Google Ads Updates – Q1 Roundup

We’ve had a raft of Google Ads Updates in Q1 2023.

Here’s a roundup and analysis of the key changes and what to do about them.

Watch the vid for context and analysis… but here’s a quick summary of the changes 👇🏽

1) Google Optimize to close at the end of September 

“Google Optimize and Optimize 360 will no longer be available after September 30, 2023.” 

Time to look for alternatives if you’ve been using Google’s long-running free testing tool.

(it will be interesting to see what A/B testing tools arrive in GA4 too)

2) Performance Max improvements 

Hot on the heels of Mike Rhodes’ excellent script for breaking down PMax performance by sub-channel, Google announced a batch of positive updates for Performance Max.

Asset Group-level performance data (yet to arrive at time of writing) is a particularly welcome addition!

3) Location settings changes 

Of these currently available settings…

We’re set to lose ‘search interest’ (Google doing away with it due to ‘low adoption and lack of clarity’).

Fair enough…

All the behaviour of this ‘search interest’ option is included in the wider, ‘presence or interest’ option, and the idea of targeting users by interest in a location without also targeting them on basis of being there, seems an unlikely corner case… Certainly not one I’ve ever come across.

Then under the exclusion options, we will no longer be able to excluding users on basis of showing interest in a location.

Again I don’t see any loss here. When we want to make a location exclusion, physical presence is (I would suggest, always) what we have in mind.

So targeting options removed here… but not useful ones.

3) Display targeting changes 

Until now, where we selected targeting for the content network across topics, placements and keywords, the default behaviour was that the target would have to match all of what we’d selected across each of those types of targeting in order to be eligible.

It would have to match your topics, and your placements, and your keywords if you had used all three of those targeting methods.

The recent change is that this ‘and’ behaviour is becoming an ‘or’.

i.e. now it matches anything you’ve selected among any of those targeting methods, then the target becomes eligible.

Not for the first time, the change here is in the direction of expanded targeting and away from targeting control.

(no help centre announcement for this one, but here’s the relevant passage from Google’s email:)

4) Google to do GA4 us 

“For any customer who does not set up a GA4 property with basic settings, starting in March, we will configure one with a few basic settings consistent with the existing Universal Analytics property…”

You’ll want to set up your own configuration, but nothing to worry about here.

The automatically-configured profiles will be editable/deletable, so it’s just a good starting point for those who haven’t got around to setting up GA4 themselves.

5) New interface on the way? 

No announcement at time of writing, but in a very limited set of accounts so far, a very different interface has been showing up… with a very different looking left hand nav…

If you’re interested, you can hear my thoughts on the new design in the vid.

6) MSAds audience network changes 

With thanks to one of my members for flagging this one up: Microsoft has removed the ability to use bid adjustments for its Audience Network in search campaigns.

Unfortunate, because a -100% bid adjustment was usually the wisest choice when available…

Thanks to @PPCGreg on Twitter for his massive list of audience network placements to exclude, for damage limitation.

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