriptions, images, and logos perform best.


Smart Display enables you to reach the people who are most likely to convert and get as many conversions as possible at a bid you set.


Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping


Similar Audiences looks at data about your existing remarketing audiences (using your remarketing tags) and finds new and qualified consumers who have shared interests with that audience. It’s a powerful tool for reaching a much larger audience and driving clicks and conversions among new prospects. People on your original remarketing list are automatically excluded from the corresponding similar audience list. Lists are constantly and automatically updating as users change their search activity. Once a user visits a site, they’ll no longer be included on the similar audiences list.



Google mines the browser history of your past site visitors or converters, and finds trends in their search history leading up to the ultimate visit or conversion. It then looks for new potential customers that haven’t visited your site, but have similar browsing histories and extrapolates that they must also be likely to convert.


Remarketing lists automatically qualify for similar audiences expansion when they meet certain criteria, including having at least 1,000 cookies and enough recent participants who exhibited similar search behaviors.


NOTE! If you have a product where Google won’t be able to identify trends from the past browsing history, then this won’t work for you.


Similar audiences targeting basically takes the guesswork out of discovering new audiences by finding potential customers who are similar to people are your existing remarketing lists for search ads. This is a great tool if you’re looking for a fresh audience to reach out to.


Advertisers can also apply bid modifiers to the similar audiences, if you want to aggressively or conservatively chase new customers. Additionally, theoretically you should see lower cost per conversions and higher conversions, as you are targeting a predefined, highly interested market.




Bing recently announced that they are migrating all monthly budgets to daily budgets, with budgets defaulting to “Daily Accelerated” instead of Standard. This means that daily accelerated budgets will spend as quickly as possible throughout the day whereas the standard would spread the budget more evenly throughout the day.


If you were already operating on the daily budget, great! However, if you were working with the monthly budget system, there are some important things to keep in mind:


  • Make sure you update your rules to coincide with the daily amounts
  • Forced migration could create a higher/lower budget depending on your settings
  • Make sure to update Accelerated vs Standard, based on how you want that campaign to spend
  • You may have to reallocate/update shared budgets





First of all, Bing is setting a positive default bid adjustment at 15% for remarketing lists.


You can change this, but just note this is the Bing preset based on the theory of it improving performance. As a reminder, you can set that bid anywhere from -90% to +900%.

Also, now you can exclude certain audiences. For example, you could exclude converters or limit ad exposure to your defined, preset groups. If you are just using for specific targeting and don’t want to bid up, you will need to update.



Ad Extensions


The new Bing Ad Extensions now include a multi-select feature, so you don’t have to add them one at a time! Hooray!


NOTE! This does include all extension types except for image extensions.


You can now schedule ad extensions, which allows them be more efficient and universal for time-sensitive offers. The scheduling feature should be helpful with management around promotional offers, top-performers, and, hopefully, reduce wasted spend and clicks.



Shopping – Merchant Center Promotions

These are special offer extensions for shopping campaigns that include a description, promo code and expiration date. They’re displayed by interacting with the special offer box, as seen below.


BONUS TIP: You will definitely want to test these out in your ecommerce accounts, especially if you have frequent promotions that resonate well with your customers.





Shopping – Product ID Search Terms


You can now see the search queries that triggered at a product ID search term level, which can be a huge help with title optimization. You can also pull a report on untargeted offers. With both of these updates, they will help you plan for products you could be advertising, but they can also help identify missed opportunities with your product offerings. And, you can have a downloadable report in Bing Merchant Center.



Shopping – Bid Landscape Tool


This awesome new tool provides forecasting for different bid adjustment levels. It can estimate cost, clicks and conversions for each level that you set. However, like most forecasting tools you should take what the Bid Landscape tool displays with a grain of salt but nevertheless it’s great to have quick forecaster budget recommendations.



Bing Ads Editor


It’s no secret that the Bing Ads Editor hasn’t exactly been everyone’s favorite tool, but version 11.9 is out! Two of the big changes here revolve around enhanced CPC bidding and utilizing exports to create expanded text ads.


The new Editor includes the ability to select manual or enhanced CPC bidding, whereas before it only had the manual option. With the ETA exports, you can export this data into Excel, add a title and then import them back into the Editor. If you’re still behind on updating those ETAs, this is an awesome and time-saving tool for you.



And, Bing Ads Editor (affectionately known as BAE) is now available on Mac for everyone so the whole world can enjoy.




Collection Ads


This is a team favorite update on Facebook – a new type of mobile-specific ad focused around ecommerce. It combines image and video, with four product images. When the user clicks on one of those images, they are directed to an immersive shopping experience within Facebook, displaying up to 50 products. Then to take it even further, if the user clicks on one of those products they are redirected to the site or mobile app.


Collection ads are meant to drive product discovery and to deliver a seamless browsing experience on mobile. It serves as its own funnel in one way, bringing more interested and qualified traffic to your brand and converts demand into sales. Basically, these ads combine a normal ad with PLA and funnel-qualified traffic through at the ad level. Plus, it looks great.



Facebook Ads Manager for Excel


Ok PPC nerds, buckle up because this update is really for the geek in you. FAME is basically an add-in to download data to Excel, and a single report covering multiple ad accounts. This will sync your Facebook data directly into excel. You can actually download this for free in the Microsoft store, so you really have no excuse to pass up this opportunity to get more granular with your Facebook data and save time.



Offline Conversion Data


Facebook now offers offline conversion data specifically around lead ads, by providing better integration with CRMs, points of sales, and call centers. With this data, you can map leads back through sales cycle, attribute more weight to your Facebook efforts, and gain a more defined view of how Facebook positions in your sales cycle.



Split Testing Ad Optimization


This feature allows you to perform a Facebook-driven split test for your ads, where Facebook will provide a winner between the two ads with a certain confidence level percentage. You might already be doing this manually, but this could be good for ongoing campaigns, where you need to keep your creative fresh on a frequent basis and also provides a more time-efficient way to run these tests. We all love winning back some of that account time.



Interface Update in Ads Manager


The Facebook Ads Manager got a makeover as well! Excluding the transition and initial learning curve, it will ideally make management easier, quicker, and more efficient by featuring automatic filters based on what you select from the campaign ad set level to ad level. So, if you select a campaign, it will filter through only the ad sets and ads that are associated with that campaign, making it much easier to navigate.


They’ve also added the right-side toolbar, as you see below, as an easy alternative to navigate through ad options and scheduling options. Those options will appear beneath the name of whatever you’re working on when you hover over the title of a campaign or ad set.



NEW FEATURE: And, to finish out Facebook, they announced in January that Facebook business can now connect over one billion people through its network, which highlights the opportunities for growth and expansion in the social platform.




Carousel ads


Yahoo Gemini now provides you with carousel ads, so that you to take advantage of multi-image storytelling to deliver more informative messages that drive greater user engagement, interest and demand. With carousel ads, you can highlight your product features, its benefits and attributes by using a sequence of image panels that build on your story.


Gemini carousel ads are available on desktop, mail and mobile. You can use up to 5 images (or a minimum of 3) to communicate the value of your product and drive engagement on Yahoo web properties.


NOTE! If a user swipes to the end of the card sequence, viewing all 5 cards, then 5 impressions are recorded. If the same user swipes back to start of the deck, the impressions are not double-counted. All clicks are counted individually.



Yahoo reports on how often each card was viewed or engaged with, based on ad unit totals, not individual cards. Third-party tracking is allowed for each card, so that you can get more granular with how people are engaging with your cards.




There’s no doubt that Instagram is a major platform right now. Stats show that users are 58x more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram compared to Facebook and 120x more likely compared to Twitter. 60% of Instagrammers say they learn about products and services on the app, while 75% say they take actions like visiting sites, searching, or telling a friend after being influenced by a post on Instagram.


Instagram Shoppable


Due to these shocking stats, Instagram realized that they need a better way for ecommerce brands to utilize their platform. One of the biggest issues with Instagram was the initial difficulty the platform presented for users to engage in ecommerce efforts without all of these multiple, cumbersome steps.


Instagram is making great efforts to make ecommerce easier with the introduction of Shoppable Instagram, a feature that lets users buy products directly by clicking on a CTA in the app.


After seeing an image with multiple products, a viewer can tap a product and after selecting their product of choice, users see an in-app details page with a specific product’s price, description, additional photos, and a “Shop Now” button to buy it on the web. This will open a page taking the person directly to the company’s buy page.



In order to set up a shoppable feed, you are most likely going to need a third-party to help you. Unfortunately, it’s still a little too complicated for an individual advertiser to manage and maintain, but the value of it is fantastic once it is set up. Many people use Instagram as a research tool before they buy a product.


The myriad of tools available to create a shoppable gallery make the transition quick and simple, with no coding necessary. Many of the tools out there to create a shoppable Instagram include built-in analytics that can show you which images generate the most customer interest, optimal posting times for highest sales conversions, and other details that can help shape your Instagram strategy.




Snapchat had 150 million users that used the platform daily in 2016, and 41% of adults ages 18-34 use Snapchat daily. AKA, you need to be using this platform.


Deep Linking and Autofill Forms


One of the things that Snapchat did this year to make that relationship between business and users a little easier is a feature called deep-linking. Deep-linking allows advertisers to take users out of Snapchat and directly to an app download page. If you’re advertising an app and the users don’t have the app requested, they’re redirected to the requisite download page. In the past, Snapchat would take the user to your main page, where the user would then have to find their own way to the download page.



Auto-fill forms take advantage of Snapchat’s user-signup information. They leverage that info to autocomplete forms for other ads that pull info from Snapchat: names, phone numbers, addresses, etc., to increase the likelihood of users engaging with ads that have their info pre-populated. Who else loves when forms are already filled out for them?




Pinterest is another great and visual platform that you can use to your marketing advantage. 87% of Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest, and 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to decide what to buy offline. And, Pinterest is busting out a ton of tools to help people make decisions and find products faster.


Lens (Beta)

The strategy team at Pinterest anticipated the ecommerce power that Pinterest was going to have, and they worked hard to develop some neat tools that would make it easier for ecommerce companies to connect with consumers on Pinterest.


Lens is a visual discovery tools introduced by Pinterest this year. It is still in Beta mode, but US iPhone and Android users are getting a sneak preview of the tool.


Lens allows users to tap the Lens icon and swipe up in order to access new idea Lenses (pictured below) to try out. Users can incorporate their devices’ cameras into their searches by tapping the camera icon in the Pinterest app and taking a photo of something, after which they will see recommendations for similar objects or ideas.




Lens is basically the Shazam of objects in the real world. The feature isn’t just for ecommerce, but it can bring more attention to your products that are available for sale and help more potential customers find you.


Instant Ideas


Similarly, another visual discovery tool introduced by Pinterest this year is instant ideas. When you notice an idea that looks interesting, just tap the circle that appears on each Pin to instantly unlock related ideas and lead you down a rabbit hole.



The new ideas appear right inline, so it’s like you’re instantly reshaping your feed around whatever sparks your interest, all without losing your spot. Behind the scenes, your feed will get even more personalized, delivering you the very best ideas that people are loving on Pinterest, all in real time.


Shop the Look


Where advertisers can make the most direct ecommerce revenue is the visual discovery tool called “Shop the Look.” Users can click on individual items in photos so they can buy them or, if they aren’t for sale, see similar items that are for sale through the network.


Brands can tag items themselves, or Pinterest employees will tag them so users can click through to make a purchase. In the past, Pinterest had buyable pins, which let users make purchases ,but those pins were limited to a single item each. Now a brand can essentially advertise multiple products in the same pin.



This tool is meant to take the browsing and aspirational nature of Pinterest and turn that into a sales channel. Pinterest said that tests of the feature have shown that users engage with “Shop the Look Pins” 3 to 4 times more than they do with Pins without the feature.


They also added that those Pins are saved five times more and spur double to triple the visits to brands’ websites.


Can you see why we thought these were the best of the best? We can’t get enough of these new updates for 2017, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store. Stay tuned for even more of our favorite updates as the year goes on.