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Google Marketing Live 2019 Recap – 11 Essential Updates

by Doug Campbell - May 17, 2019

11 Essential Updates from Google Marketing Live 2019

For three days in May, Google Marketing Live 2019 took over Moscone West in San Francisco gathering the best and brightest in the online marketing world to discuss recent updates, new tools, and user feedback, and share best practices. The event was billed as the most important conference for digital advertising and delivered.

Colling Media was the only full-service advertising agency from Arizona at Google Marketing Live 2019 and received four exclusive invitations. After attending educational sessions, participating in small-group roundtables with Google’s project managers and meeting with product managers to discuss use cases, new tools and tips in Google’s “Sandbox”, we are excited to share key takeaways from the global event.

New Ad Formats and Channels

Google is constantly looking to help advertisers find new ways to reach their target audience with timely, effective messaging that drives engagement, leads, and purchases. The number of new avenues opening is massive, and we want to highlight a few released at Google Marketing Live.

Discovery Ads

In a world of feeds, where users scroll through curated content looking for the next thing to grab their attention, Google is rolling out “Discovery Ads”. This exciting new ad format allows online marketers to place engaging content in front of their target audience when they are most likely to be open to new ideas and opportunities. Google’s internal research suggests that 85% of shoppers enjoy discovering something new while browsing and Discover Ads are built to satisfy that every shopper.

The new ads take a format like Facebook Feed Ads with engaging images, creative text, and strong calls to action, and for the initial roll-out, Google is exposing inventory in three key channels: YouTube, Gmail, and Discover. Each of those three channels presents unique opportunities to engage with new prospects and to re-engage current customers while they are watching online videos, while they are reading through their email and every time, they open their Google Search App on their mobile devices.

Gallery Ads

While showing a single, exciting image can effectively engage a new prospect, it can often be limiting and fall short of the goal of introducing a new customer to all the great options your brand offers. Enter “Gallery Ads”, a dynamic new ad format designed to enhance traditional search campaigns with an engaging format that simultaneously provides consumers with the ability to learn about more than just a single offering while also allowing online marketers the chance to expose more of their unique assets to a single viewer. 

The new Gallery Ads are set up as a slideshow at the top of the search results page with advertisers providing 4-8 unique images with associated taglines. The entire slideshow is topped with a single brand headline and a customizable call to action. The format allows users to engage with the gallery as a slider or opened to a vertical feed of all the images, and as with other search-based formats, the brand only pays when a user actually clicks through to the website.

Early testers of this new format have reported a 25% increase in engagement with the ads and an increase in conversion rate as a result of the new experience and its unique ability to engage a prospect more fully before they move to the advertiser’s website.

New Optimization Tools

Having new formats and channels opens new opportunities, and in a world where tracking ROAS has become more important than ever, new formats is not enough. That is why Google is also constantly improving the tools they provide to advertisers to allow for more robust optimization and tracking. This year’s batch of new optimization tools did not disappoint.

Max Conversion Value and Campaign Level Conversions

In response to the struggles of online marketers to maximize the return on a campaign, Google has two new tools for conversion tracking: Max Conversion Value and Campaign Level Conversions. As more and more advertisers can effectively assign conversion values to end-user actions on their websites it is becoming more important to be able to maximize the value of the individual conversions and not just the number of conversions.

That is why Google is rolling out a new bidding and campaign management strategy called Max Conversion Value. This gives brands the opportunity to target specific groups of customers based on their average lifetime value, which, in turn, allows Google’s machine learning algorithms to optimize campaigns to drive the maximum amount of conversion value and more effectively deliver ROAS.

Campaign-Level Conversions

Many marketers and many at Google Marketing Live 2019 complained that different campaigns have different objectives. Previously, Google Ads limits its conversion targets by assigning them at the account level. Now, Google is rolling out campaign-level conversions, which frees up advertisers to match specific campaigns with specific objectives.

In the past, if you wanted to run one campaign for online sales and another for newsletter subscriptions, it was difficult (if not impossible) to efficiently pass conversion data to Google’s machine learning algorithms. Advertisers were forced to run hybrid campaigns with overlapping (and sometimes mutually exclusive) goals. Now brands will be able to run separate campaigns with separate goals and leverage machine learning insights Google provides to optimize their campaigns.

Custom Audiences

In addition to tracking and conversion optimization, Google announced exciting new updates helping display advertisers gain better audience targeting and expanding reach. Google used to give advertisers targeting based on keywords or topics and create audiences based on affinity. Now they are simplifying this structure with a new tool called Custom Audiences. This makes it simpler to manage audience targeting and, more importantly, allows for another key rollout: Audience Expansion.

Audience Expansion

Following on growth in demand for “lookalike” audiences, Google rolled out new tools for Audience Expansion. With a simple slider interface, advertisers can quickly update audience size by either narrowing it down to just the defined audience or expanding it to gain a wider reach. Audience Expansion uses machine learning to predict how much you can increase your audience and what impact that will have on impressions, clicks, and budgets.

New Tools for Video

While many digital advertisers are trying to distinguish traditional linear TV from digital connected TV, Google is actively trying to blur the lines. Google announced it’s rolling out new campaign structures in Display & Video 360 allowing brands to manage a single campaign that runs on both linear and connected TV inventory. Both local channels and national networks are coming, giving marketers the ability to manage their entire TV portfolio under a single digital interface.

Bumper Machine

Google is looking for ways to help advertisers expand into YouTube. Many agencies do not have the time, budget, or expertise to create video assets for paid YouTube campaigns. Google is rolling out what they call the “Bumper Machine.” This fun new tool takes traditional video assets, like 30, 60, or 90-second spots, and uses machine learning for creating engaging 6-second bumper videos. An existing TV commercial can now be programmatically chopped into four or five bumpers in less than 2 minutes.

Google shed light on editing tools to give brands final creative control over audio and editing decisions. Once the machine creates the bumpers, advertisers can create a campaign based on the new assets with just a few clicks. Lowering this barrier to entry to the YouTube space could open the door for lots of smaller brands to dramatically expand their audience.

Other New Updates

Google is doing everything it can to disrupt the current online shopping paradigm. Some companies are trying to decide if they should join Amazon’s ever-growing network (e.g. manufacturers who want to move to a direct-to-consumer model) or if they should compete with Amazon directly (e.g. Walmart, Sears, and Target opening up their sites to third-party resellers). Google is trying to sidestep the entire issue by integrating the entire shopping experience into the current search paradigm.

Seamless shopping

Learning from its experience with Google Express, Google is working to build a seamless shopping experience where users can search for a product, find specific styles (using new formats such as the Gallery Ads mentioned above), and then click to purchase all within the same interface.

A Google guarantee now backs purchases. Users logged into Google accounts receive an automated buying process with saved emails, shipping addresses, and integrations with both Google Pay and saved payment information in Chrome. Buying process automation could help move Google from a resource for reviews and recommendations into a stand-alone online marketplace.

Following the success of apps like Waze, Google is increasing advertisers’ ability to use promoted pins on Google Maps, even going so far as to integrate them into driving directions and navigation. Dunkin Donuts has been testing this new feature, allowing a user to see where a Duncan location is along their route to work (without having to search for it) and adding a stop on their itinerary with a single click. For convenience-based businesses (think fast food, gas stations, etc.) this could be a game-changer.

Augmented Reality

The far-flung future is also closer than you may think according to Google. There were several demonstrations of augmented reality to allow for unique product interactions, ranging from the functional: see how much space this couch will take up in my living room, to the purely experimental: see how tall you are compared to one of NASA’s Mars rovers. These new interactions open possibilities for brands to find creative new ways to interact with their customers and make the leap from research to purchase smoother and more confident.

Machine Learning Algorithms

Google is working to expose more of the insights guiding its machine learning algorithms. As the data available to these algorithms continue to grow, Google is becoming more capable of discovering and acting upon novel insights. In the past, a black box collects data and results pour out. New tools like audience insights for display, benchmarking and top combination reports allow marketers to gain access to insights generated by machines. These new learnings can then be used to optimize campaigns across any platform, not just Google Ads.


Google gives itself a lot of credit for listening to advertisers and then providing novel solutions. There was a lot of that in San Francisco at Google Marketing Live 2019. All these new updates will no doubt increase a brand’s ability to reach its target audience in more compelling ways. New ads, new channels, new creative tools, new optimization options, new automation tools, and new ways to learn from testing. 

Colling Media is excited to be a part of Google Marketing Live 2019 and bring these exciting updates to our customers in our pursuit of improving advertising results.

Are you an existing Colling Media client with questions about these updates and how we can best implement them? Please reach out to your Account Manager.

Are you an advertiser looking to gain insights into how to stay ahead of the Google Curve for growing results? Reach out today and schedule a consultation with our team.

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