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Google is focused on Ether and Ozone rather than on Amazon – Marketing Land

We were marveled at Google Marketing Live. Fascinating demos and ground-breaking announcements like the Discovery Ads and the Bumper machine. The keynote also emphasized that Google is taking privacy seriously, which I was particularly pleased to hear. And in the ad innovations keynote, there was an overwhelming feeling that Google takes competition from Amazon more than seriously without ever mentioning it.

“Did they just say that?” was one of my common reactions during the keynote. I like the format of their presentations and the fact that you can go back and review presentations via the online portal almost immediately after they are finished. “Yes, they did!”, they said they were going to allow advertisers to book campaigns on national broadcast networks and local TV stations programmatically later this year. Google is reaching into the Ether. They also said they wanted to enable purchasing from a whole host of places within the Google properties; via voice commands, in images, in videos, in cars, in search results.

Wait, in search results? Did they just say that?

Buying functionalities will be available everywhere you use Google, a bit like the ozone gas which is distributed in the air around us in the atmosphere. Ozone is present in different doses but everywhere to be found. And it is, of course, the ozone layer that protects us from strong radiation from the sun. Fun fact, ozone which is composed of oxygen, is also lethal to humans if the concentration is too high.

Not only is Google working on Shopping Actions, which you can read more about here, a functionality whereby you can compare products and buy from shops either within Google, by going to an online store or by going to a physical store. Initially, I found this surprising – and even a bit of a fuzzy positioning: buy either here or there or offline in a shop – buy wherever you see fit. It makes a little more sense when you consider that they are also activating the shopping experiences within all their properties and in future projects like in cars which were mentioned several times during the day. Will they be changing their mantra from Mobile First to Shopping First, I wonder? This impressive host of shopping-related initiatives is clearly aimed to defend Google from the rise of Amazon. Put up an ozone layer to protect them from Amazon radiation.

We currently observe a user behaviour by which an increasing number of people end their user journey on Amazon, whether they start it on Google, Facebook or somewhere else. 

If this user behavior expands further, then Google risks being excluded from the strong monetization related to e-commerce and limited to generating advertising revenues which can’t be connected directly to sales. Due to the way the digital marketing ecosystem works, this is increasingly important.

What originally made Google advertising so compelling was exactly the fact, that an advertising campaign could be directly connected to a conversion. This was what made Google Ads become such a dominating part of the marketing mix, and in turn, this, is what made Google rich.

Today, the user journey is not as linear as it was back then, and it has many more touch-points as the Ads innovation presentation on Google Marketing Live further illustrated: a purchase decision can take a user through 50 to 250 touchpoints and run over long periods of time. In parallel, organisations are increasingly measuring and monitoring the performance of their campaigns based on the impact they have on sales.

Facebook is generating powerful influence on buying decisions but it is a challenge to connect that influence to sales. The same goes for display and video advertising which is the reason why improved integration and measurement between channels is so important. If a sale takes place in a different Walled garden (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, …) than the one which generated the decision to buy, connecting influence to action is difficult. As we saw in the presentations yesterday, Google aim to make it easier to track and monitor behaviour among their own properties and more difficult to track from other properties – in the name of privacy.

We found in our research at Innovell, that search & shopping strategies involving both Google and Amazon are already a winning approach for leading paid search teams around the world. Approximately 80% of these teams include shopping services in their offering, and 32% of them have already started working with Amazon Ads despite limited availability around the world.

With growth in searches slowing down and market share projected to recede in 2019, Google has chosen to take up the challenge. Growth is to be found in shopping and Google is going all in.

Google today master the entire user journey except for the final sales transaction. They are reaching into the ether to connect with one of the last offline media outlets, TV broadcast. And at the other end of the user journey, rather than trying to do what Amazon does, they have chosen to do like the ozone gas, dilute their shopping capabilities everywhere around us when we are in touch with products or services via a Google service. Everywhere to be found, and aiming at disrupting the user journey to their advantage.

2019 is Ether and Ozone.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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