Getting product announcement emails from Google Ads on a Friday is usually a bad sign and the email today was no different.
Here is the email in its entirety:
TL;DR Google Images is being reclassified from a Search Partner to part of the core search network. For Shopping campaigns that were opted out of Search Partners, this will be a significant change. This only affects Shopping campaigns because they’re the only campaign type with images.
Less Advertiser Control
Google Images gets a ton of searches. When you suddenly reclassify something of that size from an optional target (Search Partners) to a default target (the core search network) it will have a significant impact. If you read all the way to the literal last sentence of the email, you’ll see that Google is estimating a 3-10% increase in traffic for Shopping campaigns that are opted out of Search Partners.
But the most interesting part of this email is the claim Google makes with the last three words.
Comparable Conversion Rates?
To provide the appropriate context, here is the last paragraph in full:
If your campaigns are not currently opted into the Search Partner Network – your ads will start showing on Google Images and as a result there may be a 3-10% increase in traffic at lower cost-per-click and comparable conversion rates.
Those three words are a claim. Google feels like they’ve got enough data (of course they do) to make a statement of fact about how this will perform for advertisers.
I see three major problems with this:
How Will Advertisers Measure It?
Once you roll Google Images into the core search network, how is an advertiser even going to know if it’s seeing a “comparable” conversion rate? You can’t segment for it. It seems like they’re predicting a win and then removing the scoreboards.
Advertisers Opted Out Of Search Partners Likely Made the Choice On Purpose
Since Search Partners are included by default in new campaigns, you have to make a conscious decision to opt out of them (and the interface doesn’t make that easy or intuitive). Most people who opt out do so for a reason and this takes away their choice. I know that Search Partners is a big bucket and it might not have been Google Images that drove their decision, but it sucks that Google is going to just cram this down their throat without any compelling reason.
Intent Is Different On Image Search
When users go to image results, they’re looking for pictures. I’m constantly excluding terms like “pics”, “pictures”, “images”, etc., from regular search campaigns because I can see those queries don’t convert. When someone is specifically looking at Google Images results they’ve likewise signaled that they’re looking for pictures. I don’t know how they defined “comparable” but I’d bet $100 that the conversion rate is lower simply because of the difference in intent.
Overall it smells like another Google money grab. Take something that was previously optional, make it mandatory and squeeze your advertisers for a few more million dollars so you can beat Wall Street earnings expectations for the quarter and keep the stock price moving upward.
What do you think of this change? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!