Google Marketing Innovations – The View from Charles River Interactive

Google Marketing Live is one of the biggest days on the marketing calendar. The event recently came and went and, as per usual, Google announced some huge advancements within their suite of marketing products and platforms. And while artificial intelligence might be some years away from ensuring your fridge “magically” remains stocked through the holidays and that no appointment goes missing from your calendar, it is ready to make a real impact on your marketing efforts as soon as today.

Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Marketing Begins Today

Perhaps no unveiling was more seismic to how we do and will work with our clients than Google’s announcement that they have fully embraced artificial intelligence across their marketing platform.

Automation is here and here to stay! But what exactly does that mean?

The algorithms that govern search engines are becoming smarter. The ability to learn user behavior in turn means that paid search strategies need to account for this newfound and expansive ability to speak to and capture specific, valued audiences. Google has launched some new products in order to help marketers develop these strategies including Responsive Search Ads, Advanced Audience Targeting and Automated Shopping Feeds, as well as some new tools to help marketers optimize and understand the user experience, such as Mobile Landing Page Speed and Cross Device Reporting.

Responsive Search Ads

One of the products announced, Responsive Search Ads, promises to make A/B testing on ad copy a whole lot easier. As a Premier Agency Partner with Google, Charles River Interactive has had early access to this tool across several of our clients’ accounts.

The tool, which is powered by Google’s Machine Learning, is able to incorporate up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions into an ad set, with Google then taking the option to mix and match headlines and descriptions and automatically test for optimal performance. How convenient! Once a combination has been determined to be the most successful, Google then shows that ad the most.

Advanced Audience Targeting

Have you ever taken a survey on YouTube to skip to the video? That’s Google gathering information about you!

Google has leveraged this data in creating their Advanced Audience Targeting. The data comes from YouTube and other channels and Google has compiled multiple audiences to allow more refined targeting.

CRI is already leveraging this tool across several accounts. We are able to observe multiple and diverse audiences and assess the topics and content that best lead to conversions. As data accrues, we also are able to credit a specific audience with a higher conversion rate, and to make bid adjustments accordingly—for instance, by exceeding our maximum bid for a specific audience because we know the audience will convert at a high rate.

Automated Shopping Feeds

Scheduled to launch later this year, Automated Shopping Feeds promises to remove a significant barrier to entry into the ecommerce space. It would be hard to argue that brick-and-mortar retail is thriving and, as more people look to begin and complete their shopping solely online, it is more important than ever to have your products available for purchase online.

Automated shopping feeds will rely on Google’s spiders to crawl your ecommerce website. That crawl will allow Google to generate a shopping feed. That is countless labor hours of data entry and management that can be reallocated across your organization, as you will no longer have to manually create and maintain a shopping feed across inventory hiccups or new product roll-outs.

Why CRI is excited: Less time on management means more time to implement better strategies within campaigns, driving a great ROI for our clients.

Smart Shopping Campaigns

Along with automated shopping feeds, Google also introduced Smart Shopping campaigns. These enable marketers to surface the most relevant product to in-market searchers at the precise right time. The machine learning and artificial intelligence underpinnings also make it straightforward to optimize around specific goals, whether revenue, conversion rate, or something else entirely. Within a Smart Shopping campaign, Google will test different combinations of image and text, in addition to automating ad placement and bidding for maximum conversions.

Mobile Landing Page Speed Score

The already-released Mobile Landing Page Speed Score evaluates a single page on your site according to a 10-point scale. Since half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, this is already beneficial to our web services clients.

The tool highlights available landing page optimizations that will improve pageload speed on a mobile device; for many clients, we are able to immediately implement these optimizations. Since the tool is updated twice daily, we also receive near-immediate feedback, and can inform our client with little delay if our optimizations are having the expected effect—and not just on pageload speed, but also on KPI’s ranging from engagement metrics to revenue and everything in between.

Cross-Device Reporting

Assessing mobile performance in isolation, and following a user across devices, has been a common issue for many of our clients over the years. That makes the unveiling of cross device reporting through Google Analytics 360 that much more exciting.

Now, it will be that much simpler to follow a user, for instance from their discovery of our site via an organic search on a mobile device to their conversion via a remarketing ad on their desktop. Along with machine-learning driven advancements in attribution modeling, cross-device reporting moves us that much closer to holistically understanding user behavior during the shopping and conversion process.

Google Data Studio: Data Blending

Over the past year and a half, Google has consistently rolled out additional features for its data visualization tool, Google Data Studio. We have already gone over some of the key benefits of this tool and why we believe it is revolutionizing the data visualization game in a previous post.

At the 2018 Marketing Innovations Keynote, however, Google dropped a bomb on us, in the form of Data Studio’s newest feature, called “Data Blending”.

To understand why this update is so important and how to best use this new feature, think back to the difficulties you and your team might have encountered in trying to stack multiple chart elements pulled from different data sources, one on top of another. What once required labor-intensive data pulls and error-prone data manipulation is now accomplished in just a few clicks.

As an example, a client requested Google Search Console impressions, Google Analytics pageviews, and Google Ads clicks in a single chart. Prior to this update, GDS only allowed one data source per visualization, leaving a gap in the story our data was able to tell—or, perhaps an even worse fate, forcing our poor marketing analysts to resort to Excel and other tools to combine data before it could be warehoused in Google Sheets and, from there, brought into a Data Studio visualization.

The only requirement for data blending is that each source have what Google refers to as a “join key”, a term used for dimensions that are shared amongst two or more data sets. In many cases a join key can be a simple dimension—date, channel, user ID, etc. Blending data off of a shared dimension creates the opportunity for more in-depth reporting, including:

  • Contextualizing online performance using offline metrics such as weather, stock market trends, and unemployment rate
  • Comparing goals across multiple Google Analytics properties and views
  • Assessing paid media campaign performance as compared to onsite website performance

One of the most requested features in the brief history of Data Studio just launched and we couldn’t be more excited about the avenues to optimization it will create. This will truly enhance the power of Data Studio, taking the tool to whole new level.

Some closing thoughts

Google AdWords, which is now rebranded as Google Ads, is getting faster, getting smarter, and getting personal. The ability to group users into audiences will provide refined targeting. Digital marketing is shaping the world we live in, and Google’s artificial intelligence is controlling the devices that we use. CRI leverages our team and their deep knowledge of and enthusiasm for the industry to strategize the right mix of digital marketing to make you and your brand successful.

To find out how CRI can work with you, reach out to us!