As a Premier Google Partner, four members of our team had the privilege of attending the invite-only 2016 Google Partner Summit in San Francisco last week. Select agencies from more than 50 countries around the world gathered at the conference to be given exclusive Google product updates, insights from recent case studies, and a chance to provide feedback within small focus groups at the Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View. Due to a non-disclosure agreement, data and extensive details cannot be shared with the public. However, we have provided some of our learnings and key takeaways for those who did not have the chance to attend the 3-day event.
Exceptional Mobile Experiences are Essential
We’ve been hearing “the future is mobile” for years now, but in reality, mobile usability today is a necessity, not a luxury. Increases of in-store purchases on mobile show that the traditional path to purchase model has evolved. Consumers are browsing products for various categories on their devices and making purchases instantly on-site. As marketers, we need to ensure our strategies take this behavior change into account.
In order to reach users in the moment, advertisers need to not only be present on mobile devices but provide exceptional browsing experiences. For example, Google’s mobile research has shown that the average load time for mobile sites is 19 seconds, while 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned after three seconds of loading. Fast loading time is a must and projects such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) aim to address this issue. With AMPs, the loading time of mobile pages is reduced to under a second. Brands need to follow updates regarding AMPs and see how these changes can be applied to their mobile experiences.
A Future of Artificial Intelligence
We are already living in a mobile-first world and the next step is a transition to artificial intelligence. Real-time automated learning has been present through programmatic media buying. Further technologies will emerge to provide users with relevant, real-time content. Google is constantly updating their algorithms through machine learning. As such, they have developed products such as Responsive Display ads to adapt to different online environments. With Responsive Display Ads, advertisers provide one ad variation (headline, body copy, image, URL, etc.) which is automatically adjusted to fit almost any ad space, including native formats. This not only saves time in setup but also expands reach across different types of online spaces.
Prepare for Virtual Reality
Global interest on Google search for virtual reality grew by almost four times in the last year. Products such as the Google Cardboard are providing users with simple and affordable ways to experience virtual reality through mobile apps. During the conference, Google also made references to their recent Daydream View product, a lightweight headset and controller that works with specific VR-ready phones such as the Pixel to produce engaging experiences. Although virtual reality technology is still in its early phases, it is key for brands to understand how it works and to start planning on ways to engage users through these immersive experiences that will one day be the norm.
The Revolution of Video
Digital video traffic has yet to plateau, with Cisco predicting that 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be video by 2020 (growing threefold from 2015 to 2020). Platforms such as YouTube excel in allowing advertisers to reach a broad audience across various interest categories. Traditionally, video has been viewed as an awareness and engagement driver; however, recent studies by Google have shown online video advertising to drive metrics such as purchase intent and sales. To help support these lower funnel video conversions, YouTube has been updating their products and rolling out new options. This includes the TrueView for App install ads (where users can directly download an app from a YouTube ad) and TrueView for Shopping products (where products from your Merchant Centre are integrated with the video ad).
In September 2016, YouTube also introduced TrueView for Action ads: tailored call-to-action ads running alongside TrueView videos. These new ads can include unique CTAs such as “get a quote”, “sign up for our newsletter”, or “buy now” to help drive performance. The format is currently being tested across select advertisers before rolling out to the public. These types of conversion-driven updates will shift video advertising’s role in the path to purchase.
With various emerging technologies and digital trends, it is crucial for brands to step away from the traditional consumer journey model. Consumer behavior is becoming increasingly more complex. Marketers need to ensure effective messaging is present through various touch points. We need to stay up-to-date with new products (such as virtual reality) and ways of connecting with our audience in a meaningful and engaging way (such as mobile and video). Automated learning and artificial intelligence will be key in targeting at a granular level and providing timely, relevant content.