It has been two years since the previous Google Marketing Livestream, and with COVID hindering so many businesses over the past year, this stream was all about how Google has been hard at work giving businesses the "power to pivot" and by helping through partner interactions. New products, trends, and best practices were discussed during the keynote, and more than twenty industry leaders made their way on camera – some of which include former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Emmanual Acho, who discussed his book Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man and how he found his place on YouTube, and Alicia Keyes who partnered with E.L.F to develop a new skincare product during the pandemic. While the day was jam-packed with a range of keynote speakers, the three biggest topics covered were Privacy, Measurement, and Commerce.
How Can Google Prepare Us For The Future?
Over the past year, searches for “ideas for beginners” grew by over 100%, and searches for “how to invest” have grown by over 70% (thanks to Dogecoin and $GME). Even during the darkest of times,: people look towards bettering themselves, learning new information, and remaining optimistic about life. Like many of these people, Google is looking towards the future: to better itself and to give businesses the tools necessary to succeed.
Earlier this year, Google Ads gave businesses all around the world custom insights for advertising. Google also introduced curbside pickup and local services ads that are backed by Google Guarantee. For Google Advertisers, Google has released new campaigns like “Performance Max Campaigns” to make it easier for all advertisers to seamlessly expand their reach allowing them to automate ad serving across Google Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, and more, all within a single campaign. This helps cut down on touchpoints for advertisers and is especially helpful for those running small businesses who do not have as much time to optimize campaigns. Performance Max Campaigns are currently in beta and will have three key features.
- They help find more converting customers across all Google ad inventory
- They will help you discover what drives better performance against your goals
- They will help to provide better insights into automation, and how it can work for your business.
Similar to other campaigns, Performance Max Campaign goals are set at the bid level (i.e. Max Clicks, Target ROAS, etc). The ads (or asset groups as they are aptly referred to), however, will function similarly to Responsive Display Ads or Responsive Search Ads. Advertisers will have the capability to insert several images, videos, and copy, and Google will do all the heavy lifting by utilizing machine-learning to serve the best combination of ads available. Targeting, on the other hand, will be based on inputted audience signals. Each campaign is allotted one targeting segment for maximum results, allowing Google to serve ads to consumers most similar to the selected target. For example, a campaign that is targeting people who are interested in “Dining Out” might also serve an ad to people searching for New York Times Cookbook Recipes. This helps find more converting customers across Google and drive stronger performance as a whole.
While this all might provide successful topline results at the campaign level, advertisers will unfortunately not be able to dive deep to see the best ad combinations nor will they be able to see specific audience targeting metrics and who encompasses that segment. What this means is that while we will have better insight into the strengths of automation from an Eagle-Eye view, we will not be able to note the intricate details that make up that “secret sauce.”
Google claims that privacy continues to be a top priority – they will never sell you personal information, never use sensitive information for ads, and never use the content you create and store for any ad services. Like many current consumers, Google team members share the same sentiment that despite all these efforts, privacy needs to be prioritized to an even greater degree. Data shows that 81% of people believe the risk of data collection outweighs the benefits – simply put, people are concerned about how they are being tracked across the internet and Google is losing their trust. In response to this statistic, Google has been phasing out third-party cookies. This has required businesses and advertisers to adapt to a changing landscape –such as leveraging first-party data, implementing automation and machine learning tactics (such as Responsive Search Ads), and committing to new technologies such as the Google Chrome Privacy Sandbox update; where their mission is to “Create a thriving web ecosystem that is respectful of users and private by default.” On the surface, the Privacy Sandbox may appear as an olive branch to the industry; however, it makes it necessary for advertisers to adapt to how Google shapes the digital landscape. By putting privacy-first, Google has further solidified itself in the ad marketplace since they already have access to first-party data from logged in consumers. While Google does not rely on third party data, the rest of the internet does. By removing third-party cookies, Google is ensuring that there is less competition for targeted media on the marketplace; and dollars previously allocated towards the Acxiom and Oracle targeting segments of the world will in all likelihood be reallocated towards spend on Google. So while this is all great for consumers (and Google), this is a negative point for advertisers.
Measurement and Automation
With privacy being one of Google’s top priorities, first-party data collection needs to be at the forefront of every business. Customer-Match allows advertisers to remarket using first-party data. Previously this tactic was limited to advertisers who met a specific spend threshold, but now it is available on a much wider scale. Additionally, people want to have a choice in whether or not their data can be collected, which is where “consent mode” comes in. With “consent mode” users can opt-in and out of having their cookies tracked – if they say “no,” then their cookies will not be used. This should not deter advertisers, as there is built-in modeling to measure conversion gaps. On average, 70% of conversion journeys that are lost due to users opting out can still be recovered. Advertisers will still be able to collect conversion data, just not in-depth details about consumers, which is why it is important to rely on automation and machine learning tactics to succeed in a world where customers care more about their privacy.
There are many benefits to automation and machine learning, including increased performance and more opportunities. Tactics such as Responsive Search Ads (RSAs), use automation and machine learning to mix and match headlines and descriptions. Google’s algorithms then serve to the consumer what it deems to be the best combination of ad copy. Once adopting RSAs, some advertisers have claimed to have seen a 20% increase or more in conversions, at a similar CPA as regular Expanded Text Ads. From PMG’s perspective, when comparing RSAs vs Expanded Text ads across a comparable flight, when utilizing Responsive Search Ads one of our clients was able to drive 15% more clicks and 50% more conversions, even at a reduced level of spend. CTRs increased while CPCs and conversion costs were more efficient.
According to the Livestream, Google Data has found that over the past year, Curbside pickup searches spiked 3,000%, retail searches have increased by 300%, and 70% of shoppers purchased a brand’s products after seeing it on YouTube. Additionally, searches for “discount code” have increased by 50% Year over Year. Shopping is about to get a whole lot easier, as Google and Facebook are going to have a seamless integration with Shopify and Shop Pay; Facebook and Instagram will have this feature first, with Google to follow in late 2021. Harley Finkelstein, President of Shopify, came onto the stream to discuss the benefits of this partnership and how it will allow merchants who sell through Shopify to have a greater level of discoverability. This benefits merchants and advertisers alike, because not only does Shop Pay have two times the normal conversation rate of a typical checkout, but it will even be available to merchants who do not sell goods via Shopify. This increase in conversion may be because it is inherently easier to spend money when the steps to checkout take little to no effort. 137MM orders were made using Shop Pay last year, and some retail owners saw eight times their return on investment via Shopify, and 90% more customers when supporting their Shopify store through Google Ads. Looking towards the future, it will be interesting to see how this benefits those in the digital space who traffic campaigns with Revenue goals.
The biggest takeaway, however, is to make sure that your business or client is set up for success by being ready for tomorrow. We suggest you act upon any of the following: take the next steps towards improving privacy goals by using first-party data, start testing more automation and machine learning to advance performance metrics, and always be abreast of what is new in your field.
From our perspective at Palisades Media Group (PMG), we are interested in learning more about how conversations around privacy and the implementation of first-party data continue to play a role in digital media. While the death of third-party cookies may be a win for the average consumer because it gives them more privacy, from an advertising perspective it also means that Google will have a larger share of the market since they are built on first-party data - whereas most advertisers rely on third-party data. This essentially forces advertisers to spend more money on Google, rather than spending that money on third-party providers. Third-party data was also essential to the monetization of the internet. It’s Google’s chess game and us advertisers are forced to reform our strategies based on their moves.
PMG is also looking forward to the inclusion of Shop Pay across Google and Facebook. While our commerce clients currently do not position themselves as Shopify Merchants, the introduction of Shop Pay across sellers will hopefully be a wide-scale driver of revenue for both our clients and their competition, which should certainly shake up the e-commerce landscape.
We have already dived into the world of automation and machine learning by implementing Responsive Search Ads across multiple clients, several of which have already seen positive results. However, while automation is important, we are not ready to give up full control just yet. Some automated tools such as Performance Max Campaigns might sound appealing but are more tailored towards small businesses that do not have the time or dedication to optimize campaigns. We care about driving results, and while Google may position its new products as something that everyone needs to utilize, we want to see numbers before testing. Regardless, we need to remain aware of these new tools so that we can provide success for our clients.
Even with the setback that 2020 brought, advertisers can still re-emerge victoriously and drive better results from happier customers if they look towards the future.
For more information, the link for Google Marketing Livestream 2021 can be found here, where videos are now on-demand.