Google Summit 2016 – Recap of topics

This year’s Google Summit revealed new tools and redesigns, and it gave a sense of where Google is focusing its attention for this year. It’s all about mobile, and brining the brick and mortar experience together with digital.

Several live blogs are already up, and you can re-watch the summit if you want a play-by-play. We’re going to take you through the different updates with some thoughts and ideas on how changes to AdWords and Analytics will directly affect our customers.

From the team

Each of us pulled out a piece of the summit that resonated with us and got us thinking.

“I’ve said this before and I’ll just keep it up: Digital is Tangible. We are constantly online whether using Alexa or Nest to manage your home, holding maps in our hands and instantly getting directions anywhere to basic questions about what to do next and how to make the next decision in front of us. The direct connection between in-person purchases and searches, plus the innovations in map results only remind me just how integral digital is in our ‘irl’ daily lives. “ ~Julia Vyse

“Besides the big headline grabbing news like the changes to device bidding and local ads I believe there were some significant indicators for the future of AdWords hidden in the changes to remarketing in both search and display. I think the slightly cryptic announcement of the expansion of Google Display Network inventory to give “you access to cross-exchange inventory” may be a small step towards a more unified digital ad landscape. As programmatic display continues to grow changes like this will enable more users to expand their reach and tap into more display inventory through the AdWords platform without the need for additional services. Additionally the announcement of similar audiences for RLSA campaigns is yet another sign of the influence that audience data is starting to have on search targeting and the very exciting evolution of search into an even more intent based platform.” ~Daniel Mew

“I’m very excited about the improvements Google announced today. I think individual bid adjustment by device will make it easier for us to focus on traffic that matters the most to our customers.” ~Julie Désourdy

“Store visit conversions are more powerful than online purchase conversions. I can already see applications for some of our clients, even those who aren’t necessarily retail.” ~Melissa Lamb

That’s how the team is feeling, now let’s look at the actual innovations.

1. Mobile First

The Shift to Mobile has already happened. More than half of all searches now take place on mobile devices than desktops and laptops globally. Now, the starting point for your customers is a five-inch screen. What should your ads look like? What should your messages discuss? How should you connect with them when they need you?

Expanded ads

The Right Rail change from a few months ago set the stage for expanded text ads, optimized for smartphones.

We’re getting : Two 30-character headlines, one consolidated 80-character description, and a simpler display url.

expanded text ads

Responsive Ads for Display

Google has made a major change to the way display ads work. On the backend, Google has made it simpler to create and run display ads, they’ve unlocked native content, and on the front end, they’ve made display ads more interactive. They are playable, swipable and they fit any site on the GDN. Just generate an image, get a headline and a url and you’re ready to go!

Responsive ads

Mobile-First Bidding

Within the next few months, we’ll be able to set different bids per device type; desktop, phone and tablet with ranges up to +900%. Mic drop.

Image Search Results – Automotive

In the Automotive category, search interest for images of brands has increased 35% in the past year, with 80% of these particular searches happening on mobile – on the road or in parking lots.

To take advantage of this, Google has released Automotive ads that include interior, exterior and details of the latest models. These ads can be interacted with right in the search results.

Google is calling it a way of recreating the showroom within the mobile search results, but it goes hand in hand with additional data about car purchases. Searches are up for ‘car dealerships near me’ which automotive ads will help take advantage of. We know from other case studies that people are making fewer visits to dealers when buying a car, making that in-person meeting all the more crucial. Google is helping car dealerships connect searchers with the right dealer, right when they want to make a purchase.


Shopping Campaigns

A big concern in the retail world is cannibalization. We as marketers love talking about how in-person shopping is complemented by ecommerce, but we sometimes hear from retailers who see the one of the two investments as harming the other. Google now offers several tools to deliver the best shopping experience possible. Desktop customers can go directly to the online store with Shopping campaigns. Shoppers on their smartphones can get directions or call a store as usual, but now they can see whether the item they want is available in the nearest store. Add that to the fact that Android phones can now tell how busy a store might be, and we’ve turned the supposed ‘harm’ of ecom vs in-store to ‘harmony’.

2. Retail & In-Store

Over 90% of purchases will be made in-store globally this year. But they won’t all start in-store. They’ll often start with a search.

Using Google’s data infrastructure, retailers can now measure in-store conversions and connect them to paid search results. Right now the data comes from mobile devices and soon beacon technology will be added to the mix. By harmonizing the online and instore experience, retailers can lift sales both online and instore by directing online shoppers to the right website, and directing out and about shoppers to the nearest location.

Local Search Ads

Over a billion people use Google Maps, and 3 in 4 people who search for something ‘nearby’ using a smartphone visit a business in person in that same day, and perhaps unsurprisingly, 28% of those searches result in a purchase.

These ad formats will be part of rolling experiments throughout the year, including the Promoted Pin.

Walgreens Promoted Pins
Walgreens Business Page

The new ad format will help retailers promote special offers and share inventory right in the search results.

3. Audience Learning

A search query is one of the strongest indicators of intent. Your Search Strategist knows this and can help you connect with searchers. But you know your customers better than anyone (we hope.) Your customers might not tell us everything we need to know in a simple search, and they might visit your site and then leave. Google announced a plan to continue investing in audience signals for search to help pull additional information into simple keyword intent.

Similar Audiences for Search

The very simple idea that a searcher has searched on a term but not visited your site is the basis of Similar Audiences for Search. It parses new site visitors who share the same characteristics of your remarketing list, with a bid adjustment option. I’m very excited about this. I’m already using Audience Matching as an exclusion to target non-member searches – a straight up acquisition play – so this feels exactly right.

Demographics for Search

The idea of age-based bid adjustments makes a lot of sense these days, with our population aging, and with many products actually restricted based on age. Health Insurers generally need to manage age-appropriate acquisition, as do retirement communities and certain pharmaceuticals. Demographics for Search ads are coming in the next few months.

4. AdWords Facelift

A redesigned interface with new campaign creation flows and menus are long overdue and the proposed changes have us pretty excited! Based on Material Design, the idea is to show you exactly what you need at a glance and make the whole optimization process simpler.

Adwords Redesign

Targeting & Scheduling Menu

Can’t type…dancing! Instead of hiding super-important features way down in the settings menu, Targeting and Ad Scheduling are now in the left menu column, a click away from anywhere in your account. Oh, and the locations page comes with a live map view. Yes please! We’ll see it roll out across this year and into 2017.

5. Analytics Interface Updates

After the announcement of Google Analytics 360 Suite, designed to pull together six products into one powerful interface, including Tag Manager, Analytics, Attribution and Reporting. It’s designed to plug right into AdWords and DoubleClick and ads platforms. The suite is now available and most of the Analytics updates are within this product.

analytics 360

Analytics 360 Suite Now Available

All current Analytics Premium and Adometry customers get the suite.

Optimize 360

This product is all about reducing setup times. Running site experiments with different tools can be time consuming and this product deeply integrates with Google Analytics to reduce that time. It’s available as a paid beta for any Analytics 360 customer.

Google will offer a free version of Data Studio 360 which users can use for up to 5 reports, after which they’ll need to upgrade. Both versions have no limits on collaboration, editing or sharing. Freemium is a new model for Google, who normally creates powerful free tools which are then monetized after user adoption. I’ll be interested to see how this works for them. Google does a lot of heavy lifting and charging for their efforts could open new revenue streams for them.

Data Studio 360

Data Studio 360 is a live report that quickly parses lots of data and easily connects different sources, including Big Query, YouTube Analytics and several more. The minute we get big third-party data connectors, this will be a viable replacement for third-party reporting tools.

The time saved in a tool like this is what will make your job so much easier. Right now, we often find ourselves taking days to create reports just to show what happened with our campaigns and properties. A live tool like this helps us take the conversation to why, how and what should we do in future.

Google Data Assistant

Google Assistant (also known as Google Now. No 360 in the title, whew!) is a simple AI within Google. Using this AI and attaching it to your Analytics 360 Suite, you can now ask conversational questions within the interface and have Google parse it and serve you an answer. You can ask the Google Data Assistant questions about your program and have it read your data and serve you an answer.

Find out more :

Julia Vyse
When not in the Adwords UI, Julia can be found in jazz clubs and music festivals listening to music, celebrating music, writing about music and generally enjoying music. Possibly as a result, she is not a morning person.