On Tuesday, May 14, Google addressed an audience of more than 4,000 top search marketers from 68 countries at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco as Allan Thygesen, President, Americas, Google, ushered in the era of Anticipatory Marketing.
By harnessing consumer engagement data through the multi-touchpoint consumer journey and by applying advanced machine-learning algorithms, Google is able to help marketers not just understand consumer intent but also shape and engage intent, at scale.
The goal is to encourage marketers to create a media plan that enables them to anticipate new opportunities for engaging customers -- and winning.
By shifting focus away from a siloed (and often limiting) channel-centric approach to a consumer-centric approach based on intent (and understanding the context behind the intent), Google is making a strong move to own a much larger chunk of the conversion funnel -- or should we say, to win back parts of the funnel that it owned just a few years back before social media and marketplace advertising were “a thing.”
Google’s drive for funnel domination is supported by its strong 8-member ecosystem (Google, Gmail, YouTube, Android, Images, Display, Shopping, Assistant), access to a massive quantity of high-quality consumer data and leading AI capabilities that use the data to continually generate opportunities for savvy marketers to engage with consumers more responsibly and meaningfully.
The various product innovations announced at the recently concluded Marketing Live event were centered around these 3 pillars.
Consumer behavior is changing rapidly and as our daily lives are increasingly consumed by devices, our interactions become more and more natural. To meet the needs of this always-on customer, Google’s Search team is working on projects that apply machine learning to lower the usage friction.
Advancements leading to a better understanding of the conversational context and superior image recognition have important implications as the new world of keyword-less and anticipatory search evolves.
Consumers are continually seeking personalized experiences across all their digital interactions. However, personalization comes at a price -- privacy.
Google has announced important privacy measures that give the consumer more choice, transparency and control. By urging marketers to ensure their privacy policies are up to date and by recommending a wider adoption of first-party measurement solutions, Google is asking marketers to create experiences that are privacy-forward and engage in responsible marketing.
How Google Plans to Own the Search-Shop-Buy Funnel
Google’s ambition to move up the shopping funnel was clearly on display in many of the new product initiatives:
- Discovery Ads and Sponsored Shoppable Images. In both cases, social media assets can be used and the ads show up across various Google properties.
- Strengthening the Creative Excellence Offerings, including Responsive Search, Display Ads, Discovery Campaigns and Gallery Ads.
- Extending the local campaigns to more devices, more conversion actions (click to call/direction) and introducing Promoted Pins in Google Maps.
- Taking the Smart Display Campaigns to the next level with audience expansion and custom audiences (again, across all Google properties).
- Lowering the threshold to test smaller budgets for pay-for-conversion display campaigns.
- Tapping into a much larger audience pool with national and local television network partnerships and integrating digital and TV media buying through Display and Video 360.
-Making YouTube an essential part of the Google Ads ecosystem with “bumper machine” a new tool that uses machine learning to create multiple 6-second bumper ads from longer (up to 90 seconds) video assets, discovery campaigns, and adding YouTube ads to the attribution reports.
As all these funnel expansion strategies are activated, we expect a substantial increase in the size of the audience pool -- and with the increasing adoption of machine learning, the ability to gain insights into every customer journey touchpoint thereby leading to incredible advances in anticipatory marketing.
Cornering the Market on Conversions
Google also debuted multiple initiatives to focus on winning at the bottom of the funnel, primarily by reducing the friction that consumers experience while engaging with Google Shopping and thereby allowing them to more easily discover, compare and buy.
With these developments, Google is actively encouraging marketers to shift a higher percentage of their marketing budget to shopping.
- A combination of increasing consumer engagement with shopping ads and advances in machine learning to drive Google’s focus in Shopping.
- Connecting shopping ads across all formats (including Shoppable Image Ads).
- Driving action through a universal shopping cart across various properties.
- Accelerating the adoption of shopping campaigns by marketers through a focus on more granular insights, stronger optimization and a simplified ad management workflow.
- Extending Google Shopping (Showcase Ads) across assistant, search, images and YouTube.
- Merging Google Express into Google Shopping (Shopping Actions) and offering a Google Guarantee.
- Introducing Shopping Campaigns with partners and continually trying to bridge the gap between in-store and online purchases through local campaigns.
- Seasonality-based bid adjustment option will address the common marketer complain that smart bidding does not work on seasonal campaigns.
- Deep Linking of mobile apps in Google Ads to provide a superior customer experience and measuring the in app event information in Google Analytics.
These initiatives were backed by a strong focus on strengthening the core ad functionalities. Stronger machine-learning algorithms continue to drive improvements in smart bidding.
The introduction of “maximize conversion value” as a new bid strategy will improve the total impact of the campaign.
In addition to this, the newly introduced capability to implement campaign-level conversion goals rather than account level will help marketers test and optimize much more efficiently and in a more granular manner.
Google has sent out a strong message to both social media as well as marketplace advertising platforms like Amazon. The unification of various Google properties to effectively and responsibly engage the consumer at every touchpoint will lead to a massive expansion in the addressable audience pool available to marketers, leading to the creation of not just intent-led purchasing occasions but also serendipitous purchasing opportunities.
Only time will tell whether this year's Google Marketing Live will go down in the “search history archives” as one of the most transformative events for the search advertising industry.
For now, the magnitude of transformation that is being driven by Google to stay relevant in this consumer behavior landscape is staggering.
The message for all marketers is loud and clear -- by embracing change and adapting your marketing efforts you can win big.