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During this week’s PPCChat discussion, Julie F Bacchini led the conversation, covering the latest Google Ads metric definition and recent developments regarding how ad strength influences ad-serving capabilities.

Q1: Have you read the new metric definitions from Google Ads? What are your thoughts?

Yes, and I feel like there is a lot of overreacting. Ads have always been able to serve below organic and this is just Google documenting it more clearly. @navahf

Yes. Felt like nothing at first but now I am worried there is a huge change just over the horizon. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. @beyondthepaid

I tweeted about this…This is kinda bewildering. They take the time to send out an email hailing these updated definitions. But then say “nothing has changed” when people ask about it. What is the point? @NeptuneMoon

Prominence is useful for us to use in helping clients understand the mechanics of the SERP. @navahf

It honestly feels like they are trying to realign it with the reality that is SERP is a personalized experience. SERP is no longer the static layout we all grew up with. An engineer wrote it so it sounds way confusing to the average person. @duanebrown

To @navahf point, ads have always been able to show below organic and used to even show at the bottom of page 1. Now that there is no bottom of page 1, it makes sense to clarify. @beyondthepaid

I don’t feel like it’s that big of a change… but agree with @beyondthepaid  that it feels like waiting for the other shoe to drop. @revaminkoff

Prominence still doesn’t yet make sense to me. @TheMarketingAnu

I asked the AI bot in G Ads documentation to explain prominence yesterday… @NeptuneMoon

I think it’s just bringing the advice in line with reality. but of course, Google news right before GML is can sometimes suggest things to come. @JuliaVyse

@TheMarketingAnu total guess on my part, but I think it’s a way of admitting that ‘top of page’ can’t make sense in a personalized/privacy first environment. @JuliaVyse

@TheMarketingAnu it’s an estimate of visibility. Given that not everyone will opt into tracking, it’s the best guess to align if you’re meeting awareness click-to-conversion ratios. @navahf

I can think of some other terms that need updated since don’t reflect reality…cough…exact match…cough. @robert_brady

I also think the modifying of “top of page” and “absolute top of page” is to allow room for ads to be put in all kinds of layouts. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what they want to do with SGE and AI in search results. This gives lots of leeway. @NeptuneMoon

@navahf  but what was wrong with the other estimates of visibility?? is it one more to add. It sounds like how they thought BMM was a good idea at some point. @TheMarketingAnu

Honestly, I am thrilled about all these improvements – hopefully, they empower folks to use the organic reports as well. @navahf

Google is owning they can’t give you concrete numbers any more @navahf

I’ve moved away from Top vs Other positioning in Google Ads in recent years.  Our conversations all revolve around Impression Share. @Realicity

I think it will be interesting relative to bidding on impression share. These placements are now squishier in what they actually were when a searcher saw them. @NeptuneMoon

I asked the Ads Liason account twice but couldn’t make sense of what they replied. Then I just gave up. Waiting for an article or YT video to fully make sense of it. @JawadZaheerKhan

I am looking forward to watching the Marketing O’Clock podcast this week cause I know this will be covered and I will be laughing. @NeptuneMoon

@JawadZaheerKhan Please do let me know what other questions you have on this. Happy to help clarify further. @adsliaison

@Realicity Yeah – I think while position is the #1.5 factor in CTR, it’s way past the time that we’re all bidding to position 1. @ferkungamaboobo

curious who/how many people are position bidding still? @adamGorecki

But how are you supposed to tell your clients that Google can’t give them concrete numbers? @revaminkoff

There could be new ad types coming too with SGE and such. I’m already not clear how/where LSAs fit into these definitions. As I said, I think the updates give Google more room to put things different places and change what the top ad is based on the makeup of the SERP shown. @NeptuneMoon

Agree with @Realicity – we usually focus on imp share. Only in rare cases do we worry about position bidding.@beyondthepaid

@ferkungamaboobo 100%.  Top vs Other is still relevant to us for understanding CTR and Click Performance, but not as much for other conversations and decisions. @Realicity

I gave up on position bidding when Google Ads got rid of showing avg. position. @revaminkoff

@adsliaison I couldn’t make sense of why Top ads can now appear below organic then what exactly is “Top” about them. And I couldn’t make sense of your reply in this regard. But later I found out & correct me if I am wrong, that it means Top Ads can appear below Organic but they will still be Top Ads because no other ads would appear on the SERP above them? @JawadZaheerKhan

@revaminkoff This is the tough one. Google has billed itself as the data people for so long! Luckily, many of us have already built relationships with our clients based on our understanding of their needs and Google’s capabilities. So hopefully they’re open to it. @JuliaVyse

Yes, that’s correct @JawadZaheerKhan Top Ads are still the top most ads in the results. @adsliaison

Can someone give me a use case or example of a conversation with these metrics (or the former)? I feel that Google should spend more time fixing GA4 instead of changing the semantics of definitions. P.S. aren’t the new definitions closer to what they were a decade ago? anyone remember? @adamGorecki

I kind of would like us to talk a bit about budgets and what budgets we need to make Google (and other networks) work. This is the “moving goalpost” I’m most bothered by. Namely, it seems more budget is needed everywhere. @navahf

Everything digital advertising needs more budget. It’s a mature advertising ecosystem. No more bargains to be had at this juncture. At least not on well-established platforms. @NeptuneMoon

@navahf A truer statement has never been made! @Realicity

@navahf We’ve luckily still been able to find success without increasing budgets – but the platforms are going to keep pushing for more to make more money. @revaminkoff

Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of us were brought up in the “more data [interpreted as more metrics in practice] is better” world, or one highly influenced by it. I’ve done this rant before, so I’ll not do it again in full, but I think the key part of the post-big-data world is that the metrics we used were not the right ones. @ferkungamaboobo

Q2: Do you think these changes in definitions are paving the way for anything in particular or is this just Google being Google?

I certainly do think so, but for ONCE I don’t actually have a guess as to what it is. Maybe no more match types? everything is broad and generative/conversational search means all placements are meaningless? @JuliaVyse

I think it’s helping brands get used to estimates vs exact numbers. Also organic won’t always be below paid.  @navahf

There’s fewer positions in CTV or AR/VR. That seems like the next frontier. @adamGorecki

I definitely think it’s to make room for SGE changes in the SERP. @beyondthepaid

As to anything else, who knows @beyondthepaid

I agree with @navahf about leaning in to modeled data for everything. Google (and other platforms too) are losing data so even where your ad showed is going to have to be more estimated than reported. And by reported I mean what we have traditionally been used to where traffic and positions, etc. were fully visible and data was all available for viewing. @NeptuneMoon

They want more room to test stuff and the old definitions were limiting them. That’s how it feels to me. @robert_brady

It reads to me, and I’ve been accused of being too short-sighted and buying into PR, just as a clarification. @ferkungamaboobo

Breaking: Google removes all campaign types besides PMax. @adamGorecki

Digital marketers in general like to read tea leaves. Sometimes your teabag just had a hole in it. @ferkungamaboobo

I also hope that folks don’t neglect shifting metrics on other platforms. Google had news, but so did Meta (inflated numbers) and Microsoft (doing away with manual CPC) @navahf

“Just trust us” they say(Why am I so cynical today?) @adamGorecki

It’s popular to be cynical XD. @navahf

I’m cynical every day. @beyondthepaid

Some of it is logical… IE the first page is gone from SERP. @NateLouis

@navahf Yeah! This is where I think we should be looking with metrics: Facebook’s been AWFUL about going “oopsie whoopsie our metrics had an error in measurement, sorry about that data from the past 3 years!” @ferkungamaboobo

cynical is the new black. @Realicity

I also think if you read the GML preview from the new head of Google Ads, it is clear that AI is not slowing down and a push in the coming year will be to tell Google a few things and let Google Ads do the rest.I will find the link and share it. @NeptuneMoon

@ferkungamaboobo I’m absolutely furious about that – lying in data to get more revenue is disgusting and borderline criminal. @navahf

@navahf There is a class action lawsuit over the Meta lying about reach. @NeptuneMoon

I’m aware – what boggles my mind is how advertisers still use Meta when there are so many other social channels. @navahf

I feel we are being torn in two:

  1. Privacy regulations = less data
  2. AI proliferation & ubiquity need more data

I haven’t quite figured out how the future will look with these two behemoths duking it out, but I’ll let you know when I do. @adamGorecki

The timing of AI absolutely stubbed its toe on people waking up to privacy rights. @navahf

@adamGorecki welcome to public sector digital comms. It’s great to have you here! @JuliaVyse

So going back to the original question: Google is being Google but in the new era way. They’re giving us the heads-up to start working on our reporting conversations. @navahf

So my intern sent me an internet, and now, can you eliminate finsta? @JuliaVyse

This is what I think, a bit late to the party today….@alimehdimukadam

Ali Mehdi Mukadam tweets about Google search results

Q3: Now that you have seen the warning that seems to say that ad strength might impact your ads ability to serve, and Ginny’s response saying nothing has actually changed, what are your thoughts or concerns on this front?

This question is based on @N8Louis‘s tweet:

Nate Louise's tweet about search campaign ad strength

@adsliaison gave a very in-depth response:

Ginny Marvin's reply to Nate Louise about ad strength

This gives me cold sweats. Do you know how much Gov likes to pin assets? and how low the volume is on some of their searches? this is going to be a mess for the public sector, and probably B2B as well. @JuliaVyse

I’ve been ignoring it – I see more warnings but stuff is still generally serving – and I look at it as a quality score issue when they aren’t. @revaminkoff

As discussed in the previous thread, Google will be generating all the content in the near future so this won’t matter. It’s just a way to incentivize the use of Google’s automation products (or rather disincentivize not using them) @adamGorecki

I’m not really thinking anything has changed.  If your ad is not, or less, relevant to queries, other ads do, and should, get the impression. @Realicity

I find my learning phase getting longer and longer for gov. not all the way not serving…yet. @JuliaVyse

I find this very concerning on two fronts. One, less experienced people will see this and read it that they must do what Google Ads says to get their ad strength up or their ads will not run. If that is not actually true, then this reads very wrong and super easy to take that from the language and where it occurs (Nate saw in set up process). Two, it feels shadier after the whole “shake the cushions” testimony. Even if it actually isn’t, the perception that Google would throw its weight around to make people do things a certain way that may not benefit the advertiser, is not a good look, IMO. @NeptuneMoon

@JuliaVyse Keep pinning where you need to! That was part of my clarification. Ad Strength is NOT used in the auction. It’s a diagnostic tool to understand the diversity and relevancy of your assets. @adsliaison

I have several thoughts: @navahf

  1. Google needs to own that everyone is inclined to believe the worst, so when they make a design change, they need to put a disclaimer that nothing is actually changing.
  2. Ad Strength is a health indicator. Should you worship it? No. Should you pay attention to it (and any shifts in impressions)? Yes.
  3. If Ad Strength becomes a weighted metric in ranking, I think 90% of us would be fine. The outliers would be folks who outright ignore what Google has said we should do in ad copy theory, as well as folks who are lazy copywriters.

@Realicity the spirit of your comment is right, but I have real concerns about how Google interprets relevance. I don’t think it’s advanced enough to acurately determine relevance yet. @JuliaVyse

Google still does not understand B2B queries. @beyondthepaid

@adsliaison It would be helpful to remove what Louis saw then, which reads like a big old warning, if ad strength truly does not matter. @NeptuneMoon

@adamGorecki But the problem is that the AI still doesn’t understand many queries and websites. (and agree that B2B suffers a lot in this) @revaminkoff

So ad strength is like Quality Score then. Both just diagnostic tool in the end. @duanebrown

One thing bothering me lately with all these changes are the clients who kinda know Google Ads – i.e. they can log in to the console and read. And they start panicking with these messages along with limited by budget, below first-page bid, etc nothing changes overall, just increases our explanations to these questions. @alimehdimukadam

Ad Strength seems dumb to me because it wants you to add MORE assets, but unless you have huge budgets, not all the assets get enough data to reach significance in a reasonable time period and at that point, Google is just guessing. IMHO, the strength of the ad should be measured by how well your ad assets are being analyzed by Google AI, not how may assets you’ve given AI to test. @adamGorecki

@NeptuneMoon Yes, feedback has been shared with the team. And just to reiterate, this is a UI experiment for Diagnostics Insights. Nothing has changed with Ad Strength. It’s a diagnostic tool and not used in the auction. @adsliaison

@JuliaVyse & @duanebrown So the Diagnostic Tools Google Provides are not always the tools you need… ? @Realicity

@Realicity yes, I’d say so. @JuliaVyse

@adsliaison hence my point that it would be cool if Google could anticipate the panic XD. @navahf

@JuliaVyse That’s how I look at these tools anyway. @Realicity

It can be one tool you use but that doesn’t mean you don’t have other tools. I never look at Quality Score anymore…but that is just our agency POV on it. @duanebrown

For what it is worth, I also think a better communication path isn’t necessarily “nothing is changing” because it is, even if that change is nuanced. A better messaging strategy would be “Google Ads is evolving to better meet searchers needs and effectively leverage emerging AI capabilities. We are excited about the possibilities for both advertisers and searchers to find each other more easily.”And explain the shifts in definitions, etc. through this type of lens. It would go over better. @NeptuneMoon

When discussing ad creation with a standards board, we of course talk about various tools used. But Google’s tools tend to break through in terms of what is needed and how things are measured. as usual, it comes back to a comms problem. @JuliaVyse

@JuliaVyse & @duanebrown  my comment was rather rhetorical.  We’ve been around long enough to understand that a raw data point doesn’t tell the full tale. Tho, newer people may misconstrue QS and Ad Strength for something other than they really are. @Realicity

I feel like there was a recent change that made it harder to get new search campaigns launched. It’s almost as if you have to bid on broader terms to start to get some historical data. After you get some traction, Google will allow you to widdle down the keywords. Right now, the campaign I mentioned feels like it is stuck. It has “-” for a quality score on all keywords. @N8Louis

plus, all of the other stuff I had mentioned @N8Louis

@N8Louis All the terms start with that – for quality score. That has been that way for a while. Ages ago everything started with a QS of 6 and moved up or down from there. At some point quite a number of years ago now, G changed that to start with the – and then fill in a number when it had enough data. @NeptuneMoon

Q4: How/do you think goalposts are being moved relative to Google Ads right now in your opinion and experience? And what, if anything, would you love to see changed on that front?

Not being able to sort active items in GMC when you have an Advanced Acccount and are looking at dozens and dozens of sub-accounts makes no sense. You can sort by pending, expired and disapproved SKUs but not active. Make it make sense. Not our topic today but I wish little things got fixed. That would go a long way. @duanebrown

We live in a paradoxically frustrating time of needing more data but also not having data due to privacy. My biggest concern is that niche B2B and SMB will get left behind. @navahf

I do think B2B and small businesses are being left behind. Nearly all of the changes in how G Ads works or the paths it really wants advertisers on just are not as easily or efficiently used for businesses with low conversion volume.Couple that with the across the platforms data loss and the news is not great for smaller businesses and lots of B2B businesses. I hope more is coming for them that we just don’t know about yet. @NeptuneMoon

Pardon the rashness, but the only Goal Posts that Google cares about now is this: are caught in the Privacy/AI struggle which is why most of the changes are ethereal instead of tangible because I don’t think Google knows how it’s all going to shake out (which is fair). @adamGorecki

What @navahf said. @robert_brady

In terms of how to fix it – sources of truth need to be protected. We all need to be comfortable sharing conversion data with our marketing channels, or we need to be comfortable with our campaigns suffering from lack of data. @navahf

“Trust the AI” doesn’t work for companies when the AI isn’t accurate for their industries and/or they don’t have the budget or patience to make it through the grueling learning period without results. @revaminkoff

@navahf I’d add we need to get our clients and stakeholders comfortable with lack of hard data. We have sold the core of PPC as “we have the data” since it began. That is a lot to unravel and reroute! @NeptuneMoon

Google can’t force companies to depend on the AI when the AI is not compliant or dependable. @revaminkoff

@NeptuneMoon And there also needs to be an alternative narrative put forward – what happens instead? Why advertise on Google when Google’s core was transparency and now that’s gone? @revaminkoff

Hey all, let’s just be happy that Google is making updates. Facebook doesn’t do anything to their platform. @adamGorecki

I am concerned about how it affects the SMB’s. Maps is being monetized a lot more as Google experiments with Search. For some accounts, auto-linking of their business profiles and conversion config of local actions, etc was startling. For eg. saw an e-commerce store’s business profile linked and conversions started as directions, calls, along with purchase. Need to be more vigilant for small accounts. And it doesn’t help when they constantly get emails from Google Experts to turn on auto-apply for a $1000-2000 budget account. @alimehdimukadam

@adamGorecki there is that! at least Google is trying to talk to us! @JuliaVyse

Look, ultimately, I’m not afraid of AI, I’m just afraid of they AI I’m forced/expected to use wasn’t trained on the same goals that I have. No, I don’t want to “upgrade” to broad match when I only have <10% impression share on my exact match keywords. @adamGorecki

@adamGorecki & @JuliaVyse FB Ads seems like it a middle-aged divorced guy who’s just given up and is sitting on the porch complaining about taxes and fake news. @Realicity

I worry that Google is taking into account for niche-based businesses. IE a countertop fabricator is not the same as a countertop installer. @N8Louis

IMO, these sort of documents are helpful. but really basic and admittedly, I think most of use have been doing these things for years already. What I’d like to see from Google is better explanations of HOW the AI systems work (not just WHAT they do), and less blackboxing. @adamGorecki

Garbage disposal company is not a plumber or a dumpster rental company. @N8Louis

@N8Louis Google Ads struggles with knowing those types of differences. And I think it is going to have to get better on that front because businesses who care about their spend will not want to spend on things that are clearly irrelevant for their businesses. That also hinges on advertisers still being able to see that kind of data though. If Performance Max becomes the only campaign type and/or regular campaigns show data like PMax does (in aggregate, themes, insights, etc.) then none of us will ever know if the AI gets any better understanding these differences. And that is troubling for a lot of advertisers. @NeptuneMoon

I will add that part of Google Ads’ fundamental problem, from an advertiser and PPC pro perspective, is that the audience of advertisers that they talk to are not representative of most advertisers. In other words, large brands that have dedicated teams at G Ads that work with them do not have the same concerns or even experience with Google Ads that advertisers anywhere below that tier do. And, Google is a publicly traded company, so their first, second and third priorities are to keep their stock price stable and show growth quarter after quarter after quarter. What they need to do to do that is not always what average advertisers want or need. @NeptuneMoon

Closing thoughts: @adamGorecki

  • Privacy regulations are affecting AI and even Google doesn’t know where it lands
  • Google Ads is being enshittified despite/because of record profits
  • Google understands HOW AI works, but not WHY it works
  • They’re getting rid of exact match, I can just feel it

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