• Consumers expect things easily and effortlessly
  • Rising expectations mean brands need to market at the speed of the consumer
  • Machine learning and AI will be a powerful tool for marketers

Space & Time directors Steve Harrington and Justin Stracey were among 1,000 digital marketing professionals from 63 different countries who attended a Google conference in New York on 28th September. Senior Google leaders shared insights into new digital trends, consumer insights and product roadmaps at Google’s annual Premier Partner agency summit.

As one of the top 3% of Google Premier Partner agencies globally Space and Time enjoys unprecedented access to exclusive training sessions and the top industry analysis and research. This event was another example of the merits of being a Premier Partner. Attendance at events like these affords Space and Time’s experts access to the latest developments at Google and we can then inform our clients about these innovations as soon as they are officially released.

Marketing in the Age of Assistance.

The event opened with Mary Ellen Coe, President of Google Marketing Solutions, discussing how search marketing is shifting from information based to assistance based – search is becoming a “path to assistance”.

Today’s consumer is more curious, impatient, and demanding than ever. As new smart devices emerge and data & machine learning continue to be applied to consumer experiences, expectations have accelerated. To deliver, brands must stay a step ahead of consumer needs; harnessing intent, data and machine learning to delight consumers and drive business results.

Google have seen huge increases in previously low consideration categories (i.e. “best bottled water”) as consumers wish to be even more informed. The impatient consumer demands a frictionless experience, they want things quicker (page load speed), they want things sooner (‘same day shipping’ searches have more than doubled) and, in order to stay ahead, clients need to build more assisted experiences for their customers. To achieve this they need a more holistic view of them and must understand the full value of the consumer journey.

This is where products such as Google’s Data Driven Attribution (DDA) and Google’s new Attribution solution (Google Attribution is currently in Beta testing) come in to their own by moving beyond last click search, allowing advertisers to track the relationship between physical store visits and online marketing spend.

‘Understanding intent signals is key’ says Mary Ellen Coe

It is crucial that brands build an audience with the best intentions. Consumers want to be known, and they expect brands to know what they want, when they want it. Brands need to be relentless in removing friction.

  • 53% of users will leave a mobile site if it doesn’t load after 3 seconds…a compelling statistic, particularly when you consider that in the US the average mobile page load time is a whopping 24 seconds!


Google’s new Ad Innovations revealed at summit

Next up was an exclusive preview of new products that Google will be releasing soon – part of an NDA session led by Jon Diorio (Group Product Manager – Adwords) and his team.

Focusing on improvements in Automation, more Local Experiences, and Attribution improvements, the session concentrated on Mobile, Audience, Video, Local, and Measurement.

Justin Stracey remarked that this section ‘included many new reports and tools that will help us deliver better results for our clients’.

Reimagining Marketing Through Artificial Intelligence

Next up was Google’s VP Of Marketing, Marvin Chow, who explained AI as “the study of how to make machines intelligent to achieve goals and solve problems”.

Machine learning is about teaching a computer to learn through examples and trial and error. Chow gave an example of how Google Photos has ‘learnt’ – over time – to understand the difference between a dog and a cat – tricky for a machine to really pick up given that they are both four legged and furry!

Chow discussed a new vision-enabled technology called Google Lens.

The idea behind this product is to leverage Google’s computer vision and AI technology to deliver information directly from your phone’s camera. The smartphone camera won’t just see what you see, but will also understand what you see to help you act. During a demo, Chow showed how you could point your camera at something (in this case a flower) and Google Lens tells you what it is — identifying the exact type of flower you’re preparing to shoot.

In another example, Chow showed how Google Lens could do a common task — connecting you to a home’s Wi-Fi network by snapping a photo of the sticker on the router. In that case, Google Lens could identify that it’s looking at a network’s name and password, then offer you the option to tap a button and connect automatically. A third example was a photo of a business’s storefront — and Google Lens could pull up the name, rating and other business listing information in a card that appeared over the photo.

Getting Smarter with Data

The next session also focused on the hot topic of machine learning with Dan Taylor, Managing Director of Global Display and Programmatic Advertising. He explored how technology (and mobile in particular) has changed everything.

While we use our phone to get around it’s always connected, so it has changed how we engage with the world around us. Google have seen this change with search as 87% of smartphone users turn to search first in a moment of need. A third of mobile searches are location related, with 15% of searches being ‘new’, i.e. Google have never seen these before.

By applying machine learning technology, we can make consumer experiences more assisted, relevant and more frictionless.

As user experiences become easier and better, and more ubiquitous with the use of mobile devices, people will seek assistance from mobile for more and more things. This means there will be more and more moments where brands can be more helpful and more relevant – and technology becomes the enabler it is supposed to be.

People have many connected devices, lots of channels and lots of content to choose from – choosing when and where to engage with that content, and with your brand. The opportunity on the marketers’ side is understanding how consumers are engaging with your brand among all the connected devices.

Data is changing the way we understand the path to purchase.

The next big opportunity for marketers is this new age of assistance – combining the power of audience data with technology, driven by machine learning from Google. It means you can get better results and more scale without an increase in workload, instead focusing teams on strategic work and understanding their best customers, putting machine learning to work to find success.

Taylor moved on to discuss how leading marketers are taking advantage of this improved understanding of the path to purchase data signals, and how they apply this to their digital marketing. Three main takeaways were as follows:

  1. Moving from a channel-first strategy to one focused around the customer.
    Looking at the holistic customer experience, not just how to understand a customer on one individual channel in silo.
  2. Using intelligence at every step – in order to drive better marketing results.
    The recent improvements in Google’s advertising systems enabled by machine learning make this tactic more effective than ever. Google’s Similar Audiences (lookalike targeting) is a great example of combining customer data and intelligence at every step. It helps you find and reach people who share characteristics that your best customers have, and allows you to expand your reach to new customers who will be more qualified and have a higher propensity to buy.This level of smart automation means better results for your campaigns.Once we know the interactions of an individual on the path to purchase we can gather a large amount of 1st party data – this can fuel how we make decisions and optimise. It’s a great opportunity to find new customers with similar path to purchase data. With machine learning you can use intelligence at every step, to first understand your best audiences and then use this information to reach entirely new audiences.
  3. Using digital to develop and nurture relationships over time.
    By creating a relevant ad experience, marketers have the opportunity to drive amazing ROI.91% of smartphone owners purchased or planned to purchase something after seeing an ad they described as ‘relevant’. It’s crucial to understand the audience. Showing an ad treating you like a prospect – when you are already a loyal customer – is not a relevant ad experience. Only a third of consumers feel that the ad experiences they see are relevant on an ongoing basis…So there is a lot of opportunity here to get this right by creating personalised ad experiences for existing customers. Nurturing existing customers can be more profitable than going after new customers. Using Google’s Customer Match you can provide Google with your customer data (email addresses) and ask Google to find these users when searching for relevant terms. When found they can be directed to specific landing pages that acknowledge them as existing customers and why they should interact with/ buy from you again (perhaps providing a customer loyalty discount).In summary:

    • From channel-first to customer-first
    • Intelligence at every step of the way
    • Transactions to relationship…

Following a full day of talks, some interesting break-out sessions on customer focus and business growth, it was time for our esteemed colleagues to enjoy a few drinks – networking with fellow Premier Partners and Google thought leaders – in the New York sunshine!

‘We both thoroughly enjoyed the event, are extremely proud to be a Premier Partner of Google and part of this innovative community of digital professionals. We can’t wait to attend again next year. Watch this space for more updates from Google!’ Steve Harrington