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.
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.
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.