On May 24th & May 25th 2022, we had the chance to attend the Google Marketing Live conference in Zurich gathering large customers and agencies from the whole EMEA region! The first edition in real life for more than 2 years.

On top of many novelties announced on search, programmatic, video, shopping that you can find in this blog post of Google, we wanted to reflect on 3 big trends we are facing and how we can as marketeer reach consumers who are changing their behavior at an incredible pace. The pandemic boosted e-commerce but also YouTube consumption. The war in Ukraine on top inflations are other change drivers.

1. Towards a seamless experience to find the information and products they need

Google is developing new ways to find information with a big focus on mobile. Vision of search is clearly to Search anyway and anywhere. It means more and more use of your camera to search with a picture and add directly information in Augmented Reality. Impressive example to give you ratings of products in real-time on a shelve of a shop. You can also combine your camera with text to filter information to find your favorite dish in a nearby restaurant for example. Complexity to deliver this is huge and Google tackles it pretty well 😊. More information here: https://blog.google/products/search/search-io22/

Example of MultiSearch combining images and filters to refine results

In the same way, while consumers are searching on Google, results pages are more and more visuals including images in search ads. Idea is to support product discovery directly on Google or on YouTube. An attempt to counter the rise of Amazon and its $31 Bn advertising business in 2021?

Talking about YouTube it totally changed the way we consume content and give voice to many people who couldn’t do it otherwise. All video formats are available on YouTube from short to long ones to livestreams … leading to more than 2 billion of active viewers per month! We could also feel the TikTok effect behind their speech with a focus on YouTube Shorts or the 99% brand safety accreditation of the platform. A place you can’t miss to find and influence prospects and customers.

2. Privacy everywhere

With privacy concerns from users and regulator pressure (GDPR & Digital Service Act), we are in the middle of a new paradigm in the way we perform digital marketing in a world where scarcity of data will become the norm! This trend will only grow up over the coming months and years. Start today to work on a new digital strategy based on this fact as it will impact your performances more and more over time. Impact is visible at different levels:

  • Data collection is impacted as we need the full consent users to collect most of the data
  • 3rd party cookies are progressively disappearing and deadline is by end of 2023 on Chrome for example (already the case on Safari & Firefox). Welcome to the cookieless world!
  • Google Analytics 4 is a solution for the future and the deadline is fixed on July 1st 2023 as data collection in Universal Analytics (Google Analytics 3) will stop at that time. Several evolutions were released over the past months to address key concerns from Data Protection Authorities across Europe recently. We can cite that Google Analytics 4 does not log anymore IP addresses and that you can now select on a country per country basis to store location or cookies at a user level. These are important changes showing that Google is committed to work actively on those subjects and will continue as stated by the Group Product Manager of Google Analytics 4 we met during the conference. Will it be enough to convince everyone to migrate to GA 4? To be continued …
  • Data-Driven attribution is the default attribution model in GA4 and takes into account up to 50 touchpoints.
GA4 offers new privacy features

All of this shows the even greater importance to collect and activate 1st party data for your brand to stay relevant, understand better the customer journey and personalize the audiences for your campaigns. It makes your brand unique and 1st party data are an important asset for your future successes.

Finally, Google announced that they will launch the MyAd platform where any Google user will be able to granularly select the data he is willing to share in a timely manner to personalize the ads he is seeing. A good step of Google for more flexibility but it would be great to know the proportion of users who will opt out from personalized targeting 😉.

3. Automation is the key to drive results at scale

Finally, consumers are changing rapidly their behavior going back to stores after end of lock-down, booking holidays rapidly and new platforms/channels can be widely used in a few months. Who could have imagined the incredible success of TikTok or the e-commerce company Shein 24 months ago?

A study from Google showed that multi-channel users (>4) are spending up to two times more than people coming from one or 2 channels. Your brand should be there in the “messy middle” to influence the mind of consumers to your advantage.

Practically, much more automation is coming not only on the bidding strategies but also in the creatives (search & images & videos) to be able to send the right message to the right people based on the hundreds of signals Google is analyzing in real-time. The Performance Max campaigns are fine-tuned and it can bring 13% more conversions at a stable CPA. Giving the right signals on what’s bringing value to your business is critical to support the machine learning behind the algorithms. At Universem we’ve seen a big improvement of performance of the algorithms over the past years. Going all-in on automation is a necessity as competition is increasing online.

Still some companies (and some agencies) are doubting on this automation. A message well understood by Google that is releasing several tools to launch experiments on automation strategies in a few clicks directly in Google Ads. An example is that you can now experiment broad match campaigns vs “traditional” campaigns using more specific match types. Interesting to see the results on a case per case basis.

Machine learning is not only used in campaign’s optimization but also in data analysis to come with automated insights on your customers/campaigns directly in GA 4 or in Google Ads. It can also be used for conversion modelling, marketing mix modelling … to evaluate performances and behavior in a world with less data available on a user level.

Digitally mature businesses are building clear competitive advantages and winning up to 5% market share over the past 2 years according to a BCG study. On top of this, 66% of offline US retail sales have been started and influenced online. Despite those elements, in Belgium only 34% of marketing budget (source: UMA/UBA Benchmark Media Investment FY 2021) is going to digital. A clear gap is there between the spending and the consumers’ behavior. Many opportunities are still possible to influence consumers thanks to digital and Universem experts are there to support your (digital) marketing transformation!

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