Story time! You’re a kid. It’s your birthday. Your parents give you the amazing high tech toy you’ve been asking for endlessly. After the tears of joy and fever-pitch screaming have subsided, the time to play has come. The problem is – the toy doesn’t do half the things you saw it do in the commercial. More than that, it only marginally works. “Mommy, why is my new toy broken?” Well, it’s not broken… your expectations were just too big for the disappointing reality.
As adults, we are still fascinated with new toys – they’ve just grown up with us. New phones, laptops, cars, motorcycles, you name it. As digital advertisers, we are looking to Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of other channels to continue driving innovation and providing us with new toys to target ads. The new toys keep coming – and 2015 has been a big year in that regard! If you are anything like me, these announcements activated the tears of joy and fever-pitch screaming, but left me disappointed and wanting more.
I realize that by writing this article I risk sounding like a whiny brat with overly negative intentions. My point here today is not so much to complain, but to highlight where some of these new releases have felt more like half-measures than complete products ready for launch.
Gmail Sponsored Promotions
Ads in Gmail! Yes. By and large, GSP ads are awesome. The beta version included some pretty slick targeting based on demographics, job title/industry and borrowed some of the best from the social world. When Google integrated GSP’s with AdWords so they could release to the masses – we were left with an amazing ad unit layered with pre-existing display targeting. Add to that, the unique editorial restrictions are pretty wide-ranging. Wah. Big expectations, minor bummer.
Customer Match in AdWords
Custom audience based on customer emails in AdWords?!?!? YES PLEASE. Thank you for bringing AdWords into the modern ad technology age. Wait… what? You mean I can only use this on RLSA, GSP and YouTube campaigns? That is GREAT (and thank you), but what about Google Display Network? We all got REALLY excited at the prospect of using 1st party user data on the GDN there for a second. Guess that’s in v2.0?
Instagram Ads via Facebook
Instagram has a huge user base and a beautiful platform for presenting image-first advertising content. Facebook announced Instagram ads and the digital advertising community let out a universal squeal of delight. Just think of the possibilities! Lighting up Instagram campaigns and optimizing to conversion goals – just awesome…. Except that v1.0 was uber-limited to mobile and website clicks objectives only. 2 steps forward, 1.5 steps back. This is changing and Instagram is now available under more campaign objectives in Facebook Ads. The process to link Instagram accounts to Facebook Business Manager (and therefore your ads account) is still a work in progress.
Facebook Lead Ads
Full disclosure – Facebook Lead Ads is seriously one of the most exciting things to hit in quite some time. The fact that you can create an entire lead form that lives and breathes on the Facebook newsfeed is amazing. I was already in love with Twitter’s Lead Generation Card, but Facebook upped the ante with a customizable lead form that can match field-for-field just about any lead form you might use on your website. So much awesome – but only for mobile. And there is not an easy path to connect said lead form to your back-end systems. You have to use the Facebook API. Twitter Ads got this part right on the FIRST TRY – make the back end data connection easy for everyone to promote adoption. C’mon Facebook, Lead Ads is the FUTURE – now make it easy for advertisers to use the darn thing (on mobile and desktop, please).
This is a two-fer. Yahoo! Gemini and Bing Ads. First Gemini. Yahoo has been working on their skunkworks-turned-sort-of-mainstream channel for a few years now. One would assume that the native ads platform in Gemini would be amazeballs by now. Advanced targeting features, simply management, etc. Nope. Gemini is still clunky and the targeting parameters are very sparse (age, gender, location and a small list of interest categories). Retargeting is now in play and there are some e-commerce features coming, so I’ll remain optimistic about the future. And Bing Ads? Again, the promise of native ads is very exciting. But then we found out that native is intrinsically tied to search. Oh, and the ads will only show on MSN.com for the foreseeable future. So close… so close…
Which new feature releases have you seen in 2015 that got you excited and then let you down? Leave a comment!
Image courtesy of Infinite Hollywood.