Google has done it again!
A year after setting the world on fire with the announcement of the new AdWords Experience and some sensational shots of a particularly photogenic goldendoodle, the advertising juggernaut’s Marketing Live event has yielded yet another slew of exciting new features.
Outside of the buzzwords already in vogue (machine learning, frictionless), today’s keynote focused on innovation across all Google advertising products through three core concepts: value, transparency, and trust (for advertisers and prospects alike).
The view from inside (our fearless leader Laura Taylor was in attendance)
Per Google’s Senior VP of Ads, Sridhar Ramaswamy, marketers now operate in a world packed with more curious, demanding, and impatient consumers; our prospects expect us to deliver ads that offer personalized, hyper-relevant solutions, not generalizations.
Basically, people aren’t stupid: they want answers yesterday and they want to save money. Put more eloquently (thanks, Sridhar), “People don’t see value in advertising if they don’t feel valued by advertising.”
From high-level overviews of recently released tools like TrueView for Action, to the announcement of brand new features like automated shopping feeds [insert fire emoji], Google has made strides across its freshly rebranded solutions to help advertisers meet the needs of an increasingly savvy, mobile, and data-conscious public.
With that, here are the 11 most interesting features and changes announced at Google Marketing Live. Hopefully we can get through this without too many gratuitous NSYNC references.
#1: “My Account” Makes it Easier to Opt Out of Ad Personalization
In keeping with core themes of the event (value, trust, and transparency for those who skipped the intro) the first item to receive any semblance of explanation is the user’s ability to opt out of ad personalization. While it isn’t a spankin’-new feature, the ability to stop advertisers from tailoring your individual experience is an essential step towards, uhhh, not falling into the same hot water that Facebook’s been treading in for the better part of 2018.
This, friends, is a good thing.
Yes, this is a pain for advertisers who rely on audience-centric targeting methods to reach net-new prospects. But offering ad personalization options paints Google as a more trustworthy entity, which keeps users placated and engaged.
This, friends, is a good thing.
#2: AdWords Becomes Google Ads
This isn’t so much an announcement as an inevitability…
A mere week ago, Google announced the switch from AdWords to the shiny new catch-all brand Google Ads.
With this new name comes better alignment with Google entire sweet of advertising solutions. “Google Ads” is a broader moniker capable of adequately housing ads across search, display, map, video, in-app, and more without generating confusion.
#3: Google Marketing Elevates Programmatic Advertising Through Collaboration
In the same vein, Analytics 360 and DoubleClick have formed like Voltron within the new enterprise (and agency) solution called Google Marketing, which will launch in the coming weeks.
Combining these formerly siloed tools allows Google to offer big-spenders a complete set of tools that help plan, buy, measure, and optimize both media and consumer experience. An end-to-end solution if ever one existed. The platform will feature:
100+ integrations with exchanges and measurement solutions managed from a single interface
Search Ads 360, which will allow advertisers to plan, buy, and measure search ads
Display Ads 360, which will allow advertisers to manage bids and audiences from a central location
But the most interesting component of the Google Marketing platform is the way in which it will unlock collaboration between media buyers, creatives, and their bosses (or clients). In an interface that looks somewhat like the updated Facebook Creative Hub, this feature will allow brands and the brains behind them to generate better campaigns without the hassle of constant email chains.
Oh, and one more thing…
Google also invented pivot tables! (They’re called “Instant Reports” and they exist to help those who own video ad metrics generate answers at lightning speed).
#4:TrueView For Reach + TrueView For Action + Maximize Lift Bidding = Full-Funnel Video Ads
People watch more than a billion hours of video on YouTube every day, and 91% of smartphone users have bought or planned to buy something after seeing a video ad.
With metrics like those, and this…
It’s no wonder Google is pushing video hard this year through a whole mess of exciting new YouTube functionality.
At Marketing Live, Google touched on two important TrueView features that have been out for a minute now but haven’t received much fanfare. The first, TrueView for reach, allows you to hit more prospects with your video creative using CPM bidding, which can be insanely efficient. The latter, TrueView for action, helps you advertise to prospects on YouTube who have recently searched for your products or services on Google.
As far as net-new YouTube features go, Google just announces a new Smart Bidding strategy called Maximize Lift, which will help advertisers reach prospects who are likely to search for their brand after watching a video. It “automatically adjusts bids at auction time to maximize the impact your video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey.”
Using all three features in concert lets you build a full funnel approach to video-centric advertising that leads to, yup, real conversions. That’s right: no more fluffy impression-based KPIs!
#5: Lead Ads On YouTube?!
For my money, this is the coolest thing that was mentioned in the entire keynote, yet it inexplicably received little more than lip service. Advertisers have been slaying with Facebook lead ads for some time now, but Google hasn’t had a comparable offering.
Lead ads on YouTube will combine the unfathomable reach of the world’s most popular video platform with robust audience targeting and the ability to capture the contact information of valuable top of funnel prospects without asking them to go allllll the way to your website before forking it over.
Stay tuned for more info; I’m willing to bet a month’s pay we roll out a post when there’s more information to be had.
#6: Gigantic Responsive Search Ads Are Coming to a SERP Near You
What has 15 headlines, 4 descriptions, and probably won’t incite nearly as much hullabaloo as Expanded Text Ads circa 2016?
Why, it’s Responsive Search Ads of course!
Per our acclaimed Senior Data Scientist, Mark Irvine, the headlines and descriptions you’ll need to upload in order to create a responsive text ad will afford you the opportunity to create 43,680 different permutations: good luck generating that much copy by hand…
Instead of writing components explicitly for the purpose of working together, RSA gives Google a pool of copy to work from; from there, the platform will automatically test different combinations of headlines and descriptions and learn which combinations perform best. Over time, your Responsive Search Ads will serve the best message to different searchers depending on the keyword they search for, their device, their past browsing behavior, and other signals.
You can apply to the newly expanded beta through the Google Ads blog or just wait a few months, at which point Responsive Search Ads will be released (in English only) to everyone.
#7: Mobile Speed Score Gets a Column
What good are responsive search ads if your mobile landing pages aren’t up to snuff? Not very, according to Google Ads Project Management Director Anthony Chavez: 50% of users will move on from a potential purchase if the landing page is slow to load.
Just a day removed from announcing that the Speed Update had officially rolled out to all users, Google announced the release of a Mobile Landing Page Speed Score column on the Landing Pages page within Google Ads. The tool scores landing page speed on a ten-point scale–from “very slow” to “extremely fast”–and does so based on a number of factors, including the relationship between page speed and potential conversion rate.
Well, not only does the Mobile Landing Page Speed Score column live within the Google Ads UI–so you no longer have to leave Google Ads to assess page speed–not only is it automatically updated daily, but it’s the first of Google’s speed tools to take potential ad performance into account when ascribing a score. For paid search advertisers, this is sure to be the page speed tool of choice.
#8: Cross-Device Reporting Comes to Google Analytics
Cross-device reporting is nothing novel, and reports like the Device report and the Device Paths report have long allowed advertisers to attribute conversions to multiple devices. Now, for the first time, cross-device reporting is coming to Google Analytics.
The Cross Device reports live within the Audience section of Google Analytics, and are divided into three sub-reports:
Device Overlap: Find out what type and how many devices are used to access your content.
Device Paths: Discover the last 5 device types used before a conversion.
Acquisition Device: See the relationship between acquisitions and conversions.
Now you can compare segments, visualize data, and distinguish usage across desktop, mobile, and tablet at each stage of your purchasing funnel–all within Google Analytics.
#9: Smart Campaigns: A New Solution for Small Businesses
Google officially announced Smart Campaigns two weeks ago; and it used Google Marketing Live to continue building the hype. Google Ads’ new “default ad experience,” Smart Campaigns are tailor-made for small businesses with little in the way of paid search expertise, and little in the way of time.
Smart Campaigns give small businesses the tools to get up and running within just a few minutes, and drive the results they care about–making their phones ring, driving actions on their websites, and bringing customers to their stores (at least that’s how Google’s billing them).
Smart Campaigns are similar to (thought not the same as) AdWords Express–while fast, small businesses with bigger budgets may find themselves wanting more control over their ad spend. Still: if you’re truly strapped for time and are just looking to get some ads in the field with a smallish budget, Smart Campaigns might be worth testing.
#10: Don’t Have a Website? No Problem!
Nearly half of all small business owners in the United States don’t have a website (whoa). Among them, even fewer have the time and expertise to create websites and landing pages that are optimized for search ads. As a potential solution to that common predicament, Google is now testing auto-optimized landing pages. The functionality will live within Smart Campaigns, and will provide business owners an appealing alternative to creating resource-consuming, product-centric websites.
Auto-optimized landing pages use machine learning to pull information about your products and services directly from your ad, and match that to your on-page creative. Google has also built conversion tracking and reporting directly into the experience; so ad creation, landing page creation, and conversion tracking and reporting now all live within the Smart Campaigns UI.
#11: Major Innovations Come to Google Shopping
Did you know that in any given 48-hour period, 80% of Americans are shopping online? It’s a fact! To account for the glut of online shopping, Google has ramped up it’s shopping experience with Smart Shopping. That’s right. Machine learning has rolled over into the shopping game now, too.
Early tests have shown a 20% increase in conversion value at a similar cost when using Smart Shopping. Beyond maximizing conversion value, Smart Shopping now gives advertisers the option to select store visits and new customers as goals. Machine learning does the rest–making pragmatic bid adjustments, optimizing your ad placements, and optimizing which products are featured–based on a wide range of factors, from seasonal demand to pricing.
The soon-to-be-launched “automated feeds” will also give advertisers the ability to create comprehensive product feeds with the touch of a button. Google Ads will pull all your products from your website directly into its UI. The best part? Smart Shopping is now integrated with leading e-commerce platforms like Shopify; so if you’re a Shopify user, you can manage and track ad performance right from your CMS.
Bye, Bye, Bye
What a whirlwind! A year removed from drastically changing the paid search experience, Google has seemingly topped themselves. From Smart Shopping to Responsive Search Ads; from YouTube lead ads to Mobile Speed Score; Google has taken it’s already bustling suite of marketing and advertising features and amplified it. The jury’s still out on if/how machine learning will contribute to lower CPAs, but the thought is there–time will tell if the execution is too!
A huge shout-out to Gordon Donnelly who co-wrote this post.