The annual Google Marketing Live event has just drawn to a close in San Francisco after 10 major new digital innovations and projects were formally launched.

The conference was built around key note presentations from prominent Googlers with everything from the future of search, machine learning, ad innovations, video conversions, optimisation scores and mobile site design up for discussion.

Here, we’ve rounded up some of the key things we learnt from the two-day event:

New Ad Formats

Google used Marketing Live to introduce no less than six new ad formats, all designed to fit easily into multi-channel marketing campaigns. One of the recurring themes this year was the meandering path modern consumers make to purchase. The complexity of those journeys seems to have inspired many of the changes. Important expansions and introductions include:

  • Interactive Gallery Ads: Multi-media features heavily in the new ad formats formally launched at Marketing Live. The Gallery Ads unit is arguably one of the most visual – designed for mobile, it gives advertisers the opportunity to feature up to eight images in a swipeable carousel.
  • Showcase Shopping Ads: Showcase Shopping Ads will be extended across a number of Google properties. They are set to hit Google Images, the mobile Discovery feed and YouTube later this year.
  • Discovery ads: Google’s VP of Product Management describes Discovery Ads as, “visually rich, mobile first and use the ‘power of intent.” These AI-powered ads will debut later in the year for mobile device users. Unlike existing ad formats, they won’t be powered by keywords – instead, they’ll be driven by targeted audiences, all optimised by Google using machine learning technology.
  • Bumper Ads: Video has always been a pre-requisite of advertising on YouTube but the launch of Bumper Ads means this is no longer the case. Marketers will now be able to upload their best performing images from social media and leave Google to optimise for maximum performance, with ads displayed across Gmail, the YouTube home page and Discover on mobile.

Changes to Local Ads

Several new tools will be rolled out for Local Ads advertisers through the year. The biggest development though is the work being done on targeting, with AI incoming to enhance visibility. Machine learning will be used to help understand intent, therefore allowing the search engine to serve up more relevant ads. For advertisers, this means more of the right eyeballs on local campaigns.

Changes to Google Shopping

Google has been faced with an exodus of advertisers to rival Amazon – a raft of new innovations across Google Shopping are thought to be a direct response to this growing threat. The user interface will be simplified, standardised and personalised, with shoppers able to purchase with Google, in store or from the merchant site. There will also be simpler returns for unwanted or faulty goods along with better customer service provisions.

As part of the upgraded Shopping experience, Google Checkout will be available to use in-store as well as online.

New reporting options across the board

Advertisers will soon be able to extract a lot more data from active campaigns thanks to additional measurement tools and new reporting options.

Local advertisers for example will be able to specify offline KPIs such as store visits – Google gave examples of this in action, sharing that the fast-food chain Dunkin Donuts has increased monthly store visits in some of its locations by as much as 400% with  location-based Google Ads.

In-app interactions will get a reporting upgrade with the addition of deep linking. This will give advertisers a better understanding of in-app behaviour.

Less data and more privacy expected

Despite the introduction of the new reporting and measurement options which will allow advertisers to extract more data from their ads, Google warned that privacy is becoming a bigger issue. Throughout Marketing Live, marketers were told to prepare for less consumer data as shoppers become much more privacy conscious. Some industry insiders have speculated that the growing use of AI and machine learning is intended to bridge the gap.

Real time alerts from the mobile app

We knew before Marketing Live that a Google Ads app was in the works and it seems that this will be a core part of advertiser interactions in the future. The app will be used to deliver real time notifications to account managers. Alerts will also be sent to mobile devices when better opportunities for ad campaigns emerge.

Introducing Performance Planner

A new tool called Performance Planner is now live in the Google Ads dashboard. This helps advertisers to understand the possible impact of any changes made to their campaigns. The tool uses historical and auction data to forecast metrics such as click through rates and conversions. Advertisers can plug in changes such as budget adjustments and then see how the planned changes are likely to affect performance. This tool was previously announced as Budget Planner but has rolled out as Performance Planner.

Smart bidding gets optimised

There were lots of references to machine learning and AI across Marketing Live – with machine learning identified as one of a trio of ‘meaningful revolutions’ in the keynote presentation. To that end, machine learning is being integrated across Google with its most prolific presence found in smart bidding. For those new to smart bidding, it’s the process of Google optimising your ad bids for conversion or conversion value. Three big changes were debuted in this field, with advertisers now able to optimise bids for campaign-level conversion goals, set conversion action sets across multiple campaigns and deploy seasonality adjustments.

As a Google Premier Partner, keeping abreast of latest developments and ensuring all new technologies and features are being put to work for clients is part and parcel of the Adrac experience. Find out more by getting in touch with our team today.