Google kicked off their flagship marketing event last week (Google Marketing Livestream) via a one-day livestream event. Google uses this annual occurrence as a platform to share new products & features which will help change our digital marketing industry over upcoming months.

This year saw a slick event which flew by and you are not alone if you were too absorbed by Alicia Keys and Emmanuel Acho, only to look back and think “wait, what were the key takeaways?”

Every digital marketer is preparing for the looming cookieless future, and weaved within the event were several tools built to navigate this change. This year saw an expected focus on privacy-first innovations and new measurement capabilities to better surface impactful insights.


New Insights
In addition to being a fantastic marketing channel, search is the world’s largest ongoing consumer survey. Google announced several new and updated features focused on surfacing more insights that marketers can leverage strategically.

During this era of increasing automation, a significant amount of search marketing data has been removed from our visibility, and advertisers are desperate to get it back to inform strategic decision making. Last year Google made two high-profile changes: restricting data within the Search Terms Report (STR), and launching an initiative to offer free product listings within the Google Shopping Tab. Both were met with similar feedback from the industry – “We need more insights!”

Google also introduced conversion reporting for free listed products, in addition to competitive visibility based on displayed impressions, doubling down on their philosophy of democratization of commerce. This is a step towards the creation of a holistic approach to Google Shopping which introduces the relationship between paid and organic.

As advertisers, more insights result in a more informed strategy. The ability to dive into Google Ads or Google Merchant Center and surface these crucial details at a moment's notice is a powerful thing.


New Tools for Action
The value of an insight is significantly diminished without the ability to act upon it, and Google announced several new features that enable advertisers to both scale and optimize their campaigns across multiple Google properties.

Google has increased the emphasis on Performance Max campaigns which they announced last October. There are 11 campaign types in Google Ads today and there is an argument that an advertiser needs to be live on at least 4 of them, targeted at the same goal, to get the best of Google's inventory. With that in mind, Performance Max campaigns complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you expand across all of Google's ad inventory to drive more conversions and value.

GML also highlighted several other changes such as the introduction of tROAS targeting for Video action campaigns, in addition to adding more local attributes into Maps and YouTube. However, the update, which will impact the highest number of advertisers, will be the introduction of ad customizers within responsive search ads (RSAs).

We truly believe that RSAs have the power to transform creative testing within the paid search industry. Combined with the option to pin copy, plus the reporting updates mentioned earlier in this article, and the ever advancing AI which powers it, RSAs are getting closer to becoming the omnipotent ad copy option we know they can be. Leveraging RSAs isn’t just a good idea, it has become a foundational best practice for paid search.

Google is also continuing to make strides in the eCommerce space. Retailers need to build the best consumer experience and establish incremental places to get discovered. However, the core tool in the arsenal of a retailer is their brand, and yet it is this piece of the puzzle which seems to get lost as consumers increasingly start their search on a comparison site. Google has recognized this and is actively working to introduce “Storefronts”, a new brand experience and functionality within the Google Shopping platforms. Additionally they plan to launch Business Identity Attributes, allowing brands to highlight nuances such as “Female owned business”, and product feeds on Discovery, YouTube and Gmail, which will introduce incremental platforms for brands to be discovered.

Continuing the focus on the Brand and Consumer experience, Google is building an inclusive ecosystem by developing new integrations and partnerships with Shopify, WooCommerce, GoDaddy and Square. The goal is to help all merchants to succeed with their eCommerce by lowering barriers and crafting an open ecosystem. Google even went as far as to mention the building of a cross-browser tab shopping cart within chrome which can work in conjunction with automated discount discovery tools to form a seamless shopping journey within Chrome which offers consumers the best prices for their chosen products in a single payment process. 

This focus on empowering brands and streamlining the consumer journey excites us a lot and we are eager to partner with all involved to help develop such an impactful transformation.

 


Privacy & Measurement
Google is looking to raise the bar on privacy while also building new solutions regarding first-party data. To achieve this they are increasing the functionality of Consent Mode, developing new modeling and workspaces within Google Analytics 4, and enhancing existing tech like conversion tracking, DDA, and Customer Match, to better fit this privacy-first world.

Consent has been a huge shift in the online world over the past few years, starting with GDPR in Europe. Its goal is to establish a balance between data privacy and digital advertisements. Google launched Consent Mode late last year as a new way to measure conversions and get analytics insights when using services like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager (GTM), and Google Ads. The update announced at GML is the ability to integrate directly with Consent Mode via Tag Manager or Tag Manager 360 with no additional tagging required.

Additionally, advertisers are expected to experience drops in measurable traffic due to privacy and consent regulations, so Google is launching a number of changes to increase data visibility and measurement. Through modelling, enhanced conversions will provide a new way to measure conversions even when fewer cookies are available. This launch will coincide with Google Analytics 4 Modelled Behavioural Reporting which will model on consented data to fill in gaps. Whatsmore, this data can be attributed in a more holistic DDA model which includes Display and YouTube traffic, and then can be analyzed and actioned within GA4’s new Advertising Workspace. Combined, these AI-driven data visibility and measurement updates should dramatically reduce any foreseeable data gaps and ease advertisers through this transition to a privacy-first world.

Two lingering questions are how accurate will modeling conversions be over time and is there a diminishing returns effect which could be witnessed as increased benchmark data becomes concealed? Knowing that the aforementioned launches and updates are Google specific, some advertisers may still feel some distance between today’s setup and tomorrow’s privacy-first world.

 

CLOSING
More data visibility partnered with innovative insight technology results in a more informed strategy and these announcements from Google truly lean into that approach.

An integral part of these brand-building elements will be the ability for consumers to search by their personal values e.g. women-owned businesses, in addition to the ability for the advertiser to integrate loyalty program data and create custom pricing and experiences. While it may seem like a minor change on the surface, we believe it to be a huge stride towards Google that increases the empowerment of both the searcher and the advertiser.