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Expectations were high for Google’s Marketing Next teleconference last week and the company didn’t disappoint PHOTO: Chase Elliott Clark

Expectations were high for Google’s Marketing Next teleconference in San Francisco last week and the Mountain View-Calif.-based search giant didn’t disappoint in announcing its planned innovations. 

Google announced updates to AdWords, DoubleClick and Google Analytics, many of which incorporate machine learning that will permit not only smarter analysis but also smarter subsequent actions based on those analyses.

Relevant and Useful Ad Experiences 

With IoT-enabled devices such as Amazon’s Echo nibbling away at Google’s dominance over search, Google has been looking for ways to provide more “relevant and useful ad experiences” that will better align with customer journeys, according to Bhanu Narasimhan, Google’s director of Audience Products. 

To that end, Google is positioning its machine learning capabilities to fill the role of “people’s assistant,” aimed at providing consistent user experiences across devices and helping marketers understand how their messages are being received. 

YouTube's Consumer Patterns and Life Events

For example, Google recently introduced Consumer Patterns and Life Events on YouTube, an algorithm protocol that uses signals to search for products and services that might relate to big events in users’ lives such as weddings or moves to new cities. 

Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of Ads and Commerce, underscored the potential importance of this new tool in his opening segment for the teleconference when he cited Google’s findings that 87 percent of smartphone owners turn to search first in a moment of need and that 20 percent of search within the Google Search app is by voice. 

Improvements to Google Attribution

“This year, we're solving the attribution problem,” declared Bill Kee, Group Product Manager for Attribution, in his presentation for Google Attribution, the measurement tool currently in beta, that unifies existing attribution reporting in Google Analytics, DoubleClick and AdWords.

Google Attribution is a tool meant to predict which marketing interactions from display and paid search are working. It unifies existing attribution data, creating a single view of a user’s purchase path and eliminating manual steps that have been required in the past.

More Conversions Per Dollar Spent

“It’s more of a reporting change,” explained Kee. “It’s [designed to create] a more accurate view of your business.” Kee believes that providing a more accurate view will address several drawbacks that beta users of Attribution have reported, namely set-up difficulties, losing track of customers as they move between devices and a lack of integration between metrics. 

Marketers will now be able to use Attribution to track how conversions change for each traffic channel source based on different ads, leading to more conversions per search dollar spent.

Google Attribution will roll out in standard and 360 versions throughout the year according to Kee. 

Messaging Across Multiple Devices 

In his presentation on Google Attribution, Kee also noted how multiple devices have impacted how consumers receive messages. “As the number of screens increases, messages become more fragmented,” he remarked.

“Today, 30 percent of people use five or more devices. If you reach each of those devices three times, you've reached me with your message 15 times. Trust me, I got it.”  

Optimizing Ad Spend

To address the proliferation of screens, Google announced that it is introducing Unique Reach ad reports. Unique Reach consists of two key metrics, unique users and average impressions per user. 

The metrics capture activity across devices, campaigns and formats to measure the number of times the same person sees a given ad. Google believes that Unique Reach will help advertisers optimize their budgets by identifying spend that can be better allocated elsewhere. 

Unique Benefits for Unique Reach

Adding such a measurement tool should prove to be a savvy move for Google. Given the ongoing discussions in the martech community regarding ad blockers, fragmented customer attention and concern over where ads are seen, Unique Reach should add some much-needed quantitative evidence to the debate.

As of this writing, the report can be accessed in AdWords, and will become available in DoubleClick through a gradual rollout during the remainder of 2017. 

Streamlined Creation of Landing Pages 

Other new features Google announced will offer more convenience. Google Optimize and AdWords integrations will reduce the steps currently required to set up a landing page. That improved convenience for testing paid search messages should be a good complement to Unique Reach in verifying the resonance of messages. 

Tools for Non-Linear Customer Journeys

The customer journey is far from linear today as Google shared on its blog post summarizing Marketing Next 2017. Google’s stepped-up emphasis on machine learning for its existing reports, together with the new Google Attribution, should bring more opportunities to support both customers and marketers in optimizing their future purchasing experiences.