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5 Things I Learned About the Future of Search at Google Marketing Live

5 Things I Learned About the Future of Search from Google Marketing

Every year Google Marketing Live is a showcase for the newest features, technology and direction of Google’s advertising platform.

NB: This is an article from GCommerce

Marketers from across the globe listen in as the future direction of (digital) marketing unfolds over the 2 days of sessions. Google not only announces the newest features coming to Google search, display and more…they hint at trends and areas in which they think you should start investing your time, technology and money for more successful marketing. Here’s a quick list of the top things I learned about the future of search from Google’s Marketing Live 2019.

#1: The Future of Search Marketing Is Visual

People have shown their affinity towards image and video based platforms and formats from Youtube to Instagram, Facebook, Google Home Hub and more. Google understands this direction and understands that the future of search ads will also incorporate these media types.

Gallery ads – Although in the past Google claimed they wouldn’t crowd the SERP with flashy banner ads for visuals, it looks like the engagement metrics for these types of ads are just too great to pass on. Available later this year, Gallery ads will offer a visual ad format that will be featured at the top of the search results page allowing up to 8 images with tag lines under each.

Google Lens – Google search already includes this technology. You can simply click on the Google lens option in the search bar, snap a photo of an object and you will instantly get back search results with advertisements related to whatever you took a picture of.

Image Search – What appears to be a page out of Pinterest’s book, Google is reimagining the image results page to incorporate shopping ads along with standard image results based on your search intent. Google has found yet another place to monetize the search results.

#2: Understanding Language Matters For the Future of Search

Google’s search algorithm already depends on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to advance itself. The shortcomings of AI have always been its ability to understand and pick up on the nuances of language. Google continues to advance its AI’s capabilities with language but understands growth in this area is where the future lies.

Synonyms – Google search has evolved as the algorithm advances it’s understanding of language through synonyms. Google Ads is now matching up your exact match keywords with similar queries with a new match type called “Exact Match (close variance)” -keywords their machine thinks mean the same thing or have the same search intent. The future of search depends on the machine’s ability to understand these relationships in language and it’s definitely come a long way.

Related queries – Depending on the purchase, the consumer journey can last through 100s of different touch points across dozens of websites, searches and more. Google understands these related query connections and that the next time you pick up your phone, the desire is to pick up where you left off in your search. Google wants to help you along this journey by allowing you to return to your previous search focus and provides the tools to do so. In the end, this means that Google will keep the user within the Google platform for a longer period of time, through more touch points and help them advance down the conversion funnel, allowing Google opportunities to monetize through each step of their journey.

#3: Google Wants To Own (and monetize) The Entire Funnel

Numerous times during Google Marketing Live 2019, presentations referenced how long and complex the consumer journey is. It is apparent that Google aims to own and monetize this entire consumer journey. Hotels have seen this for a long time with the evolution of the knowledge panel and Google Hotel ads. Google wants you to discover, shop, plan, engage and now purchase directly on the Google platform. Here’s a few ways they are doing this:

Discovery ads – This new ad campaign type provides brands with the ability to reach consumers when they are open to discovering new things, ideas and more. They are rich, relevant and creative, with a swipe-able image carousel that will be available in the Youtube feed, Google home discovery feed and gmail.

Youtube Bumper Ads – Google’s ever growing video advertising offering will now include a tool to automatically generate 6 second video ads in Google Ads with no additional production cost. It uses machine learning along with editing capability to produce 3-4, 6 second videos you can begin using immediately for video advertising.

Paid Search Ads Evolution – Search has long been a channel where consumers begin and end their purchasing journey. Google is not only expanding ad types within this channel, they are improving capabilities for users to purchase hotels and travel (along with retail) directly through the search engine. Google is also introducing more and more audience types that allow advertisers to better speak directly to different types of consumers at different points during their buyer journey.

Google Trips – The most notable travel specific presentation at Google Marketing Live 2019 was focused around Google’s announcement that they were making Google Trips functionality available on desktop (it’s been available on mobile for some time). Google Trips is Google’s move to own the entire trip discovery, planning, researching and booking phases for hotels, transportation, restaurants and flights. Google is funneling consumers down this path, making the competition and the importance of a well optimized Google My Business and Hotel Ads strategy even more essential.

#4: Google Wants You to Focus On User Trust & Inclusive Marketing

In a move that I think is partially PR focused, Google stressed their focus and commitment to user trust, privacy and ability to control your own user data. What is important to take out of this is that Google and other search engines will continue to give more power and ability to users to control what data they share and how their data is used to personalize the advertisements they are presented. But, let’s face it, consumer trust goes hand in hand with a brand’s success. If they can’t trust your brand they won’t buy your products. Google wants you to continue to use and purchase their products. They also want your business and brand to take the same stance.

Privacy/security settings – Google is expanding it’s privacy and data security settings with new tools to give users more control as well as giving them more transparency on how data is used to personalize ads. The future of digital advertising seems to be trending towards less specific data as users take more control of how their data is used by advertisers. Be aware of how this impacts your ability to track conversions.

Focus on Inclusive Marketing – The world is a diverse place, and chances are, so is your brand’s audience. To be more successful in today’s world it’s important to portray your brand as inclusive of all genders, races etc. But, this MUST be at the core of your brand and not just a marketing gimmick. Develop ad creative that portrays inclusion messaging and that speaks directly to more specific and targeted audiences

#5: Embrace Machine Learning

Google’s message to advertisers as more and more data is taken away by privacy laws and settings is that it’s replacing this data lost to privacy laws/security settings with more machine learning options. Data is going to continue to be taken away from marketers as consumers take greater control over their privacy and security settings. Google is telling marketers to counteract this with the help of machine learning.

Insights – Advanced features like smart bidding, uncovering learning the machines are generating and understanding your most valuable customer audiences can all be accomplished with machine learning. Embrace these insights to advance your campaign performance optimization.

Campaign management – Machine learning takes away mundane tasks like bid management and automates them so you can focus on the human element and ways to plan by customer instead of by channel.

Creative testing – Machine learning gives us the ability to automate and expand creative testing, giving us more ways to test and tell the brand story with the assets we already have. Responsive Search Ads, Responsive Display Ads and Youtube Bumper ads are just a few examples of this.

Measurement – Embrace machine learning to give you better ways to measure campaign impact and performance while protecting user privacy.

It’s really hard to fit in 2 days of learning and discoveries into a brief blog post but these are just a handful of the ideas, trends and technology Google announced for the future of it’s Marketing Platform. Embrace what the future brings, keep testing, keep tracking and keep strategizing.

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