Google announced the start of a major redesign process aimed at rejuvenating the AdWords interface. It was a long time coming, Google last touched up AdWords in back in 2008. It’s a major undertaking that aims at addressing a number of issues and wishes raised by advertisers. “This re-imagining process is going to take some time, but we’re excited to finally talk about what we’ve been working on for the past year, year and a half,” said Paul Feng, AdWords product management director, by phone last week. AdWords head Jerry Dischler hinted at this overhaul in a keynote discussion at SMX Advanced in Seattle last June, now we are getting the first glimpse at what’s in store. “The reason we’re rebuilding AdWords is because the world has changed so much in the past two years. AdWords is now over 15 years old and launched when Google was just figuring out what search advertising was. We rebuilt it several years ago for a desktop world — smartphones were only [a] year old. Now we are in probably the biggest shift since AdWords was introduced (and I’d argue perhaps ever) with mobile,” said Feng, “And there is now increased demand on marketers and on AdWords as a platform — advertisers are running ads in search, display, shopping, mobile, video. Ultimately, that’s why we’re re-imagining AdWords.” Feng said the redesign has been informed largely by talking to advertisers across the spectrum. Three common themes emerged. First, advertisers said it felt like AdWords has been built around products and features, rather than marketers’ needs and objectives. “How the navigation is laid out can be un-intuitive and comes with a high learning curve,” said Feng. Second, the platform has grown complex, with hundreds of features launching every year that stack up on each other. And third, the basic design looks and feels kind of dated. “The goal is to create a flexible platform for the future,” added Feng. The redesign is based on Google’s design language, Material Design, that is used in many of its consumer products, like Gmail, Maps and Search.
Google says it will be introducing a small number of advertisers to those facets of the redesign that are built starting today. Over the next 12 to 18 months, areas of the redesign will roll out to select advertisers — big and small — for testing and feedback based on the capabilities they’re using. For example, advertisers running video campaigns will see video campaign management views, while others running Shopping campaigns will see that area of the platform. The goal is to have the redesign fully rolled out to all users by the end of 2017, says Feng.