June 23, 2022
Head of Paid Search and Shopping
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In this blog, we will be discussing product announcements made by Google relating to automation through Performance Max (PMax), testing of privacy-forward solutions and My Ad Center, the latest updates to data-driven measurement, and new retail and shopping features.
Each year, marketers from across the world gather to watch Google Marketing Live, share best practices, and learn about the latest ads and commerce innovations.
Google Marketing Live is one of the biggest industry events of the year for marketers, as it provides brands and agencies with an insight into the range of new product launches and updates that are coming over the next year, which often fundamentally change the way we run performance marketing campaigns on Google.
This year, Google revealed and focused on new ways for advertisers to drive results today and build resilience for tomorrow. Across the range of new product announcements, one key topic was present and clear throughout the event this year – Performance Max.
(If you are unsure about what Performance Max is, we recently posted a blog on this topic which gives a more in-depth breakdown of what this campaign is, how it functions, and why advertisers need to take note now, which can be found here.)
Smart Shopping and Local campaigns upgrading to Performance Max: This is one of the more time-sensitive updates that advertisers running these campaigns must be aware of. Google has now confirmed that, starting July through to September 2022, existing Smart Shopping and Local campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Performance Max campaigns. Google is clearly looking to ensure advertisers are fully up and running going into the 2022 holiday season.
A/B experiments to test uplift from running Performance Max: An update that not many were likely expecting, but one that everyone should be thrilled about. The new experiment application gives advertisers the ability to run A/B experiments to measure the performance uplift that Performance Max provides when added to supplement your existing campaign mix and other campaign types (Search, Display, Discovery, etc.). This is going to be important in being able to fully understand the role and impact of Performance Max within an account’s advertising ecosystem. Google has quoted an average of 13% total incremental conversions at a similar cost per action, so it is going to be interesting to see how this compares when experimenting.
Drive and measure in-store sales with Store Sales reporting and bidding in Performance Max: This is Google’s dedicated solution to enable businesses to grow in-store traffic and now uniquely in-store sales. This works by combining data from Google store visits and survey data from users who have volunteered to be asked about their visits and purchases to model the cost to purchase rate and number of sales, which then enables for sales data to be layered on to model total sales revenue through either advertiser set average order value or advertiser uploaded sales data.
Users are becoming increasingly aware of their digital privacy, and they want to know how their personal information is being used online. Google made some key updates on how they are trying to address this and adapt to what is going to be a cookie-less future to enhance users’ online experience while also helping advertisers thrive.
My Ad Center: This is Google’s first consumer ads product that allows users to treat ads like a personalised content service. It will help to build consumer trust by giving users more control of their ads experience. This enables users to see a higher or lower proportion of ads for a topic or brand, update personal data used for ads, decide what personal categories are used for ads, and give users the ability to like, block, or report an ad. An interesting thought is the positive impact this could have in enabling users to tell advertisers what they want to see, which will give them access to new higher-value customers.
Testing privacy-forward solutions: Replacing cookies is clearly not going to be a quick fix, but Google did note how things would be moved forwards through using existing and new privacy forward signals, such as those developed in Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox. The future we are entering into regarding privacy looks like topic interest-based ads, trust token anti-fraud, attribution reporting conversion measurement, and FLEDGE for remarketing – all of which need to be underpinned by machine learning on a foundation of first-party data to enhance performance.
Defining clear business-focused KPIs to measure against is fundamental for any successful marketing campaign. Attribution, conversion accuracy, and lift measurement were exciting updates that advertisers will benefit from immensely if adopted and used correctly within the organisation.
Google attribution is now data-driven attribution: Data-driven attribution (DDA) has been around for a while now, but it has been reserved for the larger brands with bigger budgets due to data thresholds around click and/or conversion volumes restricting many SME advertisers from being eligible to use it. This is now changing, as DDA is going to be the default model for new Google Ads conversion actions and GA4 properties will be available to all advertisers. Brands that are still currently using a last-click model to measure performance need to seriously rethink this approach.
Lift measurement: This enables advertisers to run controlled experiments to identify the incremental effects of Google marketing campaigns through Search and Conversion Lift. Search Lift works by randomly separating your audience into people who see your ad vs. people who didn’t see your ad to then analyse the organic searches on both Google and YouTube to see how you are influencing customers. Conversion Lift works on the same principles, but it is slightly different as it enables advertisers to see how many additional incremental conversions have been driven by Google Ads spend.
Enhanced conversions for lead generation: This update will enable more advertisers to implement value-based bidding, which is the most advanced bidding strategy within Google Ads. The previous process of uploading offline conversions was often viewed as overly complex and meant many advertisers struggled to implement effectively. Now, however, with enhanced conversions set up, once a user fills in a form on your site and becomes a lead for your business, your website sends Google one piece of hashed lead information that you specify. When you then go to upload the hashed lead value information, Google matches the hashed information back to the ad that drove that lead so that values can be assigned to leads that generated customers. This removes the need for a GCLID to be stored in your CRM, which will be a massive time saver for many advertisers.
Loyalty Program Acquisition Ads: Promote your loyalty benefits to potential customers when they’re shopping across Google. This will allow advertisers to drive more loyalty sign-ups through the use of Performance Max, which, based on research, shows that there is a +30% increase in spend for members who are part of a free loyalty programme and twice that figure for paid program members. Promoting your unique loyalty program will only increase your acquisition capabilities.
Free listings conversions reporting: When Google launched free listings (previously surfaces across Google) with the Shopping tab, many of us looked for ways in which we could accurately track this performance outside of the click and impression data within Merchant Center. UTM tagging product-level URLs through the use of feed rules or via a feed management platform so that the source medium could be picked up within Google Analytics was the solution at the time. Now, Google has launched an auto-tagging solution that appears to be a more simplified and robust process directly within Merchant Center that integrates with GA4 to enable retailers to see attribution of conversions from free listing clicks.
Product Improvements within Google Ads UI: Often a limitation of the products tab was the actionable insight that could be gained to improve campaign performance either through understanding competitors or applying SKU-level feed optimisations and populating missing attributes such as age group, colour, size, gender, brand, GTIN, and MPN, which are vital for driving efficient campaign performance. You will therefore be glad to know that is all changing as Google has announced there will be more transparency into your inventory performance in Google Ads, easily identify which products are being outperformed by competitors and ensure your products are performing at their full potential.
Google Marketing Live 2022 certainly did not disappoint, as there were many updates and announcements. We are certainly in for an exciting next 12 months and beyond.
Some themes and announcements were as expected, such as the increasingly prominent and arguably important role of fully automated solutions within Google Ads as machine learning continues to advance alongside increasingly complex consumer purchasing behaviour. There were, however, many unique announcements around new retail and shopping features highlighted and privacy updates, such as My Ad Center, that will be interesting to watch out for over the next year.
As is the case when looking to test some of the latest updates and new products from Google, having a clear data-driven experiment plan in place is fundamental in driving success so that you can take learnings forward to drive success and achieve growth.
If you need anymore information on Google’s latest updates and would like to speak to a member of the team today, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 330 108 6522.
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