The moment we’d been waiting months for finally arrived yesterday.
More than 5,000 marketers descended upon San Francisco, eagerly anticipating what Google would unveil at this year’s Google Marketing Live.
We were not disappointed.
Google is shifting search into a new direction with more than 10 product releases and new data features.
Anticipate, smart, machine learning, and responsible were the buzzwords of the day. Each innovation and beta touched on at least two of these themes.
Until now, search strategies aspired to tap into an entire user journey’s path. However, these journeys are increasingly complex.
Users’ thought process is often not linear, making the traditional marketing funnel less relevant.
Interaction with marketing channels is far from siloed, making channel specific strategies less effective.
For example, Google cited a study where a user’s decision to buy a video game involved more than 200 circuitous actions over several weeks.
To provide a relevant online experience, it’s crucial to anticipate a user’s specific needs at each moment in time.
No doubt, one should have the final conversion action in mind. However, to get the user that far, one has to answer each of their question in a highly relevant way.
It is no longer enough to merely show up when triggered by a keyword search. Brands must:
- Be a trusted adviser.
- Provide rich answers seamlessly.
- Give users the option to move as quickly or slowly as they want in their discovery journey.
And they must do so creatively with ever important privacy imperatives and growing data constraints.
6 New Ad Formats
To better anticipate and respond to user queries, Google unveiled six new ad formats.
Google’s new ads are all highly engaging, with visual elements and particularly well suited for with multi-channel strategies.
SEM Gallery Ads
Reminiscent of visual site links and earlier iterations of image integrations, these ads convey what you have to offer in a more interactive format and more easily anticipate everything a user may want to know.
Prabhakar Raghavan (SVP, Google Ads & Commerce) shared how this highly visual ad format incorporates rich lifestyle imagery into your Shopping ads now to even more Google properties: for now Google Images and the feed on Discover and soon on YouTube.
People are actively looking in these areas for ideas and they are a natural fit for Shopping ads.
Launching later this year, Discovery Ads would run in the Google Discover feed, YouTube home feed and Gmail social and promotions tabs.
Powered by Google’s growing AI capabilities, these ads will not be powered by keyword-driven campaigns. Instead, they will run in a new Discovery campaign type driven by targeted audiences.
More Functionalities for Local Ads
Google Ads on maps are seeing several enhancements, with targeting changes to promoted pins, perhaps one of the main ones.
Using AI to anticipate intent, Google is looking enhance visibility to relevant audiences with automation rather than historic reliance purely on manual targeting.
Bumper Video Ads
Video asset creation has been one of the biggest hurdles for video advertising.
With the launch of Bumper ads, Google will assist in creating YouTube-friendly ads from long form or other assets. Moreover, it will do so in a way that allows to test into most successful elements through machine learning.
Several enhancements are happening to shopping campaigns.
From simpler, enhanced UI to buying from ads on Google Assistant through Shopping checkout, Google is making a concerted push into retail.
No doubt, it is after the ever growing share of ad dollars going to Amazon.
To reinforce its vision for user need anticipation, Google checkout will also enables users to buy from retailers in-store, not just on their sites.
Measurement & Reporting
Google is also increasing its commitment to measurement and reporting.
Here are some of the upcoming features.
- Deep linking into apps will allow reporting on in-app interactions within Google Ads. Google’s initial testing shows 2x higher conversion rates thank to this.
- Optimization of local campaigns will now include offline KPIs for calls and store visits.
- Display & Video 360 integrations will bridge gaps within display and video reporting, allowing for long awaited synergies between these platforms.
- Optimizing not only to multiple conversions, but also varying conversion values will be possible now.
Finally, privacy was a big topic of the day.
Google discussed how everyone should be prepared that less data will be available to work with in the future. Users manage their privacy more and more closely.
Google shared that monthly, over 160 million people check or change their Google account privacy settings. It should not surprise that Google Ads will have less user data available.
Furthermore, as announced at Google IO, Google will be changing how its Chrome browser handles cookies and addresses fingerprinting
On the bright side, machine learning will allow us to do more with less.
With more limited first-party data and growing scrutiny of third-party data, machine learning will make targeting less dependent data collection and more aligned with learning behaviors of relevant users and others like them.