New Google Ad Insights Feature and 7 Tips for Competitive Ad Research

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Reviewing competitors’ ads is an essential part of ad copy creation or quality assurance for any marketer.

And after locating the ads, it is essential to have a systematic approach to analyzing them.

For paid search, this has always been particularly time-consuming.

It was necessary to use third-party tools – like Semrush, SpyFuor Google’s Ads Preview Tool, all of which tend to rely on sample data and often don’t provide complete examples.

Well, with the latest features from Google, those days are over.

It’s time to get excited about performing competitive ad text searches directly in Google Ads.

Where to find the new Google Ads search feature

Just follow these three steps:

Hover over the hamburger icon next to a paid search ad.

Screenshot of the search for [solar panel cost]Google, November 2022

Click on the “See more ads from this advertiser” link.

Google ad Screenshot of the search for [solar panel cost]Google, November 2022

Filter results by time slot, location and/or ad format.

filter result for google adScreenshot of the search for [solar panel cost]Google, November 2022

Interestingly, unlike the Google Ads Preview tool, these features are available without logging into a Google account or your campaign.

Gone are the days of needing a dummy account or having to write a dummy ad to trigger the preview.

The ability to filter by ad format is another big advantage over using the Google Ads previewer.

Especially when you’re in a rush or need to override the algorithmic ad display personalization for your profile, ad format filtering is a great way to get only the results you need.

Now let’s see how to analyze the ads themselves.

7 Steps to Analyze Paid Search Ad Copy

Whether you’re looking for textual or non-textual copy, follow these steps to create a systematic review approach.

This will help you organize information, spot trends more easily, and create a structure that lends itself to iterative analysis over time.

1. Call to action

Arguably the most important part of the announcement, the call to action (CTA) is what will entice the user to convert.

Take note of any incentives or offers, urgency messages (e.g. today, now, limited time), location, and whether the CTA is repeated in the ad.

Sophisticated ad copy should mention the CTA more than once. The first mention can include emergency messages, with further mentions elaborated to include prompts.

If the product or service is not sold online, as a best practice, the CTA should include ways to buy it, which usually involves calling or visiting a physical store.

2. Product or service name

This is particularly important when the product or service is new, technical in nature, has a familiar equivalent that is sufficiently different from the official brand name, or if the business encompasses more than one aspect.

For example, a printer manufacturer may find it useful to analyze abbreviated product names that do not include full technical specifications.

Similarly, many travel service companies have long names to reflect all of their services, but it is not always necessary to include them in full (eg, Melia Caribe Beach All-Inclusive Resort Punta Cana).

3. Characteristics of the product or service

Whether visual or textual, advertisements devote significant space to describing notable attributes of the product or service being promoted.

Take note of what they are and the qualifying descriptions or visualizations used.

For text ads, note adjectives and adverbs and whether they are superlative or factual.

For non-text ads, track how the product is displayed and whether the imagery is lifestyle or technical.

4. Benefits

Although features help describe the use case of a product or service, it is the benefits that will convince a user to engage.

Take note of the solution-focused language or imagery that is leveraged, whether sources are cited to support claims, and whether the benefits described are short- and/or long-term.

Sometimes it may be necessary to mention several levels of benefits, when the consumer is not the ultimate (or sole) beneficiary.

For situations such as gifts, purchasing insurance, education, or caregiver services, marketers often forget to meet the needs of both the buyer (e.g., person buying a gift, who may be aware of the costs) and the recipient (for example, who might be more concerned about a flexible return policy).

5. Branding

Brand inclusion is another key element to test.

Consider everything from spelling to presence of brand symbols, placement in headlines and/or body copy, logo size, when your brand is mentioned in the ad, and what possibilities to include your brand name.

However, be sure not to rely solely on the URL.

Every once in a while, an advertiser gets caught up in all the other advertising elements and forgets to include the brand name or logo, relying solely on the visible URL to do the hard work of communicating the brand name.

Alas, this URL is too often lost in the clutter of other advertising elements.

6. Tone

This last element is perhaps the most difficult to pin down.

The announcement tonealong with the CTA, is a crucial indicator of the stage of the user journey targeted by the advertiser.

A more informative and laid-back tone would suggest targeting a user earlier in their online search journey.

In contrast, a more direct language ad is likely to address a user with a transactional mindset.

7. Length

Last but not least, the ad text length or, for non-text ads, the video length or image size dimensions.

Ads that tell the most compelling story or engage users most proactively often have the best chance of success.

On the other hand, just because an ad has the option to include a lot of text or include a video of a certain length, it’s not always the most successful approach. Often, less is more.

Conclusion

These tips on analyzing competitive advertisements would be incomplete without tips on how to use the information once it is tracked.

The tendency is often to mirror what others are doing. However, this may cause all players to have similar messages. This makes it harder for users to differentiate between available options.

While it’s worth borrowing ideas from your competitors, resist the urge to copy a perceived market leader. Instead, gather information from multiple actors and then systematically test specific elements.

Keeping away from others will often yield the best results.

Systematically tracking tested items will position you well to develop a schedule of test results.

Unfortunately, in the long run, there is rarely a single best performing ad. With the ever-changing competitive landscape, you have to constantly iterate.

However, there is a silver lining: retired ads can often stage a successful comeback.

By systematically tracking the use of the above elements in competitors’ advertisements and your own, you can identify trends and detect cyclical patterns.

If you spot a trend reversal, you’ll already be armed with past research on what has worked well before under those circumstances, ready to anticipate your competitor’s moves, and ready to react.

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Featured Image: eamesBot/Shutterstock

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