Facebook sunset the 20% text limit on image ads

Recently, in my LinkedIn network, there’s been a buzz around an actual sunset of the 20% text rule on image ads by Facebook.

I waited to write a post as I couldn’t find a mention coming from Facebook official sources and our Facebook representative didn’t get in touch with us straight away in this regard. I was also under the impression the rule had already been moved to a less stringent recommendation whereby an image with more than 20% text overlaid would run but with limited reach.

However, the news seems to be confirmed although Facebook prefers to keep it vague in its official guideline by mentioning:

We’ve found that images with less than 20% text perform better. With this in mind, we recommend keeping your text short, clear and concise in order to get your message across effectively.


It’s indeed a loosened approach that gives advertisers piece of mind when briefing clients while it also adds a new cause to possible lower performance if an image ad does contain more than 20% text.

Surely, different industries will beneficiate of this in different ways (although some exceptions to the rule were already in place).

Something to keep in mind for the future nevertheless!

Bye bye Gallery Ads, welcome Image extensions

Having some time to spend to catch up on Google latest products, I’ve recently watched this Google Ads New Product deep dive about Image Extensions.

The news is (it’s not a news but I had previously missed it haha) Gallery Ads have gone through an early retirement and are being replaced by Image Extensions.

I’m very much disappointed regarding Gallery Ads because I’ve never had the chance to test them nor have I ever seen them (sigh). Not every Google Marketing Live beta release becomes reality (like I didn’t know).

Well, now Image Extensions seems to be working very well – did they not say the same about Gallery Ads?! They’re supposed to be mobile only (like Gallery Ads) but apparently they’ve been tested on desktop devices as well.
I’m curious to see the future of these considering image extension have been available on Bing for a while and have been tested a couple of times on Google as well.

Have you been whitelisted? Have you got any useful data insights on hand? Share it int he comments 🙂

New Google Custom Audiences -now live!

I read this morning about the new Custom Audiences just landed in our Google Ads accounts on Marketing Land and I could not wait to try them!

Such a smooth change, so much easier to use and looks more powerful as well. You can now choose in an easy and simple way if you want to target:

  1. People with any of these interests or purchase intentions.
  2. People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties (such as Google.com and YouTube).

You can also expand this audience with URLs of websites people have visited, apps from a list and places they visited.
And they can be used in Display, Discovery, Gmail and YouTube campaigns.

Needless to say I created anew one (although previously created Custom Intent audiences have been migrated to this new type) and added it to one of my YouTube campaigns currently live.
I really look forward to seeing results although my campaign has only a few days left to go.

I’ll keep you posted!

News from Google: RSAs and Search Terms Report changes

I’ve been back from furlough for just a couple of weeks and Google has already released some new changes to the Google Ads interface just to keep me on my toes!

You must have heard of these already but I wanted to gather some thoughts here as well.
Right, the first of these changes is quite a big one mainly because it’s in line with the recent Google trend of taking more and more control over the accounts by hiding useful data to us PPC people. Oh they love that, don’t they?!
With just a small notification popping up in our accounts, they informed us that our Search Terms reports will look a lot slimmer from now on as it will only include “terms that were searched by a significant number of users”.
You’ll argue what’s considered “significant” to them might not be significant to you but they make the rules. It’s true we’re probably (hopefully?!) talking about searches with a very low number of impressions and clicks and so a very small portion of your budget that will go lost plus if it’s a small number of searches, what are the odds that term will be searched again – making it irrelevant to exclude it.
Shall we just be more optimistic?

Another change, well more than a change a test, as they called it, it’s the temporary disappearance of Expanded Text Ads from the Google Ads interface. Let me explain, when you go to create an ad the default template you’re prompt with is for RSAs rather than expanded text ads. It seems it’s just a test and not a farewell to ETAs altogether.
When I read about this (I did not see it in my accounts but mainly because I upload everything via Google Ads Editor), I thought about the account of my amazing friend Paolo, who is a guitar teacher and is trying Google Ads to make its business known in our city. When he showed me the account, I could see he had created straight away a responsive search ad which surprised me a little, now I know it was probably the first thing he was prompt to do.

I’ve always added RSAs to my accounts as soon as these came out and I must say in some campaigns, and for some clients, I did see some good results to outperform standard ETAs.
However, my RSAs were very structured and had pinned headline 1 and 2 to make sure relevancy was kept across keywords, ad and landing page. Perhaps this is the future we’re going towards if we want to keep control over RSAs.
Another issue I found with them comes from a client perspective, having worked exclusively in agencies. Most of my clients want to control and own their ads and not knowing the exact combination of headlines and descriptions becomes an issue of transparency and reliability that impacts negatively on agency’s work. Certainly, it doesn’t help that Google doesn’t share data on conversion metrics in relations to Responsive Search Ads combinations.
In this regard, a useful article on Search Engine Journal sums up opinions around RSAs by several marketers who highlighted these issues quite well.

It seems transparency is on the line again, my dear Google.

How about your experience, do you have some interesting data around RSAs to share? Please, fee free to comment below!

(If you don’t care about Search Terms reports nor RSAs but you’re thinking of learning to play guitar, here’s my friend’s website. You’d better get the basics before we’re forced into another lockdown and you wished you’d found yourself a hobby!)

The Importance of Our Work

It’s been a very emotionally intense period of our lives, although we’ve been physically stuck at home our emotions have wandered to unexplored places of our souls and minds. Never have I ever thought I would miss the fabric of life as it was, the unpleasant chores and the boring routines it was made of.

Yes, I know it’s important to re-think about the normality we want to rush back to, find what’s worth rushing back to and take some valuable learnings out of this incredible time we’ve lived through but I also know the importance of the things that kept us steady. Structures we had in place to keep us and our souls steady that, ultimately, were the foundations we used to build our lives on. That’s what I miss, that initial bulk of bricks that allowed me to build beautiful things around it.

I also know sometimes it’s good to start from scratch, slash and burn the land to make the soil ready for new seeds.
How difficult though! How scary, don’t you think?

I’m writing these few notes while I scroll down my LinkedIn feed, amidst motivational posts, webinars on resilience and farewell posts of people hit by company redundancies. I could not think about a paragraph I read recently from Alain De Botton:

“Our work exists to protect us from a brutal sense of despair and angst. We should make sure we ever stop having tasks to do – and never make the most reckless of all moves, ‘retire’ or embark on that next most reckless step, taking a long holiday”.

Good luck to everyone: those struggling to feel motivated while in furlough and those actively searching for a new position. I know everything will be alright in the end but I wanted to acknowledge the struggles and the journey we’ve been through before it gets lost.

New Combined Audiences for Google Search Ads campaigns

Google has been releasing some very interesting, new features in the last few weeks. New columns (Conversions by conv, time), Lead extensions and now Combined Audiences for Search Ads.

Exciting times! I’ve been waiting for the possibility to layer audiences for quite a while but my interest was more on the Display network as I often wondered why you cannot cross over different in-market audiences.

Well, I was quite excited when I read some accounts can now use combined audience for Search and can finally layer demographics, in-market, affinity and other audience targeting.

I haven’t had a chance of actually building a combined audience as it doesn’t seem my accounts have this option yet, but looking at the examples I’ve seen online it seems very similar to Facebook audience targeting.

In a way, Google is giving us visibility and control on more advanced types of targeting that were already used by their automated bidding strategies.
“Machine learning will save time and deliver great results” says Google.
“We don’t trust what we cannot see, we want to see what’s the targeting behind the results” say the marketers.
“Alright, build your personas then, surely you won’t beat machine learning but here you go”.

Right, I’m going to far. Anyway, this new possibility will expand our testing a great deal as we’ll be able to use broader keywords on more defined audiences and different messages. Results seem to be promising, first testing by Digital Marketing Consultant Steve Johns shows an amazing increase of 234% in conversion rate compared to campaigns using standard in-market audience.

Looking forward to test these soon, let me know if you’ve had a chance to test them as well!

New “Conversions (by conv. time)” column in Google Ads

LinkedIn is one of my sources of information when it’s about paid media. I know it’s awkward to keep it open at work as it may seem you’re constantly looking for new jobs but, actually, LinkedIn is great to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest particularly when you don’t work in a paid media team, like myself. It’s my go-to place to spot the latest features release from Google and Facebook as my network is populated by paid media professionals.

And it’s on LinkedIn that this morning I found out about these new columns that were added on Google Ads recently: Conversion by conv. time, Conversion Value by conv. time and Value/conv. by conv. time. As you can see in the screenshot above, the new Conversion by time column will show conversion count based on the day the conversion occurred.

It’s not a huge news, but it’s always nice to see new thing being added and it can be useful particularly for e-commerce and for businesses that have a long time lag between the “last” paid click and the conversion (last click or whatever click the attribution model will give attribute the conversion to).

I remember some years ago I was surprise to see there was a difference between Google Ads conversion count and Analytics count when filling in my monthly reports for an e-commerce client. Then, I found out the answer: Google Ads reports conversions against the date/time of the click that led to the successful action, not against the date of the conversion itself. This is to match the value generated to the right advertising cost, it makes sense but it left a more junior myself a bit baffled. When you deal with big transaction values the difference is considerable and if the client uses Analytics as main data source it looks like you’re messing up with data intentionally if you don’t know the reason why the data between Google Ads and Analytics differ.

On the flip side, this causes your monthly performance to look a lot better when looked at after a few days because the value gets retrospectively attributed to the time of the click. What a frustration to report early in the month for the month just gone and see ROAS increase days after, when your report is already with the client!

I suppose this will help get a bit more consistency between Google Ads and Analytics although I cannot see a direct useful consequence for optimisation.

Well, thanks LinkedIn and my connections to put this under my attention. Have you seen it yet, do you think it’s useful?

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Google Gallery Ads, a game changer?

When Gallery Ads were announced last May during the annual Google Marketing Live conference I must admit I got pretty excited.

What are Gallery Ads and are they available yet?

Gallery Ads are more visually compelling ads that are only available on mobile. They offer a scrollable gallery of 4 to 8 images and a 70-character description for each image. Yes, you read correctly, images in search ads. Game changer? Maybe.

Google said in a blog post earlier this year that, in testing, Gallery ads saw “25% more interactions” that other search ad units.

Advertisers get charged for gallery ad interactions in one of two ways. Either on a cost-per-click basis when a user clicks on the ads text, just like any other search ads, or after the user swipes through three images in the gallery.

And here it comes the tricky bit. How will this affect CPC and overall spend? Gallery Ads have been available in beta to selected advertisers worldwide since early last August but I could not find any blog from people who tried them and shared data or performance. When I saw them in my accounts I wanted to try them straight away but I’m still convincing the client to test them.

I’m curious to see what’s their delivery, the number of impressions they get and also how much the average CPC or cost per interaction for these ads are going to be. At the same time, I’ve made a commitment to myself to be bolder and more proactive in my campaign management as I found myself being quite conservative most of the times.

Anyone has tried them already? Let me know!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

How to understand the value of Video Advertising and measure performance

The reason I love digital marketing is that you can measure almost everything and know exactly what’s working and what’s not. Simply put, if you see conversions coming through, you know you’re doing it right. When it comes to video campaigns, however, I often found myself fumbling around metrics unsure how to measure performance.

YouTube has now over a billion users – meaning almost one-third of the internet, according to the latest stats. With this in mind, it becomes more and more important for brands to include video in their marketing strategy and for us, PPC experts, to include video campaigns in our toolbox.

But here it comes the tricky part, how to measure the impact of online video advertising? And consequently, how to convince clients of the importance of video campaigns?

In 2015, Google shared results of a study on 50 video campaigns from Fortune 100 brands and found that 94% of the campaigns drove a significant lift – an average of 80% – in ad recall. They also measured YouTube’s impact on “brand interest” – interest in a brand as measured by an increase in organic searches for it on Google, and found that 65% of YouTube TrueView campaigns drove a significant lift in brand interest, with an average lift of 13%. So far, so good. However, if we don’t have access to Google Brand Lift what should we take into consideration to measure performance?

Engagement metrics can work as a compass in the video landscape, but we also need to know where we want to go – what goals we want to achieve. Depending on our goals, we should focus on specific metrics and benchmark our results against the average in the same industry market.

As Tina Arnoldi wrote on Supermetrics Blog: “for viewers who are not yet aware of your brand, you may monitor views, impressions, and unique users. In the consideration stage, you would check watch time and view-through rates. And finally, the action stage is the clicks, calls, signups or sales – when people take that action to buy from you”.

The new AdWords interface helps us with this as it includes a ‘Video Analytics’ section that offers deeper visibility on video campaigns’ performance. At a glance, it’s possible to check audience retention, likes, shares and subscribers.

To sum up, I think we should look at video campaigns as a tool that sits at the top of the marketing funnel. If we think of consumers in categories of knowing or not knowing a product, in the stage of weighing different options between different brands, video campaigns play a strategic role.

We may not be able to get an exact ROI to justify investments, but we can for sure measure performance in relation to our end goals and understand what works and what doesn’t.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Why should Remarketing be part of your Digital Strategy?

As a user you’ll probably already know, as digital marketers we see it every day in your Google Analytics account: users don’t convert straight away the first time they land on your website. As much as we all wish it was that simple, conversion paths can require different steps. Before getting down to the purchase stage of the marketing funnel, users need time for exploration and consideration and while many digital marketing tactics help you get prospecting customers to visit your website, some of these customers will leave and will convert in a different moment. The question is: how do we take them back to our website without risking to lose them or, worse, get them caught by competitors? Simple, here comes remarketing.

Remarketing (also known as “retargeting”) is the tactic of re-connecting with lapsed users while they browse the web, check their emails, spend time on social media or on their favourite apps.

How does Remarketing work?

When users arrive on your website, their browsers get tagged with a string of code (a cookie) that follows them around the web and allows you to show them targeted ads.

With Google Display Remarketing campaigns, your ads can appear on any of the 2 million websites and apps that are part of the Google Display Network, but also on YouTube and on Gmail. And this is not it, your ads can also follow users while they spend time on social media. How many times you’ve been targeted with an ad on Facebook just minutes after visiting the same brand’s website? If you’ve wondered how Facebook knows your browsing history, here’s the answer.  (Top tip: if you’re browsing for engagement rings on your family laptop, clear your cookies or you’ll spoilt the surprise!)

All you need to do to make this magic happen is to install a remarketing tag on your website, depending on the channel you want to use, you’ll need Google Analytics tags, Google Ads and/or Facebook pixel. Once the tag is installed it starts tracking users and you can start to segment them into different audience lists based on their online behaviour.

Not only remarketing tags: Customer lists

We now know how easy it is to keep track of users that visited your website by dropping a cookie on their browsers but this is not the only way advertisers can use remarketing. Another way to target people is to use existing customer lists. If you have your customers’ email addresses, for example, you can retarget them with a dedicated ad providing their email address matches a Google or Facebook profile.

Create your Remarketing strategy

Remarketing can have different objectives depending on your type of business, e-commerce or lead generation.

For e-commerce, for example, the global average cart abandonment rate across different industries is 75%. This makes it very important to create a remarketing strategy that includes basket abandoners. And what about people who visited specific product pages on your website without adding any of them to the cart, how important is it to refuel their interest towards those products before they buy elsewhere? Not to mention that Remarketing allows you to up-sell or cross-sell to past/existing customers. Depending on your customer buying cycle you can estimate when they’d be ready to make another purchase and retarget them with an ad that shows a more premium product (up-selling) or accessories that match what they’ve just bought (cross-selling)

Personalise your ads and don’t forget frequency capping

We’ve seen how important it is to set your remarketing objectives and decide who you want to re-target. Ultimately, this is necessary to be able to create adequate audience lists and personalised, compelling ads.

The average click-through rate for remarketing ads is 10 times higher than standard display campaigns but in order to really see your remarketing ads attract the attention of users (remember ad blindness is a thing) you need to personalise them and talk directly to your audience. For e-commerce businesses, this is even easier with Dynamic Remarketing that allows you to show the users exactly the products or services they viewed on your website.

Also, why not adding discount codes or free shipping offer to your remarketing ads? Think strategically, 55% of shoppers abandon carts due to shipping cost while 23% of them leave because the total order cost was higher than expected. If you really want to win these users, you need to give them a reason to come back.

Last but not least, remember to set a frequency capping on your ads, you want to get visitors back to your website without bombarding them with repetitive, invasive ads.