In a nutshell, AI, AI, and AI. Okay, personalization was pretty big too, but a lot of that will be powered by AI. While Google Next ‘18 also had a distinct focus on enterprise applications, it could easily have been called Next AI and nobody would have batted an eye. Marketing Live was a bit less AI-intensive, but there was plenty of talk about how machine learning can be used to make marketing more useful and relevant to create the personalized and frictionless experiences that consumers are now demanding.
As Google wraps up its big announcements, we have Google-related news of our own! Invoca has launched enhanced integrations with Google’s marketing suite, including improved integrations with Google Ads and Google Marketing Platform (formerly AdWords and DoubleClick, respectively) along with support for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). The improved integrations with Google’s suite of ad tools allow users of Invoca’s AI-powered call tracking and analytics platform to improve campaign performance, optimize media across channels, enhance visibility and decision making, and boost organic search results.
You can get more information about the integration enhancements in the press release. Now back to the big news.
Google Brings Together its Marketing Tools
You probably saw above that Google has fiddled with the names of AdWords, DoubleClick and other bits of its ad network technology. This wasn’t just for a brand refresh, It did it to emphasize how its ad products work together. From Forrester: Google’s hope is that by bringing all [Google Marketing Platform] products together, it will allow advertisers to have more control, share insights better across teams, make faster decisions, and potentially consolidate their advertising and marketing activities to the Google stack. The name changes essentially de-silo Google’s offerings and help make it feel like a more cohesive platform.
Whether or not any of us will stop saying AdWords and DoubleClick is another story altogether.
Smart Campaigns Get Smarter
Rolling out campaigns in AdWords (er, Google Ads) can be pretty labor intensive, but smart campaigns and Responsive Search Ads intend to change that, as well as potentially making campaigns more effective. “Powered by Google’s machine learning, these ads mix and match multiple headlines and descriptions to find the best possible combinations, making it easy for you to deliver unique and tailored messages to potential customers,” said Anthony Chavez, product management director of Google Ads. Responsive search ads can also display up to 330-character headlines and 290-character description lines, about a 90 percent boost over the previous character limit.
With Responsive ads, you can provide Google with up to 15 headlines and four description lines, and Google uses machine learning to build ads by selecting headlines and descriptions to show in different combinations and orders based on what is most relevant to the searcher. Google’s machine-learning algorithm will determine the best headline and description based on past performance, search query, campaign goals and other factors. This will be particularly beneficial to smaller businesses and marketing teams. “We’ve taken the innovation and technology of Google Ads and tailored the experience for simplicity,” said Kim Spalding, general manager and product management director for Google Small Business Ads.
“Smart Campaigns are simple, save time, and focus on the results we know small-business owners care about, like making your phone ring, driving actions on your website, and bringing customers to your store,” she said.
Voice-Based AI Continues to March Forward
When Google put on that mind-blowing demo of Duplex a few months ago, it was obvious to many that making restaurant reservations and haircut appointments was only the beginning for the technology. At Next, Google announced that it will be using some of the underlying technology from Duplex for it’s new AI-powered virtual contact center agent called Contact Center AI.
Google also rehashed much-anticipated improvements to Google Assistant. To make communicating with Assistant more natural, the “continued conversation” feature allows you to keep talking to Assistant without having to say “OK Google” every time you have a new command. Users will also be able to ask multiple questions within the same request. I personally don’t love saying “OK Google” to my phone over and over again, so this is a welcome change.
The focus for Google’s voice technology seems to be pointing at making the voice search experience more like interacting with a person. People have quickly adapted to searching by simply asking a question, and they now expect that voice search tools can understand questions that are asked naturally, not in the truncated robot-talk we all got used to using for early speech-based tools. We’re no longer adapting our habits to meet the technology halfway — voice search technology is now adapting to us.
Renewed Focus on Privacy, Security, and Transparency
After a year of highly-public boondoggles plaguing Facebook, it appears that Google is making an effort to show that they are paying attention. With all this new technology, consumers are increasingly concerned with how it is being used and what is being done to protect them. From Forrester: Google is promoting its Ads Data Hub, where advertisers can connect first-party data sources with Google data sources — all without leaving the Google ecosystem. Advertisers can also upload their first-party data into the Google Cloud Platform so that marketers can develop customer and measurement models within a secure ecosystem. One thing is for sure: Google is very firm on limiting customer-level data extraction from its ecosystem to avoid data breaches, privacy concerns, and questionable use cases of its data.
Google also announced security reinforcements like Context Aware Access, an access control solution that factors in user identity and location; a FIDO-based security key for protection from phishing attacks; and a host of security features for containers. It also unveiled improvements to G Suite security, like an investigation tool that helps identify infected user accounts, remove file access in Drive storage or delete malicious emails.
From the consumer side, Google is giving users more control over how their data is being used. Users can now turn off ad personalization by allowing them to shut down interest signals that Google uses for ad targeting. It will be interesting to see how many people actually use this feature — it could be a benchmark for how much ad personalization people actually want — but it may also throw a wrench in the gears of highly-personalized campaigns.
The big takeaway is that Google is betting big on machine learning and AI as well as positioning itself as the one-stop shop for digital marketers, while making a push to drive up consumer confidence in the services it provides. The Big G knows that it is not the leader by default, and with increased competition from Amazon and Facebook, it will have to lean on its investment and innovation in AI to stay ahead.