Google announced another set of “new AdWords innovations” last week as retailers gear up for Black Friday. The search giant is rolling out a string of new features including promotion extensions, ad variations and custom intent audiences – all of which are available as part of the new AdWords interface.

That doesn’t tell us a lot about what these new features have to offer, though. So let’s take a closer look at Google latest AdWords innovations and what they mean for you festive advertising efforts.

Highlight your best deals with promotion extensions

As Google says, “people are always looking for deals” and it tells us a massive 70% of internet users look for sales or discounts before visiting a store. With this statistic in mind, the search provider wants to help you attract more of these discount-loving consumers by highlighting your best deals in text ads.

Which is where promotion extensions come in.

Source: Inside AdWords

You can find out more about promotion extensions over at AdWords Help but you get a good idea of what’s going on from the image above. With promotion extensions you can set a monetary or percentage discount (eg: £500 off or 30% off) on any product, service or store-wide promotion.

In the example above, you can see Achilles using promotion extensions to showcase its 30% discount on shoes for Black Friday. With promotion extensions you can select from one of 12 annual occasions to make your ads more seasonal but this feature is optional.

Source: AdWords Help

Of course, you could already tell users about your sales promotions I text ads but this new extension means you don’t have to create new ads every time your promotion changes – plus it frees up more space for unique ad content. Besides that, the extension is formatted to make promotions stand out more clearly.

Test new ad ideas with ad variations

Google’s next AdWords innovation comes in the form of ad variations, a new feature that allows you to text ad changes at scale before sending them live. Unlike the name might suggest, you’re not creating new ads to compete/test against each other here. The new ad variations feature allows you to make small changes to your existing ads and see how they affect performance.

Here’s the example Google offers:

“For example, you may want to see how “Happy Holidays” performs when used in your text ads. With ad variations, you can test this change across thousands of ads in just a few clicks.”

With ad variations you can apply small changes to your ads but apply across as many ads as you want to see how they impact performance. In the example above, you can add “Happy Holidays” to every ad if you want. Or you can apply it only to your Christmas ads – whatever you want to test.

This is a pretty big feature we’re talking about.

You’ll find ad variations in the new AdWords experience by clicking on Drafts & experiments at the bottom of the left-hand menu in the main dashboard.

Source: Inside AdWords

Next you’ll want to click on the AD VARIATIONS tab at the top of the next screen where you can create your new variations. All you have to do is follow the steps, apply your changes and you’ll receive the results of your test as soon as it becomes statistically significant.

For more info on ad variations and how to set them up, you can find more details over at AdWords Help.

Custom intent audiences for the Display Network

Next up we have a new targeting option on the Google Display Network. Custom intent audiences allow you to target “people who want to buy the specific products you offer – based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel”.

Here’s what Google has to say about the new targeting option:

“To make finding the right people easy, AdWords uses Google’s machine learning technology to analyze your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences. These audiences are based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.”

For example, Google may notice that people who click through to travel sites often go on to look for summer clothing and create a new “holiday clothing” custom intent audience. This means clothing retailers can have their display ads pop up as people are going about booking their holiday essentials.

Custom intent audiences are auto-generated, which means Google will suggest potential options and show you reach and performance estimates. This means you can really tailor your campaigns to precise user intents – eg: “Get the hottest holiday looks here”.

With yet more AdWords innovations rolling out before the Christmas rush, you can tell Google really wants us to be excited about the new AdWords interface. Not everyone seems to be a fan at this stage but Google’s strategy of rolling out incentivised features will make it increasingly difficult for fans of the old interface to resist the new look.