Decoding The New Consumer

Being a Google Premier Partner gives Strathcom access to events held by Google across the United States and Canada, and we got to take part in one such event in Vancouver on March 1st called “Decoding The New Consumer.”

With Google trainings and events, much of the info is about the data they’re willing to share about the trends they see in today’s consumers, and to no ones surprise, today’s consumers want accurate info and they want it now! Today, consumers are 80% of the way through their car-buying journey before they ever step into a dealership, so being in those moments to provide the consumer with what they are looking for can make or break your sales.

One bit of info I was surprised to see was that Google searches which contain “near me” – after years of increasing – are going down in frequency. Why? Because people expect Google to know where they are, so they don’t feel the need to say “near me.” If they search “Pizza,” they expect Google to know where they are, and show them the best option near them – no need to type it anymore. This is an ongoing trend Google is seeing where people are acting more natural with search; instead of ‘Googling something’ they are asking Google the same way they would ask their friends, which is outlined beautifully in this Google Home ad:

With the decrease in people searching “near me,” Google is seeing a 100% increase in people searching “where to buy.”

Next, Jason Fohlstrom took us through what Google and their A.I./Machine Learning arm DeepMind (they have an office here in Edmonton) are working on. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are two buzzwords you’ve probably heard somewhere in the last few years, but most people don’t know that A.I./Machine Learning already play a huge part in all our lives. They will affect 33% of all the world economic markets (that’s $24,000,000,000,000 – yes TRILLION!) in 2018. You’ve probably heard of it in use mostly with Google’s self-driving car project Waymo, trying to learn how to drive itself without causing an accident or killing someone. It has now driven over 5,000,000 miles completely on its own. This A.I./Machine Learning is actually available to everyone running AdWords today, whether it be through a/b ad testing, which AdWords will do by default with the ads in an ad group, and also through data-driven attribution, with which Google will be able to tell you which steps of the buying process should get the credit for a sale. This is better than giving all the credit to the last click in the process or through a linear model (which Strathcom uses) to give credit to all steps within the process. Smart Display Campaigns let you put in some creative, text and headlines, and your target cost per acquisition/lead, and Google will create the ads, figure out who would be the best people to show them to, and change the creative on it’s own as it gets more data on what the user is reacting to. They also announced targeting by life events, knowing who is going through a targetable life event like marriage, buying a car, graduating from college, etc, so we can show your ads to those people.

In the blink of an eye, Google can analyse 70,000,000 signals to show the right ad to the right person at the right time, which would be impossible without A.I and Machine Learning.

Decoding The New Consumer

Lastly, we had a workshop session where we saw how we could better pull audience data to create better audience lists, an audience list being a list of users who we can show specific ads to. One thing that was apparent from this session is that the journey is fragmented; people are not all taking the same road when it comes to purchasing, and the more signals we can collect, the better. At the event, Google announced that Map data will now be included in the in-market segment data, so when google A.I. is looking for the best person to show your Ford ad to, they can see that people search for a Ford dealership in Google Maps and opt to show that person your Ford ad. Another great stat Google shared was that 80% of a user’s time is spent outside of search. We know search is usually the main driver of leads, and that needs to be the first place an auto dealer should be, but considering only 41% of users will actually contact a dealership prior to visiting it, it’s also important to diversify your online advertising portfolio and get what you want to sell in front of the right person at the right time, even if it means that person isn’t going to send you a cold hard lead. What better place to do that than the second largest search engine, YouTube! YouTube has always been known as more of a branding play; you can’t expect to get many leads from it, but it is a platform that lots of consumers use in their journey, including for car test drives, car reviews, car walk arounds, etc, so if you want them to find your business, you should be there.

Google made another announcement at the Decoding The New Consumer event, and that is they will now have CPA bidding for YouTube, which means we can set a target cost per lead, that Google will try to reach using A.I.. You have to be reasonable with it though; if you say you want to have a cost per lead of $2, it’s not going to work. You should start with what you would be happy with as a cost per lead (which should be a little less than what the lead would be worth to you) and then Google will work toward that as well as work toward lowering that.

Many of these insights will be shared on https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-ca/ eventually, so keep an eye out there and here on the Strathcom blog too for more updates on what’s happening in the online advertising industry!