Columbus x Google Summit 2018 pt. 3

The Product Roadmap for 2018

While we were at the Google Summit, we were humbled to take part in thought provoking and inspiring presentations. These speakers left the team with valuable insights and knowledge. While at Google HQ, Rosemary Koesling presented the Google Product Roadmap for 2018 and beyond. These products and features will shift our client performance strategies to increase efficiencies and deliver increased business value.

Product Road Map Peek

The vision

It is no surprise that Google has a long term vision for their product and offering. Their goal is to provide advertisers, brands and agencies with solutions that help accelerate optimisation and efficiency, manage growing budgets and engage with users on new interactions. In tandem with this ambitious goal, Google has categorised their product roadmap into 5 pillars, aimed at bringing their solutions to life.

  1. Automation –
    Focus on being powered by AI while helping advertisers transition to high value activities.
  2. Full Customer –
    Accurately value each touchpoint and attribute along the consumer touchpoint funnel.
  3. New Signals –
    Continue to add new signals that will further refine the ability of advertisers to hyper-segment and target performance media with continually increasing relevancy.
  4. Campaign Management –
    Refine across performance buying platforms that allows budgets to be managed more efficiently.
  5. Immersive User Experiences –
    Navigate new forms of customer interaction in the age of convergence and assistance.

Value for advertisers and the consumers we are connecting with

In a nutshell, Google is reducing the friction for both the end user that we are connecting with and for the advertisers. This will improve experiences with AdWords, DoubleClick and the Google 360 suite. These product offerings will have new automation enhancements powered by machine learning, new data and computing power that is evolving performance marketing and how advertisers can drive increased value for clients.

The Key product updates

There are 41 new or upgraded product enhancements that are being rolled out across Bidding, Formats, Apps, Measurement & Attribution, Shopping, Audiences and YouTube. With so many updates, the following few are the ones that we believe will make the most significant updates to performance in 2018 and beyond.

Store Visits in Smart Bidding

Store Visits is Google’s online to offline measurement solution, first introduced in 2014. Store Visits measures the impact of search ads on in-store traffic. This tool required Google surveyors to physically go to site and geo-fence a brand’s store to report store visits as a metric in AdWords. This allowed Google to extrapolate the numbers of signed in users, as a proxy, to become representative of non-signed in users who click on a brand’s ads. The 2018 upgrade is a game changer for brick and mortar retail clients utilising Google Store Visits already. A technology and machine learning alchemy will power optimisation strategies that are applied to online consumers.

Fusing Store Visits and Smart bidding technologies together will result in Performance teams being able to set a value for a store visit conversion while automating campaigns so that they can be optimised against target ROAS for both online and offline customers.

Google Assistant – Actions on Google

With the proliferation of voice search, 20% of all Google Search queries were via voice search in 2017, there is another exciting update. Clients can now work directly with developer teams through Actions on Google. Actions on Google is a developer platform that, among other things, enables the user to create software to extend the functionality of the Google Assistant with specific conversational apps for businesses and enhancing consumer experiences.  There are significant opportunities for Actions on Google at present. The platform is currently uncrowded, however this product offering is expected to gain momentum with the increasing trends in voice search. Further enhancements and integrations from Actions – Google Assistant has now integrated into over 500 million devices worldwide, creating further opportunities for companies to take advantage of this new product.

Trueview for Performance

As an agency with a heritage in Performance Marketing, we were excited by the advances that are rolling out across YouTube. Some of these advances have already gone live, with more updates coming later in 2018. Additionally, there are a number of new companion formats to complement the already prevalent YouTube Trueview ad formats. These formats are all categorised as ‘Trueview for action’, in stream ads optimised to drive action at a desired cost per action. The Trueview for action suite is designed to drive lower funnel actions and will include:

  • Call to Action Ads –
    Place Call to Action Overlays, companion tile (directly below the video player), to drive action with consumers who are lower in the purchase funnel.
  • Lead Ads –
    Enable advertisers to capture email leads natively within YouTube, keeping the consumer experience uninterrupted while consuming content.
  • Call Ads –
    Enable consumers to call a call centre from the video ad on YouTube. The ad format will be served as a companion banner below the in-stream ad.

The inclusion of location extensions below the in stream ad will enhance the channels performance. Additionally, there is the roll out of Google Store Visits for YouTube campaigns. This means clients will be able to connect the dots between online influence and offline action.

Bumpers for Shopping

The popular bite-sized, 6 second non-skippable YouTube format ‘bumper’ is getting a deserved improvement. Retail clients can now integrate their product inventory feed from their Google Merchant Centre into a module called product cards. These will sit directly under the bumper ad on mobile and as an overlay on desktop/laptop. This mobile first format is designed to reach consumers on the go and it will bid with efficient CPM to maximise reach for the target audience.

Audience Updates

There are also significant updates with audience targeting capabilities, with some already starting to roll out on campaigns.

Detailed Demographics advances traditional demographic composition of age, gender enabling advertisers to reach people based on long-term relationship status, parenting stage, household income, homeownership status and education. This enables specific targeting capabilities for clients target audiences for prospecting and awareness. These new targeting signals are fuelled by Google Search and YouTube captured data, which is then validated by surveys with Machine Learning. Finally, this validated data is used to find similar users that exhibit similar behaviours and signals to enable scaled targeting and increase the ability to reach people based on facts about their lives.

New Affinities & Consumer Patterns will allow people to be reached based on their interests, frequent behaviours and the habits that they exhibit within the Google ecosystem. Google is launching new affinity segments to their pre-existing segments within Vehicles & Transportation, Vehicle buying preferences, credit card preferences and technophiles. These new targeting capabilities have derived from the 20M+ signal types from Google Search, Google Maps and YouTube, increasing targeting options for client campaigns.

Custom Affinity 2.0. will open up new data sources to us that will enable new, increasingly powerful ways to create custom audiences. Google Search, Google Maps History and Android App inputs will be introduced, creating even more granularly data rich affinity segments. For example, a yoga fan, interest data (yoga beginners, pilates, yoga) would still be leveraged alongside urls (, but we can now add Apps inputs like, Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness. There is also the ability to select historical map data and include under Places, Yoga Studios. This new data input into custom affinity will increase the fidelity of our affinity segments.

New life events is an exciting update for clients already capitalising on Google’s first iteration of life event targeting for video, display and Gmail campaigns. There is now the ability to reach even more individuals at different stages of their purchase decisions. The new life segments include:

  • Purchasing a home
  • Renovating a home
  • Starting a new job
  • Starting a business
  • Adding a cat or dog to the household
  • Retiring from work

New In market segments will enable performance teams to reach target audiences that are in market for specific products or services. In total, Google is adding 250 new segments, across two verticals including Travel and Retail. Travel will have 200 new destinations to cities and countries while Retail will include new additions ranging from household cleaning supplies to sunglasses.

Custom Intent audiences are possibly the most innovative update from the audience product updates from a performance point of view. This type of targeting will allow for targeting people that have a true intent to purchase. These people have and are actively searching for specific products and services, with these signals being captured within the Google ecosystem. This allows for bespoke custom audiences to be created against a list of keywords that best represents that specific target audience. This feature is currently available in AdWords for Google Display Network campaigns with betas, YouTube and DoubleClick Bid Manager are also in place for select advertisers.

Google has significant and innovative long-term visions about the products that they provide advertisers, brands and agencies. Google is committed to providing solutions that help accelerate optimisation and efficiency, manage growing budgets and engage with users on new interactions. This dedication is undoubtedly impressive, enhancing performance marketing by continually pioneering new formats, targeting capabilities for improved performance and constantly improving the end user experience. Google is a powerful platform that empowers Columbus to connect with our clients’ consumers to continually improve performance goals, create immersive experiences and drive increased business value.

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