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Google Ads 2020 Product & Feature Announcements: “Be Helpful”

The bad news:  Google Marketing Live, Google’s premier digital marketing summit, isn’t happening this year.  

The good news: While we won’t personally experience the incredible coordination and thoughtful details that elevate every Google event, the evolution of Google Ads has not slowed one bit.

This week Google announced several new marketing tools and features designed specifically to help small businesses respond to the challenges of the global pandemic. This week's update is the first in a series of product announcements, interviews, and virtual roundtables Google will feature throughout the coming weeks.

From annual event to ongoing content

Google’s annual marketing event has gone by 

multiple names 

over the past seven years (I still have an “AdWords Performance Forum” power bank from 2013), but until 2020 it has always been an in-person event. After a livestreamed opening keynote filled with the biggest announcements, the doors were closed and attendees had a wealth of opportunities to learn from and provide feedback to the Googlers designing and building the future of Google Ads.

Like every other company, Google has pivoted for 2020. Rather than try to condense and virtually recreate the experience of a live multi-day event, Google will instead share inspirational and educational content on an ongoing cadence throughout the coming weeks and months.

  • Google has some extremely exciting advertising product announcements planned, but rather than drop them all at once these features will be unveiled in a phased approach over the next three months.
  • A new video interview series called “The Update” will launch on Think with Google, featuring industry leaders. New episodes will be released weekly.
  • Feedback sessions are my favorite part of any Google event, so I was very pleased that Google will recreate this specific element of Google Marketing Live virtually, connecting marketers with product managers in a series of virtual roundtable sessions.

In Google’s words: “The crisis accelerated the use of technology, and technology will accelerate our path out of the crisis and play a vital role in our economic recovery.” The new features announced today (and those that will be announced in future weeks) leverage Google’s massive data and unparalleled reach to provide tangible tools that businesses of all sizes will find helpful.

Today’s product announcements: Helping both consumers and businesses

In 2019 Google grouped their product announcements under three themes: “Be There,” “Be Useful,” “Be Responsible.” This year there is one simple, overarching theme: “Be Helpful.” 

Two of today’s announcements are brand new tools which tap into Google data to provide insights that businesses (particularly small businesses) can leverage to improve their digital presence.  It’s always a good idea to learn from the competition, and the Grow My Store tool provides a personalized benchmark showing exactly how a brand’s digital experience compares to the top players in their industry.  Another new tool, the Local Opportunity Finder, offers on-demand personalized tips to improve a company’s Business Profile on Google My Business. Both of these tools represent a move by Google toward providing more transparency across their entire suite of products and opening up their data to provide powerful insight.  These tools are initially only available in the U.S. only.

 

Small businesses outside of the U.S. should plan to test Smart Campaigns, which are now rolling out globally to 150 countries. First launched two years ago, Smart Campaigns are built on the old AdWords Express foundation and drastically lower the barrier to entry for advertisers who want to leverage Google but don’t have the bandwidth to debate the finer nuances of esoteric topics like “Top of page rate” vs “Absolute top of page rate.” As an added bonus, advertisers leveraging Smart Campaigns will also be eligible to utilize Promoted Pins on Google Maps for free through the end of September.

Two other new features are aimed at helping consumers connect with businesses, and highlight how effectively Google cross-applies effective solutions across different contexts. Taking a cue from Purchases on Google, Local Service Ads are getting a new “schedule” button that lets customers book directly from the ad. The consumer-facing Local Services mobile site is also getting a new look and feel.  The overarching focus is around helping consumers manage their interaction with these services over time, reminiscent of the helpful reminders I see when looking for hotel rooms in a city I’ve visited before (e.g., “You stayed here three months ago.”).

Google is also providing more options for businesses to manage timely local information such as curbside pickup or in-store inventory. This data will be shown in local store organic units which will pull information from a variety of sources, such as Local Inventory Ads feeds and Google My Business listings, giving store owners more ways to update their information.  

More announcements coming soon

These are only the first few initial announcements from Google, with many more to come throughout the upcoming weeks and months.  Make time today to check out the first episode of “The Update,” and look for ongoing perspectives on upcoming announcements as they happen from iProspect’s team of experts.