Google is back with their annual Marketing Livestream; a chance for them to talk vision, up-coming changes to their existing advertising products, and to announce new and upcoming features available to the public.
Today they covered changes they’ve seen in purchasing behaviour; detailing the importance of integrated digital strategies that cover purchasing journeys that span both online and offline, how automation is helping businesses achieve resilience for future turbulent periods, how to future-proof your digital tracking, and much more.
We’ve cut through the more immaterial content from today’s talk and identified three key areas for business managers; user privacy, leveraging first and third-party data, and how Google is further supporting offline purchasing journeys.
Privacy was front and centre this year, with looming changes to third-party cookies, Google revealed the practical implementations of its previous commitments to a privacy-first web, and what it’s going to mean for advertisers in a world without cookies. They broke down transitioning into this world into three areas:
- Properly use consented, first-party data
- Be forward-looking and predictive
- Commit to new technologies that preserve privacy
Properly use consented, first-party data; simply put, businesses need to ensure they’re appropriately collecting and leveraging first-party data where possible, when third-party cookies are completely phased out, this data will play a significant role in future for tracking and targeting.
Be forward-looking and predictive; a great example of this is Google’s Consent Mode, which uses machine learning to analyse observable data and historical trends, in order to quantify the relationship between consented and unconsented users. Then, using observable user journeys where users have consented to cookie usage, Google’s models will fill in missing attribution paths. This creates a more complete and accurate view of advertising spend and outcomes, all while respecting user consent choices (on average, Consent Mode recovers more than 70% of ad-click-to-conversion journeys lost due to user cookie consent choices, which is crazy).
Commit to new technologies that preserve privacy; this was Google detailing more information on their current open-source initiative to develop new advertising technologies focused around user privacy.
First & Third-Party Data
Accurate tracking for advertising your business is just one aspect of why a data-first strategy is vital; for businesses to find consistent, regular success within their respective markets, it’s imperative they have a considered and all-encompassing data strategy that runs in parallel with all other operational activities. When polled, 90% of companies state that first-party data is extremely important to digital marketing, while fewer than 30% of them are leveraging firs-0party data to create personalised, cross-channel experiences. This isn’t something that’s new; Neil Hone, Google’s Global Head of Customer Analytics talked about data-first strategies, and how they can empower your business back in 2019.
This topic spans how both internal, first-party data being leveraged externally (e.g tracking the performance of advertising campaigns, targeting remarketing campaigns), and external (third-party data) can be leveraged internally within your business, in real-time, to help increase sales by better fulfilling the needs of your potential customers.
In Google’s example of this, they use search trends data to identify better-suited product names, or changes in competitor pricing to make more informed decisions on product pricing (we really love tracking competitors). These are two of many ways that Google are enabling businesses to get ahead of their competitors via world and competitor insights.
Google is trying to help businesses in other ways in this area, they have (fairly) recently released their updated version of Google Analytics, Google Analytics 4; one of the key differences (also one of our favourites) is GA4s ability to integrate with Google BigQuery, for free. BigQuery is Google’s fully-managed, serverless data warehouse that enables scalable analysis over petabytes of data. An integration that previously required Google’s enterprise-level version of Google Analytics, Analytics 360, which comes in at over £100k p/a to licence. Collecting your data and storing is just the beginning, BigQuery can do so much more.
Whichever way you decide to collect, store, and leverage data within your business, you need to ensure you’re doing it soon; in the short-term, it means more accurate tracking, in the long term, it will be a factor in determining how viable marketing channels are for your business, and therefore, determining your position in the market, and how large your business could ever potentially grow.
NB: You shouldn’t wait for Google to collect, collate and present data for you to leverage, as the adoption rates increase within your market, their product offerings become less effective. As a business, you should be tracking everything (that you can) in your environment that impacts the performance of your business, and using this data to drive profitable change – this is something we do to empower the campaigns we run every day.
A Single, Connected Buying Experience
Online advertising with Google, for the most part, has been very isolated to driving online outcomes and generating revenue via online sales. Over the past few years, Google has provided us with tools that enabled us to track store visits post advert click, enabling us to infer campaign performance. Using Enhanced Conversion Tracking (using first-party data as an identifier), we’ve been able to track offline sales back to the respective online advert click.
A common way this is currently implemented in retail is to ask for an email address to provide a digital receipt, this email address is then used in the previously mentioned way to determine if the user had clicked on an advert, and if so, to attribute the sale and sale value against the click.
Google is widening their online to offline offering by providing retailers the ability to give consumers the option to view and buy online for delivery, to collect offline, or see which local stores currently have the product in stock to view, all directly off of an advert on Google search. They’re also making sure much more of their online ad space is more accessible and more integrated for retailers to reach customers through.
We very much believe that marketing or business strategies as a whole shouldn’t rely on (only) optimising a business’s preferred way of interacting with their potential customers, but should look to better facilitate the customer’s desired way of interacting with the business. It’s within this space that businesses have a chance to innovate, creating memorable and effective experiences that turn potential customers into customers, and customers into loyal, repeat buyers.
This is all made possible by being data first.