Google Marketing Innovations: Boosting Digital Ads With AI


Google Marketing Innovations keynote - 10 July 2018

Among the many announcements about how machine learning is transforming its tools for advertisers of all sizes, the Google Marketing Live event on Tuesday showcased a new retail ad tool with Shopify that will make it easier for retailers to run ads with commerce capabilities.

It’s an example of how Google Ads is promoting “Smart campaigns” with the new Google Marketing Platform offering integrated solutions for marketers of all sizes to select campaign goals and location, and its AI-based machine learning to help automate cross-channel creative, targeting and delivery.

Keywords are dynamically optimized and ads are fine-tuned based on how the campaigns are performing against the selected goals. So in the case of Smart shopping ads, digital marketers can purchase the spots through Google or Shopify to run across a range of Google services. They can set business goals for the campaigns, such as customer acquisition or driving traffic, with Google Ads helping to target across search, Maps, YouTube and beyond.

“Over the last three years, Google has steadily tied more of its services together for marketers, an attempt to retain its leading position in digital ads as mobile device use has skyrocketed,” Bloomberg observed of Google AdWords (now just Google Ads). “At the same time, the company, which raked in $95.4 billion in ad sales last year, has infused more of its machine learning prowess into its business.”

“The suite of tools released on Tuesday do both—opening up more Google products to ads while incorporating the company’s machine learning, which can automatically crunch and match reams of data about users and ads.”

Google’s recent survey with Bain of global marketing organizations found that the #1 priority for marketers is “to better understand their customers.” By offering tools that make it easy to collaborate and share insights, Google Marketing Platform helps achieve this customer-first approach to marketing.

In the U.S., for example, adidas is working more collaboratively across digital teams to share insights and get a deeper understanding of customers, as Google’s video case study below notes:

In addition to Smart shopping, three other ‘smart’ ad products with machine learning baked in were introduced by Google on Tuesday:

‘Maximum lift’ on YouTube: People watch over 1 billion hours of video on YouTube every day, tuning in for inspiration and information on purchases large and small. For example, nearly 1 in 2 car buyers turn to YouTube for information before their purchase, while nearly 1 in 2 millennials go there for food preparation tips before deciding what ingredients to buy. That means it’s critical video ads show at the right moment to the right audience.

What’s new: “Machine learning helps us turn that attention into results on YouTube. In the past, we’ve helped you optimize campaigns for views and impressions. Later this year, we’re rolling out ‘Maximize lift’ to help you reach people who are most likely to consider your brand after seeing a video ad. This new Smart Bidding strategy is also powered by machine learning. It automatically adjusts bids at auction time to maximize the impact your video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey. Maximize lift is available now as a beta and will roll out to advertisers globally later this year.

Local campaigns: Whether people start their research on YouTube or Google, they still make the majority of their purchases in physical stores. Mobile searches for “open near me” have grown over 3X in the past two years, and almost 80% of shoppers will go in-store when there’s an item they want immediately. For many businesses, that means driving foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations is critical—especially during key moments in the year, like in-store events or promotions.

That’s why Google is introducing Local campaigns: a new campaign type designed to drive store visits exclusively. Provide a few simple things—like business locations and ad creative—and Google automatically optimizes ads across properties to bring more customers into the store.

Responsive search ads (still in beta) will allow marketers to use more keywords and up to 15 different headlines to reach customers. On average, advertisers who use Google’s machine learning to beta test multiple creative combinations saw up to 15% more clicks

Forget A/B testing; this creates an era of A-to-O testing, as Google’s algorithm will help select the best keywords/headlines combinations to achieve the desired goals.

Google’s own headline for the announcements was designed to get marketers’ pulses racing: “Putting machine learning into the hands of every advertiser.”

Find out more in Tuesday’s Marketing Innovations keynote address by Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of Google Ads & Commerce, and in the blog post detailing Google’s new ads, analytics and platform innovations.