Google’s Performance Summit earlier this week revealed several major changes that will affect digital advertising in 2016 and beyond. Here's our take on what to expect and how to prepare.

What are the most notable changes?

The biggest change, maybe even the biggest change in PPC for the last 10 years, is the increase in the amount of characters that can be used in ad copy. Previously we were allowed a headline containing 25 characters and two description lines containing 35 characters each, equalling 70 characters.

Google is now going to allow two headlines of 30 characters each and one description line of 80 characters along with a small change to the way display URLs within ads are used.

The second major change is to the way bids are set for different devices. The change to enhanced campaigns in 2013 saw Google remove the ability to run desktop and mobile PPC campaigns separately from each other with different bids and settings, forcing advertisers to bundle everything together and use percentage bid modifications for mobile devices. The changes announced this week will see a return to being able to set different actual bid amounts for desktop, mobile and even tablets.

Smaller changes include updates to the way display ads are built with more automation, additional audience bidding options for the search network and better ad options for local businesses incorporating Google Maps.

Head here for more information about the update.

Why has Google made them? 

The changes have all came about because Google wants to help advertisers succeed in a mobile-first world. With half of all searches now made on mobile devices Google has tried to either ensure a better suite of options are available to advertisers to then give a better experience for searchers or is trying to make more money from the shift to mobile search!

What benefits will these changes bring for advertisers? 

The benefits of increased character limits in ad text are massive and will make PPC ads much more comparable with organic search listings in terms of what can be said about a business. For retail clients including lengthy product names in ad headlines will make ads much more relevant to searchers which will increase quality score and CTR and then see reduced CPCs with the knock on effect of improving ROI.

Being able to bid different amounts for different devices will give far more control to advertisers in terms of where budgets are spent. With proper analysis of which keywords on which devices give the best returns, campaign optimisation will be easier and will result in better performance for brands.

Are there any potential pitfalls advertisers should be concerned about?

This is a similar situation to when a fourth advertising position was added and, as was the case then, it will take time to fully assess the impact of the changes. However we will definitely see an increase to the cost of mobile PPC.

The increased size of ads will increase click through rates (Google has reported tests showing as much as 20%) but this will increase competition and therefore cost-per-click for the top two positions.

How can we ensure we get the best possible return on investment?

Ahead of the changes coming into effect, advertisers should be getting ready. This will ensure you don’t miss out to better-prepared competitors. Once in place, continual analysis and monitoring of results from each device will allow you to spend money on the right areas and avoid wasted spend.

To keep costs down, advertisers and agencies should also be reviewing ad copy, keywords and landing page content to achieve the best possible quality score; plus, identifying ways to optimise the mobile experience you provide to your visitors. These changes, along with those affecting organic search, shows that Google will continue to make mobile a priority.