The year is 2019. You are spending over 6.5 hours a day online. You’re making 11% of your purchases via the internet. You’re sharing more information than ever via seven different social media accounts. Yet, you are increasingly concerned about misuse of your personal data. In a world simultaneously dependent on and hobbled by technology, there seem to be few safe havens for internet users.
At Google Marketing Live, over 5,000 marketers from 68 countries learned what Google is doing to anticipate the needs of its users while also safeguarding them from the bad actors that abound. The message was clear: Google is here to automate all your cares away.
If we made a word cloud from all the talks at Google Marketing Live 2019, the biggest and most central would be “machine learning.” Indeed, the technology giant is betting big on automation across its central platform products to reduce friction for both users and advertisers. At the core of Google’s focus on automation is full-steam expansion beyond its mainstay search product into display, video, and ecommerce. Universal App Campaigns (now called App Campaigns) were only the first comer in the new wave of cross-channel activation. New campaign types will expand upon this trend, while others will include new inventory to run across the full funnel.
Announced during the event and available later this year, Discovery Ads are intended to reach consumers “not only when they are looking for something specific, but also when open to discovering something new,” said Google’s Brad Bender. These ads are available exclusively via the new campaign type “Discovery Campaigns,” which use audience targeting rather than keyword intent signals. Discovery Ads will be eligible to run across YouTube, Gmail, and the Google Discover feed.
Many existing campaign and ad types will add incremental inventory opportunities, so that these ad types will reach users on YouTube, Gmail, Images, Maps, Shopping, Search Network, Display Network, and more. These include Shopping campaigns, App campaigns, Local campaigns, Smart campaigns, and others.
Like App Campaigns, creation is simple. A few settings and creative elements are required, and the machine takes it from there. Google’s algorithm will determine which ad to serve in which format to which user on which platform. Transparency into this decision-making process as well as performance breakouts are and will be limited, but Google recognizes that this is not ideal and will work to respond to advertiser concerns over lack of control and transparency. For now, advertisers will need to adapt and trust the machine.
But fear not – your data is safe! This is a point that Google made sure to reinforce at nearly every turn. In the wake of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and of course the massive fines levied against Google for antitrust violations, the tech giant is being more cautious than ever about consumer data privacy. Given the focus on automation and limited transparency, Google wants to maintain user trust in their platforms, which is currently tied with Apple for third place, well below trust in Amazon.
Google continues to push the industry to target customers rather than channels, and given its position in the marketplace, will likely succeed in breaking down the silos of digital (and even traditional) media. Advertisers will need to figure out a way to operate holistically while maintaining a solid understanding of – and expertise in – the platforms. This will be necessary to hold technology companies accountable to what’s in the best interest of both users and brands.