Google updates ad buying tools to simplify campaigns

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

The ad giant announced product updates that include more real-time insights and the ability to buy and optimize media across Google properties using machine learning.

Google today introduced new product updates to its Google Ads buying platform centered on machine learning and real-time insights, aimed at simplifying processes across its myriad properties.

Most advertisers consistently buy across a range of Google properties, including display ads, search and YouTube, but up to now there hasn’t been an easy way to optimize across those buys.

Google has started to offer automated campaigns in specific verticals, such as for app marketers, retailers and businesses with physical stores.

Its new Performance Max campaigns extend those capabilities to marketers in all categories by allowing them to buy fully automated campaigns across Google ads and YouTube. Brands optimize against reach or business performance goals, including lead generation and online or offline sales.

Performance Max is in the early stages of alpha testing and will be available to more brands in beta early next year. Campaigns extend across all of Google’s properties except search.

“Advertisers want to buy across Google in an easy way that's aligned with their business objectives,” said Jerry Dischler, VP and general manager of Google Ads, adding that the tool has “the greatest reach of any campaign we've developed.”

Advertisers can upload their own first-party data to drive Performance Max campaigns to better meet their business goals. They’ll also receive enhanced reporting on how Google’s machine learning is driving business results, such as which combinations of messaging and creative lead to the best results.

“We want to give advertisers confidence that the machine learning is working in a way which is actionable for them,” Dischler said.

By using Performance Max, brands can share their business goals and media assets with Google, which will “do the heavy lifting from there,” Dischler said.

“It's intuitive that you would want to do this, but pulling it off is hard because of the heterogeneity of [Google’s] properties,” he added. “We’ve been chipping away at this for a while.”

Real-time insights for an uncertain world

Google Ads is also rolling out a new insights page that gives companies custom analytics specific to their categories and business goals.

The insights page is “designed to be a one-stop shop for competitive insights on an audience,” Dischler said. It will be available in beta by the end of the year.

The page uses aggregated and anonymized Google search data to deliver vertical-specific insights on consumer intent. A trends section will show current and emerging search demand for products within a specific category. Advertisers can dive deeper to see which search queries are most popular and in which regions demand is growing the most.

The insights page also has a recommendation feature that helps advertisers optimize their paid media and search spend against emerging trends.

Google launched the insights page after seeing how quickly businesses had to pivot in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dischler said. The tool builds on Google’s rising retail categories feature, which surfaces emerging trends for retailers.

Hershey’s, for example, used Google trends data to figure out how to advertise online for Halloween, one of its largest sales days of the year, during the COVID-19 crisis. Google insights helped the candymaker understand which markets to serve trick-or-treating messages to and which markets to send stay-at-home messages to, based on COVID-19 caseloads in their zip code.

“As the future becomes more difficult to predict, businesses need to adapt in real time to emergent consumer demand, and help navigating with limited visibility and time,” he said.

Performance in the living room

Google also said it will make video action campaigns, which drive performance goals through video ads on YouTube, available to all advertisers in the coming weeks. Video ad campaigns push consumers to act on video ads in various ways, such as by sending mobile reminders to accompany an ad.

Google is testing bringing the tool, which aims to blend performance and brand advertising, on connected TVs as YouTube viewing grows in the living room.

“The key product question is, can you make direct response work in the living room?” Dischler said. “We've seen encouraging early results.”

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