My Top 7 Picks from the Google Marketing Live 2019

google marketing live 2019

Every year Google organises one of the largest tech marketing conferences: Google Marketing Live. Last year the innovations presented were some of the most significant ones: Local Campaigns, Smart Shopping, Local Inventory Ads, Showcase ads, Hotel Ads…This year Google build up some new ad types like Gallery Ads and Discovery Campaigns expanding their marketing product family. Here are my top seven favourites from the GML 2019:

Discovery Campaigns

Discovery Campaigns are new campaign type(currently in a open beta)which allows advertisers to create visually compelling campaigns across multiple Google properties. What is included is YouTube homepage, Gmail and the newest add to Google’s inventory  – the Discover feed. Discover feed is purely mobile property, part of the Google app and Google mobile homepage with an 800 million users over the past year. This tab contains curated news and updates on topics based on your online behaviour and interests. Now this space will also contain some contextual ads part of Discovery campaigns.

Discovery campaigns use Google audiences: Affinity, In-Market Segment and Custom Audiences(read further down to find out what this is). The ads look different, depending on the placement where they are displayed, i.e. they are native. On Gmail they look like a Gmail ad and appear in Promotions and Social folders. On YouTube they look like the already existing YouTube TrueView Discovery ads, but also contain a call to action button. The ads in the Discover tab, closely recall Facebook Newsfeed ads.

Exciting times! In my humble opinion, Discovery Campaigns might spread to more Google properties if proven to be successful. Right now the format is good for targeting mid-funnel users, even though at Google Marketing Live they were introduced as a performance oriented format.

App Deep Linking

Now this was an interesting update, as well as long needed. With the increase in mobile search and improvement of mobile experience, mobile apps are seeing a renaissance. Google technology like PWA(Progressive Web Apps) is making in app experience better and allowing offline use. Brands respond with new type of apps – pushing loyalty and improving customer experience. One of the examples is Starbucks with their drink pre-order app helping to skip queues. Coupons, online sales, loyalty points – all these enhancements now become available through online apps.

So why when creating ads we weren’t able to smoothly use our apps as landing pages on mobile and track conversions? Well, I have no answer for this, but now with app deep linking this problem is solved. Advertisers can choose a particular page of their app to be used as a landing page on mobile. When the ad is served on desktop, the ad will redirect to the website. In the past conversion tracking in apps was possible only in Engagement App Campaigns. With the announced changes app conversions can be tracked in Google Analytics and Firebase.

Gallery Ads

This was definitely one of the stars of Google Marketing Live 2019. The new ad format is very prominent, keyword based type which takes the top of the page position. You pay per engagement instead of per click. This is something similar to what Yandex had for a while, but with Google the format will be quite prominent. As part of the enhanced search experience which now contains images, maps and common questions, the Gallery Ad will occupy the top of the search results. Images can be swiped or clicked to expand the ad into a vertical view. Similar format was launched earlier just for the auto sector in the USA. The format is remarkably similar to Facebook’s carousel ads in the Newsfeed and it is difficult not to see it as a response to the high variety of creative ad offerings from Facebook’s side.

Audience Expansion

This is a very simple update in the Display targeting of Google which allows advertisers to expand or stretch audience size depending on how close they would like to target. This feature was only available in the Facebook lookalike audiences until now. When uploading a remarketing list, Google automatically creates a similar audience out of it. With this slider you can now control how “similar” you want it to be. The closer to the original list, the smaller the list. The further you expand, the more people you are likely to reach, but also they are probably less similar to the original list.

From my personal experience with Facebook, I would like to warn about audience expansion: Depending on your list it can go wild. What I mean is instead of targeting a small group of luxury shoppers in the top areas of Manilla, you might end up targeting everyone who ever liked a Ferrari page in Asia Pacific. That wild.

I cannot say if this is the case with Google, but with any audience expansion, you have a tradeoff – volume of users vs quality and relevancy. In any case, great solution for someone who has a relatively small audience lists and would like to reach new audiences.

For those of you, video learners, here is me doing a summary of the article published via my YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe!

Custom Audiences

Google has been launching audiences one after the other: Custom Affinity, Custom Intent, Detailed Demographics, Life events… it starts getting complicated. In attempt to clean up and simplify, they announced merging Custom Intent and Custom Affinity into one audience called Custom Audience. Not to be mistaken with Facebook’s Custom Audience, which corresponds to Google Customer Match(list of offline data: emails, phone numbers or ZIP codes to be targeted online).

All Custom Intent and Custom Affinity audiences will be merged into one audience, making it simpler for advertisers. The difference between the two audiences was so subtle that a lot of advertisers were struggling to understand when to use on or the other.

Bumper Machine

YouTube advertising continues to be a focus area of Google. One of the biggest obstacle for smaller advertisers has been the lack of a suitable creative. Bumper ads are a 6 second non-skippable ads which are served on a cost per thousand impressions(CPM). They are great for creating awareness and building remarketing lists of users who have seen the ad on YouTube.

Bumper Machine is a mini creator studio in Google Ads which automatically transforms long video assets into a 6 second Bumper format. It takes the best practices of Google, slicing the video into its main components, showing the main message in a crisp short format.

Maximise Conversion Value

A new smart bidding solution called Maximise Conversion Value is the equivalent of Maximise Conversions for Shopping campaigns or other value advertisers. You can assign a value to every conversion depending on the projected revenue it makes for you. Until now you could use Target ROAS(return on ad spend). This strategy tries to get as many conversions as possible at a desired return on ad spend, determined by the advertiser. This works well if you know what your return of ad spend should be.  

For advertisers with a limited budget, which are looking for ways to get the maximum bang for buck, Maximise Conversion Value is a great solution. It tries to deliver the maximum return on ad spend for the budget provided. This is a great strategy to start with if you are not sure what return on ad spend you should expect. You can then turn to Target ROAS and target a desired return on investment based on the learning with Maximise Conversion value.

Seasonal Adjustments

Another great solution for shopping advertisers and not only, Seasonal Adjustments helps smart bidding strategies cope with anomalies like holiday sales and high seasons. Until now advertisers would switch the smart bidding strategy over such period to make sure they are bidding the highest. The strategies now can take seasonality as an input provided by the advertiser. You can select the dates which you know high conversion volumes should be coming. The smart bidding strategy will adjust to push bidding for this high season. If you don’t know which dates are good for you, check my article on seasonality research for Valentines.

Shopping Actions

Last, but not least this announcement got me really excited. I have been following information about the Google Assistant and shopping actions for a while now. The new announcement comes as a logical step ahead in the e-commerce world. Now as part of the shopping experience in Google Assistant users would be able to add products from different sellers in their cart and go through a Google checkout. This means online shopping without actually visiting the retailer’s website. In this case sellers would be charged by sale, similar to Amazon and Ebay’s model.

For now this would be possible only in the USA. Earlier this year the European Commission fined Google for monopolistic behaviour towards other product comparison tools in Europe. As a result Google had to incorporate ads from these comparison websites in the shopping results on top of the search page. Tougher regulations in Europe slow down the launch of some very interesting solutions.

A lot of the innovations presented on Google Marketing Live were focusing on the e-commerce field, respectively Google Shopping. Even if 90% of sales are still happening offline, online research is playing a crucial role for them to happen. I am expecting even more news from Google around the area of e-commerce in the future years.

All the views in this article are exclusively mine and I am not an official spokesman of Google.

About me: I am an experienced digital marketing professional and a Googler. I have taught over 3000 people in online marketing, sales and PPC. Get my new book. I blog weekly and teach on Udemy with more than 2,700 students enrolled in my online course. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @odolena