Google rolled out a new display ad variation for eligible advertisers (requirements can be found here) called +Post Ads. This new ad variation allows you to take a post from your Google+ page and turn it into an engagement ad to show throughout the Google Display Network.
We were lucky enough to get one of our client into the Beta for this and we tested +Post Ads for about a month. We thought it was a great way to test new ad creative with minimal resources and to keep the content recent. The client is very active on Google+ and they have a good following so we thought they were a great candidate!
How +Post Ads Work
By using engagement ads in AdWords you are able to pull in posts from your Google+ page and transform them into an engagement ad that will show across the GDN. You can use the same targeting features as you do with regular GDN campaigns, the ads will only show on sites that support the ad size and format.
You can promote posts that contain an image, video or promote a Google+ hangout on air.
The ad will show a portion of your post, and once the user engages with the ad (hovers for 2 or more seconds) then the ad expands and shows the entire post right on the current page that they are on.
Users are then able to go to your Google+ page, +1 or follow your page, share the post on their Google+ page, add a comment, watch your video or sign up for a hangout (depending on the post type). If a URL is in the text portion of your post, the user is able to click on the link directly from the ad as well. This is a great way to send traffic directly to your website from the ad.
Since the ads are created directly from the post, all engagements from either the ad or post are cumulative.
What we learned
There is little customization that you can do when turning the post into an ad. Google basically does all of the resizing for you and the only options you have are selecting which ad sizes you want to use (728 x 90, 300 x 250, 160 x 600, and 320 x 50 (mobile))
There are specific specs that your photos that you post on Google+ need to be in order to look normal as an ad. Google recommends using an image size with a 16:9 ratio. The image size recommendation for the posts we got from our reps was 300x140.
When your post is morphed into an ad, only a small amount of text is actually shown on the ad, so make sure that you are mindful of what you start your posts with and include something appealing, relevant and/or actionable for your ad.
There were a few posts that we wanted to promote but we ended up not because of how the posts looked as an ad.
With the new release there is the option to automatically turn on all posts into a +Post ad. Unless you plan to strategize all of your posts around the image and text requirements then this is probably not the best option. We coordinated with the clients’ social team on upcoming posts to decide which ones we wanted to set as an ad and adjusted the post accordingly.
Users are able to comment directly on posts directly from the ad. One thing to remember is that while we think these ads are cool, not everyone likes them and if you give non-happy users a place to complain, then complain they will!
Luckily you have the option to opt out of having the comments show in your ad but make sure to monitor all posts and comments on your posts. The comments that are made in the ad version will show on the actual Google+ post.
Why we stopped running +Post Ads
We do think that +Post ads are a great feature and we do plan to test them again for this client and others! We stopped running these ads for 2 reasons:
- The lack of customization of the ads. Not having the ability to adjust the image or the text portion that shows really limited what we could do and required a lot of coordination with the team that manages their Google+ page. If we are ever able to slightly reposition images or select which portion of the text shows in the ad we would consider testing these again.
- Reporting The reporting available was disappointing. The reported data may change as the feature is now available to all advertisers. At the time we ran the ads we were only able to segment by click type to see whether the first engagement was a hover (2 seconds to expand the ad) or a click on the ad.
There are engagement metrics available as well but we were not able to see these in the AdWords interface (these metrics are available to see in the interface with all new +Post ad campaigns). We had to get the reporting from our AdWords rep and everything was reported on in ranges:
1-10 +1’s; 1-10 Followers; 1-10 Comments; 1-10 Shares, etc.
When you are looking at 5 different metrics with a range like that the potential engagement could be between 5 and 50. That’s a pretty big range when determining value of the ads (excluding the branding aspect of running any display). The other downside is that you have to wait a few days to see these metrics. Because the ads and posts are essentially the same, Google is still figuring out the best way to determine which engagements came from the posts or the ad.