Marketing and advertising tactics evolve rapidly, and there are always new technologies and strategies that tend to shift after some time. In turn, platforms such as Google and Facebook evolve their policies to adapt to how advertisers are using their platforms, and the continual shifts in data accessibility versus personal privacy.

New Restrictions

On October 19, 2020, Google is implementing restrictions that affect the future of personalized marketing through its Ads platform. Specifically, the effort is meant to promote inclusivity across the platform. If you are using personalized marketing tactics for ads that involve housing, employment, or credit, this change is extremely relevant to your Google Ads strategy.

You might have used Google Ads to run a search engine marketing strategy that targets people based on their age, marital status, zip code, parental status, and gender. Companies that offer products or services related to these specific industries will no longer be able to target individuals this way. This changes the way that many companies will have to think about their personalized advertising strategy.

These categories do affect a number of industries that you may not think of initially. For example, credit offers exist in a number of other industries outside of banking and credit cards. Automotive dealers, RV dealers, furniture retailers, and many others that extend some form of financing on their websites will be affected. Your ad does not have to directly mention the credit offer – what matters is the content on your website, and if anything related to these restricted categories is present.

What Does This Change?

While many potential advertisers might be affected, the fact remains that personalized marketing will not change that much as a whole. Ultimately, many advertisers might use “radii” or target cities in their Google Ads strategy rather than utilizing zip codes. This still allows for geographical targeting without using personal data, which is still great for your search engine marketing strategy. As a result, advertisers can adapt to the Google Ads change in this manner.

The loss of demographic targeting is not as easily overcome with Google, if this is something you currently utilize. Demographic targeting does have its place in helping improve efficiency, especially if your products tend to skew heavily toward a particular gender or age range, just by the nature of what it is. One option to consider is to upload a customer list to your Google Ads account, and then utilize a similar audience to your customer list. One caveat to this is that your customer list requires a minimum of 1,000 matches in order for Google to create a similar audience. Another option is to create a custom audience based on user behavior on your website, and let Google create a similar audience based on that, as well. You will want this audience to have criteria in place where you can generate as many data points as possible so that Google can create the similar audience relatively quickly, and also evolve it over time to refine and get more people to perform the actions you want done on your site.

This isn’t the first time where Google Ads has decided to take a stand regarding advertising and privacy. Google announced that it would be limiting targeting regarding political ads last year. The idea here was simple: while many businesses use Google Ads as a personalized marketing tool, Google was going to ensure that there were limits in place so that advertisers couldn’t target voters during an election.

More Google Ads Tips

When it comes to targeting on Google Ads, the keyword quality rates as the most important. As always, ensure your campaigns are organized, and keywords are tailored to ensure you get the volume you need, and not so broad that you’re wasting money on irrelevant searches.

We also enjoy using observational targeting with audiences as an additional layer on top of the keywords used. Observational targeting allows you to get search activity data for the search users that fit the criteria of that particular audience without eliminating everyone else that also performed a valid search for your keywords. This is an excellent way to test the volume availability of a particular audience, as well as its performance metrics compared to the benchmark of the search data that exists for everyone.

One additional tactic that we can’t stress enough the importance of is day-parting. There is rarely a need to run ads 24/7, and there are natural times of day when your site tends to get more users to perform the actions you are looking for with your Ads campaign. In many cases, campaigns can be turned off overnight – 12:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. There is little search activity during this time of day, and also is the least likely time a person will perform a conversion action on your site. The incremental savings you will gain by not spending money at this time of day is better spent so you have the budget available in the afternoon and early evening when people are buying things, and showing interest in spending money. Also, when you have 3 months of data in your Ads account, take a look at the times of day when you have the most conversions, and place an increased bid modifier on those times. Your Ads account performance will thank you.

Keep Testing

One of the great things about a Google Ads strategy is that you can learn so much more about what is working and what isn’t working. This is one reason you should keep testing and tweaking your copy to make sure that it is converting customers as much as possible. It might sound like testing can be tedious, but it’s one of the best investments that a business can make in a personalized marketing strategy.

Testing is especially important if you are required to make adjustments to your targeting strategy because it’s affected by the new guidelines. For example, if you are switching to using audience targeting rather than demographics, start by using the observation model. After you have a sufficient sample size, you can determine which audiences perform at, or above your benchmarks, and you can switch to the targeting model, where ads will only be shown to those audience members.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to maintain a well targeted audience through Google Ads without risking exposure of personally identifiable information. Much like Facebook has done previously, Google is placing these restrictions in order to protect users’ privacy, and so that advertisers cannot discriminate against certain groups of people. It’s not a bad thing to not be able to get so granular in your targeting, related to these particular restrictions. On the bright side, Google’s new policy isn’t as limiting to advertisers as Facebook, where you are required to have a minimum of a 15 mile radius for geographic targeting. There are plenty of options available to ensure your Ads campaigns are still optimized with your primary objective in mind.