3 Takeaways for Advertisers from Google Marketing Live

Google’s annual Marketing Live conference did not just update marketers on the latest moves by the digital advertising giant. It also provided a case study in where digital advertising as a whole is heading.

The three takeaways marketers should recall from this year’s Marketing Live are Google’s expansion of video ads, the increasing automation of advertising, and the turn toward privacy and privacy-safe insights.

Here’s what marketers need to know about Google’s announcements in each of these three categories and how they need to respond to maximize competitiveness not just on Google’s platforms but across digital advertising.

Video Ads Expand

Google made a series of announcements about the expansion of video ads across its properties. For example, video action campaigns are coming to YouTube Shorts. Google bills video action campaigns as especially scalable and likely to drive conversions. The company also said it plans to make its video ads more shoppable.

Google is also empowering advertisers to create connected TV campaigns on and off YouTube. Advertisers will be able to use Display & Video 360 to target “affinity, in-market, and demographic audiences” across CTV apps.

Advertisers have been hearing for years that video is more effective than static ads because it is more engaging, and users do not need to stop and read the ad for it to make an impact. Google’s latest changes are a sign that this trend is only picking up steam and that marketers will need to devise video creation and distribution processes to remain competitive (no small feat, technically speaking).

Google is providing automation to enhance agencies’ ability to create videos and other compelling advertising assets. But the turn to automation does not mean marketers can take their hands off the wheel.

Automation Picks Up Steam But Requires Advertiser Effort

The second big theme of Marketing Live was Google’s increasing investment in automation. Google said it would roll out A/B testing, the ability to optimize for in-store sales, and new performance data for “performance max” campaigns. The value proposition of this ad type is that Google will optimize performance in real time using smart bidding, configuring ad campaigns to hit advertiser KPIs.

Similarly, Google said it will improve responsive search ads by automatically creating assets based on business content such as previous ad creative and landing pages. Again, the company will optimize search campaigns for performance (hence, “responsive” search ads).

But greater automation from Google does not mean all the work will be removed from advertisers’ plates. Automatically serving the best possible ads is good for business, but it requires that advertisers have strong assets in the first place and that they stay on top of what Google is doing with those assets. For example, advertisers will need to focus on providing high-quality images to drive high-quality automated videos. They will also need to provide strong data, such as metadata on images for automated categorization, to help machines do their work properly.

Another issue with both automation and video is creating ads across platforms. It is great that Google is helping advertisers automate campaigns and maximize the potential of video. But advertisers will need third-party solutions to produce the best possible ads across, say, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok. And no one Big Tech company’s solutions will accomplish that for agencies.

Advertisers Need Tools to Enrich and Share Privacy-Safe Data

Unsurprisingly for those who have been following the increased emphasis on privacy in digital advertising over the past couple of years, Google also reiterated its commitment to privacy and user control over online experiences. For example, the company said it will allow users to signal what types of ads they want to see.

But more attention to privacy does not mean the end of targeting and measurement. Rather, it means Google is creating ways for advertisers to use their relatively privacy-safe first-party data to drive campaigns on Google’s platforms. Google is also providing fresh attribution, budget, and audience insights that will help advertisers optimize campaigns based on high-level information without accessing individual user data.

The catch is that advertisers will need privacy-safe ways to aggregate their information and share it with Google and other ad platforms. This will require tools that allow advertisers and agencies to link campaign performance data with CRMs, building feedback loops to foster holistic audience data and drive more effective targeting and measurement.

The Bottom Line for Advertisers

Advertising on Google and other platforms is getting more sophisticated and automatic. It’s also becoming more video-centric and respectful of user privacy. Overall, these are all positive changes that will make digital advertising more ethical and impactful.

But automation is not a magic bullet for advertising performance. To work, it requires advertisers to provide rich, holistic, privacy-safe data. Plus, advertisers need ways to scale their audience and campaign data across platforms so that it fuels performance wherever their customers are, not just on Google’s properties.

With the proper tools to aggregate and enrich their data while automating campaigns across major advertising platforms, agencies big and small will be well positioned to capitalize on changes like Google’s, as opposed to getting overwhelmed by them.

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