How Can Brands Capitalize on Google’s Latest Ads Update?

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Almost a month has passed since Google officially killed its ‘average position’ metric. The metric was retired on September 30, and marketers using Google Ads have been encouraged to transition to using ‘prominence metrics’—made up of the search top impression rate and search absolute top impression rate—instead. Google’s announcement was designed to give brands the opportunity to update their strategies before the average position metric was axed to hopefully make the transition a seamless process.

To understand how that transition is actually working in the real world, and how brands are adapting to the change from one metric to another, we connected with Walker Sands Digital’s Ryan Sorrell. A digital marketing expert with experience deploying competitive content analysis for B2B clients, Sorrell shared his thoughts on how Google’s decision to axe the average position metric will impact brands going forward and which new opportunities are at play as Google shifts its sights toward automated bidding strategies.

Q. What can you tell us about how Google’s decision to sunset the average position metric is impacting businesses?

A. Google eliminating the average position metric is going to have both positive and negative effects on businesses — depending on their existing strategies, KPIs, and business goals. The new metrics that have replaced it will provide increased precision regarding ad placements and conversion rates. However, it will also result in a lack of precision, particularly regarding the targeting of terms in the non-absolute top ad positions — as well as in measuring against benchmarks or competitors.

For small businesses, it can be potentially harmful, because many small business PPC strategies utilize the average position metric, rather than top position, to cut down on costs. Now, smaller businesses no longer have the option of targeting or gaining data insights on the second or third positions with the same specificity or analytical precision. However, Google’s decision could mean improved engagement and insights for large businesses, as well as more opportunities as Google shifts its sights toward automated bidding strategies.

Q. What do these updates mean for marketers who’ve been resistant to change in the past? What can they expect?

A. This is the next step towards Google aiming for ads to be more automated as a process. The average position metric was often utilized to inform manual ads strategies, but this allows the process to be increasingly automated since the algorithm will continually optimize your ad placement depending on where it is likely to convert best.

Q. How do you recommend that companies work to absorb the repercussions of the change?

A. Paid search and SEO teams should decide what metrics are important to their business goals and optimize around the new algorithm by adjusting KPIs and existing reporting structures, becoming familiar with the strategic usages of the new metrics, and adapting to automated bidding strategies.

Q. What sort of updates to reporting, rules, or scripts should companies be implementing right now?

A. Specifically for reporting, teams will need to account for the precision that is lost. It will be important to recognize how the change in information that is provided from the top position share metric can be leveraged. The only way to effectively adapt to Google’s rapidly changing updates is to find a constant in its evaluation and ranking methods.

All successful SEO experts share a common philosophy: determine what is going to provide the most valuable user experience — and optimize content, keywords and pages around that goal. Whether it is UX, page speed or information architecture, if marketers keep their sights on only making adjustments that provide value to the user, rather than solely optimizing for search engines, they will likely not be massively negatively impacted for a prolonged period of time by an algorithm update.

In both SEO and PPC, tools are constantly changing and numerous updates are made to search engines every day. In such a quickly evolving ecosystem, the most successful marketers will continue to be those who establish a solid foundation and obsess over perfecting the fundamentals while keeping a finger on the pulse of the latest algorithmic updates.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.