We provide all the details you need here, but here are some quick tips on what you can do:

September 23 announcement, Google shared that BERT, which helps Google to understand the context and intent of search queries, is now being applied to keyword matching in Google Ads. This, Google says, has enabled it to change keyword matching rules for broad and phrase match.

This is to help advertisers to show that they’re credible and consumers to know that the content they’re viewing is credible. To adapt to this change, be sure to always be running high-quality and consistent ads.

  • Broad match and phrase match keywords identical to a query will now be preferred in the absence of an exact match keyword.
  • If you have multiple match types for a keyword that are relevant to a query but not identical, Google will not decide solely based on Ad Rank, but on relevancy too (thanks to BERT).

However, as noted in the screenshot below, you can opt out of this targeting option if you don’t wish to use it.

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Announced on: September 22, 2021.
Short version: Travel brands will have more ways to list their booking options along with a new “things to do” ad type that has room for more details.
Overall sentiment: Positive.
Here’s the chart it provides:

2. More automation for Display campaigns

As businesses slowly bounce back from the pandemic, Google has been providing tools to travel-based advertisers that allow chances for a revenue boost.
We tell you everything you need to know here.
Announced on: August 31, 2021.
Short version: New shipping, return, veteran-owned, and women-owned attributes for Shopping ads.
Overall sentiment: Positive.

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In her Search Engine Journal coverage on the announcement, Amy Bishop states that this makes sense, since we now have so many automation features in standard Display campaigns that setup is not much different from Smart.
Let’s face it, no one likes the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). Whether it’s a group project you were excluded from or a concert that sold out tickets before you could snag one, FOMO is sadly found in every corner of life. 

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For now, existing standard Display and Smart Display campaigns will continue to run as usual.​
Expanded text ads (ETAs) have been a long-time go-to for search advertisers.  We shared back in March that Google replaced ETAs with responsive search ads (RSAs) as the default ad type for standard Search campaigns. And then on August 31, Google told us it will be sunsetting ETAs in June of 2022.
Many advertisers are confused by this update and also have mixed feelings on optimized targeting. Learn more in the PPC chat discussion on this announcement.
What it means is, when choosing a campaign type, you will now only see one Display option, and then once you select it, you can then choose whether it will be a standard Display or Smart Display campaign.

3. Data added to the search terms report

Plus, travel advertisers now get to play around with a “things to do” ad where they have wiggle room to add in information on pricing, images, reviews, and more. Google encourages trying this ad out since its purpose is to promote discovery and drive bookings.
Google also announced that Display campaigns are now automatically put into optimized targeting, which can allow you to pull in clicks from folks outside of your selected audiences based on your goals (I explain optimized targeting here!)
Announced on: August 31, 2021.
Short version: As of June 2022, you will not be able to create new ETAs.

Overall sentiment: Not surprised, but still, not ideal.
Announced on: September 22, 2021.
Short version: Google released the page version of those little boxes you see when you click “Why am I seeing this ad?”

Overall sentiment: Seems neutral (but let us know if you think otherwise!).
For more helpful tips, learn how to improve your Google Shopping ROI with the priority bidding structure.

4. The sunsetting of expanded text ads

Google is continuing to take privacy and quality assurance measures for consumers. According to its September 22 announcement, users can now see an “about this ad page” in Display, Video, and Shopping ad placements. On that page, they can click to see other ads that brand has posted within the last 30 days.
But many advertisers disagree. Check out our coverage on this change to find out why!
To check how this might impact your visual campaigns, try using the model comparison report feature under the Measurement and Attribution sections of the platform. This will show you in real-time how changing your attribution model could positively or negatively impact your performance metrics.

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We cover it all in this post, but here’s the gist of it:

  • Create and test your ETAs like crazy.
  • Create evergreen ETAs.
  • Get familiar with RSAs.
  • Don’t forget about call ads.

5. New “about this ad” pages

Plus, in addition to their opt-in labels for black-owned businesses, there’s now an option for veteran-owned and businesses to self-identify as such!
Google said that this will allow you to get more qualified traffic with fewer keywords, and that when using broad match with Smart Bidding in particular, there is “no added benefit” to using multiple match types.

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As we covered in our Google Marketing Live 2021 recap, YouTube and Display campaigns have been developing more sophisticated strategies. This year, value-based bidding became available on these two campaign types. And in Google’s August 9 announcement, advanced attribution modeling options for these campaigns have also just become available.

6. New “things to do” travel ads

What this means is RSAs will be the only available Search ad type (aside from call or dynamic ads) at the ready to create. Existing ETAs will still be able to run indefinitely. However, advertisers will not be able to edit them, but only pause or remove them.
According to its September 22 announcement, when people search tourist attractions on Google, instead of seeing just general information on that attraction, there will be booking links for tickets and reservations, and eventually the same for other experiences in that area.
Announced on: September 15, 2021.
Short version: Google combined the previously separate standard Display and Smart Display campaign setups into one flow.
Overall sentiment: Mix of neutral and confused.
Announced on: September 9, 2021.
Short version: Google added some new data back to the search terms report, but will also be removing some in February 2022.
Overall sentiment: Exciting for some, not a big improvement for others.

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7. Google Shopping holiday updates

Announced on: August 9, 2021.
Short version: Last-click attribution is no longer the only model available for YouTube and Display campaigns.
Overall sentiment: Helpful.
Google announced on September 9 that it listened to advertisers’ call for more information in the search terms report, which became restricted in September 2020.

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Google announced on September 15 that standard Display and Smart Display campaigns have been merged into one campaign type. This does not mean that we can’t run standard Display campaigns or Smart Display campaigns as we know them.

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Previously, Display and YouTube Video campaigns were defaulted to last click attribution. Now, attribution model types that we’re already familiar with from Search campaigns, can be applied to these campaign types—including time-decay, linear, or even data-driven models, which can impact how you credit each conversion you get.

8. Improved attribution modeling for YouTube and Display

In preparation for the 2021 holiday season,, Google released some updates to accommodate increased ecommerce demands. There will be new shipping annotations available for Shopping campaigns, like  “Get it by Dec 24” as well as return policy annotations like “free 90-day returns.” See below:
This report, which shows advertisers which queries their ads showed for, began to only display terms of a high enough volume to maintain searcher anonymity, with at least one click. Now, advertisers will be able to also see search terms (that meet the threshold volume) they gained impressions on—regardless of whether they pulled in a click or not.
With this change, advertisers will have added flexibility in their selected levels of automation for creative, targeting, and bidding.
In the same announcement, Google shared that in February of 2022, it will be removing historical (pre-September 2020) search terms that don’t meet the privacy threshold volume. With this, Google is able to accommodate advertisers while also maintaining privacy among searchers.

get the full scoop in our coverage here!

Google Ads updates roundup [September 2021]

  1. Updates to broad and phrase match
  2. More automation for Display
  3. Search terms report improvements
  4. Sunsetting of ETAs
  5. The updated “about this ad” page
  6. A new travel ad type
  7. Google Shopping ad attributes
  8. Improved attribution modeling for Display and YouTube campaigns

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