What is Google Marketing Live

While yesterday’s speakers didn’t hold back on important announcements, ad-tech newshounds might be disappointed by Day 2, as Google frontloaded the real news onto the Day 1 Keynote.

Translation: there were 0 new ad formats, upcoming platform changes, or other exciting news announced on Day 2 of the event.

While the first day was very presentation and announcement focused, Day 2 was all about letting the attendees experience the upcoming changes (and new updates) first-hand.

We’ll cover highlights from the so-called Sandbox booths (including some insight into how the new smart-bidding tools will look in the Google Ads Dashboard), and move on to the big picture.

Product Sandbox Highlights

For its Marketing Live 2019, Google put on a massive Sandbox event with staff introducing each of the upcoming Ads products, as well as new-ish additions to Google Ads, Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

Some of the highlights included playing around with the upcoming updates to smart bidding.

Seasonality Adjustments in the GA Dashboard

One of the most critical introductions for large-scale advertisers that utilize smart bidding, was the introduction of seasonality adjustments.

This picture shows exactly what it looks like in the Google Ads dashboard:

As you can see, it is almost effortless to set up.

You start by setting a name for the adjustments, for example, the name of the seasonal event or the sale you are running.

Then you select the date range that you expect an impact on conversion rates and consumer interest.

Then you select the scope of the adjustment, whether you want to set it to account wide or only implement it for specific campaigns.

If your campaign is limited to a specific device type, like an app sale targeting only mobile phones, you can set it only to affect that device.

Once you have chosen this setting, you can

Note that Google will anticipate some seasonal changes based on historical data, but for unprecedented sales or events, this functionality can stop the algorithm from overbidding.

After all, when consumers have an extra incentive to choose you over your competitors, you don’t need to outbid them.

Once live, you will be able to access the Seasonality Adjustments tab within the “Tools > Bid Strategies > Advanced” section.

Campaign Level Conversions in the GA Dashboard

This picture shows how Campaign Level Conversion will look inside the Google Ads dashboard.

They will be readily available in the campaign-level settings, by expanding the “Conversions” tab.

Then you need to select “Choose conversion actions for this campaign.”

Selecting this option will open up a drop-down menu where you can pick and choose the conversion actions that you want for that campaign.

Like we mentioned in yesterday’s post, campaign level conversions are crucial additions to smart bidding campaigns.

They will allow you to train the algorithm to optimize only for the key actions you want to focus on with each campaign.

For example, if you know that you have a long and complex sales process on one category of items, you might want to focus on calls or lead form conversions for that campaign.

But if you sell cheaper consumer products with short sales cycles as well, you’d want to optimize purely for sales on those campaigns.

This feature eliminates the need for complex conversion value gymnastics or setting up new individual conversions for different product categories or landing pages.

Changes to Local Campaigns

It’s been a while since Google rolled out the algorithm-driven local campaigns, but they highlighted some recent changes during the sandbox events.

Promoted locations will now show up in maps search suggestions, as well as pins on the map when following directions.

This update means that you will not only show up when people search for relevant things inside the Google Maps app, but when they are simply browsing or using it to get from place to place.

In other words, they are moving past keyword-based intent alone for this campaign type as well.

And that’s not the only way Google has increased the reach of this campaign type.

Local ads now show up on Search, Maps, the Display Network, YouTube, and even on competitor’s Business Profiles.

The last placement is our favorite, and it offers a unique opportunity to showcase any USP you might have over any of your local competitors.

Perhaps your store is open much longer, which you should showcase clearly in the ad copy. Or if you run a dental clinic, maybe you offer an express treatment option, so patients don’t have to wait.

The new placements don’t only mean increased reach, but it gives customers a chance to get to know your business over multiple touchpoints in real time.

Another recent addition to this campaign type is that you will be able to showcase select product inventory right in the local ads.

As a user is looking at your store in the Google Maps app as a result of an ad, they will be able to browse select products to window-show before actually arriving at your store.

If you are running sales, or sell unique items not available in other local stores, you will be able to showcase that without the user even having to visit your website or app.

More flexibility, wider reach, and more placements.

The Big Picture: Google Strikes Back

Just as important as the new ad units and other changes that were announced is the big picture of where Google is heading in the future.

The VPs of different Google products all had their perspectives on where they, but the keynotes and announcements paint a picture of Google’s ad teams being on the offensive.

Google has noticed the dent in market share from new Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram ad products, and are making key changes (some that are blatantly “inspired” by key competitors) to win it back.

Heightened Privacy Concerns is Not The End of Google’s Ad Products – At least not all of them.

Privacy was brought up multiple times during the event, including above by Philipp Schindler, Chief Business Officer at Google, in his welcome keynote.

For example, Schindler noted they are working on “federated learning”, a way to run machine learning algorithms on the end user’s device to avoid compromising their privacy.

Is Google trying to assuage government concerns through the media coverage, or were they trying to send a different message to their advertising clients and partners?

If you look past the opening statements, it’s obviously the latter.

Chetna Bindra, Senior Product Manager, User Trust and Privacy at Google told us about the explosion of interest among consumer in how their activity is tracked by digital giants.

“Our experience shows that people prefer ads that are personalized to their needs and interests.

But only if those ads offer transparency, choice, and control.”

She said and continued to mention the Google Chrome privacy changes announced last week at Google I/O.

She went on to assure marketers that even in cases where users block cookies and audience targeting can’t be applied, Google’s algorithms will still be able to provide relevant, contextual ads across the Display Network.

“We can provide you with a great ad product without compromising the end user’s privacy.”

That is the dream and message Google is sending.

And to some extent, Google has less to worry about than Facebook, that yesterday released an announcement warning to advertisers about the possible effects of their upcoming privacy changes.

The ability to tie ads to a moment of intent like a search without tying it to identity means Google’s core product is likely safe. Display ads might also be safe, as contextual ads based on content make are still valuable to both end-users and advertisers.

But with the new Discover Ads format relying only on audience targeting, and Google Search Ads moving past keyword-based targeting alone, it’s no wonder that Google is actively lobbying, breaking records, to stop the potential U.S. privacy regulations looming large.

Google Wants in On Every Potential Customer Touchpoint

Google is always funding and arranging research into how consumers use devices and the internet to help them make purchasing decisions.

This has been going on since way before their push with the “Zero Moment of Truth” push in 2011.

Google has dominated the ZMoT, the research phase, of purchasing a new product for a long time. And now they want in on the “pre-research”, the “discovery” phase as well. Over the last few years, the discovery phase has been dominated by social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Now Google is coming to claim it as their own territory. The rollout of “Discovery Ads” was proof of this. It is an ad unit that lets advertisers get unparalleled reach to show ads to “people who are likely to be interested in their products.” Sound familiar?

And not only that, they are making non-digital moves, lining up to take a piece from National TV channel ad inventory, and even selling Google Play Music and Spotify audio ad slots via Display & Video 360.

No matter if you are watching TV, listening to a podcast, idly scrolling through the YouTube or Google homepage, or actually searching for something, Google wants in.

From before it starts, until long after the end of the traditional customer journey.

Consolidating Data, Tracking, and Channels

On the “big data” side, Google made a few important announcements as well.

With the use of Analytics for Firebase, you will now be able to consolidate your mobile app and website data, and accurately show in-app conversions inside the Google Ads dashboard.

And some new ad options, like Local Campaigns and Discovery Ads, will be shown across multiple channels by default. Since it is the same audience and campaign, Google’s algorithm will learn the importance of each touchpoint, and you can access all the data from one dashboard.

Trying the channels together is also a step in the right direction of the multi-touch-attribution pipedream. President of Google America’s Allan Thygesen had this to say:

“Perfect multi-touch attribution isn’t yet a reality, but we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

With the new integrated omnichannel approach, advertisers will be better able to anticipate the needs of their consumers. Thygesen claimed this coming shift would be “as disruptive as mobile.”

Machine Learning + the Human Touch

Philipp Schindler, Chief Business Officer at Google said in his opening keynote: “You have told us: Give me more insights that I can act on.”

Some advertisers have been frustrated with the black box effect of smart bidding for some time now.

And Google is making moves to allow the human touch to aid smart bidding and vice versa.

The upcoming rollout of seasonal adjustments, campaign-level conversions, data exclusion, and conversion value rules is the first instance of this change.

Advertisers will be able to help the algorithms help themselves.

Google is Not Giving up on Retail

Losing major market share for direct-to-sale retail ads to Amazon’s new ad products inspired major changes to how Google is attacking this sector.

They rebranded Google Express and merged it with Google Shopping. Showcase Shopping Ads got a massive boost in potential reach. And they are doubling down on local retail promotions by expanding Local Campaigns.

Conclusion

There were many areas where Google seemed to imitate rather than innovate, like feed-based advertising and some of the interfaces they introduced. But it is clear to see that not only are they not willing to let go of their hold on digital advertising, but it also doesn’t end there.

Google has doubled down on its data science expertise to roll out tools to help human advertisers play nice with machine learning algorithms. They are integrating channels and inching ever closer to perfect measurement and attribution.

They are working to tie every marketing channel together from TV to Podcasts to Search and brick-and-mortar shop visits.

Instead of remaining defensive and focusing on search-related products, where they are the market leader already, they used the opportunity to try to gain back some lost ground in other areas, while showcasing their superior handling of data and measurement capabilities along the way.


Google Marketing Live 2019 – Day 1 Key Announcements

Google Marketing Live 2019 started on May 14, with more than 5,000 attendees from over 68 Countries. As Premier Google Partner, AdEspresso and Hootsuite were there (and still are, for GML 2019 day 2).

The first day started off for real with a multi-speaker keynote on ads innovation where Top Google managers revealed a ton of live or upcoming changes to the Google Ads & Marketing platform.

This presentation was followed by several more hours of follow-up content to dive deeper into the upcoming changes at Google.

But you don’t need to spend 3-4 hours to get up to date.

We’ve covered the most important announcements for marketers right here on the AdEspresso blog.

And we’re starting with the most exciting part; the new Google Ads types.

After quite a long line to get in, and an even longer one to get us a coffee, the sound of a countdown signals that we have to rush to our seats because Philipp Schindler, Google SVP and Chief Business Officer, is about to start his speech and officially inaugurate Google Marketing Live 2019.

Philipp Schindler, Google Chief Business Officer, talks about privacy at Google Marketing Live 2019

The main keynote of the day was led by SVP of Google Ads Prabhakar Raghavan, and included presentations by other VPs and product managers for Google Travel, Google Shopping, Google Video ads and more.

Here’s the list of all the new features announced during Google Marketing Live 2019

Curious to discover the new Ad formats you can use? We’re getting there!

Google Ads Has Two New Ad Units

During the 72 minute presentation, Google revealed 3 new cutting-edge ad formats that they will be opening up to all advertisers in the next few weeks of months of 2019.

Actually one of them went live for all advertisers as of yesterday.

Discovery Ads (Later in 2019)

Did you know that the Google discovery feed alone reaches 800 million people around the globe? And it’s not even Google’s biggest property with a feed.

To help marketers and business owners to maximize this reach, Google announced Discovery Ads.

We’re talking about Ads that show in the Google discovery feed, as well as on Youtube and the Gmail Promotions and Social tabs.

In theory, Discovery ads could reach hundreds of millions of people. And it’s not a shotgun strategy like untargeted display ads.

Ad Specifications:

  • At least one landscape image and one logo.
  • Up to 5 headlines
  • Up to 5 descriptions

Like Google’s other dynamic ad formats, machine learning will mix and match the creative to best appeal to the individual.

Discovery Ads will be opened to all advertisers on the Google Ads platform later in 2019.

The moment of the Big Revelation during Google Marketing Live 2019: Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP Google Ads & Commerce, reveals Discovery ads

The audience targeting options are considerable, leading to promising early results.

One of the first beta user of Discovery ads; fashion company Techstyle Fashion Group, reporting as much as 25% cheaper conversions than search ads or even social.

Laura Joukovski, Chief Media Officer at TechStyle Fashion Group, also noted how successful creative from other feed-based platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) immediately did well on the new platform.

In essence, this confirms that the new ad format is more similar to social ads than anything Google has previously released.

Gallery Ads (Later in 2019)

In many industries, images do a lot better job of selling the products than words.

But when marketing with Google Search Ads, you didn’t use to have a choice. Text was your only option for advertising.

Not anymore.

Meet Gallery Ads, the first Google Search Ad type that includes a visual element.

If you’re a real Google Ads geek, you might remember the Google Auto ad, and think that this looks similar. And you’d be right; it is the same ad unit except made available regardless of industry.

Not only does this new ad format include a gallery of photos, but it also expands into its own full-page experience (like Facebook & Instagram ads instant experiences).

Ad Specifications:

  • Four to eight images
  • A 70-character description for each image
  • Up to three headlines to test

Since the gallery expands, you need to include descriptions for every image. So you can get creative and tell a story over the course of your ad, while still selling your product.

With Gallery ads we wanted to combine the intent of search with a more visual and interactive ad format. With Gallery ads people can swipe through a visual ad that sits at the top of the search result page. When they tap on the ad a scrollable image gallery will open featuring a text headline at the top and taglines beneath each image. As people browse the image gallery the headline will remain visible at the top, and any further click will take people to your site. This makes easier for you to show more content and connect with peopke that are still researching for your brand providing them all the information they need with fewer taps.”
Sissie Hsiao VP, Mobile Apps Google

Sissie Hsiao, Google VP Mobile Apps, introduces Google Gallery Ads

All in all, the Gallery ads format is a massive addition to Google Search Ads for industries that sell physical products, like travel, experiences or food.

Expanded Reach for Showcase Shopping Ads (Live for all)

With the original Google Shopping Ads, Google showed your ads only when people searched for precise terms.

If you sell a specific brand of yellow T-shirts, the ads would appear when someone searched the brand-name, or perhaps for “yellow t-shirts.” (This all depends on the accuracy of your product description.)

Many searches of high commercial intent don’t use product names or specifications. Someone might search for “men’s ties” or “running shoes” instead of “Adidas Yeezy 700 v2.”

That’s where Showcase Shopping ads come in.

While they are not new, these new (to non-beta users) ads target shopping and image searches for related broad commercial intent searches.

They now also automatically reach in-market audiences in other places, like the Google Discover Feed or on Youtube.

Ad Specifications:

  • Since it is a Google Shopping ad, it uses the images and descriptions from your merchant center. You can set up lists of products that should show up for more general terms
  • It was the last ad format to be announced during the keynote, but the first one Google made available to all advertisers.
  • It is officially available in the following countries: The U.S, Canada, The U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, France, South Africa, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates.

Major Changes to Google Shopping

During Google Marketing Live 2019 they also announced significant changes coming to the Google Shopping platform.

It’s no secret that the new Amazon Ads have made a dent in the retail market Google used to dominate on digital. One large advertiser switched over 225 million dollars in advertising which used to be allocated to Google, to Amazon ads in 2019. And Emarketer projects 29% growth in market share from 6.8 to 8.8, with a solid one percent coming out of Google’s pockets.

Something had to change.

The New Google Shopping Homepage

It’s official, Google Express is becoming a new and reborn Google Shopping.

This change means that Google Shopping will no longer only focus on search, but will start with a personalized page based on your interests, purchases and recent commercial searches.

Shopping Actions will Expand to More Google Properties

While Google initially announced Shopping Actions and Purchase Ads in Google Image search at Shoptalk 2 in March, Oliver Heckmann expanded on their plans for 2019.

The long-term plan is to enable Shopping Actions enabled merchants to directly sell in Google Search results (image and standard), through the Google Assistant voice technology, and even directly in Youtube videos.

Brand Partners Can Share Budgets

If your brand lives and dies on retail, you no longer have to advertise globally to “create interest.”

You will soon (right now, if you are based in France) be able to support local retailer’s campaigns for your products.

This functionality allows a much closer partnership in digital advertising, without having to plan out and agree months in advance.

For now,f it’s in a closed beta phase (that you can apply to join), but the feature is planned to launch later this year.

Bumper Machine: YouTube Magic Wand to Create Bumper Video Ads

The best-received announcement from the entire presentation was the “bumper machine”, a tool that will automatically create 6-second “bumper ads” from longer form Youtube videos.

But why this focus on Bumper Ads? The simple truth of the matter is that several short ads deliver more bang for your buck than one view of the longer, 30-second TrueView ads.

They revealed that running 3 6-second ads had 107% higher ad recall and 134% higher purchase intent than the single longer ad.

Not to mention the ill-will you generate by forcing a Youtube viewer to sit through half a minute instead of the few seconds they are used to.

The Bumper Machine will automatically create 3 to 4 different ads that fit the format. Then you can use light editing features to finish up the visual/audio.

This video is an example of what the machine learning tool can create:

Display & Video 360 Ads Coming to Smart TVs, National TV Channels and Audio

While Google has cemented itself as the king of digital advertising, now they are coming for traditional media as well.

At least, the modernized version of traditional media: The smart tv.

And 74% of US households now have at least one connected TV, so Google has impeccable timing.

Right now a few channels are in beta-testing, but later this year, the program will go live, and all advertisers on the platform will be able to buy ad inventory on national and thousands of local channels.

Audio Ad Inventory Added (Google Play Music, Spotify, etc.)

With an enterprise media buyer Display & Video 360 account, you will be able to buy audio ad inventory on Google Play Music, Spotify and more.

That means that you will be able to advertise not only in between music but also in podcasts without having to broker exclusive deals.

Changes to Google Ads Audiences

Nicky Rettke, the Director of Product Management in Video Ads at Google, also shared some fundamental changes that will be made to the Google Ads audiences.

Custom Affinity and Intent Audiences will be Merged

In 2019, Google is merging the affinity and intent-based audience into one Custom Audience.

Nothing too exciting about this announced change, except it will likely clean up the dashboards of marketers who have invested a lot of time into segmentation.

Introducing AI-Powered Audience Expansion

Google is improving on the automatic targeting function in their display advertising and will release it as a new tool on the audience side.

Instead of just being able to choose between conservative and aggressive, Audience Expansion allows you to select degrees of specificity.

There is even a specific forecasting tool that predicts the change in ad spend, clicks and conversions.

Early beta-testers of the tools reported back jaw-dropping results. Some were seeing 50% more conversions from the same ad spend.

Changes to Conversions and Google Ads Smart Bidding

The team also announced a few changes coming to conversions and bidding, with particular significance for people who use smart bidding to optimize campaigns. (Most large advertisers at this point.)

Campaign-Level Conversions

If you bid manually, obviously you would want to track every kind of conversion for your campaign to see the results you are truly getting.

But with smart bidding, the algorithm optimizes for conversions, and assigning values to help it prioritize can be a very complex project.

To solve this issue, Google has introduced campaign-level conversions.

By setting conversions at the campaign level, you control exactly what the algorithm will optimize for.

Google will also allow optimizing campaigns for in-store-visits.

Later in 2019, you will be able to implement these changes through the campaign table in the Google Ads dashboard.

Conversion Value Rules

Google will allow you to set rules that affect how the algorithm calculates conversion value and optimizes accordingly.

For example, if you know that at your company your conversions tend to be worth more when they come from a certain audience segment, you can add that as a conversion value rule. You could multiply the standard conversion value by 1.3 if they are included in certain audience lists.

Or, if you know that one display audience or placement tends to yield lower quality leads, you can adjust down the conversion value from those sources with rules.

Seasonality Adjustments

Perhaps the biggest announcement for retail advertisers who use smart bidding, was seasonality adjustments.

Because big events, like a summer sale, can predictably have a large impact on conversion rates, CTR and ad rank, it can cause trouble for an algorithm settled in historical data.

Google will introduce seasonality adjustments so you can “warn” the algorithm of the upcoming changes, allowing the smart bidding algorithm to help you capitalize fully on during the period of the sale, and excluding the period from the data set after the campaign is over.

Deep Linking and In-App Conversion Tracking

The concept of deep linking is not exactly new to the Google Ads platform, as they have been previously supported through App Engagement Campaigns.

But with Google’s public rollout of Google Analytics for Firebase, you can now accurately measure and return conversion data to your Google Ads interface without having to do extensive development work.

And this is great news, as one early adopter was able to get a 40% increase in overall mobile purchases by doubling down on deep link ads and campaigns.

Google Travel Goes Live on Desktop

While Google launched a set of travel-focused tools on smartphones around the globe last year, their travel portal didn’t go live on desktop until yesterday.

The travel planning portal is now live on desktop and features flights, hotels, sights, and even package trips.

Tour and attraction companies should take note, as this could significantly impact the volume of Search Ads for travel-related keywords in the long term.

Conclusion

The team behind every aspect of Google’s Ad products show that they still very much desire to be on the cutting edge.

But it is clear that they are feeling the heat and trying to play catch up in some areas. Finally adding feed-based advertising options (years after Facebook Ads suddenly ate up 20% of the digital ads market), and completely revamping Google Shopping in response to Amazon Ads starting to take their piece in the retail advertising market.

At least they are trying to show that they are listening, by adding more flexibility to smart bidding campaigns and

While there were many important announcements made today that impact advertisers around the globe, there was also a lot of filler during today’s event.

We’ll cut through just that again tomorrow, and fill you in on what the advertiser needs to know from the 2nd day of Google Marketing Live 2019, so check back in 24 hours.