The low-down on the Google Marketing LiveStream 2021

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We are constantly inundated with updates, announcements, and changes from Social Media Giants and Big Tech companies. It is easy to lose track of what is happening and what is important, especially when these announcements are of features not yet available to everyone, of events happening in the distant future, or of changes not quite applicable to our country. Google’s Marketing LiveStream event happened back in May, but it is an example of just such an event where the announcements don’t always apply to us right now, might become applicable soon, or just doesn’t apply to our South African context. So, which of the announcements from Google’s Marketing LiveStream do we need to take note of?

Reporting accuracy

Google announced quite some time ago that by 2022 they will have phased out third-party cookies. They are embracing privacy and thus presented the idea of a Privacy Sandbox that would protect users’ anonymity, but still provide advertisers with results. It has been a bit of a wait-and-see game as the Privacy Sandbox is not one feature, but rather a collection of features promoting a privacy-first future. With 2022 fast approaching, we have been anxious to see what the content of the Privacy Sandbox would be. We got some answers in May:

  • Consent mode

The consent mode on cookies can already be seen in most websites we go to – we can manage the cookies to accept all or only accept the essential cookies. It places privacy in the users’ hands, and if you opt-out of all the tags, Google will use conversion modelling to provide advertisers and publishers with the information they need to advertise.

  • Enhanced conversions

In the absence of third-party data, Google will use first-party data for the reports they create. Privacy will still come first, though.  First-party data about visitors to your website will be hashed (reduced to a string of characters). Google will use the hashed data with their own first-party data to provide you with aggregated and anonymized data. This means that advertisers still receive accurate and meaningful reports on conversions while the users’ information has been kept completely private.

  • Machine learning for behaviour reports

If there are no cookies, metrics like bounce rates, sessions, events, and more can be thrown completely off-kilter. Google provides a solution to this by using machine learning to assist with filling the gap left by the loss of cookies. This is still a bit of a wait-and-see scenario as to how well machine learning will perform in providing businesses and marketers with what they need to run successful campaigns.

Ad changes

Google has been steadily pushing towards automation. While it might feel like advertisers have less control over their ads, there are advantages too.

TrueView for action, campaigns are being replaced by Video action campaigns. We’re happy with this because Video action campaigns will retain the best features of TrueView but use responsive ad groups rather than standard ad groups. Responsive groups can use skippable in-stream ads and video discovery ads, show in more places on and off YouTube and use longer headlines and descriptions.

Another plus is that the performance of Performance Max campaigns campaigns automated by Google to target and deliver based upon the information provided by the advertiser will be more transparent with Google presenting reports on top-performing creations, auction info, and trending search categories. Advertisers will also be able to preview the ads performing the best on each channel.

On a slightly more confusing note, tROAS is (Target Return on Ad Spend) available for Video and Discovery campaigns, and Google encourages all account types to use it. tROAS is an automated bidding strategy to help meet your target return on ad spend when you value each conversion differently. However, it was announced in March 2021 that tROAS will be reorganized to fall under Max Conversion Value. This strategy is generally more effective at helping smaller budgets maximize their campaigns. With tROAS being a much less friendly strategy for small businesses, its introduction as an option for these two campaigns seems odd.

Google Maps Ads

With ad automation and performance being maximized across platforms, it comes as no surprise that Google Maps is included. There are three new ad types available to businesses with a physical location:

Auto-suggest ads will appear in the list of suggestions for businesses nearby that provide the products or services you are looking for. They will be labelled with a small “Ad” label and we think it’s a great way to increase awareness of local businesses.

Navigational ads will appear at the bottom of the map as it is navigating you to your destination. They will advertise the business you might be interested in on your route as they come close.

Similar place ads show you businesses like the one you searched and that are nearby if your result is closed for whatever reason. We think it’s a great way to get the products and services you are looking for.

Competition insights

One very interesting and worthwhile announcement is the Price Competitive Reports in Google Merchant Center. This report will allow you to see how your prices shape up against your competitors by providing an average price. This can make it much easier to price products competitively, create truly valuable promotions, and make ad decisions.

Final thoughts

We have outlined some of the announcements made at the Google Marketing LiveSteram 2021 event. There were many more, but these are the ones that we believe you should take note of and that we will stay on top of.