A couple weeks back, two members of the Digible crew, Megan and Jenny, flew to San Francisco for Google Marketing Live, an annual conference for top marketers across the globe. The premise of the conference is to introduce Google’s newest marketing products, listen to industry leaders, and learn more about Google’s key initiatives in the coming months.
Originally, the invite was extended to the top of the Digible crew, David and Reid. However, with some strategic title changes, both Jenny and Megan were put on the invite list as top marketing execs, specifically (Digital Marketing Manager and the Director of Digital Operations).
In all seriousness, the conference was badass. We learned so much about Google, where the industry is headed and most importantly, we learned to navigate the city of San Francisco in heels. Some highlights of the trip included: a private Katy Perry concert, getting locked out of our hotel room, being the youngest people to attend the Google Global Channel Sales Forum, having 4 Ubers cancel on us in a span of 10 minutes, and taking home a wealth of knowledge to share with the greater Digible team and our clients. We loved every minute of the trip.
We started our morning with keynote speakers, venti coffees in hand, soaking in the experience of a 5,000+ person conference. We eagerly bounced around to new sessions, doing our best to navigate the entirety of San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Our day truly changed when we found The Sandbox. The Sandbox is better described as a playground for digital marketers; that is a massive playground with every swing, slide and ride you could ever imagine. The area contained countless Google staff members, each near a booth with a designated topic. We talked with a head product developer for Local Campaigns, as well as another staff member at a booth for Hotel Ads (and many, many more). We spent a majority of our Tuesday afternoon speaking with Google reps and diving into new possibilities for our clients. The conversations were up to us, we led the way with our questions and found the most value from the conference in the answers we received on this Tuesday afternoon. Here are a few highlights of what we learned:
Search ads now have the capability to contain pictures! To say we’re excited is an understatement, especially knowing just how crucial images are for potential renters. Gallery ads house 4 to 8 images, all with up to 70 character descriptions. They’re interactive ads, think Facebook carousel ads, encouraging users to swipe through photos. Caveat, these are mobile only ads at the moment, though Google promised to test into desktop for future use.
Discovery Ads make it possible to advertise on Google’s Discover page, YouTube’s home feed, as well as the social and promotions tab in Gmail, all within one campaign. All you need is one landscape image, one logo image, and some ad copy. These ads act more as display ads than search ads, as the targeting is based off of audience data rather than bidding on keywords.
While Local campaigns are not new to Google, they did recently roll out some new impressive features. Most importantly, “New inventory in Google Maps will allow you to highlight your business in more places. This includes promoting your locations when users are planning or navigating along their route, and in Maps search suggestions based on signals like the area of the map a person is viewing or what they've searched for in the past.”
In the coming months, Google is setting their focus on automation, efficiencies at scale, and machine learning. These three buzzwords were present in sessions, new product releases as well as Google’s plans for the future.
Another topic of conversation was data privacy and its effect on the future of digital marketing. According to Google, 160 million people change their privacy settings each month. In the world of digital marketing, this means we will have to rely less on first-party data and will need to lean into Google’s machine learning and algorithms in order to successfully target users.
To close the loop on our laundry list of learnings, we have to reiterate just how much we loved The Sandbox. The Sandbox was a designated area where we could actively innovate and brainstorm with the Google developers that are creating the products we use every day. We were able to spend 1-1 time with Google’s top engineers, ask as many questions as we wanted, and gain thoughtful insight to implement for our clients, a truly priceless experience.
In conclusion, we loved every minute of Google Marketing Live. We were able to hear from top digital marketers across the globe, have in-depth conversations with product engineers and lastly jam out at a private performance from Katy Perry.
In a sea of digital marketing nerds, we felt right at home. We are so grateful for the opportunity to attend this incredible conference and bring home innovative ideas to share with our Digible fam and amazing clients.