This year’s Google Marketing Live in San Francisco played host to a record 5,000 attendees from 68 countries. This was the fourth time we’ve attend the conference, this time with Aurelia and Jackie making the trip for LMP. As in years past, the conference provided the perfect venue to discover what’s new from Google, what’s on the horizon, as well as multiple opportunities to network with other digital marketers and speak with Google product specialists. Here are some key takeaways:
WE’RE IN A TIME OF DISRUPTION
We’re in a time of disruption. Understand needs, adapt, iterate. And do it fast.
– Allan Thygesen, President, Americas, Google
Devices powered by machine learning are meeting consumers’ demands for information, but are also raising consumer expectations. Consumers are unwilling to sift through an array of search responses, or exercise patience for a digital assistant that misunderstands a question or command. They want the right information, fast.
Consumers’ reliance on digital devices has tailored each consumer journey. No two journeys are alike, which means marketers have to shift their approach to defining the purchase cycle, creative, planning, really everything. The marketers who are winning — brands including Hilton and Allstate — are able to leverage consumer signals, anticipate needs, and make suggestions. These marketers adapt to new creative practices and integrate their teams.
Also related to disruption is the topic of privacy. More stringent laws in California and the EU give consumers a lot more control over how their data is used, but also erode consistency in advertiser tracking cookies. And because of the visibility of privacy legislation, consumers are more alert to how their behavior is being tracked. In 2018, there was a 1000% increase (2.5B) in searches for “my activity” on Google. There is an industry call to action for marketers to respect consumer privacy, but continue to make ads useful.
Google’s research revealed that consumers prefer personalized ads, but only when they have choice, control, and transparency. To answer this call, Chrome is introducing changes where users can clear 3rd party cookies without degrading their personalized experiences online.
As more users opt out of 3rd party cookies, some viable ad impressions won’t be obvious in the ad serving environment, and there will be less data to work with. Google recommends paying attention to the context of where the ad is showing and making inferences about user affinity and interest. Like most practices in integrated media planning, marketers will balance the power of machine learning for identified audiences, with the inferences of media placement and audience association.
MEASUREMENT IS IMPERFECT
Don’t let the absence of perfect be the enemy of good.
– Allan Thygesen, President, Americas, Google
With the erosion of reliable 3rd party cookies, the status quo is no longer an option. Everything from conversion attribution, to cross-channel measurement, to brand lift studies are reliant on 3rd party cookies. So where does this leave us as marketers? Tracking still exists, it’s just that the universe is shrinking. We must accept that perfect is impossible. Don’t get caught up in striving for perfection, continue to advance your measurement standards, and make solid inferences from mature data analysis. This approach includes the following steps:
- Measure what matters
- Value what’s working
- Act on what’s important
Strive for better measurement to be able to understand how well you’re doing. There’s no single measurement solution. It’s about signals.
THERE ARE SOME REALLY COOL NEW FEATURES
In addition to confronting some of the big questions of our evolving industry, Google also unveiled the following new features:
Discovery Campaigns – Connect with customers on the YouTube home feed, Discover, and the Promotions and Social tabs in Gmail.
YouTube Bumper Machine – Easily cut down long-form video to create 6-second ads — thus producing a quicker way to hit reach / frequency objectives.
Gallery Ads – Combine the intent of Search with an interactive visual ad format. Great format for reaching researchers.
Audience Expansion – Expand and reach more of your audience and improve insights.
Custom Audiences – Makes it easier to reach the people you care about across Google properties.
App Deep Linking – Deliver a better mobile ad experience and help improve ROI across web & apps. Early tests are showing 2x in CvR.
Updates to Shopping Ads – Showcase expansion, optimization for store visits, new buy online & pickup in store capabilities, and shopping campaigns with partners.
If you have any questions about our takeaways from Google Marketing Live, we welcome the opportunity to connect. Drop us a line here.