Google Marketing Live 2018 Update – the Ad Products

Nicky Rettke YouTube trends

I recently shared highlights of online trends discussed at Google’s Marketing Innovations Live, the livestreamed keynote address of their annual Marketing Live conference held in San Diego. Now I’ll cover the top product innovations that the search giant shared, and the cliff-notes version of what they mean for business owners and non-technical marketers.

At the center of Google’s revenue generation is its advertising products, so the underlying purpose of sharing research and trends in online behavior is the chance to highlight their new ad products. And as I mentioned in last week’s trends highlights, machine learning plays a key role in the latest technical innovations Google is using to increase the functions, features, and value of their ad and measurement products.

Highlights of the new ad product updates include:

  • Most notable is the change in the brand name AdWords to simply Google Ads, which was announced late last month. Along with the name change is the unification of multiple sub-branded ad products, including Double-Click, along with its shopping, video, Gmail, and display ad formats.
  • YouTube ad conversions have increased over 150% in the last year, globally. Muy impresionante, mi amigos.

    Google’s Product Manager of Video Ads Nicky Rettke shares significant boosts in YouTube’s conversion rates at the Marketing Innovations Keynote presentation
  • TrueView, YouTube’s brand for advertising options, is introducing three new ad types this year:
    • TrueView for Reach – for advertising goals of building brand awareness among a broad set of consumers
    • TrueView for Action – to optimize conversions on your web site. A banner ad appears on the bottom of a video ad throughout the video and remains after the video completes. The banners include a button with a call to action. And late this year, options will include banners with form ads to help generate leads.
    • Maximize Lift Bidding – for increasing brand consideration. “Lift” is marketing-speak for the incremental increase in a marketing result. “Consideration” is marketing-speak for the people in your potential audience who state they will consider using your brand or product (typically after being exposed to your marketing message).  So, this tool’s purpose is to maximize an advertiser’s increase in brand consideration as a result of this type of YouTube advertising. Like with many of the other new and existing Google ad products, it uses machine learning to reach the right consumers and help the advertiser accomplish this goal.
  • Responsive Search Ads, which simplify text-only search ad creation by mixing and matching multiple combinations of up to 15 headlines and up to 4 description lines, again using machine learning to determine which ones garner the best results according to the advertiser’s goal. No more worrying about being a professional ad copywriter in addition to running your business.
  • For small businesses, new easy-to-manage advertising options break down to four main options:
    • Smart campaigns (which I’ve detailed earlier) – to help small business owners easily get started with online advertising
    • Smart Shopping campaigns – to optimize bids on individual products and grow online revenue, or to drive store visits
    • Local campaigns – aimed at driving in-store traffic for brick-and-mortar businesses
    • Hotel campaigns – to drive room bookings for hotels and travel booking sites

      Anthony Chavez, Product Management Director, Google Ads, shared data on mobile spending habits
  • According to Google’s research, more than half of all mobile phone users claim that they would not make a purchase from a web site that takes a long time to load. And driving better mobile ad results means assuring ad landing pages (the web pages that ads link to) load quickly.

Understanding that many small business don’t have a way of gauging load times, Google is introducing a Mobile Landing Page Speed feature within the Ads interface. This tool assigns a score from 1 to 10 based on a number of factors, including the expected conversion rate of a given landing page based on how long the page takes to load in a visitor’s browser.  

New Cross-Device Reporting

With analytics being closest to my heart, of course, I was interested to hear one new reporting feature that wasn’t among Google’s previous announcements: Cross-device reporting and remarketing. This feature uses aggregated, anonymized data from visitors who visit your web site multiple times across different devices. It then gives a consolidated view of how users are behaving on your site no matter the device they’re using when they visit, giving you a better understanding of your visitors and what they do at each stage of the conversion process.

Chaves outlines features of the new Cross-device reporting in Google Analytics

For example, a customer might spend $300 on your website on her phone any given day. She may later spend another $300 on her desktop computer. In analytics, this might look like two different customers, each spending $300.

And yet if another customer spends $600 one time on her desktop, she would be viewed as a customer with much higher spending value. Your GA reports can now show you that these two customer types have the same value, but with different purchasing habits, helping you make more informed marketing decisions.   

What These New Ad Features Mean for Small Business Owners and Non-Technical Marketers

I’ve shared previously that Google products can be less user-friendly than they appear on the surface, especially when the company is continually adding new tools and with new ways to use them. While this may seem like chicanery on their part, it’s somewhat understandable given that they have to make products that serve the needs of a spectrum of users, especially if they want to remain competitive. Google’s continued advances in machine learning and its application in ad creation, optimization, and measurement hold a lot of promise toward truly making their products easier to use and more effective.  

But ease-of-use aside, it’s often a better use of time an energy to bring in someone with experience and expertise using Google products, including Analytics, Tag Manager, Data Studio and others to measure marketing effectiveness. We’re still a long way off from computer programs being able to replace sound advice from a professional who can ask the right questions and properly advise you on how to use these products to grow your business.

If you’re looking for a human with deep experience in analytics and web metrics reporting, get in touch today.

And, feel free to leave questions about any of these product updates in the comments below. Do any of these product updates make you more likely to use them? If you’ve used Google’s ad products before, do you feel like machine learning has improved your conversion rates? Let me know!

 

 

Note: More detail on Google’s applications of machine learning in advertising can be found on the Google Ads blog.

Google Marketing Innovations Update – the Online Trends

Google held its 6th annual Google Marketing Live conference in San Jose, CA earlier this week, highlighted by the live-streamed Marketing Innovations Keynote address Tuesday morning. The invitation-only conference is Google’s annual platform for showcasing its latest advertising, analytics, home and other product innovations and features. In addition, marketers from all over the globe attend the three-day conference to hear about Google’s latest research, learn leading-edge digital best practices, and rub elbows with other industry leaders alongside Google’s product and engineering teams.

Being the web analytics geek that I am, I covet an such an opportunity. But alas, sole proprietors like me tend not make the top of the invite list, so I joined more than 100,000 other tech nerds to watch the livestream of the Marketing Innovations keynote address from the comfort of their own computers.

This Year’s Big Keynote Theme

A key theme running through all of the keynote’s announcements is Google’s ever-increasing use of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) to streamline and optimize ad placement for marketers, as well as to show more relevant and useful ads to consumers. Throughout the various topics covered in the keynote they consistently emphasized Google’s core principles of being valuable, transparent, and trustworthy, and how that applies to the way they develop their products, both on the marketer and consumer sides.

waiting for my invite to google marketing live 2018
Sadly, sole proprietors tend not to get invited to Google’s big events.

Like many keynote presentations from U.S. tech giants’ big annual events, it opened with an overview of how people now spend their time online, on what devices, how they use search tools, how they shop online, and other trends. It then segued into the ways their latest product innovations are geared toward advancing these trends, along with leveraging them to match consumer expectations and help marketers reach the right audiences.

Among the top trends mentioned are:

  • Today’s consumers are more curious, demanding, and impatient, and have become research-obsessed in finding things to help navigate their lives.
  • Online searches for “_______ to avoid” are up more than 150% from the time of the first Google Marketing Live event in 2013, along with a >80% increase in searches for “is _____ worth it?”.
  • Searches for “_______ near me” have also increased in recent years. Traditionally used to find places or businesses such as pharmacies or gas stations, people are using the phrase to locate and research specific products, with searches like “cowboy boots near me” or “rolled ice cream near me”. They often use those search results to then perform deeper research, including reading product reviews, comparing prices, and finding stores with those products in their inventory.
  • In the same 5-year timeframe there has been a >110% increase in “things to do tonight” searches, as well as a 10x increase in searches for “open near me tonight”.
  • Machine learning used in search has evolved to provide people results that are faster, more personalized, and more relevant to them. But the more they get used to this, the more it’s raised the bar for search. Now, if results are not helpful, personal, and frictionless, people move on. They expect meaningful assistance to help them get things done, and to save time and money.
  • There are now more than 1 billion (yes, one billion) hours of video viewed on YouTube every day.

Every. Single. Day.

  • About half of all small businesses in the U.S. don’t even have a web site. (This one almost caused me to have The Grabber. I did miss the next few moments of the presentation because I began hyperventilating after hearing this.)
  • In any given 48-hour period, >80% of Americans are shopping for something.
Nicky Rettke, Group Product Manager for Video Ads, shares YouTube viewership trends with the 2,500+ person audience at Google Marketing Innovations keynote address.

What This Means for Businesses

Google, of course, invests research resources to uncover these trends so they can improve their products and services to match. But the trends reveal opportunities for almost every kind of business to build its online presence. For example:

  • With the “____ near me” searches, are you a bakery, cafe, auto repair center, dry cleaner, florist, computer repair shop, or any kind of business that consumer might be looking for convenient to where they are, either at home or at work?
  • With “things to do tonight”: are you a theater, coffee house with musicians, indoor trampoline park, or music festival? Activities for families with kids are especially popular searches.
  • YouTube is a great opportunity to showcase your business for little or no money, even just using your mobile phone. There are lots of videos and web sites to help you learn how (my favorite is Sunny Lenarduzzi’s YouTube channel). Just be sure you’re creating content that is educational and useful to your ideal customer, and not overtly promotional.

Note from the reference above that by ‘helpful’ results they mean your web site should contain text or videos that can help a person should learn, find or understand something. By ‘personal’ they mean it should focus on the person and her needs, not about your business or organization.

And by ‘frictionless’, they mean the person should be able to get to the information they’re seeking on your web site quickly and easily, without having to click through numerous navigation menus, read lots of text, or first submit personal information (a pet peeve of mine).  

And for the love of all things holy and sacred to the U.S. economy, if you’re among the ~50% of small businesses without a web site, get one! With cheap web design and hosting options so plentiful these days, there’s almost no excuse to not have one, even if it’s a one-pager on a free Wix account.

You can get yourself a .com for as little as $10 or less per year if you just shop around and find an inexpensive domain registrar. I no longer offer web design services but I know many good agencies and people who do, so if you need a reference, reach out to me.

Meeting Customers’ Needs – and Your Business Goals

Ultimately, the quickest line to a successful web presence is to closely partner with your SEO and marketing professional/s to examine your business goals, plan strategically how your business can leverage online trends like the ones shared in the keynote address, and to tailor your web site and other online messaging to meet the needs of your customers.

And of course, you need to measure your marketing effectiveness along the way. If you need help making sure your web analytics are capturing the effects of your marketing efforts, reach out today to get started.

Google Announces Major Rebranding for AdWords, DoubleClick and More

Brand architecture of the new Google Marketing Platform

 

Google made several big product announcements recently that included the rolling out of three major new brand names for its advertising options, ad management tools, and reporting tools: Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager.  The move comes as a means of simplifying its brands and product offerings, along with bringing them in line with the evolution of our connected lives as well as the evolution of related advertising formats that have taken place along with them.

Google AdWords Becomes Google Ads

When Google AdWords launched in October 2000, it was a platform to serve text ads alongside search results on desktop computers. In the nearly 18 years since then it has grown into display ads (ads with pictures), shopping ads (seen alongside results when searching for a specific product), YouTube ads, app ads in Google Play, ads within GMail and Google Maps, and ads placed throughout Google’s network of partner sites and apps. DoubleClick, which launched in 1996 and was acquired by Google in 2007, broadened Google’s reach with its own existing network of partner sites and content publishers, which included display ads (those with artwork, not just text).

Google Ads - Logo

With mobile now playing such a large role in our lives, advertising formats have evolved to reach customers on the various screens and platforms they use throughout their day. According to a post on Google’s blog by Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President, Ads & Commerce for Google,  “The new Google Ads brand represents the full range of advertising capabilities we offer today.” This not only includes ads on Google’s properties, but across Google’s vast network of advertising channels and partnership web sites.

DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 Suite Are Now Google Marketing Platform

Also on the list of big announcements is the combining of DoubleClick, the Google-owned ad creation and ad exchange platform, and Google Analytics 360, its enterprise-level analytics platform. This move comes after years of understanding that marketers were implementing their own methods of integrating data from both platforms to reach deeper insights on their audiences and ad campaign effectiveness, and build on existing integrations between the two.

Also encompassed under the Google Marketing Platform rebranding are:

  • DoubleClick Search is becoming Search Ads 360
  • Display advertising products DoubleClick Bid Manager, Campaign Manager, Studio and Audience Center are becoming Display & Video 360.

More details on Google Marketing Platform can be found on its website. Or, you can find a simpler, more straightforward overview in its support documentation.

What This Means for Small Businesses

If you’re not in the revenue bracket to be spending $150k+ annually on marketing and analytics tools, don’t fret: Google Marketing Platform still offers the free and scaled-down versions of most of its tools, but with the same upgrades as the big hitters.  Google also recently announced new tools to help small business owners maximize their advertising dollars while still spending less time learning how to manage their ad campaigns. I’ll be following up with  more details on these upgrades next week.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to this year’s Google Marketing Live keynote presentation on July 10th, when the tech giant showcases its new advertising and marketing products and features that it plans to roll out in the upcoming year.

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