7 Google Ads Updates You Might Have Missed in 2023

As we step into 2024, the world of Google Ads Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is buzzing with exciting trends that are transforming the digital advertising landscape as we know it. Let’s take a moment and reflect on some of the most notable changes to Google Ads you may have missed from 2023 that gave rise to today’s current trends. From Google Analytics’ overhaul to the integration of advanced artificial intelligence (AI), these developments significantly reshaped digital marketing strategies and set the stage for what we can expect this year.

1. Generative AI Features in Performance Max

Google introduced generative AI features in Performance Max, enabling marketers to swiftly create customized text and image ads at scale. This innovation in ad creation simplifies the process of generating high-quality, personalized ads, ensuring they are more aligned with targeted audiences. In addition to asset generation, AI-powered predictive insights will anticipate emerging trends and dynamically adjust bidding and targeting strategies across various ad formats and placements. These updates represent a significant shift towards a more AI-centric approach in digital advertising, offering advertisers enhanced tools for better campaign management and creative execution​.

2. GA4: A New Analytics Frontier

Google bid farewell to its long-standing Universal Analytics, making room for the arrival of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This shift away from third-party data marked a new era of digital analytics, focusing more on user privacy and machine learning-driven insights. Unlike its predecessor, which used a data model based on sessions and pageviews, GA4 implements an event-based data model. This transition allows advertisers to gain a more detailed understanding of the customer journey, including both online and offline touchpoints, as “cookie-based” tracking is phased out.

3. Brand Exclusions: Empowering Advertisers

The introduction of Brand Exclusions in Performance Max campaigns was a direct response to growing concerns about brand safety in digital advertising. This feature provided advertisers with greater control over their ad placements, ensuring that ads did not appear next to content that could potentially harm their brand’s image. By implementing Brand Exclusions, advertisers can be more proactive in defining and updating their brand safety guidelines and preferences.

4. The End of eCPC for Google Shopping

Google’s decision to retire Enhanced Cost-Per-Click (eCPC) for Google Shopping campaigns was indicative of a shift towards more automated, AI-driven bidding strategies to dynamically adjust bids for maximum conversion value. Adapting to these automated systems requires advertisers to have a deeper understanding of machine learning algorithms and a willingness to relinquish some manual control in favor of algorithmic efficiency.

5. Optimized Targeting: Redefining Audience Engagement

By sunsetting Similar Audience Lists, Google introduced Optimized Targeting. Utilizing machine learning, Optimized Targeting can identify potential customers based on their likelihood to convert rather than relying solely on demographic similarities. Advertisers could become more dynamic in their audience targeting, setting clear campaign objectives and performance metrics while focusing less on manually defining audience segments.

6. Discovery Paves the Way for Demand Gen

Demand Gen campaigns globally rolled out to all advertisers in October 2023 as a strategic update of what was previously known as Discovery campaigns. Demand Gen focuses on capturing and responding to emerging user demands and introduces the use of video, such as YouTube videos and Shorts, alongside images, carousels, or product data feeds. These campaigns leverage machine learning to identify and target users who are likely to be interested in a product or service, even before they have explicitly expressed this interest. For advertisers, this means developing a more nuanced understanding of market trends and user behavior patterns.

7. Reaching New Audiences with YouTube

In December 2023, Google Ads expanded Video Reach Campaigns (VRC) on YouTube, which now encompasses in-feed and YouTube Shorts ads in addition to in-stream ads. Advertisers can diversify video creatives across various formats and inventory types for increased efficiency and broader reach. The update features detailed campaign performance reporting, branded in-stream ads, and enhanced targeting utilizing Google AI to optimize ad placements based on targeting criteria, ensuring ads reach the most relevant audience. See our previous post, 5 Tips for Successful YouTube Video Ad Campaigns, for more ways to reach new audiences.

There you have it! 2023 has been a milestone year for Google Ads, demanding marketers adapt and discover new, innovative ways to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving environment. Google will continue to release more AI-driven automation, making ad management more efficient and giving us marketers the freedom to unleash our strategic and creative genius. Video advertising is not just a trend; it’s the headliner, delivering the kind of immersive content that grabs attention.

With the transition to GA4 and the industry’s commitment to privacy-first data practices, ethical decision-making is paramount in an unprecedented “cookieless” world. These insights serve as a guide for navigating the dynamic world of PPC advertising in 2024.

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