The 78Madison team participated in Googles Marketing Live presentation to get a head start on the latest Ads, Analytics and Platform innovations coming out of Google...a first look at new features and tools that will allow us to continue to help transform our clients businesses. As well, we were given access to the latest insights and trends that are shaping the future of our industry, which will certainly provide us with a head start toward 2019 planning. Below is what we saw as some of the overarching takeaways?

AN EMPHASIS ON INTEGRATION ACROSS ALL PRODUCTS. Google didn’t retire the AdWords and DoubleClick brands because they were stale or no-names in marketing, it did it to bring its ad products closer together so that marketers can better plan, manage, buy, and optimize advertising across all channels. Google's belief is that by bringing all of their marketing products together, it will allow advertisers to have more control, share insights better across teams, and make faster decisions.

AUTOMATION. For marketers with small paid search budgets, or those strapped for resources to execute paid search advertising, good news - Google is taking a lot of the manual labor out of AdWords; 78Madison is particularly excited about this. Google’s been rolling out “smart campaigns” to help speed up creating search ad campaigns through machine learning. Additionally, new types of ads like Responsive Search Ads give greater flexibility by allowing paid search advertisers to use up to 15 headlines and four descriptions for a search ad. Google’s machine-learning algorithm will determine the optimal headline and description based on several factors, such as past performance, search query, and campaign goal.

STAY AHEAD OF THE FACEBOOK MESS. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal appears to have put some new found energy in how Google is viewing the future, particularly as it relates to data access standards for advertisers and third-party vendors. Google acknowledged some concerns resulting from the recent announcement to restrict use of DoubleClick IDs (e.g., sorry, not sorry), but to offset the disruption, 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. As well, advertisers can 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 seems to be very focused on limiting customer-level data extraction from its ecosystem to avoid data breaches, privacy concerns, and questionable use cases of its data.

CREATING CONTENT: One of the biggest frustrations 78Madison has faced, from a creative/google perspective, is how difficult (if not impossible) it is to have a smooth media-creative communications pipeline. A new initiative however, will give creatives the opportunity to see the campaign set up and performance metrics (but not budget data), which should help marketing organizations break down silos and apply data-driven insights to creative functions. Within Display & Video 360, design and creative teams will be able to collaborate on content development thanks to a tighter integration with Google Web Designer. This is a compelling move given the new ad opportunities and new creative formats Google is rolling out.

BRAND & OFFLINE MARKETING. It appears that Google is casting its net beyond just direct response, which is possible the most noticeable change of the conference. We heard more about the importance of brand and brand marketing. For instance, Google Survey 360 is being used by several companies to do brand lift studies. And there was a concerted effort to talk about driving in-store traffic for brands with hundreds of locations. Google’s online-to-offline measurement and automation of local ad campaigns received attention during the main-stage keynotes.

BETTERING THE VOICE SEARCH EXPERIENCE. There were interesting and even emotional stories about Google Assistant’s impact on people’s lives. And Google is making some good efforts to improve the experience of Google Assistant. For example, you no longer have to repeat “Hey Google . . .” every time you want to ask it a question; it has expanded its language capacity to 30 languages and is in over 80 countries; and Google is testing out visual complements to the assistant. But the real hurdles were not addressed, such as better natural language processing and being able to take complex questions/requests (such as “running shoes under $150”) and provide a contextual and relevant answer to the user.

...and much, much more, but we wanted to give you a flavor. If interested, below are a couple of segments that will give you an idea of Google’s intent moving forward. Note that much of this remains in beta testing and is not yet live to everyone – but we prepping as needed.

Let us know your thoughts.

Joe Bouch
CEO, 78Madison

78Madison is a full service marketing communications firm – advertising agency – located in Orlando-Altamonte Springs, Florida.