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Google’s Partner Summit: Industry updates

Last week, Croud attended Google’s Partner Summit in New York. The event was packed with valuable stats, product announcements, and insight into how Google views the industry.

Many of the specific product announcements were under NDA, but the key themes from the day were unmistakable.

  1. Consumers are more demanding than ever.
  2. Despite the controversy surrounding the Amazon effect, offline buying is a long way from dead.
  3. AI is still a popular topic, but there was little meat on the bones.

Theme 1 – Demanding Consumers

The first theme of the day was that consumers have continued to educate themselves and to raise their expectations for online experiences.

Particularly in mobile, consumers have less and less patience for long load-times or obstructed paths to purchase. The impact of load times on mobile has continued to increase, with more than 50% of browsers willing to abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. As a result, Google is now setting a target for mobile experiences of “1 click or 1 second.”

Consumers are also better informed than ever. The internet ushered in an era where product information, reviews, etc, were just a few clicks away. Consumer behaviour continues to evolve to take advantage of the vast knowledge at their fingertips. Even previously “low consideration” categories now have to contend with customers who aren’t content to buy without researching. For example, searches for information about bottled water or toothbrushes have roughly doubled this year.

Theme 2 – Offline Isn’t Dead

The second theme of the day was that brick-and-mortar still needs to be a key consideration for most marketers. More than 90% of consumer commerce still happens in physical stores.Customers are not simply “online” or “offline”. “Where to buy” searches have risen 85% this year and “open now” searches have tripled year-over-year. These searchers may start online, but 75% of local searches last year resulted in an in-store visit within 24 hours. As a result of these learnings, Google put quite a bit of focus on new products that will help improve the measurement of offline business results driven by online media.

The consideration won’t be a minor one. Research, along with 140 global advertisers indicated that offline results for mobile search are 80% larger than online impacts. By ignoring offline results, digital marketers may be missing out on key opportunities.

Theme 3 – AI

A popular topic these days, AI held a prominent position on Google’s agenda, with two separate sessions dedicated to the topic. Unfortunately, outside of some incremental expansion of a few specific products, there was little real news in this department. Nevertheless, it’s very telling that Google is working hard to keep this topic in the spotlight.

Watch for updates in this area soon.