Google made significant bets on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) at last week’s Google I/O annual developer’s conference at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. They also made advancements in voice search and conversational queries. With that, it announced deep integrations of AI capabilities into Android devices which present a “new paradigm shift in how we use the internet and consume content, according to David Alexander, developer and internet marketing consultant at Mazepress. “Information-heavy websites could become back-end datasets that our devices and Google use,” he said, “to solve our problems autonomously but actually seldom receive any traffic from users directly.”
Google, Alexander added, is investing more and more in AI, becoming smarter at understanding the context and intent behind the content they index and has made voice search and conversational queries the norm. That said, many of the tenets of a good digital marketing strategy remain unbroken even with all the Google advancements: marketers must make sure their content remains “relevant and useful,” Alexander said.
We caught up with Alexander and others to discuss the impact of some Google I/O developments for marketers.
App Development, Data Management Easier for Marketers?
As a marketer, do you hate code? Google’s got your back. It’s “remarkable” how much effort Google has put into creating quasi-codeless environments to play in, said Jake DiMare, digital strategy and marketing consultant. “In theory, the goal is less and less reliance on technologists to harness emerging innovations and leverage them in the customer experience,” DiMare said. “In reality, not so much, but I saw definite signs of progress.”
DiMare cited a marketer’s ability to log into Google’s Dialogflow and start training a chatbot on conversational intent and responses. According to Google officials, Dialogflow handles much of the heavy lifting of understanding natural language and parsing data from user input when building apps for Google Assistant.
Even more impressive from an ease-of-use standpoint for marketers, DiMare said, is Data Studio, Google’s data-management dashboards and analysis platform. “Google seems to have their sights set squarely on the top performers in the business intelligence space, including Domo, Tableau and Qlik,” DiMare said. “I was able to import and integrate various sources of information in Data Studio within minutes and create reports with compound metrics with surprisingly little effort. If you've mastered tools like Google Analytics, or Tag Manager, Data Studio will be a breeze.”
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Google's Advancements 'Raise Technical Bar' for Marketers
But will it be a cakewalk for marketers? DiMare and others realize it certainly won’t be. With innovation rising with Google, marketers will have to keep up. Google’s advancements in these areas announced at Google I/O will help marketers more effectively reach, engage and convert their target audiences, according to Danielle C. Leitch, executive vice president of MoreVisibility. “However,” she said, “it will also increase the complexity and fragmentation of marketing tactics. Long-term, these advancements may lead to more simplicity and autonomy, but in the short-term, they will certainly increase the complexity of the marketing ecosystem." Google's advancements will continue to raise the technical bar for marketers to better understand the involvement of software within their marketing strategies.
DiMare sees within the Google ecosystem a “massive open-sourcing of process, knowledge and tools.” This, he said, feels a lot like back in the late 90’s when the key players were all battling for supremacy in the server wars. “Attract more developers,” he said, “get more long-term contracts for cloud usage.”
Google Lens Now Includes Real-Time Recommendations
Google introduced Lens last year in Google Photos and the Assistant. It allows users to get answers to queries like “what type of dog is that?” or “what’s that building called?” At Google I/O last week, Google announced that Lens will now be available directly in the camera app on supported devices from LGE, Motorola, Xiaomi, Sony Mobile, HMD/Nokia, Transsion, TCL, OnePlus, BQ, Asus and the Google Pixel. “From a marketing perspective, the most interesting announcement is probably related to Google Lens and the plan to integrate it into all Android phone cameras,” said Michael Fauscette, chief research officer at G2 Crowd. “Lens now includes real-time recommendations and other shopping features.”
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Google Duplex Opens Another AI Door for Marketers
Google introduced at Google I/O Google Duplex, a new technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. Leitch called it another “creepy” advancement by Google into making systems that act very much like humans. “The impact on marketers can be widespread here, but may be as simple as allowing for more AI-based interaction with customers — think voice-based chat windows,” she said. Leitch sees the potential for Duplex to inspire more ground-breaking types of applications for marketers, such as those related to voice search. “As voice search progresses by platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, there could be very interesting voice search apps that are created with this AI technology for both content marketing and product marketing,” Leitch said. She envisions the Duplex technology being used in the future to develop a custom travel assistant for an online travel agent or a cruise line.
Google News Updates Means Beef Up Your Exposure Game
Google introduced a new version of Google News powered by AI. The update combines assets from multiple Google-owned properties (such as YouTube) using ML and AI technology to provide holistic coverage of news topics, according to Leitch. This is a continued push by Google to show more multimedia-related elements, she said, in its products and create a more robust user experience. “As a marketer, it’s important that you are showcasing your company through more than just a press release now,” Leitch added, “and video is an increasingly important component of brand marketing because of the increased digital distribution and visibility that it provides by platform updates like this."
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ML Software Development Kit Could Aid CX
Google’s new software development kit ML Kit allows developers to embed machine learning into their applications. “Marketers should love this, as it provides more opportunities to companies without deep ML knowledge to build applications for their customers — or target audiences — that offer game changing experiences,” Leitch said. “If you are ahead of your competitors in leveraging this technology, it could make a big impact on your brands visibility and image.”
Danielle Levitas, head of research at App Annie, said Google’s ML Kit will allow developers to leverage Google’s AI and ML technology to make their own app experiences more personalized and immersive.
Google’s Impact on Ecommerce Strong
Google’s announcements at Google I/O have a great impact on ecommerce, according to Rosa Hoverson, director of ecommerce marketing at DollarDays. Marketers can’t rely on search bars or for individuals to be engaged on a desktop computer, conveniently typing questions, she said. “Search functionality now has to be developed with the thought process that Google will be a significant player when it comes to voice interfaces,” Hoverson said. “The actual interaction has to feel like a conversation. Gone are the days of simple inquiries.”
Further, shoppers, when verbally searching for products, will desire an experience that allows them to view the product within environments, search quickly across marketplaces and make purchases directly from video displays. “One of the ways we are attempting to capture this trend,” Hoverson said, “is increasing our photo resolution, incorporating more 360 video displays and researching youtube based selling ads.”