June 25, 2019
Effects of Google’s New Mobile Search Ad Format
Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in every step of the customer journey. Having a mobile presence is vital for increasing brand awareness (according to Google, more than half of smartphone users discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their phones), evaluation (80% of smartphone users conduct shopping research on their phones) and purchase (82% of smartphone users consult their phone for shopping research while in a store). PPC advertisers not only need to account for mobile’s influence in their advertising strategy, they must make mobile a central tenet of their marketing plan.
The primary focus of any mobile strategy should be on the user experience. Mobile-optimized sites and landing pages are now a necessity for advertisers. Among other features, mobile-optimized sites should contain simplified navigation, user-friendly functionality, adapted content, fast-loading images and streamlined text. But most importantly of all, mobile sites need to load quickly.
Unfortunately, increasing mobile site speed can strain developers’ bandwidth and, in some cases, expertise. In October 2015, Google addressed this issue with the launch of Google Accelerated Mobile Pages [AMP]. Google AMP is an open-web framework that replaces some standard elements with customized elements to allow AMP to control the entire load chain and prioritize certain elements over others. For example, the standard <img> image tag is replaced with the <amp-img> image custom element. AMP also knows exactly how a page will look prior to loading, and can optimize the layout of the page in advance. Thus, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages load faster on mobile devices, and can be easily installedGoogle’s new brainchild enhance the advertiser’s mobile experience, which in turn will enhance the advertiser’s marketing performance.
Should you consider implementing Google AMP for your site? In general, the pros outweigh the cons, but there are a few items you should be aware of before beginning any major site updates.
More Conversions – Patience is not a virtue for mobile consumers. 40 percent of users bounce if a page is not loaded within three seconds. Google AMP’s load appears to be instant and keeps users on the site. The content is also formatted optimally and will be easier to navigate. The longer a user remains on the site, and the easier they can navigate, the more likely they are to convert.
Higher Quality Score – The page load time is also a factor in a keyword’s quality score. Speedier load times lead to a better landing page experience and improve quality score. This can help advertisers show higher on the page and lower average CPCs.
Easy to Implement – Google AMP does not require a world-renowned developer to implement. An AMP page is a simple HTML page with a couple restrictions and custom elements. It does not require a build process or extensive additional work to implement. This frees up your developer for other important initiatives without sacrificing the quality of your mobile experience.
Differentiation – Fast load times can be an effective way to separate you from your competitors. If your landing page loads quickly and cleanly while competitors’ pages continue to lag, their conversions can become yours.
Potential Bugs – Potential bugs is not a reason to avoid a new technology, but it is something to be aware of during use. Despite being a year and a half old, Google AMP is still a relatively new technology, so there is always a possibility of unforeseen errors. However, like most new platforms, we expect that Google will resolve these technical issues in time.
Analytics Integration – One of the aforementioned bugs is integration with Google Analytics. A recent SearchEngineLand article points out issues AMP is experiencing integrating with Google Analytics. The largest problem is that one unique visitor can be counted as up to four different people. This leads to inflation of sessions, higher bounce rate and lower pageviews per session. These tracking issues can mislead if you’re using Google Analytics to evaluate performance.
We are 10 years removed from Apple’s momentous introduction of the iPhone. Now, mobile performance is fundamental aspect of marketing growth and achieving business goals. Simply put, businesses can’t afford to underestimate the impact of mobile advertising. Nor can they ignore poor mobile performance due to difficult implementation or lack of bandwidth. If your mobile site speed is sub-par, Google AMP can be a useful tool to improve mobile performance in an ever-increasing mobile world.