We have been reading about the AdWords User Interface update for quite a while now and it seems like the first Alpha prototype is finally here. More and more small advertisers started seeing a trial presentation of the new interface when they were logging into individual accounts (no MMC level Alpha has been spotted yet). The interface is not fully functional yet, but you can take a guided tour where it encourages you to click through different sections, check how data is going to be structured and displayed, and most importantly leave feedback about your user experience.
We also recently had a chance to test the new Interface and decided to do some initial analysis summarising pros and cons from an agency and small business advertiser perspective.
At first glance, the interface very much resembles the new Google Merchant Centre interface (now fully rolled out to all advertisers) with a dark outline menu and a big blue ‘add’ button. All tabs that were above the main data table have now been moved to the left-hand side creating two sets of menus:
There is also a set of new unfamiliar icons representing filter, segments, columns, and downloads options (from left to right):
From the top level, aside from the visual changes, there does not seem to be any major functionality improvements but let’s look at the individual sections and see whether they can revolutionise the way we manage campaigns.
The impact on small business advertisers
Small business users doing their campaign management in-house will probably be more affected by this change than agencies who rely more on AdWords editor rather than the actual interface when optimising campaigns. One thing we have noticed from the top level is that there is no quick filter search option where previously you were able to just type in campaign/ad group name and press enter to find the data you need. To look for specific campaigns or ad groups, you would now need to construct a full filter query:
Similarly, when looking at ad extensions, all extensions and corresponding performance data are now consolidated in one table requiring the user to set up a filter in order to view performance by certain type of extension. What is even more confusing, ad group and campaign level negative keywords are also displayed together. This can potentially be an easy source of mistakes when your strategy requires applying different level negatives. What is interesting, however, is that apart from campaign, ad group and level, the negatives can also be filtered by match type.
It is not all bad news for the smaller advertisers as some features have been simplified to allow less experienced users to easily create new campaigns tailored to their individual business needs. Step-by-step campaign configuration has been rolled out to search campaigns (previously just available for display) which reinforces the need to focus on key advertising objectives when choosing the campaign format:
The home tab which has now been renamed ‘overview’ has also been significantly improved. It now shows top level performance break down in a simplified way allowing advertisers to instantly identify what is working and what is not:
The access to optimisation has also been simplified with bid adjustment options now permanently placed on the main menu (previously hidden under settings):
Finally, the ad creation and preview functions seem to have had a lift as well. When creating a new text ad within an existing ad group the preview function now displays the ad with extensions that have already been assigned to this ad group/campaign. This gives a more comprehensive preview of how the ad will appear on search result pages before you hit save.
The impact on agencies
As with any change, it can initially be a bit daunting as to where things are and it can take a bit longer to find some features, but the overall functionality remains unchanged.
Some features are missing but we believe this is just due to the interface being a work-in-progress rather than Google planning to remove them permanently. Currently not available on the Alpha, that we’ve noticed were: Campaign Groups, Shared Library, Bulk Operations, Labels, Audiences and Attribution.
We have also spotted something that could potentially be a new optimisation feature called ‘advanced bid adjustments’ that allows you to add bid adjustments for a given type of ad interaction.
There is no set launch date for the new interface but Google has officially announced on the 31st of January that they will be rolling it out to more advertisers within the next few months and are willing to assist anyone who has issues using AdWords in the new format. Despite the initial confusion, we are all quite excited at Hit Search for any new optimisation features that this change may bring.