SMX West 2017 Day 1 – Google Assistant, Advertising in Google Maps, Offline Attribution

SMX West 2017 Day 1 - Google Assistant, Advertising in Google Maps, Offline Attribution

Day 1 of #SMX West brings new updates on Google Assistant, advertising in Google Maps, offline attribution discussion and much more. If you’re at the show, please visit us at booth #204 for your chance to win an Apple Watch Series 2.

SMX West 2017 Day 1 - Google Assistant, Advertising in Google Maps, Offline Attribution

(pictured: Jason Douglas, Product Management Director for @google Actions)

SMX West 2017, Day 1
QuanticMind is on hand at Search Marketing Expo to attend sessions on the latest developments in paid search and suggested PPC tactics from industry experts. Here is our list of the quick hits.

Day 1 Keynote – Google Assistant and Actions updates direct from Google
The Future Is Now: The Google Assistant
Featuring: Jason Douglas, Product Management Director for Google Actions

  • While Google Actions and Google Assistant are still “early days,” the project’s trajectory is headed towards being more “conversational” – having a smart AI that can use speech recognition, machine learning, and location & context awareness to quickly and efficiently respond to everyday requests such as “When is my next appointment?” or “Remember which floor I parked on.”
  • Assistant is already out in the world in the form of Google Assistant, as well as in the form of TV and automotive, and AndroidWare 2.0 for mobile will continue to see updates.
  • Douglas suggests that “The platform for Google Assistant may become the next big ecosystem for Google, like YouTube or Google Play.”
  • One of the most powerful potential applications of Actions in the future may be for commerce, which will combine user intent with identity, payments and transactions. However, because things are so early, there are still numerous challenges that have not yet been resolved, such as privacy issues and the question of personal preferences vs. proximity (Should a “find pizza near me” query find the absolute closest pizza place, or a nearby pizza place that most closely matches your preferences?)
  • There will also be numerous challenges with ranking for Actions – personal preferences, quality of service, proximity and other factors must eventually affect how merchants rank in Actions.


Advertising In Maps: Unparalleled Local Context
Featuring: @calebdonegan

  • Ads in Google Maps offer potential hyper-targeted, hyper-local opportunities using little-considered tools like Google My Business. The primary calls-to-action tend to be “directions,” “call now” or “learn more.”
  • 41% of online users worldwide use Google Maps services.
  • There are 1 billion monthly users on Google Maps.
  • 30% of all Google searches contain local intent or some geographic aspect.
  • 66% of users want ads customized to their location.
  • 50% of searchers doing a local search on their smartphone visit a storefront within 24 hours.
  • 18% of local searches on smartphones lead to a purchase within 24 hours (as compared to only 7% of nonlocal searches).
  • Note: As of May 20, manual location extensions will be “sunset” by Google, after which it will be mandatory to create locations in Google My Business, then link them to your AdWords account
  • There are 3x primary KPIs for Google Maps ads – Driving Directions, Click-to-Call and Get Location Details, which can be tracked at the account level.
  • Recommended best practices for local merchants include frequently updating your Google My Business page, particularly for local inventory and promotions; aggressive day-parting for time segmentation; and prioritizing mobile optimization given that an estimated 80% of local searches are done on mobile.


The Rapidly Changing World Of Offline Targeting And Attribution
Featuring: @KelleyLiefer, @alyssaesker, @dbreunig

  • Digital ads will drive more than 108 billion calls to US businesses this year; mobile searches will drive 40 billion call conversions…and calls tend to convert 10-15x more often than web leads.
  • There were 76 billion calls driven by digital marketing to US businesses in 2014 – the number is projected to jump to 162 billion in 2019.
  • Search ads are projected to drive 48 billion call conversions this year.
  • Up to 53% of mobile shoppers have called a business from a mobile shopping ad.
  • Local numbers tend to get 3x as many calls as toll-free numbers.
  • This implies that merchants running call campaigns should use call extensions with a local number, use a location extension, include an incentive to call, and include their location in their URL/listing.
  • Programmatic also appears to be on the rise, with display spending exceeding that of search due to Facebook, Google Display Network, native ads and programmatic.
  • 75% of programmatic advertising is served on mobile.
  • 91% of retail sales are offline; 98% of restaurant business is offline;  95% of auto business sales come in from offline;  93% of personal care business comes from offline; yet only 39% of marketers prioritize offline measurement because of how complicated online-to-offline attribution is.
  • Tracking location data can provide interesting snapshot insights, but tracking regular, habitual movement data – including locations that prospects frequently visit – may provide deeper insights.
  • For those new to clicks-to-bricks tracking, free tools such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager can be used to track basic metrics that can then inform guesstimate analyses such as persona and lookalike studies. By at least using these free tools to track particular user actions along the customer journey, merchants can extrapolate the user behavior and connect the dots between website activity and converted sales to start estimating which users are more likely to convert to paying customers.


Brick & Mortar’s Secret Weapon: Search Data
Featuring: @aruegger

  • Search data can be used to inform unexpected aspects of brick-and-mortar retail, even down to creative elements and store placements.
  • Case study 1: Beauty/apparel merchant that seemed convinced white lipstick was an unimportant SKU; believing anecdotally that traditional colors such as pink and red were more important.
    • In response, a geolocation-based heatmap informed by data from Keyword Planner was plotted, showing search queries for “white lipstick” in 2015 vs. 2016 – the map, surprisingly, showed massively increased searches for the query year-over-year.
      to consistently observe massive gaps between the most-searched-for items online vs. the most-purchased items in-store.
  • Case study 2: Noticing a slump in in-store sales, the beauty company took the two-pronged approach of using its most commonly-searched keywords to inform in-store creative (“neon, pink and orange,” “nail polish colors that don’t chip”), as well as analyzing the gap between most-browsed products versus actual in-store bestsellers.
    • By both changing in-store creative and also swapping in-store product shelf space to more-strongly emphasize bestsellers, the store experienced 4-8% increased sales, while losing only 1% sales of those items that had been relocated.
  • Case study 3: An apparel merchant near a college town sought to maximize profits among its local stores, finding poor results from what it assumed were internet-savvy college-age shoppers who, the store assumed, would largely make purchases online.
    • By layering geo data and mining keyword searches localized around specific stores in specific ZIP codes, the store hypothesized that the closest brick-and-mortar outlets to those areas for which search traffic was highest would likely sell the most units. By optimizing its inventory in those locations against the bestselling items for college-age students, the store saw a significant (100%+) lift in profits.


Getting the Most Out of Google & Bing Shopping
Featuring: @ToddBowman68, Jake Favaro of @3QDigital, Andreas Reiffen of @crealytics

  • (For more details on how to get more out of Google Shopping, please see our Become an Expert on Google Shopping blog series.)
  • Shopping campaigns continue to grow on both Google and Bing year-over-year – as of Q4 2016, Google Shopping saw an increase of 30% in ad spend, 43% growth in clicks and -9% CPC; while Bing Shopping saw an increase of 16% in ad spend, 11% growth in clicks and only 4% increase in CPC.
  • Google search partner growth has also significantly contributed to overall click growth, increasing Product Listing Ads (PLA) growth from 36% to 43%, and desktop PLA growth from 17% to 30%.
  • According to Merkle, the percentage of Google search clicks that can be attributed to PLAs has grown to 74% share; the percentage of Bing clicks that can be attributed to Bing Product Ads  has increased to 30%.
  • To determine product relevancy, Google tends to lean on GTINs (Global Trade Identification Numbers), Titles and Product Type Attributes.
  • Additional tweaks and customization can be achieved with the power of Custom Labels, setting bids to low/medium/high priority, advanced query targeting, negative keywords, retargeting tools such as RLSA and email customer match, eCPC, and local inventory ads.
  • Additional shopping best practices include top-level strategy for account structure, which should be planned in advance and designed in accordance with business goals. In order to ensure apples-to-apples analysis, it’s recommended to measure performance of all product groups with the exact same KPIs.
  • It’s also recommended to segment branded from non-branded keywords, using a waterfall-based structure to start from broader, non-brand terms and cascade down to branded terms – any errant terms that end up mistakenly being pulled in should be manually excluded to avoid wasted spend.
  • Additional observations made from large amounts of sample data suggest that CPCs have decreased overall even as AdWords clicks have increased – likely because there’s a simple case of over-supply of traffic and a shortage of inventory.
  • It has also been observed that price may be a highly important factor in ranking for PLAs.  While other factors such as bid levels, retailer ratings and performance history definitely affect PLA placement, low-priced items seem to consistently rank highly and in some cases, the lowest-priced item among similar, competing PLAs consistently placed in top positions. This suggests that discounts and promotions may be a powerful way to increase rankings for a merchant’s PLAs.
  • However, based on a test of 1800 sample creatives, it remains undetermined whether PLA image testing can make a difference in rankings and overall performance due to numerous factors, including the lack of control merchants have in whether their own creative will be surfaced, and whether or when updated creatives are surfaced.
  • Finally, it appears that when optimizing feeds, product titles may offer the most upside for optimization; in a test in which 16,800 titles were updated and generated 5.2 million impressions, using underrepresented, low share-of-voice titles observed significant lifts in performance, including +34% query level traffic and +11% account-level traffic.


For more in-depth session coverage of SMX West 2017, please check our previous coverage: