Why Google’s AdWords redesign matters more than ‘moon shots’

The leaders at Google/Alphabet are on a quest: for self-driving cars, network connections by balloon, data-driven life sciences, space elevators and teleportation. They’re seeking long-term plays to diversify from the part of their business that currently makes them viable, advertising. But ads are still how Google earns profits, so they’re redesigning Google AdWords to give marketers a better user experience.

The new look and feel uses the same design language as Google apps like Maps, Search and Gmail. But not everyone will see the new design right away. Google’s announcement said they will continue to build out the experience through 2016 and into 2017, as they invite advertisers to try it out and provide feedback.

Easing pain for beginners & experts alike

AdWords is the money door where Google’s customers buy and first see the results of value from their advertising. It’s a three-sided marketplace that invisibly connects publishers and advertisers by bidding and distribution that Google orchestrates. While AdWords is a great business with a functional interface, their customer experience is far from frictionless, especially for beginners.

One look at the AdWords interface confirms this. It is text driven and lacks graphics to structure processes or pay off purchases with striking visual insights. In fact, its workflows can be so irksome that AdWords’ most active users typically use a host of third-party tools to ease their efforts. So, the AdWords interface is daunting to beginners and abandoned by experts. Of course, the intersection of pain and revenue is where design can often make the greatest difference.


Existing Google AdWords interface

Design for business: improving “the money door”

When small and medium sized buyers struggle with Google, the impact extends beyond a few lost sales for Google. Marketplaces benefit disproportionately by scale, so any reduction in competition gets multiplied through bidding and expressed lower ad rates in the remaining deals. That represents a loss to publishers, Google, and the frustrated advertisers who could have secured business if they were able to use the marketplace more successfully.

Jerry Dischler, Google’s VP of Product Management for AdWords, the upgrade is based on customer feedback and is intended to make AdWords “more about your business, and less about our product.”

We want to make it super easy to execute and optimize campaigns based on your unique marketing objectives. 

We want to surface insights and help you visualize them in more actionable ways. By seeing the data most relevant to your business goals, you can spend more time optimizing campaigns and identifying opportunities.

At the end of the day, you need simple yet powerful tools that help you do more in less time. You should be able to complete your most important tasks, like managing ad extensions and building reports, all in one place. With less clutter and more intuitive workflows, you can quickly make the changes that move your business forward.

Technically, this won’t increase demand—but it will let more of that demand result in sales. And the improvement in reporting will help users to better optimize their spending, creating the foundation for expanding the AdWords ecosystem.

Preview of the new Google AdWords interface

Google shared this sneak preview of its new Google AdWords interface.

More valuable relationships

Remember, the vast majority of Google’s paying customers are out to grow their business through advertising. Anything that can increase the volume, value and duration of these relationships is positioned to more plausibly drive increased revenue to Google. This means much more than a successful “moonshot” in industries where Google has yet to earn profitable relationships.

Of course, discovery and invention are inspiring. I want to ride a space elevator too. But, Google hasn’t built that business yet; it’s still searching for underlying methods. Helping today’s customers succeed is the layup Google must make to stay in the game and benefit from their long-term investments.

AdWords needed fixing. And though improving it won’t make business headlines, it’s good news for the tens of millions of people who buy, see or sell ad space to Google every day. It will more plausibly drive Google’s revenue growth this year and support .

And that’s why the AdWords redesign may be a more exciting challenge than robot cars and space elevators. It can pay off for real people and as real business growth—which is an ascent that no space elevator is ready to match, at least not for a long time to come.

This article was originally published on Useful Arts, Dave’s blog about the future of digital marketing.