In case you missed it (of course you did, you’re trying to run a business for crying out loud), this week was the tenth annual Google Marketing Live. What is GML, and why does it pertain to you? Well GML is an interesting mixture of important revelations into the future of Google Ads, and pointlessly pandering PR from Google to keep their stockholders interested and happy.
I didn’t have the opportunity to go in person this year, but I thought it would be helpful to summarize what was released for the Ecommerce community specifically, since there were some interesting call-outs of which to be aware, especially as it pertains to the future of advertising on Google properties (hint, AI was the drinking word for this GML).
Here’s what I think you should know about Google Ads announcements at GML (along with my commentary). Scroll to the one you’re most interested, or catch up on all of them here:
- New conversational prompts for campaign creation (yay!)
- Brand restrictions coming to Broad Match Keywords (hmmm)
- Automatically Created Assets (boo!)
- Additional New Customer Acquisition options within Google Ads (hmmm)
- Google Product Studio (yay!)
- Google Merchant Center Next (boo!)
Ready? Let’s dig into each of these (images used from Google documentation or Google UI screenshots):
1) New conversational prompts for campaign creation (yay!)
Google will be implementing LLM technology (think Bard/chatGPT) into a campaign creation process. This goes beyond their existing AI-driven suggestions for keywords and ad text, because it allows for conversational prompts to change its suggestions. That’s key, and I think is a really cool opportunity to better utilize Google’s AI while creating campaigns, but while also maintaining control over the completed campaign.
For instance, let’s say Google looks at your website https://www.traeger.com/ and suggests you bid on the term “grills” with the ad headline: “Best Pellet Grills”. In the past, your option was to accept or reject these suggestions. Now can you converse with it:
“Give me keyword and ad suggestions geared towards the upcoming promotional event for father’s day”
We can perhaps go even deeper with the technology once we receive it to play around with. For instance, “find me keywords to bid on that reveal a problem my customers to this landing page are trying to solve”
I think there is a lot of opportunity here that we will continue to realize, and I’m very excited about it… as long as we continue to maintain control over the finished product, of course!
2) Brand restrictions coming to Broad Match Keywords (hmmm)
Google is releasing brand restrictions for Broad Match keywords. The short version of this, is that you will be able to run a broad match keyword campaign with brand restrictions to only target your brand terms, so you can more easily separate your non-brand and brand keyword targeting efforts and bid accordingly.
The nice thing about this is that broad match can more easily capture various brand keywords your phrase or exact match types might not have necessarily included in targeting, so you may actually see bleed-over into other campaigns (such as DSA) limited. It remains to be seen how precisely this will segment out actual brand terms, and as with any brand bidding it will likely struggle with more generic brand names… but we’ll have to just watch this one over time to see.
3) Automatically Created Assets (Boo!)
This is what it sounds like. Google has been automatically creating assets in various campaign types for a while now, and my understanding of this announcements is less that something core is changing, and more that it’s going to begin utilizing “generative AI” which I also read as “we’ll be doing this more often”.
You can turn this off and on, by the way, by selecting a campaign in Google Ads, navigating to Settings, and finding the Automatically created assets box (see example).
File this one under: “heads-up don’t get caught with Google doing weird things to your ads without you knowing about it.”
4) Additional Customer Acquisition options in PMax (hmmm)
Performance Max campaigns have had two New Customer focused goal options up until GML’s announcement, after which there will now be three.
Up until this point, you could
- Bid more for new customers (not always ideal since it included adding estimated additional value in Performance Max Campaigns that had not actually been realized)
- Bid solely on new customers (by excluding customer lists you uploaded)
- NOW you can also bid higher for new customers you consider to be “of higher value than regular new customers”
- NOW you can also “bid more effectively to re-engage lapsed customers”
While time will tell once we actually begin testing these options out as to how profitable they are to the average ecommerce account, it’s worth noting that all of these options require solid first party data (specifically in regard to a customer list uploaded to Google). We have seen success in driving New Customer acquisition in certain accounts by using only the New Customer Acquisition campaign settings (though not every time we have used it, so it's definitely more of a testing scenario than a slam dunk).
As a testing tip, I like to define our Customer Acquisition setup within Google Ads targeting our Customer List as well as Remarketing Visitors! This allows Google to focus its new customer PMax campaigns on colder audiences, while still aiming at our targets (consider giving a lower ROAS target within these New Customer PMax campaigns since they are higher in the purchase funnel).
First Party Data
The first party data theme you’ve been hearing ad nauseam from Google is one you’ll increasingly hear, but it’s not simply a throwaway phrase. In light of continued privacy regulations and changes (such as the removal of third party tracking cookies), first party will continue to grow in importance.
As a side note, ensure you have enhanced conversions set up, since that utilizes first party signals to help Google better model conversions when it doesn’t have enough actual data from your conversion set for its machine learning to make wise bidding decisions.
You will add your Customer Data into Google Ads through: Tools & Settings > Audience manager > Segments > Your data segments (then click the plus button)
5) Google Product Studio (yay!)
This may be my most favoritest announcement at GML for smaller ecommerce brands! Google is releasing a fabulous looking AI-driven photo editing studio for products that looks like it’s going to make creating/editing images a snap. Stay tuned for when this releases, but your days of crappy images may finally be over… and it’s free (cause let’s face it, you pay for it with all the cash you dump into… er, invest in… Google Ads).
6) Google Merchant Center Next (boo!)
Okay, let’s rip the bandaid off here. Google is releasing a new product that will take over for Google Merchant Center, and I’m just going to be the bearer of bad news that (1) yes you will have to learn another new UI (insert swear words) and (2) so far, it’s removed more features from GMC than it’s added.
What is Google Merchant Center Next? 👈 We answer that in this previous blogpost.
Google has announced a “next iteration” of Google Merchant Center for managing the product feed between your store and Google Shopping Ads and this appears to be moving to a more simplified UI. My take on it, is controlling the data you send from Shopify (or whatever you are using) PLUS ensuring your structured markup is nailed down is going to be pretty darn essential. This is already good practice, but it will be even more crucial since the new UI doesn’t even have editing options such as Feed Rules (at this time at least, it’s still being built so we will see what the final product looks like).
One positive thing for smaller stores, is that Google is removing the product feed completely for some… though that means, again, your store data will have to be accurate… so this gives you a good excuse to start cleaning up things like your Color and Product Type attributes!
One thing’s for sure, once you get to know something Google will just change it again.
There were many other product releases at Google Marketing Live 2023, but these are the six that jumped out at me regarding Ecommerce brands. One things for sure, Google is ensuring they are staying ahead of the shift to LLM-Based Search, and we can guarantee they’ll figure out a way to monetize that!