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Date posted

03 Jun 2024

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Five takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

Google Marketing Live is Google’s annual event that showcases its major product launches for the year. We travelled to Dublin last month along with other Google advertisers to meet with product managers, feedback on the upcoming roadmaps and find out what’s next for Google. 

In contrast to last year’s event where focus was on surfacing AI in the Google Ads platform, this year’s theme was around refining AI features based on what advertisers have actually used (and what’s worked) in the last year.

Below are our key takeaways for 2024.

Ads are coming to AI Overviews

One of the big ticket announcements was plans to insert ad units within AI Overviews. Currently, those who are served AI Overviews may see ads above or below:

But soon ads will appear within AI Overviews. The example given was a user searching for how to remove wrinkles from their clothes, the AI Overview detailed the options available and added a promoted listing for a wrinkle removing clothing spray:

With AI Overviews only recently launching (and there being some hiccups along the way), adding ads into this mix anytime soon feels premature. We’ll be monitoring any developments in both ad integration and related reporting options as they emerge.

The way we search is evolving

While the amount of ‘new to Google’ searches have remained the same (for over a decade now) at 15%, in the last year, there’s been a rise in:

  • Exactly-What-I-Want queries: Users are searching with longer, more specific phrases (modifiers, descriptors etc.).
  • Complex searches: Users are seeking answers that involve information from several sources to form a nuanced response (which links nicely to AI Overviews!)
  • Search Beyond Words (multimodal search): More users are using images and voice alongside text to describe their query.  

Users are searching with longer, more specific phrases

To compliment this changing behaviour, Google shared visions for ‘search beyond answers’ with AI-organised pages providing custom results to answer open-ended queries, going beyond an AI Overview and reimagining what the SERP is.

Google sees multimodal search as the future

Linked to the above, Google is pushing multimodal search with tools like Google Lens and by partnering with Samsung to promote Circle to Search. 

We heard Google Lens currently serves 12 billion average monthly queries, and will shortly feature ad slots. With Statista estimating 255 billion text queries per month on Google, visual search has around 5% the volume of traditional text queries, so widespread adoption is still a while away. There are some similarities here with the hype around voice search in 2018; this explosive growth plateaued and, while voice search in still very much in the mix, it hasn’t fundamentally changed the landscape.

Samsung partnered with Transport for London to highlight Circle to Search

More advertiser control for AI image generation

Additional control is coming to image generation and, with most advertisers having a bank of existing creative and brand guidelines to adhere to, this is no bad thing. Previous attempts at image generation through prompt engineering returned some very varied results. Google announced products like Generate More Like This, which will allow generative AI to take a existing image as a seed, and create images with a similar look:

In a similar vein, another product called Reference Images will allow us to visually define the sort of output we’re looking for, again helping to make sure that asset generation is closer to a brand’s look and feel.

These options save users time in trying to find a suitable prompt but imperfections remain inherent to AI generated art and so remain a work in progress.

Improved Performance Max reporting is coming

One smaller but well-received announcement was Performance Max reporting is improving with the addition of asset level conversion insight. This update provides increased transparency by showing which assets are performing best, a significant improvement compared to the usual limitations of Google Ads reporting.

AI is not a marketer, but a tool

Much like 2023, one key conclusion is that AI is not a marketer, but a tool. The technology can do a lot and is a fantastic supplement when amplifying, rather than replacing, human ability.