An SMX Keynote Conversation With Adwords VP Jerry Dischler: Straight From The Search Horse’s Mouth

Google’s recent announcements of mobile updates for AdWords have left marketers clamoring for more: more details, more insight, more data! Enter Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management with AdWords. Kicking off day two of SMX Advanced in Seattle this month, Dischler took to the podium to discourse the evolution of Google’s ad platform and tackle a few hard-hitting questions from Ginny Marvin, paid media reporter for Search Engine Land, and Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land.

The Times Are A Changin’: The Takeover of Micro-Moments
After Sullivan shared Google’s confirmation that mobile queries have surpassed desktop in 10 countries, he turned it over to Dischler to illuminate what this means for paid search and shed some light on the idea of micro-moments.

Dischler explained that gone are the days of a linear customer journey. As consumer behavior has fundamentally shifted, a more fragmented journey has become the new norm. Where time was once allotted out of one’s day to research a service or product via desktop or laptop, small bursts of activity are now occurring throughout the day — often across multiple devices and locations (to which Google has coined the term micro-moments).

For brands to survive and succeed during this behavior change, it is crucial to understand the importance of leveraging mobile to be visible whenever and wherever consumers are ready to make decisions. With the recent launch of their Micro-Moments site, Google is aiming to educate marketers on the opportunities and challenges of capturing with relevant messaging.

Text Ads: A Vertical Approach
Following a brief update on Google’s newest ad units for verticals and local listings, Marvin asked Dischler if Google is moving towards text ads in certain industries.

Dischler assured that text ads are here to stay “for a long while.” Google is trying to enhance text ads in certain industries in an effort to make them more meaningful in mobile. As a result, some of these new ad products are mobile-first or mobile-only. When session lengths are compressed as they are in mobile, it is pertinent to drive people to answers more quickly, he said. Mobile users expect richer content (and to perform better on mobile) so it’s Google’s goal to deliver while maintaining the flexibility of text ads.

On the advertiser side, Dischler explained Google is constantly working towards providing advertisers with tools to build and track mobile ads. When a follow-up question arose regarding images and videos in ads, Dischler wrapped up by noting that Google is taking a vertical approach to create structured data and rich content to scale across verticals in the future, and that advertising based on structured data rather than keywords provides a more natural marketing process.

Buy Buttons of the (Near) Future: Capitalizing on Mobile Search
After Sullivan cited that Google recently confirmed a buy button is (or will be) real in search ads, he asked Dischler to expand on the topic.

After confirming that, yes, soon users will be able to buy straight from search ads, Dischler said Google has no intention of being a retailer, but rather a facilitator in creating an easier process for retailers to have effective experiences that drive conversions and delight customers. In retail, mobile conversion rates are slightly lower. When it comes to mobile, the user wants less steps — so the buy button really aims to improve on the user-end as well.

It’s not just Google that is using this approach, either; both Pinterest and Instagram are currently testing the same model. It could be a great way to improve monetization on mobile.

Upon inquiring if this feature will be Android-only, Dischler said he believes so, but is not close enough to the team to be definite.

Tools, Tools, Tools!
In response to Marvin’s question on whether marketers can expect more tools in the future, Dischler said Google is working on mobile forecasting. Mobile measurement technology is currently available in the form of mobile-oriented formats, apps and mobile automated bidding.

When Marvin specified that marketers feel like they lose control when using “mobile preferred,” Dischler countered that Google is constantly focused on achieving a balance between offering control to advertisers (who vary vastly in experience and time/budget available within the platform) and complexity — and admittedly sometimes they need to make tradeoffs. He ended by asserting that if there are other things Google could be doing, they want to know about it.

Tablet vs. Desktop: The Great Matchup
In an effort to gauge a quick pulse, Marvin asked Dischler to share whether tablet and desktop behaviors are still similar, or if it’s time they be separated.

Dischler affirmed that not only was this still true, but that tablets are actually leaning stronger with slightly higher conversions than desktop. Ultimately, though, Google believes their behavior is still similar enough to remain grouped.

Attribution: It’s Complicated
Marvin pointed out that in the last month, Google has made many announcements surrounding data-driven attribution, and asked if Dischler could expand on the matter.

According to Google, most are using last-click attribution, when in reality it’s more complicated than that. They believe finding the right attribution model is critical for a business and this year Google will be offering many different models in AdWords (as is currently available within Analytics).

Dischler said the two barriers averting people from attribution beyond last-click are complexity of tools and organizational challenges (search vs. display vs. campaign build out vs. platforms). While Google can only offer advice concerning the latter, they can — and are trying to — do more on the tools side to guide towards a more holistic view of attribution.

Mobile Data for Real-Life Layout
Dischler next requested to chat about the exciting work Google is doing with offline measurement. This process started a few years ago with the creation of Store Visits, which has provided powerful information to merchants.

Dischler warned that if you are only looking at the online value of mobile, you’re missing out big time. Many advertisers doing store visit measurements are finding this information can deliver more value in stores than online. In an example, Dischler shared how Famous Footwear found that 18 percent of their keywords in mobile were being used as store visits. As a result, management treated their stores as a landing page and rearranged store layouts around the top 18 converting keywords. Using offline data provides marketers with massive opportunities to really affect user behavior while improving consumer experiences. 

First-Party Data

Sullivan made a natural transition to the topic of first party data in Search, citing that Google may be debating on allowing search history data to be used for remarketing.

Dischler iterated that Google has two parties that are important: users in search who they want to maintain trust with by operating in predictable ways and advertisers who say, “You let us understand some customers but not all.” Google wants to protect data and will not do anything that could offer an unpredictable outcome.

He ended by stating Google has plans to enhance the functionality of remarketing, as they see benefit for both users and advertisers.

Data Reliability: Store Visits And Cross-Device Measurement
When asked by Marvin to expand on data reliability as it relates to store visits and cross-device measurements, Dischler replied that Google takes large user populations, anonymizes and applies very conservative standards to forecast. This process makes them feel very confident about the trustability of their data, and if you don’t like the word “estimated,” you can ignore the data, test it or 100 percent accept it.

Dischler finished by updating the crowd that soon enough we’ll be able to use the data for bidding.

CPC Decline: What is the Culprit?
As CPCs have been on decline now for several quarters, Sullivan speculated that perhaps Enhanced Campaigns were the culprit. Or was it YouTube? Mobile? What is the situation with mobile CPCs, anyways?

Dischler first articulated that mobile CPCs are healthy. From Google’s perspective, Enhanced Campaigns worked, as there are now more advertisers thinking about mobile. The problem now is not all advertisers have mobile optimized sites.

He then shared that last quarter, Google reached out to Wall Street analysts in an effort to understand the impact of YouTube. Analysts confirmed that all along the CPC decline has been about YouTube growth. In the end, Dischler feels that Google does a commendable job of sharing data without oversharing.

Google’s Strategy to Stay in the Search Game
Delivering the final question before Q&A, Marvin asked that after search has been cut up (Amazon, Pinterest, apps, Instream ads, etc.) on mobile, what’s going to keep Google competitive in search?

Dischler specified that Google wants to build a great platform for every moment of commercial intent across all devices. Ten years ago when Google decided to focus on search, they didn’t think about the 82 percent of time then that was spent on various websites consuming content – they focused on the 5 percent of the time that mattered when people were making decisions, and they made it great.

The platform has changed in terms of media you can watch content based on search results. There are now app download ads that were a huge change in the Play store to get app distribution, and there is deep app linking between Chrome and the Droid team.

And, with that, the moderators opened the session up to Q&A, during which time Dischler managed to sneak in one final nugget of surprise: Google plans to completely rebuild and re-modernize the AdWords interface. Following the Q&A, attendees formed a line as long as the conference hall to keep the conversation going.

Top Session Takeaways:

  • Micro-moments (intent driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey) force marketers to better use mobile to be visible whenever and wherever consumers are ready to make decisions.
  • Text ads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Thanks to the buy button, soon (Android) users will be able to make purchases straight from search ads.
  • Mobile forecasting is in the works.
  • Tablet conversions have surpassed desktop.
  • Look beyond the online value of mobile. Think of your store as a landing page.
  • Remarketing functionality may be on the horizon.
  • Google wants users to focus on structured data over keywords.
  • The AdWords interface may soon be getting a facelift.

Another SMX keynote for the books! Kudos to the panelists for asking all the right questions and digging deep for the Google dirt.

How’d you feel about the keynote? Were you surprised by any of the announcements? Where do you think AdWords is headed? Share your thoughts below!

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