Yesterday was Google’s second Product Kick Off of 2022 – this time covering H2. These are increasingly delivered in a slick, almost Saturday morning TV show style (think Saturday Morning Kitchen) which helps engage the audience a bit more than staring at a relentless slide deck!
These sessions shouldn’t ever be a shock to advertisers or agencies and generally build on the narrative Google have been pushing recently. This was very much the same with the notable exception that Measurement feels like it took much more of a centre stage than automation has had over recent years. Anyone who has dabbled with automation without proper measurement in place will know how dangerous that can be – so nice to see a shift in the narrative and a greater focus on aiding clients deploy these things.
There are also clear steps at bringing video and commerce formats much closer together. The West still has a way to go to replicate the slick platforms that users in China are used to, but we’re starting to see Google & Meta trying to make this space work for them.
The overarching message was that the product focus revolved around making their platforms work better together (SA360 starting to manage Pmax, GA4 conversion for bidding in SA360 coming, audiences from GA4 pushing into SA360 coming). Also, integrating more with more client specific platforms such as tag managers to enable smoother rollout of privacy preserving measurements like Consent Mode and EC.
We’ve called out our key takeaways below!
Measurement is now the lead focus area Google are pushing on. This has been heavily pushed (for at least 18 months now) but it feels like the first time where there has much a stronger focus on this, rather than on automation (with old faithful Broad Match + Auto-Bidding not really getting much of a look in).
- Improvements to Enhanced conversions whereby advertisers can start to hash their own data to share with Google, in case they want more control over this. Enhanced Conversions are also coming to Campaign Manager (with quick integrations via GTM) and new functionality for lead-gen clients.
- On Consent Mode, they are focusing on integrating with a wider area of tagging platforms to make implementation easier. Advertisers who work in platforms such as Tealium will certainly welcome this!
- There are also some interesting features coming for larger advertiser such as the ability to automate reporting for Mixed Media Modelling reports which demonstrates two things: 1) the increasing importance of Google Ads to the larger advertiser in the broader ad mix and 2) Google showing a commitment to make their platforms easier to use – which is always welcome!
- Finally some very welcome additions to alternative measurement techniques such as Causal Impact via Conversion Lift feature. This will not only allow advertisers to run more sophisticated geo/hold-out tests in platform but also benefit from feasibility recommendations – so you know you are testing in the correct way. This also demonstrates that even the techniques which larger advertisers may be more comfortable with are starting to move downstream as a result of the changes we’re seeing across the privacy landscape.
Creative was also an area which received more focus that in typically has in recent years, which is also very welcome.
- Automatically created assets coming to Google Ads as a way of bolstering Responsive Search Ads. This draws different messaging from your landing page in order to make the ad even more relevant to a customer at the point at which they are searching.
- Also a raft of options for advertisers who (forcibly thanks to PerformanceMax) now have to wrangle with image and video creative more than they would have before. ML led options to switch landscape creative into vertical aspect will help broaden the reach and effectiveness of creative across platforms like YouTube (especially YouTube Shorts).
- There was also a nod to the Google support teams in the background, who can help cut longer creatives up into smaller and more varied versions by tweaking things like the audio, text overlay and aspect rations. Invaluable for brands who can struggle with creative backlog requests!
Discover & YouTube
Both these platforms also got a lot of love – way above what Search got at least. These are channels Google are clearly focusing on monetising more of and benefits the advertisers from bringing the brand to a broader range of people (it’s almost like the Messy Middle narrative was prophetic…).
- Discovery Ads + Product Feeds will help get your product visuals in front of people across a broader network. Greater for helping brands grow and timely as we move into Q4 and people are looking for the perfect gift. This links into your Merchant Centre account to power it.
- Video action campaigns with product feeds are now available – interestingly with inventory available across YouTube Shorts and inventory for YouTube Search (the second largest search engine after Google) will be coming soon.
- Value-based bidding options are also coming up bid strategies soon to ensure that the platform is selling things that drive a good ROAS and not just selling the things that sell easily!
YouTube for Brand
There are some excellent announcements in this section to help advertisers get more from YouTube when it comes to brand awareness. A lot of the voice-over focused on reminding advertisers that, historically, the advertisers who continue to invest in brand and apply a larger portion of their budget there tend to do better over time than those who only invest in direct response. This is a broadly accepted maxim in marketing circles but also a timely reminder to advertisers running into a very uncertain Q4 that cutting ad budgets is easy – but not always the best option to ride out the storm!
- Video Reach for Completes was an interesting announcement. A campaign type aimed at boosting brand awareness but making it cheaper by combining bumper and unskippable ads. It improves efficiency in CPM by showing bumpers to users who tend not to skip ads and showing unskippable to users who do tend to skip This ensures your whole message is consumed by the user – but by targeting engaged ad watchers with bumper ads they can significantly drop the CPM and make budget efficiencies. Very clever (although as an avid YouTube content consumer I’m not sure I’m a fan of even more ads of the unskippable variety…)
- Also a frequency version of targeting coming out to ensure you can hit your weekly frequency numbers. It was suggested this would be between 2, 3 or 4 impressions a week but it would actually operate at a higher level than that to ensure you hit the target.
- These two campaigns are coming to Google Ads first before DV360 which is a worthy watch-out!
- A very interesting announcement was the return of being able to buy Mastheads and own the YouTube home page but this time for a specific set of hours. As before bought by rate card.
An interesting development was also a focus on product releases for content creators on YouTube. This was two fold:
- A bidding strategy to enable content creators to advertise to potential fans and drive more subscriptions to their channel.
- An ability for advertisers to create an Organic Shopping feed ad below a content creators video who was reviewing your brands product.
You may have noticed that there isn’t much of an update on Search itself. And there isn’t much of one to be honest. Some new and improved columns to improve conversion reporting, smoother integrations between Merchant Centre and Google Ads and changes to the way Mobile ads appear (skimming your site for logo & image) which will change the mobile ad landscape. But, not an awful lot else!
An exciting set of updates away from Google’s historically core channels – something we think will be an increasingly regular part of their updates as they push to grow and monetise other surfaces such as YouTube and Discover!