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Google’s New Product Features and the Impact on B2B Search

Merkle attended Google Marketing Live, the tech company’s annual digital marketing event. Google took the event as an opportunity to announce multiple new product features and ad formats to attendees, many of which we’re very excited to put to use on B2B search campaigns. Here are a few that stood out to us and what they mean for B2B advertisers.

Discovery Campaigns for Search

The introduction of Discovery Campaigns was a highlight of the event. This product feature allows you to access advertising inventory across YouTube, Gmail, and Google’s new “Discover Feed,” which shows relevant topics to users when opening Google apps on their phones. I’m a big “Game of Thrones” fan, so seeing content related to my search for fan theories in the Discover Feed over the past few weeks was a welcome surprise.

In terms of targeting, these campaigns no longer require the advertiser to choose keywords or placements. Marketers choose audiences that they believe are relevant to their business, and serve ads to those segments across the three inventories. In B2B marketing—particularly B2B tech marketing—audience targeting is critical. There is often significant overlap in the queries/behavior of a B2B and B2C customer. This newly developed campaign type gives advertisers the confidence to know their ads are being served to the right people across the various Google platforms.

More broadly, this feature reinforces Google’s emphasis on audience versus keyword targeting in search. Over the past year, we’ve seen a commitment to audience targeting in Google’s product releases (e.g., detailed demographic segments, audience impression share metrics, etc.), indicating that advertisers’ strategies should rely less heavily on the keyword to reach potential buyers.

Another benefit to advertisers is the ease of use, requiring only a sample headline and description, along with a few images for Google to create the ads. Additionally, these ads take on unique formats across the aforementioned three platforms, introducing a seamless ad experience to buyers.

Increased Prevalence of Images in Ads

As mentioned in a previous Merkle blog post, Google also plans to formally release Gallery Ads, a mobile format in testing for months that allows search marketers to include a carousel of images along with text description if they are shown in the top search position. Given the novelty of images in Google search results, these will be a game changer for mobile advertisers who adopt early.

A rollout of images in the top search position also means that advertisers in the second position won’t feature as prominently as they once did, since the gallery will take up more space on the page. B2B, especially in the high tech sector, is an increasingly crowded and competitive market. Securing a top position in search results with the added visual experience for an audience is a great way to set a brand apart from stiff competition.

Performance Planner

Another significant release announced at Google Marketing Live was the Performance Planner, a forecasting tool in Google Ads. This new tool promises to estimate the best spend amounts to drive incremental search conversions. Between this launch and Search Ads 360, Google’s search workflow and reporting tool, it’s clear that the company has invested heavily in providing advertisers more accurate forecasting abilities.

In the past, Google’s forecasting tools have left much to be desired. Previously, the CPC estimates have not factored in the fierce competition we see across our clients’ landscapes in the B2B tech space. Additionally, the lack of volume (compared to B2C verticals) results in heavier investment in Nonbrand/Competitive plays and CTR expectations have been dramatically overestimated. I’m curious to see if this new tool does a better job of forecasting these crucial funnel efficiencies.

Merkle’s people-based marketing approach hinges on the individual as the common thread among all marketing activity, so seeing our partners develop products that help us deliver on this approach validates our vision. In B2B, homing in on the individual is of utmost importance, due to the length and complexity of a buying cycle. Advertisers’ messaging must align with an individual’s position in the funnel, influence over a buying decision, and intent, and there’s little room for error. I’m happy to see Google recognize the importance of customer experience.