Google AdWords Redesign Looks Beyond Keywords

Company announces new dynamic ads for search

Google is about to take what it calls "a whole new approach" to search advertising, the foundation of its massive revenues.

The AdWords program has always been designed around "keywords, keywords, keywords," said product management director Baris Gultekin. And that isn't changing, exactly, but Google is announcing an alternative, which it calls Dynamic Search Ads. Traditionally, an advertiser will create a campaign by bidding to run ads alongside specific keyword searches. With the new product, advertisers just point AdWords toward the pages that they want to promote. Then Google matches the ad with the best searches and generates an appropriate headline.

Even though Google is only announcing the program today, it has actually been in the works for the past two-and-a-half years. That's because it's a big technical challenge.

"We are basically redesigning AdWords from the ground up," Gultekin said. Under the hood, he said that Google is "flipping the search engine on its head." Instead of taking a keyword and finding relevant pages, the company is taking a page and matching it to the best keyword. 

Dynamic Search Ads are in a limited beta test, and Gultekin acknowledged that early advertisers want to make sure that they don't have to abandon their traditional keyword campaigns. (They don't.) Still, those advertisers are already seeing a 5 to 10 percent increase in conversions.

Gultekin predicted that this could eventually represent "the future" of AdWords, because it's a more natural way to think of ads—businesses usually start with a product or Web page that they want to promote, then with AdWords, they have had to think of a long list of relevant keywords. With Dynamic Search Ads, Google can take "the middle layer of keywords" out of that process.

This also makes it easier for advertisers to adapt their campaigns to limited promotions and limited supplies, because the new program will kill any campaigns pointing to pages that display an "out of inventory" message.

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