Back just before the turn of the millennium I was at a friend’s house. It was a simpler time and free from a lot of today’s distractions and noise, however in a lot of ways it was a lot harder to do things that we now take for granted. We’d been discussing mountain bikes; which were the best to purchase, where from and technical details. I fired up a copy of Internet Explorer (a web browser!) on his desktop and immediately went to my search engine of choice: Altavista. Having clicked through a few pages we were no further with our discussion. The challenge was that Altavista was better than having no search engine, but you really had to trawl through a lot of useless content to get to what you wanted. His father (who’d recently been to a tech conference in California) came in and recommended a website: google.com. Within seconds we were on content that was truly assistive in solving our bike purchasing discussion. This was a game changer.
More than two decades later Google continues to provide us with ways and means to assist our lives and I find myself at a tech conference in California: Google Marketing Live 2019. The focus of this year’s conference as Philipp Schindler (Chief Business Officer, Google) discussed is, 'Helpfulness and Building for Everyone'.
The conference will be focused on meeting three market trends:
1) The emerging smart devices that are driving natural experiences. The challenges of delivering ever better experiences on smaller screens.
2) The revolution in machine learning and specifically the speed of increase of the technology.
3) The shifts in privacy and how Google have been working to deliver better ways of delivering privacy for its users.
These challenges will be met by Google through innovations in insights, management, creative and measurement.
In the keynote speech I learned a lot about Google’s new services and focus for 2019.
Key takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2019 Keynote:
- Prabhakar Raghavan (SVP, Ads and Commerce, Google) talked about the ways in which Google develops products to deliver usefulness. For example, how 10% of Gmail users reply to email using 'Smart Reply'. He explained that ads should be helpful, Google understands intent so you can anticipate it. He went on to say that, consumers come into contact with a number touchpoints, resulting in challenges for marketers to manage the process effectively. What's more, marketers are held responsible through privacy control, finding new ways of reaching consumers and providing great ad experiences. Finally, Prabhakar spoke about Discovery Ads, a single easy to use campaign type, designed to be inspiring and engaging, a swipeable feed-based format with clear calls to action.
- Laura Joukovski (CMO, Techstyle Fashion Group) talked about how as part of the open beta, Techstyle was able to use Discovery Ads to deliver 25% lower costs per lead.
- Sissie Hsiao (VP, Mobile Apps, Google) announced a new interactive and visual ad format, Gallery Ads. The new format uses images and text, swiping through images at the top of the SERP page. When expanding, it displays a scrollable selection of images that drives traffic to a site, which is useful for consumers researching your brand. It utilises four to eight images, 70 characters and three headlines, and arrives later this year. In addition, deep linking in Google Ads was announced, helping to send traffic to your apps. Sissie discussed new ways in which deep link ads can be attributed.
- Anthony Chavex (Director, Product Management, Google Ads and SA360, Google) talked about machine learning and specifically smart bidding. He announced that Google will have a new search campaign bidding strategy to maximise conversion value. He also talked about new ways to guide smart bidding models including campaign-level conversions (smart bidding can now be optimised to store visit conversions), conversion action sets and finally seasonality adjustments.
- Nicky Rettke (Director, Product Management, Video Ads, Google) announced Bumper Machine on YouTube. This format generates three to four six second bumper ads directly into Google Ads by scanning a YouTube video. It includes editing features so you can have the final say on the look and feel of each ad. Custom affinity and custom intent are also being combined into custom audiences, this finds the best ways to group the right people into one combined audience. In addition, the audience expansion tool is being introduced to expand or tighten your audience reach. Both custom audiences and the audience expansion tool are launching later this year. Finally, TV can be bought in a new space in DV360 including Connect TV and National TV networks.
- Oliver Heckmann (VP, Travel and Shopping, Google) talked shopping and announced three new shopping innovations. Firstly, a new experience on Google Shopping, this includes a complete experience of watching video reviews / reading reviews before choosing the purchasing options: in-store, online or directly through Google. Users can buy with their voice through additional platforms including Google Assistant (via voice), Google Shopping, Google Images and YouTube. All of this will come later this year. Oliver mentioned that Showcase Shopping Ads are being extended to Google Images, YouTube and Discover on Google. He went on to note that, shopping campaigns with partners are on the way, allowing retailers to accept additional budgets from a brand's account, giving it the option to select which products to promote with retailers. Finally, expansion to local campaigns inventory was announced, allowing local campaigns to be opened to everyone and he closed his session by saying that a complete trip planning product was being introduced.
- Chetna Bindra (Senior Product Manager, User Trust and Privacy, Google) talked about privacy and how successful My Activity has been in allowing users to control their privacy settings since 2016 and changes Google are continuing to make to improve consumers privacy protection. She shared three steps which marketers can also take: be clear about what data you are collecting and why, build more direct relationships with consumers, understand and respect people's preferences for privacy.
This is a truly exciting year for Google and I’m personally looking forward to testing these new ad formats, technologies and thinking with our clients at iProspect UK.
It is easier to get things done these days, thanks in no small part to Google. Now, imagine what it would be like if past Mark was here to see what is possible today. Hey Google, “what are the best weekend cycling routes around San Francisco?”