If you don’t log into AdWords often, then you may be surprised when you do. Google is completely revamping its advertising platform’s user interface (UI) in an effort to streamline features while optimizing for smartphones. After announcing the new interface last spring, Google started rolling it out to advertisers in August — ahead of schedule — with the goal of being fully rolled out by the end of 2017.
Why did Google feel the need to change the UI? For starters, the last major redesign was back in 2008, when more people still used desktops and laptops. Smartphones were popular, but market penetration wasn’t what it is today. Marketers interacted with AdWords differently, while also taking completely different approaches to their campaigns. Meanwhile, Google was expanding AdWords by hundreds of features per year without UI changes to make those features more intuitive. AdWords was easy enough to use in its most basic form, but unlocking the platform’s true potential wasn’t nearly as efficient.
3 Goals for the Redesign
News of the redesign caused quite a stir after being unveiled last spring. Samantha Lemonnier, Google’s Director of Engineering for the AdWords Platform, outlined the purpose of the overhaul during the company’s May 2016 summit. She highlighted three goals specifically:
- The data that business owners and marketers need must be immediately accessible. Under the old UI, too much of that data was buried under layers of screens.
- AdWords campaigns must be easier to optimize. It needs to be about advertisers’ businesses, without Google’s products getting in the way.
- The old UI was too cluttered. The new UI is designed to be more simple and intuitive.
In a nutshell, Google set out to make AdWords leaner, more intuitive and more efficient. The previous UI was none of these things. The old Campaigns tab had a sidebar navigation with sub menus, a top menu, menu tabs with subtabs and a host of other clickable links — all of which culminated in a nightmarish mobile experience, especially on a tiny smartphone screen. Meanwhile, the most easily accessible campaign data (after clicking on the Campaigns tab) included impressions, CTR, CPCs, costs and other superficial metrics. These metrics are important, but they don’t truly reveal how campaigns are performing, especially given today’s mobile marketplace.
A Simple, Smarter User Interface
Log into AdWords now. If you’re looking at the new interface, you see the changes are night-and-day. Gone are the stark greens, the confusing menus and the graphs of costs, traffic spikes and clickthrough data. The new interface is much cleaner and far simpler, almost minimalistic by comparison.
The top-level account home page has been completely revamped. Right away, you see important insights about your top-performing campaigns. These insights include conversions and costs as well as whether your campaigns are performing best on smartphones, tablets or desktops. You also see which times of day your campaigns get the most traffic. And that’s pretty much it.
But what’s more striking than the data itself is its presentation. Gone are the tables and numerous clickable links and tabs. Rather than overwhelm with numbers, the new UI presents a simplified focus on graphs and charts using soft-yet-discernable reds, blues and yellows.
Go beyond the pretty visuals and simple navigation, and you’ll find all-new campaign creation tools that can better help you meet specific marketing objectives. Do you want visitors to convert by calling your business, signing up for emails, making a purchase or downloading an app?
If you’re like me, then you’re likely freaking out about losing the numerous tools available in the old AdWords interface. Well don’t worry — you can still use them. They’re all still there, but you’ll have to relearn how to get to them. For example, you’re always just a single click away from your ad scheduling and device/location targeting settings.
Google AdWords will look significantly different than it did a year ago, but you know what they say — the more things change, the more they stay the same. In many ways, this is true with AdWords, despite the new UI. Google’s ad platform is going to be cleaner and (hopefully) easier to use, but most of what changed is ultimately cosmetic. The core functionality of AdWords remains unchanged.