Adwords keywordless ads: Thoughts, pros and cons

It was brought to our attention last month that Google is getting ready to launch a brand new feature of its Adwords advertising platform: Keywordless Ads.

If you have done paid search before, you know that absolutely everything revolves around keywords. In fact, it’s the very core of paid search as people type keywords to conduct their search on Internet.

So what are keywordless ads?

When you are a large advertiser and allocate large budgets to paid search, the last thing you want is to see your budget not being spent.

When this happens, advertisers work on finding new ways to increase spend, whether by exploring new channels like Yahoo/Bing or the Google Display Network (GDN), or by expanding their account structure and keyword coverage. There are many techniques to expand on your krywords, but many of them are time and resource consuming. Google tries to facilitate that process with these new keywordless ads.

So how do keywordless ads actually work?

When using the GDN, you add a certain number of keywords in an adgroup. Google will scan those keywords and determine the “theme” of this adgroup. It will then find webpages that match this theme and serve your ads accordingly.

Take that concept, flip it around, and you got yourself the new keywordless ads feature!

The way it works is that you give Google the destination URL of your page, which is being scanned by the Googlebot to determine the “theme“. Google then serves your ads for queries that are, in Google’s ‘mind’, relevant.

You have no control over which keywords are triggering your ads, hence the name keywordless ads.

In each adgroup set to use this feature, you will create ad templates where you are required to fill in the description lines and display url. The headline will be automatically generated by Adwords, similarly to keyword insertion.

Pros of keywordless ads:

  1. Google automatically generates the headline, similarly to keyword insertion, which can lead to higher CTR.
  2. Higher CTR could also mean lower CPCs.
  3. Search volumes will definitely be high as Google will cover more searches that you could possibly cover in your account.

Cons of keywordless ads:

  1. As mentioned above, you have no control over the keywords. Hopefully we will have access to the search queries that triggered the ads to check relevancy. If that’s the case we will be able to add negative keywords to ensure only high quality traffic comes through. If we cannot see search queries, I will question the relevancy of searches my ads are shown for.
  2. Another concern lies around Quality scores. Will there be some sort of adgroup-level or ad-level quality score? How will we optimise this campaign?
  3. With less control over the searches, that may also mean lower quality in traffic. As a result, your conversion rate may decrease as you increase keywordless traffic.
  4. If the headline is similar to keyword insertion, how will we avoid misspellings and other unwanted words to show in the headline?

While keywordless ads are definitely an interesting new feature, it may be only relevant to use it in certain situations. It will be good to bring in more traffic, but as a result, you may lose in quality.

Below is the actual introduction deck from Google.

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