Tuesday, May 23rd was the 10th Google Marketing Live conference. This year, there was one very clear message that Google wanted you to hear: Google has been planning for years for this exact inflection point in the evolution of AI.
Here are a few of our observations from the event.
When it comes to Google Ads, Google is handing out AI features and augments like a holiday edition of the Oprah Winfrey Show. You get AI, You Get AI and You Get AI… From copywriting to creative to campaign creation from scratch, Generative AI is making its way into all corners of Google’s marketing products.
Conversational AI in Google Ads Campaign builder
As you set up new campaigns, Google will have a conversation box that allows you to talk out the details of what you’re trying to accomplish. AI then uses that information to generate creative assets and copy, suggests campaign objectives, and provides targeting options for your campaigns. Use these assets as a starting place or fully launch them; the choice is yours.
This feature seems likely to find the most use from the small business owners who have been part of the Google Ads backbone since its inception.
Ads in Google Search Generative Experience (SGE)
We got more details yesterday on how Google is planning to populate ads within the new SGE feature (announced in early May), with new ad formats and placements available soon for experimentation. As an ad platform, these previews show that the rich conversational experience found in SGE will provide more data for matching the right ad at the right time.
For example, a previously broad “sporting gear” search gets narrowed down into soccer cleats and pickleball paddles. This would allow advertisers to deliver more relevant ad content and gives consumers a more direct purchasing path. Consumer adoption is a major factor that remains to be seen, but early use/buzz around generative AI products like Bard or ChatGPT seems promising.
Google’s AI driven ad platform Performance Max (PMAX)
Google is adding its Generative AI features to the PMAX experience in three primary ways.
- Setup - Plug in your URL and answer AI-driven queries, like “what is your brand personality”, to help guide the setup process and populate your campaign with assets.
- Assets - The PMAX asset library is getting a dose of generative AI as it empowers you to generate new creative assets. Simply describe your desired visuals and then allow the AI to utilize your website images combined with stock photography elements.
- Goals - Google is putting in some work on PMAX campaign goals in two ways. First, by “enhancing” the existing new customer acquisition goal: allowing advertisers to target new customers outside of those identified by CRM audience lists plus introducing an element of lifetime value into optimization. Second, by adding a new re-engagement goal to help with retention focused campaigns. These two changes will enable marketers to focus on both prospecting and re-engagement in ways that weren’t as simple previously.
AI Driven Google Search Ads
Google Ads will soon utilize its AI platform to generate auction-time ads that resonate with the searched term and intent, building on tools like Automatically Created Assets (ACA) that have been around for a while.
To me, this harkens back to the old keyword insertion days, just souped-up with something that knows how to sound more human. You may remember that keywords insertion could be finicky and needed thoughtful implementation to be effective. ACA has proven to be similar. AI driven, auction-time ads will likely be the same (at first). Test, test, test!
Google Product Studios
Perhaps the most intriguing feature announced, this new AI-driven tool will allow marketers to enhance their product imagery with supposed ease. Coming later this year, users will be able to do a variety of transformations on their existing product imagery. For example, remove and replace the background to increase image quality and relevance. Then, with the click of the button, these new assets can be loaded into your Google Merchant Center feed for use in-auction.
Product Center can generate a selection of different backgrounds to add variety to product images. Image: Google
Reading between the AI lines
While unveiling this barrage of AI goodies, it was clear that Google wanted to ensure a few key messages didn’t fall through the cracks.
- There were recurring references to how GA4 will change the measurement/audience game and that we only have 5 weeks to finish the switch. If you own a site and don’t have GA4 at least running in the background, it’s time to get moving!
- Google said multiple times that Marketers are not competing against AI, but are competing against other marketers who are using AI. This is an important distinction to remember, as it positions all of these great improvements as tools to be used, experimented with, and combined in unique ways; allowing you to find the unique execution that works best for a client’s or marketer’s needs. After all, as the event tagline said, is your marketing powered by Google AI?
- PMAX continues to be the favored child and the future of Google Ads. Google is investing time and money towards ensuring the PMAX product is front and center in every product or feature release that makes sense.
Outside of AI, there were a few other announcements of note during the event. Google went all out to remind advertisers that Youtube is still a very powerful platform that is taking over the living room. With video being consumed more and more everyday, they have launched two new video ad campaign types: one for Video Views and one for Lead Gen.
Google also announced the launch of ‘Merchant Center Next’ to replace their Merchant Center product launched in 2010. One particularly interesting feature in this revamp will be the ability to build feeds from products on your site; presumably from the PDPs. This could make product feed building and optimization less of a technical lift (for those that don’t have the resources) and enable marketers to make the most of feed advertising opportunities on Google.
Acadia is a Google Premier Partner, which means we are in the top tier of agencies leveraging Google media. It is our mission to help challenger brands navigate an increasingly complex world of media and marketing. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can support your brand with paid search, SEO, performance creative, retail media, paid social, and more.