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SMX Advanced 2015 Live Blog: Keynote Conversation With Jerry Dischler, VP AdWords


Good morning from Seattle! It’s day two of SMX Advanced, and we’re starting today with a keynote conversation involving Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management with AdWords. He’ll be speaking with our founding editor, Danny Sullivan, and Ginny Marvin, our paid media reporter.

We’re due to get started at 9:00 am PT, so come back in a few moments and join us if you’re not here in Seattle to listen in person.

Okay, after a few housekeeping announcements, here we go! I’ll use JD for Jerry Dischler, GM for Ginny Marvin and DS for Danny Sullivan.

DS: Last month, Google confirmed that mobile queries have surpassed desktop in 10 countries. What does that mean for paid search, and can you talk about this idea of micro moments.

JD: Yeah, we’re really excited about this. In the past, the customer journey was a very linear. But now we have a much more fragmented journey, and we’re calling these micro moments. You have these little events that happen throughout the day. We’ve been building toward this cross-device world for years — we’ve been doing research for years to understand how a consumer’s behavior changes throughout the day.

Jerry tells a story about a woman looking for land to build a home, and how she might’ve previously sat at a desktop computer and done her research in one long session, but now she can spend five minutes researching while waiting to pick up her kids from school, or in line at the grocery store.

GM: Is Google moving away from text ads in certain industries?

JD: Text ads are here to stay for a long while. But in certain industries, we’re trying to enhance the text ads to make them more usable. Some of our new ad products are mobile-first. When session lengths are compressed as they are on mobile, we need to drive people to answers more quickly. On mobile, people also expect more rich content. So we’re going to build products that work well on mobile first. But we also need to keep the flexibility that text ads offers.

Jerry also explains how Google is trying to make sure advertisers have the tools they need to build and track mobile ads.

(Ginny asked a question about images in ads, but everyone is talking too fast for a 9am session! Slow it down, people!)

DS: Google has confirmed that the buy button is real – people will be able to buy from search ads. What can you tell us about that?

JD: First, we have no intention of being a retailer. We want to allow retailers to have experiences where they can drive conversions and leads. That’s true across all verticals. We want to drive leads and conversions on both mobile and desktop. The buy button is really about mobile and driving mobile transactions. In retail, mobile conversion rates are a little lower — keyboard input is difficult, sessions are shorter, you don’t always have payment credentials available.

We went to retailers and said, what if we can shorten this and make the payment flow better? They said they’re willing to give it a try. So we’re gonna try it out and we think it’s likely to be great for users and advertisers if we can get it right. We want to make the process easier for consumers and more effective for advertisers.

It’s not just us — look at the news yesterday from Pinterest and Instagram doing the same thing.

DS: Is it Android only?

JD: I believe it’s going to start Android only, but I’m not close enough to the team to be certain.

GM: Some of the mobile ad tools are kind blunt. Are we gonna see more tools?

JD: We’ve been developing a bunch of mobile measurement technology. Explains what else Google has been doing. Asks Ginny what else Google can do, which prompts a conversation about mobile settings in AdWords. JD ends by saying if there are other things Google can do, they want to know about it.

We always have a balance between offering control to advertisers and complexity. We have millions of advertisers now ranging from people that work on ads a few minutes a week to some of the most sophisticated marketers in the world. So if we’re not making the right tradeoffs to balance that, we want to know.

GM: Are you still seeing that tablet and desktop behavior are similar?

JD: Yes, in fact tablets are leaning stronger. Conversions are a little higher there. But we do see similar behavior overall and we think it makes sense to group tablet and desktop together.

GM: Last month Google made a lot of announcements. I don’t think the data-driven attribution has received a lot of attribution.

JD: Finding the right attribution model is really important for your business. We surveyed and found that most are using last-click attribution. But the reality is more complicated than that. So we’re going to offer more attribution models in AdWords, like we already do in Analytics.

There are two barriers that prevent people from switching out of last-click attribution: 1) complexity of tools, and 2) organizational challenges. We can only offer advice on the latter, but we can do more on the tools side. People that have a more holistic view of their advertising tend to do better across the board.

Can we talk about offline measurement? This is exciting work we’re doing. We started a couple years ago in this direction with things like Store Visits — this information is really powerful. If you’re only looking at the online value of mobile, you’re really missing out. The value of things like store visit measurements and calls is really important. Famous Footwear found that 18% of their store visits were affected by their search ads. You have opportunities as marketers to really affect user behavior.

Danny asks a question about the use of search term data and search history. Jerry gives a pretty standard Google answer about balancing user privacy and advertiser needs.

GM: Let’s talk more about data reliability re: Store Visits and cross-device measurements.

JD: We take very large user populations and then take very conservative forecasts. We feel really good about the trustability of this data. They’re pretty conservative techniques. If you don’t like the word “estimated,” you can ignore the data, you can test it out, or you can accept it 100%. We think it’s safe to accept the data 100% — pretty soon we’re gonna use this in bidding.

DS: CPCs have been declining for several quarters now. Enhanced Campaigns didn’t seem to change that. On the last earnings call, it was that YouTube was creating a lot of cheap clicks.

JD: Mobile CPCs are really healthy. From my perspective and, I think, the user’s perspective, Enhance Campaigns worked. But there are some problems — some advertisers don’t have mobile websites so they’re not getting the full value.

We decided last quarter to talk to the street [Wall St. analysts] about the impact of YouTube – we’ve always reported all of our owned-and-operated properties together, but we broke it out a bit this last time.

GM: So it’s always been about YouTube?

JD: Yes, it’s always been YouTube.

GM: Let’s look at the broader landscape. Mentions Amazon and Pinterest and new search/mobile competitors. What’s going to keep Google competitive?

JD: We want to build a platform for moments of intent across all devices and the desktop. We’re building on our platform every year — Android and Chrome and things like that. There’s always been a lot of ways to buy advertising. Ten years ago, you could buy display ads from a number of different places.

Let me give you some examples of how our platform is changing. Mentions ads in the Google Play Store. We have app download ads. We have app deep linking — we’re trying to push apps and the web closer together. If we do our jobs right, we see ourselves in the center of this evolution.

Now time for audience Q&A….

Matt Van Wagner asks a question — well, offers some feedback about how Google keeps adding new products, but there are still some basic holes in the AdWords interface and some missing features.

JD: This is great feedback. It sounds like there are some areas where we’re falling short for advertisers. We’re planning to rebuild the entire AdWords interface and modernize it.

Next Q: Is there any benefit to keeping search and display together?

JD: The idea behind search and display select is for people who want to get search-like behavior out of their display ads.

Q: Can you talk about universal app campaigns — how does that make things easier for app developers, and is app indexing required?

JD: No, app indexing isn’t required. The idea behind universal app campaigns is that we want to provide app promotion for a wider variety of developers. But our existing inventory is pretty complicated — separate campaigns have to be measured independently. So the idea is to have a single automated way to advertise your app on Google.

(For more, see our article last week about this announcement: Google’s New Universal App Campaigns Push App Promotions Across Search, YouTube, AdMob, Display.)

Q: missed some of this, but asked about ad impressions, Google profit motives, etc.

JD: There’s no conspiracy or collusion. Search and ad personalization are done totally separately. I will say, full stop, that we’re not manipulating the ad auction to increase profits.

And with that, we’re finished. Thanks for reading along!

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