Google recently announced the debut of the Google Real Time Ads tool. Unfortunately, so far this tool has only been made available to major brands.
This means a lot of the information about Real Time Ads, such as specifics on how it functions or how effective it might be, are actually quite vague. Still, this is a tool worth keeping an eye on.
Real Time Ads, in a Nutshell
Real Time Ads allows you to create and change ads automatically based upon the time of day, or, in the case of major, expected events, both the date and the time.
If you run a restaurant, for example, you might run a breakfast ad between the hours of 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., a lunch ad between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and a dinner ad from 3 p.m. to midnight. You might choose to halt advertisements altogether during the hours you aren’t open.
Now, to an extent, this capability already exists within the existing AdWords framework—but executing it is messy, and it requires a really skilled PPC manager who can help you juggle the various campaigns. Most brands will continue to want to use a skilled PPC manager, of course, but the execution will be a lot cleaner, allowing you to upload a single spreadsheet across a single campaign.
A Misunderstood Example: The Super Bowl
Many of the early articles about Real Time Ads make it sound as though Google is going to go in and change your ads (with or without your approval) based on world events, trending topics or social media chatter. For example, Marketing Land recently published an article on the topic of Real Time Ads, featuring an accompanying image of a mobile ad being run in response to a touchdown scored in the upcoming “Big Game”. This image offers the impression that Google knows a touchdown has been made and can react by updating or modifying your ads accordingly.
Marketing Land wasn’t trying to misrepresent this capability, mind…we’re only noting that it might be easy to walk away with that impression by reading the smattering of articles about Real Time Ads that have appeared on the Internet.
In reality, Real Time Ads is not linked into any service that tracks scores, nor is it plugged into Twitter or Facebook. In short, AdWords has no way of knowing something like a touchdown has just happened.
Nor would you necessarily want Google making decisions like that for you, as that would make it very difficult for you to protect your brand.
Instead, you or your marketing firm will need to do a lot of pre-planning. You will have to pre-write and pre-design ads in response to events you know are coming, like the half-time show or the end of the game.
See this article from The Search Engine Journal for some other great examples of events that might be worth targeting and watching closely.
Where will the ads be published?
Ads will get published plenty of places: all 2 million of the sites on the Google Display Network as well as YouTube and a slew of apps. In short, visibility will be no problem at all, and there’s no concern that you’ll simply be shooting these laser-focused, time-sensitive ads out into a vacuum.
So what should you do next?
We know two of the brands who have been given access to the beta test: Wix.com, and Comcast. We also know the first test will be happening during the upcoming Super Bowl.
Even if you are not a big football fan it may be worth your while to watch the Super Bowl this year, just to get a sense of how these tools are being leveraged. Keep your mobile phone handy and periodically pull up YouTube videos to see what you can see. Take a few notes. This exercise may give you some ideas on how you can turn Real Time Ads into an advantage when and if it becomes available to the rest of us.