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Get Ready: The Impact of Google Marketing Live 2024

Emerging media Emerging media, Paid Search, Performance Media 7 min read
Profile picture for user Tory Lariar

Written by
Tory Lariar
SVP, Paid Search

Three people in front of Google sign at GML 2024 event

Google Marketing Live 2024 on May 21st unveiled several game-changing features for advertising products, shaping the future of digital marketing. Our team was on the ground in all three locations – Mountain View, Los Angeles, and New York – to capture the announcements in real time and dissect their potential impact on marketers. Let’s break down the key takeaways for advertisers and what to do about these rollouts.

    Here's what Google announced onstage.

    The introduction of ad units within AI Overviews, the generative AI-powered section of the SERP, had long been speculated. These ad units were the missing component from Google I/O’s rollout of AI Overviews (formerly known as the Search Generative Experience, SGE) the prior week. AI Overview ads will integrate the power of Google's Gemini to deliver highly relevant ads based on user intent. Because the ad experience will be dynamic, this rollout is particularly impactful for verticals that can leverage product feeds like shopping and travel. We’re especially excited about the potential of AI Overview Ads when combined with complex search and visual search ads.

    Google also announced several enhancements to Performance Max (PMax) campaigns, specifically asset and placement reporting. This long-awaited functionality allows advertisers to gain critical insights into how specific creative elements and YouTube video placements are performing in campaigns that previously did not have this transparency. Alicia Pachucki, Director of Search at Media.Monks, mentioned: "The announcement of new Performance Max reporting by asset and by YouTube placement was met with huge cheers at the NYC event; clearly marketers were thrilled."

    These insights will not only empower iterative creative learnings but also enhance the potency of hyper-personalized asset generation; with the potential to pair with generative AI workflows, such as those within Monks.Flow, this update will propel the scaled creation of high-performing, compelling assets. From there, performance marketers can do what performance marketers do best: test rapidly, with greater precision. Rob Shultz, Sr. Director of Ecommerce at Media.Monks, added, "Asset-level reporting is a win for performance marketers everywhere. We’ve all been begging for more layers of the PMax black box to be unveiled to aid with optimization and creative strategy, and this is a massive step in that direction."

    The introduction of profit optimization bidding for PMax, allowing advertisers to bid against product margins from their product data feed, is a “game changer” to Ezra Sackett, Associate Director of Search. “These columns have existed in Google Ads for a few years, but accurately uploading data to work with them has been out of reach for most ecommerce advertisers in the past.” Media.Monks has seen positive success with the New Customer acquisition objective for PMax, and this complementing option caters to broader business needs for many ecommerce businesses. “It’s great to see that Google is bringing the algorithm closer and closer to the actual bottom line for the advertiser. This step from ROAS to POAS optimization has the potential to drive even more significant performance gains than the transition from CPA to ROAS bidding a few years ago,” says Sackett.

    Several other PMax/Shopping features were announced, including:

    • Loyalty Promotions and New Customer Pricing, for personalized promotions in Shopping results based on a user’s prior purchasing status
    • Shopping ads in Lens Search results, fueled by the fact that “25% of Lens searches have commercial intent,” according to Google
    • Merchant Center Next auto-generated reporting/insights, to save marketers time
    Monk Thoughts We're witnessing a shift in user behavior with how people are searching due to AI Overviews. It's our job as marketers to pivot with it, not try to resist.
    Deanna Stein

    Several new visual and experiential features were unveiled, including Image-to-Video, Virtual Try-On, Automated Product Highlights, and Visual Brand Profiles, all of which are powered by Google Gemini. These tools help ecommerce brands create more immersive shopping experiences and better convey the real-life look and feel of their products—without the need for costly and time-consuming physical product shoots. “Especially in my work with midmarket brands, the high costs of live product shoots can hold them back from producing enough motion and visual assets to effectively leverage YouTube ads and Demand Generation campaigns,” says Lauren Weisel, Sr. Director of Search. “Since the algorithm thrives off of more asset options, this can unlock great opportunities for performance, as well as differentiation in a competitive SERP environment.”

    Other engaging ecommerce ad features that were announced include: 

    • Visual brand profile on Google Search, an image-forward companion to Google Business profiles to help brands stand out and differentiate. (Notably, Google shared that “more than 40% of Shopping searches mention a brand or retailer” in the query.)
    • More engaging ads on YouTube Shorts, including stickers, interactive gestures, and animated image ads generated from your product feed
    • Improved image generation for Performance Max and Demand Gen campaigns
    • Affiliate and Partnership program expansions for YouTube Shorts (powered by a Shopify integration and Google’s BrandConnect, respectively)

    New updates to the Ads Data Manager are being made accessible to all advertisers, equipping them with the capability to organize and activate against disparate first-party data sources. The updated Data Manager capabilities will allow automated connection, transformation, and import of first-party data, making it easier to input the most up-to-date data with as little manual intervention as possible. Importantly, this is one of the few announcements from GML 2024 that is likely to have immediate impact beyond the ecommerce vertical—B2Bs and other brands with lead generation or signup objectives should take note. Since the ultimate goal of these updates is to enrich audience insights and targeting effectiveness by enhancing the quality of data inputs for AI-based bidding, B2Bs may stand to gain the most in the long run.

    Other data features that were announced include:

    • Improvements in Lookalike segments for Demand Gen campaigns
    • Incorporation of AI Essentials into account optimization scores and recommendations
    Images of Media.Monks team members at Google Marketing Live, and Shaquille O'Neal being interviewed onstage

    GML 2024 was attended by Monks like SVP Search Tory Lariar and SVP Media Growth Greg Kirby (left), Alicia Pachucki, Group Director of Digital Strategy (right), hundreds of Google product leaders and key partners… oh, and Shaquille O’Neal (below).

    Media.Monks Takeaway: User behavior is shifting.

    At a macro level, search behavior is evolving to favor longer, more complex search queries. During the GML keynote, Google highlighted that "search queries with 5+ words are growing 1.5x faster than shorter queries.” They also repeated that their long-touted statistic—that 15% of search queries every day are new to Google—still holds true today. It’s telling that even as the algorithm’s predictive capabilities evolve so drastically, users continue to seek information in unprecedented ways. There’s an interesting “what came first, the chicken or the egg” aspect to this: are users asking longer questions of search engines because it mirrors how they ask questions of humans (prompting Google to keep up) or are users’ queries more complex because the SERP results for shorter head terms are no longer meeting their needs? 

    Advertiser Action Item: Optimize your keyword strategy for themes, not queries.

    Regardless, the evolving SERP necessitates that advertisers pivot their keyword strategies to fit the changes in the product experience. Google’s discussion of the “Power Pair” of Performance Max and Broad match keywords is key here: Google recommends that brands lean into Broad Match to enhance relevance. This is true, but even beyond this: we believe advertisers must also incorporate long-tail terms as Broad match variations too, rather than just use Broad to pick up variants of head terms. Rob Shultz notes that moving forward, “keyword strategies will likely focus on Exact match for Brand terms and broad ‘themes’ everywhere else” to maintain relevance and effectiveness in search ads. Performance marketers must test into new best practices for Broad match variations, to determine ideal keyword lengths and clustering strategies to increase the relevancy of where we are trying to serve.

    Monk Thoughts With every update we are moving more and more away from Exact and Phrase match types because we are moving further from being able to predict the variations of what a user will search.
    Emmanuel Delamota

    Media.Monks Takeaway: We’ve arrived at the AI-powered SERP.

    Through the keynote’s emphasis on the "Power Pair," Demand Gen campaigns, and ad placements within AI Overviews, it’s clear that automation will soon be the backbone of the entire SERP experience. The keywordless future is not a new concept, but GML 2024 does reinforce the inevitability of a future dominated by fully-automated campaigns. The role of marketers will shift to focus on managing the overlap between multiple black boxes (currently, Performance Max and Demand Gen with Feeds), rather than tweaking tactics ourselves. The verticals with the most to gain in the short term include ecommerce/retail and travel/hospitality; they’ll be the bellwethers marketers should monitor to understand what performs and what doesn’t in the AI-powered SERP.

    Advertiser Action Item: Invest in improving the data you feed the algorithm.

    Google’s sustained drive towards a dynamic, personalized, and AI-powered SERP experience will be underpinned by marketers’ inputs: product feeds, audience data, brand website content, and high-quality photography and video assets. The further brands can optimize the quality of these assets now, the better positioned they will be to be aiming the algorithm in the right direction to hit your goals. More importantly, as Google continues to incorporate more variations of optimization settings that are attuned to different business objectives (such as the ability to optimize to profit, as described above), advertisers who can build processes and data strategies to learn how to fuel the algorithm now will be best positioned to take advantage of more customized or relevant features down the line. There has never been a better time to invest in:

    • Optimizing your product feed for high-traffic terms and detailed product segmentation
    • A/B testing product images and testing generative AI and digital twin technology to get new images in market faster
    • Conversion-rate optimization, to balance out for potential decreases in site traffic
    • Enhanced 1P data strategies, both from a conversion tracking standpoint (server-side tracking, offline conversion imports, etc.) to audience data augmentation and segmentation (including CDPs and data integration tools)

    If needed, brands should fund these initiatives by re-allocating from working ad dollars, using incrementality experimentation to identify non-incremental media spend that can be pulled away with little risk to the bottom line. Investing now in learning how to fuel the algorithms effectively will be one of the largest possible competitive advantages for brands as we continue moving forward into this AI-powered SERP.

    At the nexus of the 2024 Google Marketing Live announcements lies a SERP and cross-channel landscape that are evolving in close conjunction with shifts in user behavior. These new features ultimately continue us on the path of evolving to a more streamlined advertising experience, combined with a more dynamic and immersive consumer experience. To avoid getting left behind, marketers must not only continue to evolve their strategies but ultimately reconceptualize their roles in this process as a hybrid of business analyst, prompt engineers, creative strategists, and more—in service of better arming ourselves to feed the algorithm the right kind of data, in the right way, at the right time.


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    The website has been translated to English with the help of Humans and AI