This week, we heard many major things about Google Marketing Live, arguably one of the year’s most influential digital media conferences. I wanted to share a few exciting things that jumped out at us and hope it inspires and educates:
The most commonly used phrase during GML had to have been “The Future of Advertising is AI-driven” – Google signaling a continued march in the direction of AI enablement for ads which means a few important things to marketers.
AI needs a target. Every automation case study mentioned seemed to end in a “Conversion lift.” As Google goes all-in on AI, we need to make sure marketers are all-in on measurable conversions that the AI will be able to use. This should include in-store purchases as Google commits to more support for in store conversion.
Several references were made to Google being able to consume first-party data. This data is fundamental for marketers to pick up on because, in a world where AI is making decisions for everyone, there are only two ways to stand out… One is first-party data (The other is content/creative – more on that below).
Performance Max is being hailed already as a big success for AI-driven marketing. Google is still marching in this direction, more confidently than before. Performance Max is arguably the most prominent change/release in the last decade and should not be confused for another google product enhancement, but rather an all in push for AI automation.This change is big and getting bigger.
Google wants you to trust AI, so they try to be more open and transparent about it. This statement was said 5 min before statements on privacy. The signaling here is how Google is pushing into tracking, customizing, and informing in a way that holds privacy very sacred. Google has recognized that Privacy laws are here to stay, and it appears their plan to bridge the gap is with AI Automation coupled with testing abilities as they add more A/B testing opportunities to the platform. In other words, the story for the next year won’t be “automation is good… trust us.” It will be: “automation is good… test it….”
- Google seemed to signal that creative matters again – There were scores of references to “Heart and Art” Concepts. (Words like Expression, Curiosity, Explore, Rich, Inspiration, Stream of Visual Ideas). As mentioned above, there will be two particular ways that Brands will be able to stand out in an AI-Driven marketing field. The first one is first-party data, and the other will be content/creative.
Google was born from an academic environment. The whole basis for PageRank can be traced back to the philosophy of ranking the importance of specific doctoral papers. You can see the figureheads of math and science all over Google. This event, for me, felt like Google recognizing the value in the world of art. Several references to words would take me back to my intro to drawing class with Brett Mullinix. Words like expression, inspiration, curiosity, and exploration. These words, coupled with recent trends and consumer behaviors, create a neon pointing arrow to the importance of going all-in on creative. Google has signaled several integrations to more visual ad concepts with specific shoutouts to video.
Additionally, they have signaled a desire to bring AI into creative with their launch of Asset Libraries. We recognize that better/deeper assets for creative will be an even more critical bet for brands. Enhanced assets will include product and lifestyle images, video, stories, and even 3D modeling as Google pushes into AR-enabled commerce. As my chef friend Hans has said, “you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken poop.” Brands will need to make sure their creative ingredients are the best.
- References to omni shopping and omni e-commerce signal the importance for more holistic measurement. AI and Creative pushes seem to culminate in this idea of enabling digital commerce across… well, everything! The case for automation is that the paths people take to make buying decisions are so customized and fast changing that the only way to be present at the right time is to create moments all over the place and then rely on AI to match intent. Google’s data suggests that shopping habits have permanently shifted to include more digital paths for all shopping. Perhaps the most significant example of this is expanding feed-driven ads to video and display. Performance Max is designed to use all of this ad inventory, all of Google’s aggregated data, and all of the first party data you have to target potential buyers and make it as seamless as possible to buy at that moment.
<While the things above are interesting and can lead to a lot of deep thinking, they also can start to lead us to some very actionable things we can do today to move the needle. Here are three things to keep in mind right now!
- Review and ensure you have the best Conversion target being measured and passed through to Google ads online.
- Ensure you have a testing roadmap in place and that you go ahead and start testing AI driven automation. Performance Max is a good place to start.
- Think deeply about creative and first party data. These are logistically heavy things and they will take time to plan. Set a date three months out and set goals to have a three-month plan in place for creative and data refreshes that can push you forward. (Don’t forget to put these on your testing roadmap.)
For some time, Google has signaled that marketers and agencies need to spend more time focused on who their target audience is. Things such as sharing data rights, strategy, creative, allowing the algorithm to work, and concentrating on rewards (i.e. how to measure success). While this feels strange for all of us long-time search and digital media practitioners, it’s very much where the puck is moving, so let’s embrace this new world together.
For some of you who don’t know me, I am Chad Crowe, I am a partner in Acadia,and I founded our Biddable media practice in 2013. Reach out to me at email@example.com or reach out to your talented account team to hear more customized learnings and recommendations for your specific brand/company.