After over a year of massive disruption in digital marketing (yes, even more than usual), Google Marketing Livestream 2021 focused on the new tools, learnings, and strategies that will help marketers get back in the driver’s seat, by taking an active instead of reactive approach to building customer relationships, tracking and understanding results, and approaching data privacy.
To Think Like A Challenger, marketing leaders need to embrace two guiding principles that served as throughlines across all of the announcements and stories shared on the livestream:
- The biggest competitive differentiator in the near future is a proactive approach to customer data that balances your business needs with consumer trust and expectations.
- The evolution of consumer behavior is not over, and your business will not reach its full potential without a holistic approach across channels, driven by an embrace of automation and tools that help you understand the full scope of the customer journey.
As a Google partner and the leading performance marketing agency in the most recent Forrester Wave, we know how important it is to seek out new solutions that drive profitable growth. We’ve identified the five most exciting takeaways from GML 2021 to make sure you’re well-positioned for H2 and beyond.
1. Get a more complete picture of your marketing performance with data-driven attribution
We’ve discussed the limitations of attribution models like last-click and why a multi-touch attribution model gives you a deeper understanding of the customer journey and how you’re driving customers to the purchase point across channels.
“While there is value in knowing what that final touchpoint was in your customer journey, a last-click model will do nothing to help you better understand the true contribution of all channels on your media plan, and will ultimately devalue your upper funnel tactics.”
In the new Advertising Workspace in Google Analytics 4 properties, you’ll be able to compare attribution models, forecast cross-channel or platform-specific media budgets, and use real-time data to make decisions and take action.
The attribution reports in the Advertising Workspace in Google Analytics 4 properties bring us much closer to the ideal of multi-touch attribution, breaking down measurement silos using attribution models that are trained on and validated against incrementality experiments, so you can identify which ads, keywords, and campaigns have the most impact on your core business objectives.
Data-driven attribution in Google Ads uses your data to understand how every interaction with an ad contributes to conversion. Data-driven attribution is expanding to incorporate touchpoints on YouTube and Display, as well as app conversions, so you can assess what’s working at every stage, attribute impact beyond the bottom of the funnel, and better allocate and optimize your marketing budget. Please note that while this feature is coming soon, it is currently not live in Google Analytics 4 properties just yet.
2. Drive conversions and revenue by optimizing your spend with Target ROAS Smart Bidding
Google highlighted a lot of new automation features, but the one we’re most excited about is the expansion of Target ROAS bidding to YouTube and Discovery campaigns.
Target ROAS bidding is already a key tool in the performance marketer’s arsenal. Essentially, you can assign a different weighted value for every action a customer can take based on how important those actions are to your business. Then you set a target return on ad spend, and your bids are automatically optimized in the auction according to predictive models based on the information you’ve provided.
That highlights a major lesson about automation: the more information you feed the algorithms, the better they perform. We’re excited about the expansion of Target ROAS in part because it is particularly effective when used in tandem with data-driven attribution, as illustrated by a case study with Bose: after applying Target ROAS and data-driven attribution to 90% of their account, they were able to drive an 81% increase in e-commerce sales and a 35% increase in revenue.
“Automation is delivering precision and new performance gains and replacing the repetitive and, to be honest, the most monotonous parts of your team’s jobs. Think of tasks like implementing extensions across hundreds of campaigns and across those accounts in your MCC. Building thousands of keyword variations or managing day-parting changes across all your campaigns. So I want to address an elephant in the room. Automation is changing your jobs, but it will also give you leverage by freeing your teams to create new and more thoughtful value.”
3. Prioritize privacy as a brand value and actively seek solutions like those offered in the Privacy Sandbox.
As third-party cookies go the way of the dinosaurs, marketers everywhere need to find solutions that allow them to get cross-channel insights into customer behavior and drive performance for their business, all while protecting consumer privacy and adapting to changing rules and regulations.
The Privacy Sandbox is an open-source initiative for privacy-first tech development with two core aims:
- Develop replacement solutions to support web use cases and business models without enabling users to be tracked across sites.
- Phase out support for third-party cookies when new solutions are in place.
What does this mean for marketers? Google’s big move will enable media targeting at an aggregate rather than a user level, forming the basis of audience segmentation for prospecting and retargeting purposes.
Google also reaffirmed its commitment to building automation and modeling solutions (powered by machine learning) to close the gaps and connect the dots on the user journey, but all of those solutions are predicated on your brand’s access to consented first-party data.
“Privacy-safe measurement starts with giving users choices about their data, and then respecting those choices. From there, you can still get the insights you need with modeled information created with machine learning. With that in place, you’re now ready to make the right decisions, even in a world without cookies… The future is based on first party; the future is consented; the future is modeled. Great measurement leads to great performance, especially when you use your insights to power automation.”
The tech giant is continuing to expand the capabilities of numerous existing features and products that marketers can lean on, including:
- Enhanced conversion measurement: Allow your tags to use consented, hashed first-party data to give you a more complete view of how your ads are performing across devices and improve conversion modeling.
- Customer Match: Get the most out of your existing first-party data by building custom audiences based on uploaded lists that allow you to reach and engage those customers with personalized, privacy-safe ads across the Google ecosystem, as well as find new, high-value customers with similar audiences.
- Google Tag Manager consent capabilities: Integrate your consent management solution with Tag Manager without editing your site code to easily customize tag behavior in response to users’ consent choices.
- Modeled behavioral reporting in Analytics: When observed behavioral data is not available, we’ll extend Google’s modeling capabilities to certain reports in Google Analytics 4 properties to enhance your understanding of the customer journey.
4. Integrate your campaigns across ad types to maximize value with Performance Max
Performance Max is a new way for advertisers to leverage Google’s automation capabilities by buying Google Ads from a single campaign across YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.
By unlocking the ability to dynamically distribute and optimize budget across all of Google’s channels, Performance Max campaigns drive efficiency and help you find more customers across the Google ecosystem without managing multiple campaigns.
Performance Max is currently in beta and a full launch is expected later this year, including the ability to import customer data to understand impact on business goals and enhanced reporting that will provide more transparency into creative performance, auction insights, and trending search categories.
“Automation is built with you in mind and updated continuously to improve your performance. Your marketing expertise, combined with the power of Google’s machine learning, can change the course of your business and supercharge your recovery to be ready for what’s next.”
5. Connect in-store growth and digital ads with integrated Local campaigns
It has been a turbulent year for retailers with brick-and-mortar locations, but Google is introducing new capabilities to Local search later this year that expand your ability to promote specific nearby items not just across Display and business profile ads, but across Maps and YouTube as well.
Google will also be expanding Local campaign measurement by allowing Local campaign optimization for store sales, not just store visits and local actions.
Ellen Junger, CMO of Helzberg Diamonds, shared how the Helzberg team has worked with Wpromote and Google to pivot to ecommerce through the pandemic, then apply an omnichannel strategy that incorporated both online and in-store sales.
As stores reopened, Helzberg has spread awareness about open locations using a combination of Local campaigns and YouTube advertising, using store sales measurement to understand how online ads were driving in-store sales.
“In partnership with Wpromote and Google, we’ve made several strategic shifts that have allowed us to continue engaging with our customers in a meaningful way, despite so much uncertainty. Remaining flexible and tailoring our approach to consumer behavior has been crucial to our success this past year.”