Ad Strength isn’t real, Meta’s algorithm is glitchy, new ops for shopping ads, and more…

April 12, 2024

Hey Digital Darlings,

Do you believe in Ad Strength? In a young marketer’s heart? How the metrics can free her, wherever they start? I’m not so sure I do anymore… read on to find out why. Plus, we’ll dive into the latest shopping listing specs and marvel at YouTube's wallet-tempting updates. Time to decode what's truly driving our digital strategies and what's just smoke and mirrors.

Is ad strength a fake metric? 

Lots of advertisers think so. It seems similar to quality score, but unlike QS it doesn’t impact ad rank. It actually doesn’t impact anything… it’s just a label Google gives your ads. Multiple industry experts have stated that some of their best performing ads have been labeled with ‘poor’ ad strength. To quote Mateja Matić, founder of Dominate Marketing, 

“If you are new to Google Ads, one of things you need to be aware of is Google’s recommendations are not necessarily the best things for your account. I can tell you from experience that the majority of things they recommend in your account do not work as good as other things you can do to make your ads better.”

IKTR. My alter ego wrote a whole blog post about the fact that Google’s recommendations often align with spending more money on Google Ads, not improving your bottom line. So, we can’t trust Google. Shocker! But what do they have to say about Ad Strength? Basically, it’s supposed to be a diagnostic tool that tells you what’s working and what’s not. Google’s VP of Search & Commerce said,

“I don’t know where [the idea that Ad Strength is not important] comes from. Ad Strength is at the centre of what we’re trying to do is because creative is going to be incredibly important, and Ad Strength is going to be the mechanism which we use to evaluate that both in Performance Max and channels like search.”

Ummmm… sure. Ad quality is important. But in many cases, marketers are seeing their ads with the highest conversion rates having poor Ad Strength scores so… why on earth would they pay attention to ad strength? The moral of the story - focus on ads that are driving conversions for your business. In other Google news…

Google updated product specifications for shopping listings.

Six changes to attributes have already gone into effect. One of the most interesting changes is that if any of the text in your shopping ads and free listings was written by AI, you have to disclose that via an attribute. Other updates include a new loyalty program attribute, new minimum price attribute, and new free shipping threshold attribute. All this info can be displayed alongside your shopping ads and organic listings as Google’s algorithm sees fit, so things like free shipping callouts could definitely boost your conversion rates. Seems like a helpful update, so make sure you add those attributes in Google Merchant Center. There are more changes coming in September, and you can read up on all the details here. Speaking of shopping…

YouTube announced four new shopping features.

Please pray for my wallet. These updates make it easier than ever to buy stuff that’s featured in YouTube videos… and YouTube hauls are my vice.

The first new feature is called Shopping Collections. This seems to be modeled after Amazon storefronts and LTK pages. YouTubers can add all their favorite products to collections that viewers can shop on-site. Basically, it allows content creators to curate their own online store, and likely get affiliate revenue from the products they feature. A smart move on YouTube’s part, but dangerous for the shopping content-loving girls.

Additional updates include a new affiliate hub which helps creators find sponsored products to feature, the ability to tag products across multiple videos at once, and an integration with Fourthwall. If you’re a retailer, I’d make sure your products are featured in that affiliate hub, because these influencers are powerful. Now, let’s dish about some Meta Drama…

Sales are down, cost is up thanks to Meta’s glitchy algorithm.

Sales and ROAS have plummeted for Meta advertisers in recent months. Meta has given no explanation, so naturally everyone is blaming the algorithm. With CPMs tripling, some advertisers are reallocating their Meta budget to competitors like TikTok. Meta better fix that algo ASAP, because they’re currently expediting TikTok’s takeover. The issue isn’t impacting everyone, but if you advertise on Meta, keep a close eye on your ROAS, and reallocate budget if needed. And finally, let’s chat about AI…

WPP is collaborating with Google’s Gemini AI

WPP is the world’s biggest advertising group, so this is a big deal. They’ll be using Google’s AI to create ad copy and images, meaning the next big Coca-Cola ad could be created by Google’s robots. If everything goes smoothly, this will be a cultural reset for AI in marketing. If Google’s AI works for WPP, it could work for all of us, saving us time while hopefully not replacing our jobs altogether… 

And there we have it—another week of digital deciphering down. From questioning Google's opaque metrics to strategizing around YouTube's shopping spree enablers and grappling with Meta's costly conundrums, we're reminded that the digital marketing world is ever-evolving. Until next week, keep your eyes peeled, your strategies flexible, and your skepticism healthy. 

You know you love me.

Maddie Marinsider

Marin Software
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