How long have you worked at Google?
What is your role?
Head of Performance Advertising. I lead Google AUNZ’s Search and Performance Display sales and ad product strategy, managing a team of product specialists and data strategy consultants who support our account teams to ensure agencies and clients get the most out of their investment with Google.
What is on the horizon for Google in 2018?
You’ll see the increasing influence and integration of Google’s capability in machine learning into Search and Display ad formats, targeting, bidding and measurement solutions and platforms. We are partnering with clients and agencies to help them to fully understand customer journeys, integrate and unify disparate client data sources, and enable true profit-driven marketing.
How should we (agencies) adapt to these changes?
2018 will be an exciting year for embracing automation in advertising, encouraging many of us to unlearn a lot of what we’ve spent our careers learning!
This shift creates a real opportunity for agencies to provide data strategy advice to ensure clients are able to maximise the opportunities from machine learning to grow their businesses. In addition to building out data strategy advisory capabilities, automating some of the previously manual processes involved in advertising (such as setting bids, writing keywords, building creative and attribution modelling) can free up agency teams to spend more time on higher-value tasks such as devising and implementing data-driven ad copy testing and rapid iteration frameworks to improve performance for clients.
It’s important to clearly define the business goal, whether it’s 10,000 new sign-ups a week, 20,000 more customers through the shop doors per month, or a 10% reduction in churn. We’re now at the point where we can point the machine towards these business goals to solve for future business growth.
This is harder than it sounds, but early indications from agencies that have embraced automation are positive, with their people engaged in higher-value work and generating superior results for clients. An agency partner in New Zealand recently freed up 5 hours of time per week on a peer-to-peer lender client’s account by implementing target-ROAS smart bidding to automate the process of acquiring more higher-value customers. They used this “free” time to focus on additional A/B testing of ad copy which contributed to a stunning 2X improvement in high-value conversions.
What else will 2018 throw at us?
If the success of our Universal App Campaigns and Smart Display Products are any indicator, you might see more automation of many aspects of campaign set-up and management processes and increased performance. This will no doubt see more emphasis placed on great data foundations, understanding of consumer demand dynamics in the Search auction, and customer-insight-led ad creative and experiments.
2018 will also be the year that mobile UX, specifically mobile page load speed, will move up the priority list for agencies and clients. Slow and bloated mobile sites are a terrible user experience, with 50% of users likely to abandon a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, often undoing the hard work done by agencies “before the click”. Recent announcements by Google that slow-loading mobile pages will soon be demoted in organic search results should lead to mobile speed becoming a critical business performance KPI, not just the domain of a site developer or webmaster.
We are investing in specialist resources to support our partners improve mobile UX, having already seen significant improvements in business results almost overnight from clients that have invested in implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (to deliver sub-three-second page loads) and UX best practices (to reduce user friction through the use of Google’s freely available payments and fingerprint login APIs). Leaders in this space will understand and value the assistive nature of mobile in driving online and offline sales and won’t delay investment in UX because of low “last click” or final conversions in mobile channels.
What are you looking forward most to in 2018?
Hopefully the Queensland Reds get off the bottom of the table in Super Rugby! Professionally I’m really looking forward to working with our agency partners and clients to solve business problems, not just marketing challenges, through the use of machine learning and data, moving from clicks and leads to measurable profit growth.
A great example of this is the work we’ve done with an auto insurance client that has enabled it to predict with 78% accuracy in a search query whether a customer is likely to have a car accident and make a high-cost insurance claim. This involved collaborating to marry client and Google data signals, mapping the end-to-end data, tagging, analytics and bidding solutions, and applying Google’s machine learning throughout. This type of solution is absolutely achievable today with the right data foundations, strategy and C-level buy-in from clients.
I’m also keen to help clients to unlock the full capabilities of Search beyond just acquiring more customers. The opportunities to partner with agencies to develop automated solutions to predict future customer lifetime value and profit for clients in Search, predict and prevent impending customer churn and drive cross-sell/up-sell outcomes for clients as a driver of real business growth really excites me. I can’t wait to see a pipeline of major business problems being solved with Search, data and technology that add tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to local clients’ bottom line.
What advice would you give to agencies and brands wanting to integrate with Google Home and other smart assistants?
I’m really positive about this space – and it’s a great reminder for brands to consider their broader customer engagement strategy whilst making sure they are getting the fundamentals right and looking at the full range of growth opportunities in existing activities.
Although it is early days, make the time to keep across what is happening as things are moving rapidly – do some experimentation to better understand how consumer behaviour is evolving with Google Home and the role your brands could have in that environment. This is just the beginning!