Google Ads Updates are changes to the platform to improve functionality and user experience. Learn about the major updates to use to get more value from your digital marketing campaigns.

Here, you’ll find:

In February 2024 alone, Google Ads rolled out three updates, keeping marketers on their toes. But typically, there are monthly updates that you need to be aware of.

In this blog, we are going to run through the biggest changes that have happened to Google Ads in the past months and what changes are expected to be rolled out later in the year.

What are Google Ads updates?

Google Ads updates are changes and enhancements made to the Google Ads platform to improve functionality, user experience, and campaign performance.

These updates can include changes to:

  • Bidding strategies
  • Privacy settings
  • User interface

Along with changes, updates can be new features that allow you to better target your audience and measure the results of your campaigns. Staying informed about these updates is essential to ensuring that you leverage the full potential of the Google Ads platform and maintain a competitive edge in your digital advertising efforts.

The top Google Ads updates you need to know about for 2024

This year brings a range of exciting enhancements that can transform how you approach your campaigns. Here’s a deep dive into the top updates that deserve your attention:

1. AI-powered predictive analytics in Google Ads

Google Ads is taking a significant leap forward with the integration of AI-powered predictive analytics.

This advanced feature is transforming how you can strategize and implement ad campaigns by using AI to predict campaign outcomes with remarkable accuracy.

Key aspects of AI-powered predictive analytics:

  • Forecasting: The AI integration can leverage historical data and current trends to forecast the performance of various campaign strategies. This allows marketers to see potential results before fully committing resources, enabling more informed decision-making.
  • Proactive strategy adjustments: Predictive analytics forecast outcomes and suggest adjustments. For example, it can recommend budget reallocations or bid adjustments across different campaigns based on predicted future performance.
  • Market trend analysis: This feature analyzes broader market trends and consumer behaviors to predict shifts in the advertising landscape. You can anticipate changes in consumer interests and preferences, allowing for timely adjustments to campaign messaging and targeting.
  • Risk assessment: By predicting potential challenges and their impacts on campaign performance, predictive analytics helps mitigate risks. You can test different scenarios to understand how changes in market conditions or competitor actions might affect your campaigns.

2. Enhanced conversion tracking

Google Ads introduced enhanced conversion tracking in 2024. This update improves how you measure the effectiveness of your campaigns while adhering to stricter privacy regulations.

By emphasizing the use of first-party data and user consent, Google ensures that tracking is both accurate and compliant with global privacy standards.

Key features of enhanced conversion tracking:

  • First-party data use: This update focuses on leveraging first-party data that advertisers collect directly from their users with consent. This shift from reliance on third-party cookies to first-party data means that you can maintain important data insights despite the phasing out of less privacy-friendly tracking methods.
  • User consent integration: Enhanced conversion tracking now uses new methods to ensure that data is only used with explicit user consent. This aligns with GDPR and other privacy regulations, building trust with users by respecting their privacy choices.
  • Cross-device tracking capabilities: Recognizing the multi-device journey of most users, this update improves the accuracy of tracking conversions across different devices. By integrating first-party data, Google Ads can now more accurately attribute conversions to the correct sources, regardless of where the final conversion happens.
  • With Chrome phasing out third-party cookies, enhanced conversions ensure your data stays accurate. Without setting it up, you’ll start losing vital data.

There are several ways to set up enhanced conversions including using Google Tag Manager, or the Google Tag from your Google Analytics 4 or your Google Ads.

3. Semi-autonomous ad creation in performance max campaigns

Performance Max (Pmax) burst onto the scene in November 2021 and soon took the place of Smart Shopping campaigns and local campaigns at the end of 2022. Pmax continues to innovate.

A recent groundbreaking update to Google Ads was the semi-autonomous ad creation feature within Pmax campaigns.

This enhancement uses the power of AI to streamline the ad creation process, making it faster, more intuitive, and more effective.

Key features of semi-autonomous ad creation:

  • AI-assisted creative input: You can input basic text such as headlines, descriptions, and call-to-actions. The AI then suggests additional creative elements based on the campaign’s goals and historical performance data.
  • Asset optimization: Once assets are created, AI continuously tests and optimizes them in different combinations and platforms within the Google ecosystem. This ensures that each ad variant is fine-tuned for maximum performance based on user engagement and conversion data.
  • Enhanced creative flexibility: With semi-autonomous ad creation, you can quickly produce a variety of ad formats tailored to different segments of their target audience. This capability allows for personalized marketing at scale.

These features, coupled with final URL expansion, simplify your workload from ad copywriting to landing page selection.

4. Demand generation campaigns powered by AI

Google Ads continues to expand its campaign types. Discovery campaigns have been upgraded to Demand Gen campaigns, with the obvious objective of creating more demand.

The introduction of AI-powered Demand Gen campaigns in 2024 marks a significant shift in how you target and engage potential customers.

This feature focuses on identifying and reaching customers who are actively researching solutions related to your products or services, leveraging AI to find and capture high-intent leads.

Key features of Google AI-powered demand gen campaigns:

  • Targeted reach: These new campaigns analyze vast amounts of data using AI algorithms to identify people in the consideration phase of their buying cycle. This precision targeting reduces wasted ad spend and directs your ads toward leads that are more likely to convert.
  • Increased efficiency: Focusing on qualified leads can enhance your marketing budget efficiency. This targeted approach will help improve your ROI and streamline your campaign management process, reducing the effort needed to convert leads into customers.
  • Personalization at scale: AI capabilities allow for customization of ad content to address each person’s specific needs and pain points. This level of personalization increases the likelihood of engagement and conversion, with 93% of companies experiencing a rise in conversion rates after personalizing their search engine marketing.

5. Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) optimization

Google Ads continues to evolve its RSAs this year, introducing several changes that improve how RSAs function and perform. These updates are designed to further automate and refine ad delivery, ensuring that advertisers can reach their audience with messages that resonate and convert.

Key features of RSA optimization:

  • More asset variations: You can now input more headlines and descriptions. Google’s machine learning algorithms test different combinations and show the best pairing for each search query, improving the relevance of your ads.
  • Enhanced machine learning: Google has upgraded its machine learning models to better predict and deliver the best ad combinations based on user search context and behavior.
  • Adapting to user feedback: RSAs now adapt more dynamically to real-time user feedback and campaign performance metrics. This responsiveness allows Google Ads to fine-tune your ad content to meet changing consumer preferences and search trends.

6. Automation and Smart Bidding

Google Ads has further refined its automation and smart bidding strategies, reinforcing its commitment to maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of digital advertising campaigns.

These enhancements are designed to optimize bid strategies in real time, ensuring advertisers can achieve the best possible return on investment.

Key features of automation and Smart Bidding:

  • Enhanced Smart Bidding strategies: Google has introduced more granular controls and predictive capabilities within its smart bidding strategies, such as Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) and ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend).
  • Real-time bidding optimization: Smart Bidding now updates bids in real time, considering factors like device type, time of day, user location, and more. This ensures that each bid is optimized for the highest possible outcome based on current data.
  • Holistic performance insights: Integrating comprehensive analytics tools within the innovative bidding program gives you more insights into campaign performance. You can now see how different bidding strategies impact their overall goals and adjust their approach accordingly.

7. Visual search capabilities

Google Ads has been expanding its visual search capabilities, improving how people interact with ads and discover products.

This update uses the power of image recognition technology to allow people to search for products and services by uploading photos, making the shopping experience more intuitive and engaging.

Key features of visual search capabilities:

  • Image-based search queries: Users can now use images instead of text as search queries. This feature is especially useful in ecommerce, where visuals can be more persuasive than words. For example, a user can upload a photo of a piece of furniture they like, and Google Ads will display ads from sellers offering similar items.
  • Integration with Google Lens: Google Lens’s visual search capabilities can analyze photos and provide relevant product information, reviews, and comparable items. This integration helps bridge the gap between offline and online shopping experiences.
  • Enhanced product listings: Ads that appear in visual search results are now displayed with more detailed information, including pricing, reviews, and availability, making it easier for people to make informed purchasing decisions directly from the search results page.

8. Gmail Ads have been removed

Remember expandable Gmail ads? As Google Ads advances, sometimes features get removed, and this is one of them.

You can still advertise on Gmail, but you can’t advertise on this network alone. This is another place where Pmax has become the multi-tool of the PPC world.

9. Campaign level broad match keywords

As AI becomes more prevalent in our PPC campaigns, the way we structure them is changing, too. You can now convert all of your keywords to broad match with one click.

Key features of campaign-level broad match keywords:

  • Convert all match types in a campaign to broad match: Just tick this checkbox, and your keywords will be converted without any further work, thus simplifying the process.
  • Keyword prioritization rules: These prioritize your upgraded broad match keywords over exact match in other campaigns so you can better analyze the impact of your change.
  • Brand exclusions: These brand restrictions ensure you can exclude your brand traffic or include only your brand traffic. This means you don’t have to worry about your ads showing on unwanted search terms.

10. Things to do ads

New types of Google Ads campaigns are hitting the UI regularly.

Things to do ads are for the tourist industry. These ads offer tour operators, attractions, and other travel-related services.

Key features of things to do ads:

  • Integrate with third-party services: Much like shopping ads, you’ll have a feed connected to partners like Fare Harbor.
  • Dynamic ad format: Ads are created dynamically using your feed. You manage your campaigns, bids, and ad groups.
  • Optimal placements: Your ads will appear on Google Maps and on the Google search engine results page (SERP) for related travel searches.

11. Augmented reality beauty ads

Augmented reality (AR) beauty ads allow your potential customers to “try on” your products.

These shopping ads expand your reach to a new audience that enjoys high-tech experiences.

Key features of augmented reality beauty ads:

  • Virtual try-on: Shoppers virtually try on your products before you buy.
  • Customer images: Try-on takes place using a user’s own face rather than a model. But, they’ll also be able to use a model if they prefer.
  • Product types: This ad type is available for hair color, foundation, eye makeup, and lip products.
  • Availability: Users will be able to access try-on in the Google app and on mobile browsers.

12. Similar audiences sunsetted

Audience targeting lost an option many ad managers love — similar audiences.

However, this feature has been removed as the push for first-party data changes the market.

13. AI-generated ad copy and images

Never have writer’s block again. Google will help you write text ads like responsive search ads and Pmax assets. The AI will also generate images. With these new options, you’ll have more ways to differentiate your business.

Key features of AI-generated ad copy and images:

  • Ad text generated for you: Enter information about your product or service and Google will create headlines and descriptions for you.
  • Ad images created: Instead of using stock photos, describe what you need and Google will create it for your Pmax or Search campaigns. This will keep you from using the same tired images that have made their way around the internet.

Benefits of keeping on top of Google’s updates

Staying updated with the latest Google Ads changes isn’t just about keeping pace—it’s about seizing opportunities. Here’s why you should always be in the know:

  • Stay ahead of the curve: Being the first to implement new features can give you a competitive advantage. It allows you to optimize campaigns before your competition even catches wind of the changes.
  • Cost efficiency: Updates often include enhancements to bidding strategies and budget use, which can mean more bang for your buck. Knowing these changes can lead to saving on your ad budget.
  • Enhanced targeting: New updates can refine targeting options, helping you better reach your audience. This means less wasted ad dollars spent on ads seen by uninterested parties and more focus on potential customers.
  • Improved analytics: With some updates, Google enhances its analytics features, providing deeper insights into campaign performance. This allows for smarter decisions based on more precise data.
  • Adaptation to regulations: Staying updated means staying compliant. With privacy laws and digital regulations constantly evolving, keeping up with Google Ads updates ensures your campaigns remain on the right side of the law.
  • Optimization opportunities: Updates may introduce new optimization tools or enhance existing ones, enabling you to fine-tune your campaigns for peak performance.
neon google logo in the dark

Google Trends allows you to view the topics people are searching for online and trending topics and trends over time.  (Image: Unsplash)

The takeaway

Using Google Ads with its latest updates can transform your digital marketing strategy and improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

With innovations like AI-powered predictive analytics, enhanced visual search capabilities, and smarter bidding processes, Google provides powerful tools to target, engage effectively, and accurately convert.

Staying updated with these features ensures your digital marketing remains competitive, adaptable, and aligned with the latest technologies.

Embrace these changes to maximize your advertising ROI and drive meaningful business growth.

This article has been updated and was originally published in May 2020.

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