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In July Google held a conference and livestream where it announced upcoming innovations in all things Googley. Speakers across various marketing specializations focused on three themes: value, transparency, and trust. But if you listen to the whole event, you’d think the themes were actually machine learning and automation. More on this later.

With the growth of YouTube as a platform for everything from education to entertainment comes a hospitable environment for advertising. Google reported 150% growth in ad conversions in the past year. To capitalize on YouTube’s success, Google released two new options that support the bookends of the marketing funnel. TrueView for Reach is “designed for inspirational or promotional messaging” where the advertiser buys based on impressions. This is applicable in the awareness generation phase of the marketing funnel, where the video ads can serve to cultivate demand. The second innovation is TrueView for Action, which focuses on the consumers that have made it to the end of the funnel and are ready to convert. Now in addition to the “Skip Ad” button, you may also see an option for “Buy Now.” In both cases, Google uses its machine learning algorithms to identify what consumers are likely to be a converter after seeing an ad.

 

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However, the innovations across the search channel really showcase Google’s machine learning capabilities. Responsive Search Ads will allow advertisers to write multiple headlines and descriptions, and Google Ads* then chooses which combination will be served to each unique customer for an optimal chance of conversion. This innovation is Google’s response to the rising demand for personalized content, even in ads. Remember when Adidas made 30,000 personalized videos for Boston Marathon runners?

Consumers have also come to expect a certain degree of personalization. Google reports they’ve seen 10x the number of searches with the term “near me.” Consumers don’t just want a “pizza place in Orlando,” they want a “pizza place near me.” Google uses location extensionsand automation to serve ads to customers in an advertiser’s targeted location in order to drive store visits; in spite of the success of online retailers, “almost 80 percent of shoppers will go in store when there’s an item they want immediately.”

The livestream can be viewed here.

*Google Adwords was rebranded this summer to Google Ads.

 

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to think about:

  • Does the continual innovation of machine learning and automation make the role of digital marketing agencies more or less important? How?
  • Alongside growing concerns about privacy, Google must capture personal information about consumer’s history and behavior in order to best serve them. What might be some helpful ways Google can reconcile its own interests with consumer concerns?
  • What branding points might a marketing manager use to shape their messaging in TrueView ads?