Google Marketing Live 2019

This morning, Google kicked off what’s become one of the largest digital marketing events in the world: Google Marketing Live. Attended by brands, agencies, and partners (with tens of thousands more watching around the globe), today’s keynote shared a number of new solutions built to help advertisers navigate today’s increasingly complex user journey in ways that are faster, more effective, and increasingly helpful to everyone. While last year’s cornerstones of integration and automation continue to play a large part in Google’s story, they also weaved in the increasingly relevant theme of user privacy—a key focus at last week’s Google I/O conference.

Under a trio of mission statements (some might even call them “mantras”), Google segmented their announcements into three categories: Be There, Be Useful, and Be Responsible.

“Be There”: Lots of upcoming changes.

Google Ads continues to focus on building integrated solutions that go beyond the search page, taking advantage of their larger ecosystem like YouTube and Gmail. Despite these more holistic options, one potential portion that’s noticeably absent is ad integration with Google Assistant; marketers looking to deliver voice experiences will still have to keep their focus on building Actions and reviewing their SEO strategies for the near future.

Google’s Smart Shopping campaigns were one of the biggest features announced at last year’s event, and this year they’re adding a new automated solution, Discovery ads.  Based around rich images, these ads will allow advertisers to play in new spaces where Google hasn’t traditionally served ads (ex. YouTube feed, the Gmail promotions tab, and the mobile discovery feed). These ads are performance focused, initially offering automated bidding based on target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) or target ROI goals. However, similar to Universal App Campaigns, marketers lose some level of control in order to leverage this automation and won’t be able to opt out of specific sites.

Another image-rich new feature is Gallery Ads, a brand new ad format marketers will be able to leverage in their existing search campaigns. Available for all verticals and consisting of four to eight rich images plus text taglines and headlines, this is a powerful new ad type that provides a more native ad on the mobile search engine results page (SERP), and should be on every search marketer’s testing plans.

Other announcements included:

  • App deep linking ads giving advertisers more robust measurement via Firebase while also providing searchers more clarity about when they’re being taken from a search page to an in-app experience.
  • A new Smart Bidding target of Maximize Conversion Value, for smaller business who have low overall conversion volume and not enough data to identify their ideal ROI target.
  • More control over conversion goals by campaign, enabled by shifting conversion target settings from the account level to the campaign level in Google Ads.
  • Seasonality adjustments for smart bidding allowing advertisers to flag abnormal timeframes that the smart bidding algorithm should ignore (such as major sales or times when tracking stopped working).
  • New Conversion Value Rules that allow advertisers to import adjustments and prioritizations for conversions with different priorities direction into Google Ads.
  • New Custom Audience that merge Affinity Audiences and Custom Intent Audiences (Don’t get too excited yet; it’s not available for search campaigns, only for Display, Gmail, YouTube, and the new Discovery ads.
  • Linear and Connected TV buying through Display and Video 360 via new partnerships with national networks covering 100M US households, and will include new measurement techniques like brand lift.
  • Audio ad inventory via Display and Video 360 to reach people streaming music, podcasts, and other audio
  • Bumper Machine for YouTube, an automated solution that uses machine learning to examine existing brand videos and propose multiple short bumper ads for advertisers to review and test.
  • The Audience Expansion Tool, a new slider that allows marketers to shift focus between high reach vs. high accuracy.

“Be Useful”: Improvements for marketers & advertisers.

The biggest (and a welcome) change is a streamlined Google Shopping experience for both advertisers and consumers. On the user side, Google is not only launching an improved core shopping site, they’re also expanding the reach of shopping ads across more places in the Google ecosystem. However, with a regular cadence of new features and ad types layered on top of an already confusing foundation, many brands aren’t taking full advantage Google Shopping, an opportunity we unpack in more detail in our new whitepaper launching later this week.

Many of today’s announcements focused on simplified integrations with Google Express for delivery, Google Payments and other payment options, and offline sales for a full view of the shopping journey. Ultimately, Google is working to refine their shopping experience from both sides, by updating the consumer experience and delivering a simplified advertiser experience that makes it easier to leverage the most compelling ad features.

Google also resurfaced and rebranded co-sponsored PLAs as Shopping Campaigns with Partners.  This solution allows manufacturers and retailers to strategically combine and align budgets in order to increase bids and budgets to capture more impression volume, and thus more sales.

Google is taking the same approach to the consumer-facing side of their Travel experience.  While advertisers won’t see many changes to ads, users will see a more integrated package that combines flights and hotels, similar to the solution Google launched on mobile at the end of last year.

Discovery campaigns aren’t the only new campaign type to debut this year. An updated version of Local Campaigns, Mobile Campaigns, will have ads appear on search results inside the Google Maps app and be optimized based on users clicking to call the business or get directions.

“Be Responsible”: Transparency, choice, and control.

Google reiterated messages from last week’s Google I/O event about making it easier for users to automatically delete their history, limiting fingerprinting on Chrome, and providing more transparency to users about how cookies are used in Chrome.  They encouraged brands to ensure their privacy policies are up to date and that they have comprehensive first party measurement solutions in place.

Ultimately, Google knows that personalized ads are more effective, relevant, and powerful, and their goal is to ensure users always know how their data is being used to target and customize ads.


Today’s announcements gave digital marketers plenty to look forward to in the remainder of 2019.  The new ad features are a welcome mix across the spectrum of automation vs. control. Keep an eye here on the iProspect blog for more details as each of these new ad formats and features roll out to advertisers.