May 2019 saw the event of Google Marketing Live (GML) 2019; this year’s annual conference which Google uses to inspire innovation and unveil new updates across its products. The theme of the live event this year was discovery and there was a key focus on new creative formats that would allow for even more automation than last year’s unveiling.
New formats and tools that were announced in GML 2019:
- Discovery ads: Discovery ads are native ads that appear in multiple Google feed environments including YouTube’s home feed and in the Gmail promotions tab. These ads are designed to reach users and help them discover products they weren’t even looking for (one level above awareness in the funnel). Google has claimed that discovery ads are “visually rich, mobile first and use the ‘power of intent.’” (like the methodology behind the in-market audience targeting that Google offers).
- Gallery ads: Gallery ads are a new search ad format that allows advertisers to combine compelling images and ad copy to serve prospects their offering across the search network. The end result is a scrollable gallery (between 4-8 images) that appears at the top of mobile search results (currently not available for desktop). This allows us as advertisers to use paid search as a visual brand awareness tool as we do with other channels.
- Showcase shopping ads (new inventory): First introduced for search in 2016, Showcase shopping ads take users to a catalogue of related products and is ideal for users searching for inspiration, and once again, in their ‘discovery’ phase of the journey. The update this year is that Google will be expanding showcase shopping ads to the image search results, discover search results and also YouTube – focusing on the discovery-based shopping experienced across high-funnel touchpoints of the conversion journey, that is easily dismissed while planning and optimising campaigns.
- Google Shopping: As well as expanding on the inventory for showcase shopping ads, Google has also worked on the user journey for shopping ads, now making it possible for online shoppers to make direct purchases within the shopping interface.
- Bumper machine: When it comes to video campaigns, it can be difficult for creative teams to cut down 6 second snippets while also maintaining the message of the original asset. To aid with this challenge, the Google Ads interface will soon house a new automated tool; ‘the bumper machine’, which can turn any video (< 90 seconds) into a collection of bumper ads, ready to use on YouTube. This tool will also feature a few simple editing tools to allow for further control over these assets while finalising.
What these formats have in common is that they are all highly visual, appear across various Google properties and are all fully automated, similar to Universal App Campaigns (UAC), which first launched in 2015).
All Response Media viewpoint
The keynote this year focused on delivering relevant ad experience, and also emphasised how important it is to understand user intent. As an agency, if we only focus on the mid-low funnel touchpoints, there is a large part of the puzzle we are missing, which is vital as it feeds in directly to our typical conversion campaigns.
In releasing these updates, Google has recognised the need for further automation and smarter tools which should free up some more time for advertisers to focus on strategy and the wider direction in which the campaigns are headed. We should have a mix of these formats in our plans for the coming months (when available) as it will unlock valuable insight (for both brand awareness and direct response campaigns) into what happens before users enter the in-market phase and make for a more seamless, all-inclusive user journey.