Inside Digital Marketing: August 2023

Sep 4, 2023


At a Glance...

Tiktok finally unveils search ads, Google discovery ads pivot to ‘Demand Gen’ and what exactly are Meta’s ‘multi-advertiser ads’ anyway?

Search Ads on TikTok

TikTok has entered the Search Ads arena, making it easier for advertisers to tap into the search interests of users. This allows ads to displayed against contextual user search queries on the app.

The Search Ads Toggle makes use of advertisers’ existing in-feed ad creatives and displays them alongside other organic search results. The ads will be labelled as ‘Sponsored’ content and appear in different positions on a user’s results page depending on relevancy and learned user behaviour. However, it is not currently possible to target ads by keyword and match-type combinations in the manner familiar to traditional search platforms such as Google Ads. 

Once an In-Feed Ads campaign is set up, the Search Ads Toggle is automatically set to the ‘on’ position. Advertisers can choose to opt out when setting up the campaign. The Search Ads Toggle can also be activated mid-campaign I.e. to existing live campaigns. 

With TikTok growing in popularity as a search engine for users, the app serves as an increasingly powerful tool for advertisers to capitalise on to reach and connect with new or existing customers. In a TikTok study, 58% of users have discovered new products and brands on the app, 1.5x more than users on other platforms. The new Search Ads Toggle thus serves as a simple way for companies to extend the reach of their campaigns to users who may be searching for information relevant to their business.

Get ready for Google Ads Demand Gen

Google has announced it is transitioning existing Discovery campaigns to ‘Demand Gen’ campaigns: their latest AI-powered campaign type. This is the latest in several moves from the search engine towards an AI-first model, as they aim to create Displays ads that are more congruent with the environment that they appear in. This will hopefully provide a better overall UX whilst improving campaign performance to boot.

Demand Gen campaigns are designed to drive demand from mid-funnel users. The ads are designed to optimise video and image assets across Google’s visual platforms, including YouTube, Shorts, Discover and Gmail. The function of Demand Gen campaigns will be to drive conversions, site traffic, and actions, therefore multiple Smart Bidding strategies are available. Where Discovery campaigns were previously limited to Google platform targeting, Demand Gen allows use of first-party CRM data within campaigns, creating retargeting and lookalike opportunities. 

The full rollout of the Demand Gen campaigns is expected to begin in October and the transition from Discovery will continue in phases until March 2024. Google also confirmed that the upgraded Discovery campaigns will retain all historical data and learnings.

Should Meta’s ‘Multi-Advertiser Ads’ be trusted?

The Opt-in/Opt-out option for ‘Multi-Advertiser Ads’ has been available in Meta’s Ad Manager for a while now, though few know what it really means. After a Tweet – sorry, an X – from Advertising Consultant Barry Hott on 16th August, the team at In Digital decided to take a closer look.

On the surface, the guidance is unsurprisingly vague. In platform, Meta say: ‘Enabling this may increase your ad’s exposure to people in a shopping mindset by allowing this ad to appear alongside ads from multiple businesses’. This, on the surface, sounds like a reasonable pursuit. However, the result, as shown in Barry Hott’s X tells a different story.

He was served an ad in IG Reel format (a very recent placement in this sphere to begin with) showing 4 individual ads from 4 different businesses occupying the same placement.

We agree with Barry here: Meta is getting greedy and trying to maximise ad space as much as they physically can, with what effectively is one ad made up of four unrelated creatives.

Whilst this may lead to cheaper inventory, it diminishes the ads true value. An impression on a multi-advertiser placement is by no means equivalent to a standalone ad, which has the user’s undivided attention as they scroll – this, after all, is the goal of any Paid Social advertiser.

What’s more, it is unclear how Meta will show these differences in their reporting.

Finally, as Barry concludes, this format will undoubtedly irritate users, who – some might say – are already suffering from platform ad fatigue. As a result, they’re more likely to skip past and ignore them entirely.

For now, we’ll continue to monitor this area of Meta Ads with scrutiny and cynicism.

We believe our approach should always be Test First, so some of our eCommerce clients have opted-in to the feature. Time and performance will tell whether this is a feature all advertisers should be adopting or avoiding.

Stay tuned for September’s instalment of INside Digital Marketing, as we continue to monitor the digital trends of 2023 and the evolution of Paid Media. Follow us across LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for more.

Ready to improve your performance?

Reach out to one of our team to learn more about our services and how we can help your business thrive.