This post was authored by Shannon Mullery and Tara Johnson, Content Specialists at Tinuiti.
After a two years hiatus, Google Marketing Live returned on Thursday with their much anticipated (virtual-only) event to showcase the latest features and products for brands and marketers in 2021.
This year’s theme centered around the growing interest in consumer privacy, and the shift in shopping behaviors since the beginning of the pandemic.
“This is an event I always look forward to and it has never been more true than this year. Can you believe it’s been two years since we last came together? And I’ve got to be honest, I’ve really really missed this,” Philipp Schindler, Chief Business Officer at Google said in his keynote.
“Hundreds of thousands of businesses of every size have shared with us the unique difficulties they are facing and at Google, our top priority is to help you navigate this once in a lifetime digitization moment,” he said.
“I was humbled to see, we actually had more interactions with partners during the pandemic (than we do in a normal year). The teams delivered 70K+ custom analyses with Google data, responded to 20% more customer emails and calls, and connected with customers via 10% more customer meetings than during a normal year. We do all this so you can be ready for what’s next.”
In the following article, we cherry-picked the 14 biggest announcements that are most likely to impact marketers and businesses from Google Marketing Live 2021. Let’s dive in.
The Google Marketing Live 2021 Recap
1. Introducing Enhanced Conversions
This past year, increasing privacy restrictions to limit or prevent the collection of third-party data through cookies have made first-party data even more valuable to marketers than ever before, and for good reason.
First-party data has the fewest restrictions around its use. It’s also the most reliable, because you know it’s been collected from your own customers, and has information relevant to you and your market.
“I’ve talked to many of you and I know just how daunting it seems to make this fundamental shift away from cookies and other identifiers,” Vidhya Srinivasan, VP / GM, Ads Buying Analytics and Measurement at Google said at the live streaming event on Thursday.
“The reality is our industry is changing and right now is the time to do the hard work of preserving the future of measurement.”
Measurement strategy needs a clear way for gathering consented data. In addition to sitewide tagging, Srinivasan announced Google’s latest enhanced conversions capability. This new measurement option leverages consented first-party data (like email addresses) when third-party cookies are not available.
According to Google, the new conversion tracking feature enables more accurate conversion measurement by increasing observable data and improving the overall quality of conversion modeling. It allows conversion tags to capture hashed customer data advertisers collect on their conversion page (e.g. email addresses) and then matches it against Google logged-in data. Advertisers that implement enhanced conversions see a conversion rate improvement of 3.5% on Search and 12% on Youtube.
“This gives you a more complete view of how your ads are performing on Google Media. It also improves conversion modeling and even works across devices for a more complete view of your user behavior,” Srinivasan said.
2. Expanded eligibility for Customer Match
Srinivasan also added that Google will be making Customer Match available to nearly all advertisers to use (pending you meet the necessary requirements).
Initially launched in 2015, Customer Match allows advertisers to upload email lists and use them to build out custom audiences for Google-based campaigns. In 2017, they expanded the offering to allow advertisers to use customer phone numbers and addresses, as well.
According to Google, Customer Match helps you reach these customers, re-engage with them, and find new customers like them via Similar Audiences across Search, Shopping, Gmail, YouTube, and Display. You can learn more about how Google Customer Match works here.
“Trust and transparency are going to be key to the future of marketing. Google is taking privacy seriously and your ability to collect consented first-party data became that much more valuable with enhanced conversions.”
– Nirish Parsad, Marketing Technologist at Tinuiti
3. Introducing Conversion Modeling via Consent Mode
Another feature is Google’s “Conversion Modeling via Consent Mode”, a tool that will provide advertisers with more detailed conversion insights when a user decides to “opt-out” of the consent form.
According to Google, consent mode helps advertisers operating in the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom to measure conversions while respecting user consent. Consent Mode allows you to adjust how your Google tags behave based on your users’ consent status to Analytics and Ads cookies. It enables Google’s tags* to dynamically adapt, only utilizing measurement tools for the specified purposes when consent has been given by the user.
According to Google, the Consent Mode recovers nearly 70% of conversion journeys lost due to user consent choices. As of now, brands and marketers can enable these new features in their Google Tag Manager settings.
“With global eCommerce soaring, Google has been building out many tools to make it easier for US merchants to expand and scale their US product feeds and US ad campaigns into International markets. However, global conversion measurement has become a new challenge for advertisers as the EU and UK have outpaced the US in terms of privacy legislation. Google Conversion modeling via Consent Mode is a solution that we expect to become the new normal for measuring conversions in the EU and UK (and perhaps the US someday soon).
– Mike Wojciechowski, Senior Director, Acquisition Media at Tinuiti
4. YouTube and Display Touchpoints Now Included in Data Driven Attribution Models
In addition to Search and Shopping campaigns, touchpoints from YouTube and Display will soon be included in all attribution models including data-driven attribution, and integrated in-app conversions for those touchpoints as well.
According to Google, up until now, YouTube and Display campaigns received a “Last Click” treatment even if data-driven attribution (DDA) or another rules-based non-last click (NLC) attribution model was selected. Google is now enabling cross-network compatibility for current and future users of DDA and other NLC models.
”This is one of the more exciting announcements from Google Marketing Live this year. We’ve long been proponents of DDA as a way to value every touchpoint within search + shopping, but have long lamented that it only has a single channel view. Adding the impact of YouTube and Google Display will help our teams better plan and execute full-funnel efforts for our clients.”
–Aaron Levy, Head of Paid Search at Tinuiti
5. Introducing Image Extensions
On Thursday, Google also announced that “Image extensions” are now out of beta and available to advertisers globally to help drive performance beyond Search.
According to Google, with this feature, your existing text ads are given a visual boost with ad extensions that allow for relevant image complements. Designed to enhance your text ad’s message, the primary elements of your ad remain unchanged but are given more chance to capture users’ attention with an image component.
6. Coming soon: Demand Forecasts
In the next few weeks, Google will be rolling out a new option to brands and marketers called “Demand Forecasts”. These metrics will help advertisers predict upcoming changes to Search behavior (in the next 90 days). Advertisers will also be able to use these insights to prepare campaign inventory and prepare for other approaching opportunities.
According to Google, Demand Forecasts help marketers understand when demand is likely to start increasing, by how much and for how long, as well as providing you with the context of what is likely to cause the increase and how you can best capture it. Examples of use cases include identifying new events or reviewing the same trends (from the previous year).
“This adds an exciting new layer of possibilities by creating a new connection to Google’s deep trove of search trend data. The ability to make preemptive informed decisions by having visibility into what is coming within a particular vertical has the potential to be a powerful tool in the performance marketers’ toolkit.”
– Josh Brisco, VP, Growth Media at Tinuiti
7. Google Announces Shopify Integration
One of the biggest announcements of the day is that Google will be launching a seamless integration with Shopify, which will simplify getting product inventory live as well as enable Shop Pay as a payment option across Google services.
According to Harley Finkelstein, President at Shopify:
“We’re building a version of commerce where all merchants can succeed.This means leveling the playing field and giving every independent business the same opportunity to reach customers. Shopify democratizes commerce for independent businesses and entrepreneurs in the same way Google has democratized access to information. Most recently we extended our collaboration by making the onboarding frictionless and faster for merchants and now we’re looking towards what’s next: helping merchants get discovered across Google while enabling the best ecommerce experience for users and merchants.”
8. Local Inventory Ads and Extended Shopping Labels
“With stores starting to open back up, we’re adding new ways for merchants to promote and highlight in-store inventory through local inventory ads,” Stephanie Shum, Director, Product Management, Commercial Consumer Experiences at Google said.
“You can now highlight products nearby that are available for pick up now, later or curbside. We’re also extending curbside pick and in-store shopping labels via Maps and YouTube local ads. So you can reach customers, wherever they shop,” she said.
9. Launching “Deals Results” Page
Later this year, Google will also showcase their newest deals results page featuring a variety of new ways for consumers to discover deals on Google Search and Shopping.
“We’re excited about additional publicity for our client deals and promotions. Especially during the holidays, having promotions more front and center on Google will be a big plus for our clients. The addition of deal-optimization reporting in Merchant Center will also be a great addition and allow brands to be more agile and make better decisions about the deals they’re offering.”
– Evan Kirkpatrick, VP, Shopping and Feed Management at Tinuiti
10. Performance Max Campaigns Offer New Way to Buy Ads Across Google Ads Inventory
Performance Max combines all of Google’s ad channels and the best of Google’s automation technology to help performance advertisers maximize conversions and value.
It works for all advertisers across multiple performance marketing objectives (NOT brand awareness, reach, website traffic, or consideration). Right now, the beta is available for lead gen advertisers and ones who drive online sales without using the Google Merchant Center product feed.
11. Introducing Audience Signals
A new feature for Performance Max Campaigns, Audience Signals was designed to “help advertisers speed up the campaign learning period while also steering automation with the best of Google’s automated targeting technology.”
When searchers who are considered “most likely to convert for your goals” are identified, your ads will be automatically shown. Advertisers can help to speed up optimization even further by inputting their own audience signals, but this is optional.
12. New Bidding Strategy: Video Action Campaigns (tROAS + Product Feeds)
Advertisers can also now leverage value-based bidding by setting a target return on ad spend (tROAS) for their Video action campaigns. As opposed to optimizing against the predicted conversion rate, tROAS bids optimize against the predicted conversion value.
13. New Bidding Strategy: Discovery Ads (tROAS + Product Feeds)
By providing Google with information about the value of each of your conversions, you enable them to better optimize toward the highest ROAS. Advertisers can assign differing weights to every individual conversion action in relation to how valuable that action is in relation to their overall business. The conversion values you provide to Google help them to better predict how valuable future conversions with the same values might be.
14. Introducing Price Competitiveness Report in Merchant Center
This report will show advertisers how other merchants are pricing the same products they sell, with an average price shown for all products that meet “minimum thresholds for traffic and Retailer aggregation.” These easily accessible insights will be valuable for bidding, pricing, and troubleshooting.
What’s Next from Google?
Jason Spero, VP, Global Business Solutions at Google shared three key areas Google is focused on to make automated solutions better for the future:
- New ways to steer automation and share what you know about your business
- Ways to shorten the learning period after you’ve activated automated solutions, and minimize performance fluctuations
- More transparent insights and testing features, some of which are already in place, like Geo Experiments
“15% of search queries every day are brand new searches we’ve never seen before,” he said.
Using automation, you can rapidly detect and adjust to take action on new demand opportunities as they arise.
“The consumer journey can rarely be captured on a single channel.”
Please note this article does not include all of Google’s announcements from their live marketing event. Click here to view the entire event on-demand.