Last Friday, Google hosted their annual Google Engage: Box of Tricks for Agencies event in the beautiful settings of One Marylebone, London. Opening their ‘Box of Tricks’ for 2013, over 150 agencies were in attendance to discover what is in store next year. Here are my key takeaways from the event:

1. Mobile is pivotal

With 51% of the UK owning smartphones in 2011, a large amount of focus inevitably fell on best practices for mobile and the reasons why advertisers should embrace the device as part of their marketing strategies. Rather concerningly, it was highlighted that 57% of users would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site, yet only 10% of Google advertisers have one. This perfectly illustrates that companies serious about providing a good brand experience for their consumers need to have mobile website functionality.

2. Use YouTube to capture and convert your audience

Presenter Harry Davies, Head of Solutions Strategy for Google UK, identified that whilst broadcast media helps create demand and digital response media captures demand, YouTube can do both simultaneously. It was recorded that Diet Chef, a website dedicated to helping people to diet through delivery of personalised healthy  meals, found that Trueview advertising was 25% cheaper than TV for cost per sale.

Much as was displayed through Davies’ presentation, I have personally found that so long as YouTube campaigns are integrated with other offline and online marketing, this can cost-effectively and measurably produce additional revenue to the overall site through various marketing channels.

3. Embrace Google Plus

Throughout 2012, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of Google Plus for brand awareness, with some questioning whether only those working in digital are on the social network. However, an effective assimilation of consumer and brand can be seen through Cadbury’s successful use of their + page, with over 2.75 million people following Cadbury in the UK alone.

Additionally, by linking + pages to their respective websites, more space above the fold is taken up by a client’s brand. The + listing will sit in the place that would have contained the right-hand-side Google ads, meaning that advertising competition is immediately eliminated. This increases click-through-rate of the brand’s paid search ad.

4. Go Universal with Analytics

Rather excitingly, Universal Analytics was announced at the end of October. Alongside Google Tag Manager, this will enable analysts, advertisers and those working in SEO to better assess consumer journeys. Offline data can be imported into Analytics, meaning that it is possible for performance and cost data from offline marketing campaigns, call logs and even store visits to be plugged into the interface. Ultimately, Universal Analytics will enable marketers to make better decisions for business strategy, aiding in budget plans for both offline and online channels.

5. New Adwords features

There will be several new features in Adwords next year, including:

  • Improved planning tools
  • Adwords without keywords (dynamic search ads, which are already available in Adwords)
  • Google Shopping becoming a paid search feature only, on a CPC model
  • Dynamic contextual display and dynamic remarketing (one of the features I think will be most efficient in revenue generation, particularly when used in conjunction with Universal Analytics data)
  • Customer support in the SERP – a link to chat support in ads in the SERP
  • Semantic targeting – such as being able to target 350 airports worldwide
  • Pay for Engagement ads – expandable ads that need to be hovered over for 2 seconds or more

My final thoughts on Google 2013

I think it is evident through the Google Engage event that Google are making strong advancements in becoming even more essential to online marketers through their additional marketing and tracking capabilities. However, more importantly, Google is now moving into the offline arena in terms of an attempt to become indispensable.  It has been an arduous battle to quantify that online marketing is a central touch-point within the consumer journey to making offline conversions. Through CRM integration with Analytics, marketers will be better able to see how one marketing channel affects another, leaving them more equipped to make the most cost-effective, profitable business decisions.

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