Google Marketing Live 2024: What Advertisers Need to Know

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AI is again the focus of this year’s Google Marketing Live event. Discover the key takeaways and the latest innovations transforming media, creative and measurement.

The latest installment of Google Marketing Live (GML) occurred on Tuesday, May 21. We’re always keen on attending this annual event because Google shares its latest advertising features. It also suggests a strong indication of the concepts and technologies that Google deems important and will prioritize.

The story of the last year has been AI, and the content shared at this year’s GML event was no different. Google heavily invests in AI, and it’s at the core of product development. In Google’s event roundup post, the first sentence states:

“At Google Marketing Live 2024, we’re showcasing how AI is transforming media, creative, and measurement to usher in a new era of ads.”

These immersive experiences are provided through AI Overviews, which are search results that use generative AI to provide information from a variety of sources. Google bills AI Overviews as showing answers for more question-based/inquiry-driven searches. For example, a “What is SOC 2 compliance?” search shows this overview.

Along with a summary, Google provides links to relevant sources. We’ve seen paid ads shown above and below the AI Overviews. Google also states that paid ads will show within the AI Overviews and be designated by a “sponsored” label. Now that AI Overviews have rolled out to more users, we’ll see in the coming months how this new real estate impacts paid search performance.

Closed Loop’s perspective

This year, Google focused entirely on ecommerce and B2C advertisers. Previous years have included at least a mention and inclusion of lead gen or B2B advertising, but that was noticeably absent this year. We are disappointed in the lack of innovation and believe Google can and should address the needs of B2B advertisers. 

Google continues to invest in Performance Max campaigns, which involve more visual aspects. Many of the new features are geared toward interactive shopping experiences. For example, Performance Max campaigns will soon allow AI-powered image editing and users to submit brand guidelines. Shopping ads will soon let users virtually try on products and see 360 views of products. Though these features are great for advertisers in these industries, B2B needs to be addressed.

The issue is that very few updates are made with B2B advertisers in mind. As Google always tries to make product-based ads more visual and appealing to click, the same practice would be beneficial in the B2B space. Google needs to understand how these users search and how their experiences can be improved. 

For example, lead form assets allow users to fill out forms directly in the interface before going to the site. The problem is that many of these leads get disqualified. It would behoove Google to understand why these leads could be better and how they can enrich their product to drive qualified leads.

Announcements we care about

Let’s review the announcements that are most relevant to B2B advertisers. Many of these updates aren’t flashy but will better assist with day-to-day optimizations.

Profit optimization

Return on ad spend (ROAS) isn’t always the most accurate metric because it doesn’t consider product margins and operating expenses. If you spend $100 in Google to make $200, the ROAS is positive but not necessarily the profit. Between the product and business costs, you may spend $300 to make $200, showing a profit loss. Advertisers will boost the actual ROAS when using a tROAS bid strategy to account for these extra costs.

The profit optimization goal for smart bidding allows advertisers to prioritize profit by using conversion data and the cost of goods sold in the Merchant Center to promote products with higher profits. This strategy can be implemented manually by telling Google which products to promote, but this new feature automates the process. This feature will only be available for Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.

The same feature would be relevant in Search campaigns. Though advertisers submit offline conversions with values (and use tROAS bidding), having this option would help. As with products, B2B advertisers see a better profit for certain deals.

Lookalike segments threshold decreases

Demand gen campaigns were introduced at GML 2023 as Google’s version of social campaigns. This campaign type is geared toward the top of the funnel and is driven by audience targeting. Ads show on YouTube, Discover and Gmail. One of the features of demand gen is lookalike segments. By uploading your first-party data, Google creates lookalike segments to target potential new customers.

The problem is that advertisers must submit at least 1,000 users. If only 40 percent of the list gets matched, the number of users needing to be submitted is 2,500. B2B companies don’t always have this many users, especially if the lists are highly segmented. Thankfully, Google will soon decrease the minimum required list size to 100 users. Volume may not be as high with the smaller audience, but advertisers can take advantage of demand-gen campaigns.

Performance Max improvements

Running PMax campaigns in B2B accounts is tricky. If you optimize for your bottom-of-the-funnel conversion(s), traffic from all non-search networks tends to be low. Conversely, the search traffic you receive can take clicks and impressions from your existing search campaigns. When moving to top-of-the-funnel conversions, lead quality may decline. A couple of updates should help to improve the quality.

Finally, Google is adding conversion metrics to asset-level reporting. Rather than only reporting the asset’s performance rating and number of impressions, advertisers will see conversion data! By far, the lack of asset-level conversion metrics in PMax (and other campaign types) has been one of the biggest drawbacks. We must take Google’s word to determine what’s working instead of verifying by data. When we can see conversion metrics, it will help considerably with optimization efforts.

The other update is the addition of YouTube videos in placement reports. Advertisers can see where ads are showing on YouTube and, more importantly, exclude irrelevant channels.

Easier data integration

The data manager feature in Google Ads isn’t new; however, it is featured more prominently in the new interface design. Located under “Tools,” the data manager provides an area to connect to other data-driven products. Along with standard connections such as GA4, Merchant Center and Salesforce, advertisers can set up a slew of Google and third-party integrations. This feature is essential for uploading your first-party data and using offline conversion tracking and customer match.

A potential marketing mix model (MMM)?

Google has created an open-source MMM called Meridian. Currently, in limited availability, Google hopes this tool will provide an all-encompassing solution to track all marketing channels and how they work together. Our concern is that this product will skew toward giving Google more credit than it should. In theory, Meridian will be a good (and free) solution. At the very least, it’s another available data source.

Final thoughts

The announcements made at GML 2024 weren’t as exciting as updates shared in years past. Rather, they represented a continuation of Google’s journey to integrate AI into their platform. We’ll see where Google takes these developments over the next year, and what feedback they receive from users.

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