Google is hosting their biggest event of the year – Google Marketing Live. And Skai has been closely following and working with Google on a number of the products being talked about and announced, examining every detail.
What do we think will matter most to you and your SEM team? Read on to find out…
Key themes from the keynote included Simplification and Efficiency. Skai’s SEM customers understand the importance of this as few marketing channels that are more time-consuming or more demanding of analytic insights. Google’s announced product re-branding, new shopping campaigns, hotel campaigns, plus a few new initiatives that were extensions of previous announcements or in areas outside of search like YouTube.
In detail, Google’s major announcements included:
- DoubleClick Rebranding: Pre-announced a few weeks ago, this initiative is about Google product branding, not functionality. This includes retiring the DoubleClick brand and 1) changing Google AdWords to Google Ads, 2) relabeling DoubleClick Search/Bid Manager/Studio/Campaign Manager and other tools under a new Google Marketing Platform label, and 3) combining Google’s programmatic exchange products under a Google Ad Manager brand. Although us old schoolers will probably still say DS and DFA.
Over the years Google has built or purchased tools with overlapping functionality. We see this rebranding effort as benefitting Google’s internal development teams to make it clearer which products should work together. Skai’s clients already integrate tools from Google (and many other 3rd parties) into our Skai solutions; we look forward to speeding up and simplifying these integrations with more cohesive offerings from Google.
- Responsive Text Ads: These are a new ad format based on dynamic title and copy combinations that can be delivered over a number of networks and placements beyond AdWords. Advertisers will be able to provide up to 15 headlines and 4 description lines, and Google will test different combinations to see which one performs best. These will start rolling out to advertisers over the next several months.
Kenshoo has been working with Google this year in planning and preparation for this new ad type, and we’re excited about seeing if some of the early results can scale. One of the incentives Google is creating for advertisers to consider the format is allowing for headlines and descriptions to be up to 90 characters instead of 80. Part of the challenge in scaling for the largest advertisers has been creating all these new headlines and description lines involved in the new ads, and migrating their existing ads to this new type, having just done a big effort around Expanded Text Ads. So for early adopting advertisers, it will be important to have a strategy for which parts of their programs they believe can most benefit first. Marketers are giving up some of their control with this ad type, but in exchange, they’re aiming for higher CTRs and ROI. We’ll be watching closely and reporting on how this works in practice as it rolls out to more advertisers.
- Local Campaigns: A new version of AdWords Express Campaigns targeted at SMBs and allowing optimization from actions, calls or visits (foot traffic). Ads are then automatically shown across Search, YouTube, Maps, and apps in its ad networks.
At Skai we continue to see significant opportunity in search for local businesses and SMBs. Automation will allow more SMBs to get started and test the potential of search for their programs, and these campaigns may be a good starting place for new or smaller brands. For many SMBs, there will still be advantages to outsourcing these types of campaigns to agencies that specialize in setting goals, pacing, and reporting in all the ways critical to SMB clients as they grow. We work to power these agencies and media companies and are happy to introduce you if relevant. In the meantime, we are working with advertisers to better understand the effectiveness of these campaigns and specific support needs.
- New Shopping Campaigns: Initially rolled out in May, these Shopping campaigns will give the option for Google to be managing and bidding to individual products. In this new type of campaign, your ads will also now be shown automatically not just in search, but in YouTube, GDN, and Google’s app network.
For now, this appears to be an update to appeal to SMBs looking to expand spend and reach. We’ve talked to a number of Enterprise SEM teams who are looking for Google to provide the machine learning and AI but at the same time allow them to keep more of the control over ad placement and optimization. We believe that control will be important as these ads show in more places and to make sure results, conversion rates match the increase in inbound clicks, and that these placements are incremental to the business.
- Hotel Campaigns: Google has for a long time had hotel ads that could be created from feeds (in a way behaving like Product Listing Ads, but for hotel inventory). However, to date, these have not been part of the main Google ad platform and not supported in the Adwords API. These are now being further brought in synch with the rest of the platform, potentially creating more opportunities to use at scale.
Travel companies are some of the biggest advertisers on Google and we’re excited to see Google providing increased support for these types of ads. We will be working with our leading travel advertisers to understand how these ads are performing and what can be most helpful to help them take full advantage.
- Other announcements: Included enhancements for YouTube optimization and cross-device reporting in Google Analytics.
Advertisers using Google Analytics can import this data into Skai through for optimization purposes through our integration and we’ll be interested to see if the cross-device capabilities add a meaningful amount of conversions to the total, as this continues to be an area where the industry can and needs to improve. We also continue to be excited about the potential of video for performance-oriented teams.
As always, we love to see what our publisher partners announce and Google Marketing Live did not disappoint. Several of Google’s ad format updates look promising, and a host of product and campaign simplifications for SMBs will hopefully continue to spread the execution of search campaigns to more brands. We look forward to discussing how these new capabilities can be augmented by Skai’s platform and our own unique audience-targeting and performance-focused roadmap.
It will be worth watching as Google brings its Enterprise and SMB platforms closer together, to see how well they continue to specialize and solve for the enterprise use-case. Machine Learning and Automation are positive forces but have a risk of leading to less transparency and less degrees of freedom for advertisers as publishers tout everything is being done behind the scenes. With best-in-class advertisers more focused on understanding incrementality, tailoring their approaches to their specific audiences and strategies, and coordinating with the rest of their marketing efforts for maximum impact, it will be important that these specific use cases for larger advertisers are listened to and also developed.
Skai’s focus remains the same: to help you connect with your consumers across all the touchpoints that matter to them. You can count on Skai having the objectivity of a third party to help you make sense of all your options and invest in areas with the highest value. And you can count on us to focus on the Enterprise use case, specializing in the needs of forward-thinking advertisers that want to get the most out of their marketing dollars.