Last night Google ran their annual event, Marketing Live where they showcase recent and soon-to-be-released ad solutions, and more importantly give you an idea of their strategic direction of travel. This year was no different and again we saw automation, simplification and the integration of products to the fore. Google’s move away from keyword-centric advertising became the most explicit we’ve seen with all new solutions presented being keyword-less and coming days after AdWords rebranded to Google Ads.
After their opening remarks Google led with YouTube developments, highlighting what a key growth area this still is for them. Improved buying mechanisms to maximise reach and lift will help lure more TV budget to the platform for awareness activity, and improved action focused formats are designed to close the loop and help justify investment as a direct response channel.
As an advertiser or agency, the most important trend to take away from the event is the move to automated cross-channel campaign generation. This simply requires the advertiser to supply a goal, a budget and a handful of creative parameters; bids, ads, audience and channel are all defined by machine learning. The new campaign types follow Universal App Campaigns (2015) and give the best indication of the future of Google Ads.
The pitfalls of such products tend to be very limited reporting (especially at launch), a lack of control on brand messaging and potential brand safety issues, though typically only ultra-safe placements are included. However, while advertisers may be cautious to cede so much control to a black box, finding controlled ways of testing these formats should be a priority given their potential.
One surprise was the conspicuous absence of Voice Search given how prominently it has featured in Google conversations in the last 12-18 months. Don’t expect this to go away though, it simply shows that volume and commercial intent aren’t yet at the volume needed to separate ad products which capture them exclusively.
- TrueView reach – set bidding targets to extend your audience
- TrueView action – ad format which includes a persistent call to action.
- Maximise lift bidding – in Beta, targets people who are most likely to respond to your video through machine learning
- Responsive search ads – in Beta, creates ads from a selection of headlines and descriptions defined by the advertiser
- Mobile Speed Score – a new 10-point metric rolled out into the Google Ads interface. This will be a great tool to identify site issues helping with UX, CVR and your SEO work to boot
- Cross Device Conversion Paths and Remarketing in Google analytics – not strictly search but a very welcome development nonetheless, opening up cross device to every size business
Local and Shopping
- Local Campaigns – (coming soon) using only your local business listing and a handful of parameters Google will create ads, set bids and target audiences in order to drive footfall into your store. It will even create lightweight landing pages for you and run activity across Search, Maps, YouTube and the Display Network
- Smart Shopping Campaigns – (live) using your existing shopping feed this automatically extends to the Display Network and YouTube for dynamic remarketing and prospecting
- Hotel Ads – will now be available to all advertisers, rather than the old rather convoluted set up.
Google Marketing Platform
Google shared a little more around the thinking behind bringing the 360 suite and Doubleclick for Advertisers under one roof. While many of the integrations demonstrated were already available, the new system aims to reduce friction between what were previously two separate tools. This is especially evident in the reporting and creative authoring sections. The reporting mirrors that of the “new” AdWords interface (now Google Ads) which is very rapid and highly flexible. The improvements to the workflow of what was Doubleclick studio are also very promising.