Google’s Ads and Analytics broadcast this morning was riveting. Like Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War kind of riveting, but for marketing data.
As would be expected, Sridar Ramaswamy, VP of Marketing, started the broadcast off with some of the rationale Google has used for a huge focus on mobile-related Adwords and Analytics features. Normally we’d skip this part and get to the exciting stuff, but this is pretty exciting stuff if you’re not familiar with Google’s business philosophy.
The Rationale behind “Mobile First”
The message Google’s been getting in the past few years is that mobile changes everything in our approach to marketing, and that the shift to mobile isn’t something that’s ongoing so much as something that’s already happened.
With that in mind, the question arises of “How should we invest in mobile?” The answer that Ramaswamy presented describes how people live in moments. Certain moments are key points in which marketers want to show up in a consumer’s life, such as when that consumer has the intent to learn something, go somewhere, buy a product, or do a new activity. If we show up in the right moment, (such as when someone searches Google for reviews on a restaurant or directions to a business) they’re more likely to respond. If we show up in the wrong moments, or in between the meaningful mini-moments throughout their day, we are interrupting and intruding.
Whereas three years ago a customer would primarily use their desktop with mobile added on as a nice feature to an online campaign, now they’re using mobile as the primary search and purchasing device. This means that marketers have to focus on mobile first, making their ads work primarily for mobile devices and then in a unified way with desktops.
Developments in Adwords
Ramaswami described the new general changes to Adwords himself. There were a few categories of changes I noticed, and I’ve organized them accordingly into text ads, display ads, and bidding.
If you use Google, you’ve probably noticed a lack of the old text ads on the right-hand side of the screen. You know, the ones no one reads because our minds automatically filter those out now due to growing up with the internet. Those are gone as of earlier this year.
Ramaswami gave two reasons for this change: a cleaner search experience, and improved consistency between mobile and desktop versions of Google.
Removing sidebar ads comes with alongside a huge improvement to promoted search results, with an expanded description line that now allows up to 80-characters. When combined with the two headlines in these promotions, this gives advertisers about 50% more ad text than previously available.
For mobile users, this means that promoted search results will give them a great deal more information, making it easier to assess whether or not the search result is worth tapping.
Keeping display ads consistent between platforms is always a challenge, and it’s necessary if you want to do any kind of branding or promote campaign awareness. One of the most exciting features from Ramaswami’s announcements had to do with how Google plans to solve this problem.
Here’s how it works: you provide the raw materials, such as a headline, description, image, and URL, and Google will actually format your ad for you, consistently across all platforms.
There was a lot of clapping at that one.
Previously, bidding for keywords has been a pretty global process, meaning that while some ads would be mobile-preferred, most would show up on any platform.
Now, marketers can make individual bid adjustments for desktops, phones, and tablets, giving a huge range of freedom to target the devices you know your audience is going to be using more, making sure you get your message into the right moment.
Jerry Dischler, VP of Search Ads, shared how Google Maps is turning online interactions into in-store activity.
Dischler began by explaining that location-related mobile searches are growing 50% faster than any other type of mobile search as people look for places to eat, shop, and explore around them.
With that in mind, and with Google Maps at the forefront of location-related searches, Dischler explained that Maps actually highlights special promotions or discounts that your store is offering, and if someone is searching for a specific item, the search result can show whether that item is in stock at various locations in the area.
Google Maps users planning a trip of some sort may also see your business promoted if it’s along their route, giving them a chance to plan using your services along the way.
Dischler named one of the main benefits to mobile ads as increased in-store traffic, with a series of metrics to back it up. It sounds like Google is working on an improved in-store CPA metric, and Dischler revealed a feature that monitors mobile beacon signals to improve location data to monitor store visits.
Programmatic Bidding and Remarketing
Programmatic has grown into one of Google’s shining stars in digital marketing, so it makes sense that they would have some cool reveals for it in the keynote. Brad Bender, VP of Display and Video Ads, offered insight into the developments here.
While DoubleClick Bid Manager allows for some advanced and very specific advertiser controls, Google Display Network, or GDN, gets the job done for most campaigns, giving bidding, optimization, and remarketing options directly through adwords to all advertisers.
The big reveal here was a Similar Audiences for Search feature, with which advertisers can remarket to consumers that have searched terms similar to the advertiser’s chosen ones, but who haven’t necessarily visited that advertiser’s site yet. According to the statistics that Bender showed, this has already resulted in a much higher CTR (up to 90% higher), with a significantly lower CPA.
User Interfaces for Adwords and Analytics
Matt Lawson, Director of Performance Ads Marketing, announced a new focus on making Adwords more about identifying opportunities for your business, and less about the vanilla Adwords features themselves.
He then introduced Samantha Lemmonier, Director of Engineering for the Adwords platform, who showed us how the Adwords UI is changing.
When you set up Adwords for your business, you can now enter certain features or products that your company will be marketing, and Google will recommend stats or highlight information that will be more useful to your specific company based on those features or products that you entered.
You’re not losing any features. They’ll all still be there, but you’ll just have some help making it a more intuitive experience for your company.
Lemmonier explained that these updates to Adwords’ UI should be available in trial form throughout 2016-2017 as they are released.
Lawson then introduced Babak Pahlavan, Senior Director of Reports and Product Management, who gave us a powerful demonstration of how Analytics’ new sharing method, based off of Google Drive’s collaborative features, allows a team to take a report that would take days of emails to prepare and get it ready in three minutes.
Essentially, Pahlavan simply invited two other members of his team to join the Analytics report he was working on and enter their information into the report, straight from a direct connection to Adwords, inputting the information in a pre-formatted document seamlessly.
These features, along with the rest of the Data Studio 360 paid beta, is available now. A free version that allows up to 5 reports with unlimited sharing, editing, and collaboration is now available in the U.S. with plans to deliver to new regions throughout the year.
The last Analytics feature that Pahlavan revealed was an “Ask a Question” option, allowing any team member to ask an organic, naturally-phrased question to get a quick, context-savvy result. The program parses the question and understands the intent of certain words (ex. “best” means “most profitable”) to come up with answers ranging from simple numbers to advanced tables and graphs.
Making “Mobile First” Intuitive
All the reveals for new features centered around one theme: making marketing in a mobile-first world as simple and intuitive as possible. Considering that past iterations of Google Adwords and Analytics have been tricky to learn without a special certification course, these new user-friendly features are exactly what we’d expect from Google’s use of mammoth quantities of data, giving us what we need as we need it.
What did you think of the broadcast, or if you missed it, what highlights are you most excited for?