In case you missed it, you can find Google’s Marketing 2019 keynote speech here.
From a marketer’s perspective, there were some really interesting announcements, and we’d definitely recommend reading them through here to see if any are a good fit for your business.
The majority of the developments point towards the further blurring of display, programmatic, and search activity, and an ongoing drive to use machine learning to create a cohesive brand and user journey.
Now, that’s pretty ephemeral, so below I’ve pulled out 4 major areas below that you can start working on today. This should allow you to both maximise on the new opportunities, and to not be left behind:
- Quality and quantity of creative assets
- Understanding of audience
- Presence and experience on mobile
- Quality assurance of responsible advertising
1) Invest in good quality, brand-driven, creative assets
Google are not shying away from the fact that the new inventory they’ve announced is very largely visual – as has been foreshadowed since the rebranding from Google Adwords to Google Ads in 2018.
Gallery ads, for example, we can expect to be rolled out across advertisers later this year. They will provide space for 4-8 images in a swipeable ad, sitting in prime real estate at the top of the results page on mobile.
Given their prominence and size, especially on a smaller screen, presumably inventory for these initially will be somewhat limited – and so if you do want to monopolise on the opportunity, it’ll be crucial to have beautiful, brand-driven creatives.
Let’s also not gloss over the fact that this is placing images front and center within a search campaign result. That’s a substantial integration and no doubt indicative of a further shift towards rich multimedia ads, especially in the discovery phase.
Further, it’s increasingly vital to have great product shots: according to Google, 53% of online shoppers use images as inspiration when making a purchasing decision. More than that, an expansion of the showcase shopping ad inventory to cover Google Images, Discovery, and YouTube was announced at the conference.
Given that apparently over 80% of traffic from these expandable ads results on retailers’ sites are new users, producing and testing fresh creatives of your products should really see an improvement in the quantity and quality of traffic to your site.
Another reason to invest in your creatives is Google’s prediction of the rise of particular input/output combinations. From GML 2019 we learnt that they expect voice input leading to image and augmented reality outputs to rise, emphasising the need to get your visual presence on point.
Further, if GML 2019 taught us anything, it’s that machine learning is the Gen Z of marketing buzzwords. Machine learning is becoming even more powerful and prominent in Google products for optimisations, meaning multiple assets for ads are going to be increasingly important.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, given the introduction of responsive search ads in 2018, plus the additional reporting capabilities Google introduced into the Google Ads interface this year for determining the optimum headline and description combinations.
However, as gallery ads will also allow testing of up to 3 headlines, it serves to emphasise that not only the quality of assets, but also the volume is going to be crucial to getting the most out of the newest advancements in Google’s inventory and algorithms.
NB, this applies to text as well as visual assets.
2) Prepare to shift towards targeting audiences, rather than searches
As part of GML 2019, Google announced that custom affinity and custom intent audiences are merging to become simply custom audiences.
Applicable for Gmail, YouTube, and the newly announced Discovery campaigns, custom audiences will allow you to combine interests, purchase intents, keywords and more to create your audience.
You can also use the new forecasting and audience expansion tools (read: lookalike audiences for Google) to increase or decrease your reach.Google quotes up to 50% more conversions for the same investment in display from using these audiences.
Again, this is all part of the move towards a cohesive user journey. Whilst there are no announcements regarding Search campaigns for now, there’s no doubt that that is the direction Google are moving in.
If you can build a better understanding of your top converting audiences now, and the ads and creatives that resonate best with them, you’ll be in a much stronger position.
A few top tips on how to practically start with this:
- Apply all in-market and detailed-demographic audiences on observation and plan a time to analyse their behaviour.
- Make sure your remarketing audience lists are mutually exclusive and completely exhaustive (MECE): that is, make sure all visiting windows are covered, and that they don’t overlap with each other.
- In the spirit of being completely exhaustive, ensure that you have remarketing lists for every meaningful action (i.e. visiting any page, visiting product specific pages, spending X amount of time on the site, cart abandoning).
- Structure your GDN campaigns by type of targeting (audience, placement, keyword etc.), and then your ad groups within that by the specific audience, placement etc.
- If you do this rather than layering targeting options on top of each other, you’ll have a better understanding of which audiences are driving results.
- It’ll also enable you to test audience specific creatives.
- If you already have solid data on audiences that work for you in Search, use IF functions in ad parameters to test different tailored messaging depending on audiences. You can find a good guide on setting those up here.
3) Prioritise your mobile consumer journey
“Stay close to the evolution of mobile … this especially includes the basics like site speed and ease of use. Mobile is, and will continue, for a long time to be the number one platform for consumer engagement. And most of these innovations will be keyed off the mobile experience. Keep in mind, every year there are trillions of searches on Google, and over half of these searches happen on mobile devices … So if you stay close to how our products work on mobile, you will be ready for whatever comes next.”
– Phillipp Schindler, Google’s Senior VP & Chief Business Officer, Google Marketing Live 2019.
You don’t get much clearer than that in terms of what you should be focusing on.
True enough, mobile was either explicitly or implicitly at the heart of the major announcements at GML 2019: the expansion of gallery ads is only on mobile, deep linking will be rolled to connect mobile web and apps, and Google’s somewhat groundbreaking travel planning site was initially built and tested for mobile.
Firstly, you need to make sure that you are using an attribution model, within and across platforms, that will accurately and appropriately assign value to the meaningful touchpoints in a consumer’s conversion journey.
I’ve written more in depth about choosing an attribution model here, but essentially if your customers have more than one touch point, then you should be using an attribution model which will accurately determine the value of each device in that.
As we know mobile is used most frequently in the discovery phase, it’s likely that if you are not currently using a multi-touch model, that you are undervaluing mobile usage currently.
And if you are undervaluing it, you’re likely under investing in it – and that’s a lot of impressions you could be missing out on during the crucial research phases of a customer’s journey.
You can also use ad customisers to create specific ad copy for mobile, to test more or less successful messaging – “buy from your mobile today” for example.
Finally, voice search will be most influential on mobile behaviour, particularly for businesses with physical locations. If applicable to you, you can prepare yourself by creating local campaigns (also announced during GML 2019 to be expanding to all relevant advertisers) to maximise on the mobile voice traffic.
4) Increased inventory means a greater need for responsible advertising
This doesn’t just mean GDPR compliance (happy birthday GDPR by the way, 1-year-old on the 25th of May 2019).
Consumers are more switched on than ever to privacy issues and rights, with 1000% increase in search interest for “my activity” since 2016 (according to GML 2019), as well as over 2.5 billion visits to Google Account pages in 2018.
Combining that with the increased inventory of placement and campaign types declared by Google is a potentially dangerous mix. There will be so many opportunities to get in front of the right people, but you have a responsibility to respect people’s privacy.
It is also very much in advertisers’ interests to do that. Consumers need to trust your brand, and you can accidentally provoke genuine, strong, and overwhelmingly negative reactions in your audience by pursuing them around the internet.
That doesn’t mean just not collecting their data irresponsibly, it means being relevant and being useful – not just present.
Fortunately, there are very achievable ways to start getting your accounts in order now which ought to help with creating and/or maintaining a responsible advertising culture:
- Review your GDN placements to ensure that they are actually relevant to your service
- It’s possible if you are targeting by keyword for example and aggressively bidding on certain audiences, that you’ll be appearing on very unrelated sites to your service or product. That incongruence can certainly damage your brand value.
- Review your remarketing audiences to ensure that you are not remarketing products to people who have already bought them
- This can be as simple as adding negative audience lists, but without doing that your company will be seen as potentially aggressive, and probably a bit incompetent.
- Audit your first-party measurement solution to ensure that no PII data is being collected (this one is a GDPR thing, but doesn’t hurt to reiterate).
Overall, Google Marketing Live 2019 was full of big and exciting announcements, and all advertisers need to be prepared to embrace some serious change in the way channels are segmented, campaigns structured, budgets set, and optimisations decided.
The best advertisers our team have worked with are those who anticipate those changes, and prepare to adapt ahead of time, instead of being left in the wake of those who got there first