The Update: How Google is helping businesses respond to COVID-19

The Update: How Google is helping businesses respond to COVID-19

Guests
Jerry Dischler, VP and GM of Ads at Google
Marie Gulin-Merle, Global VP of Ads Marketing at Google
Published
June 2020

In the first video of our series, The Update, Google’s Global VP of Ads Marketing Marie Gulin-Merle talks to VP and GM of Ads at Google Jerry Dischler about the state of the digital ad industry in the wake of the disruption brought on by COVID-19. They share what they’re hearing from industry leaders, as well as how the Google Ads product roadmap is pivoting to help businesses meet the changing needs of customers.

Editor’s note: We acknowledge the hard times the world is going through, from COVID-19 to racial injustice. Please visit The Keyword to learn more about Google’s response to COVID-19 and how we stand with the Black community.

0:01

Hi everyone.

0:05

People around the world have felt the impact of the COVID-19 crisis,

0:07

and over the past few weeks

0:12

we've grieved together as the Black community has endured more senseless acts of violence.

0:15

At Google, we stand against racial injustice.

0:18

We believe that equality is a basic human right,

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and that everyone should be heated treated equally, regardless of background or race.

0:28

We're working to listen to your perspectives, and we’re learning from businesses large and small.

0:32

We're committed to helping you in your recovery.

0:38

And more than ever, we’re now investing in organisations and nonprofits fighting racial injustice around the world.

0:45

The past few months have been incredibly challenging, and we still have a long road ahead of us.

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We want to express our thanks to all of you as partners,

0:52

whether brands or agencies—thank you for being a part of our community.

1:03

We're here to help as we all plan for a better future together.

1:10

My name is Jerry and I lead product development for Google's ad products.

1:15

I've learned a lot from meeting with customers and partners around the world,

1:17

virtually of course,

1:20

to hear about how COVID has impacted their businesses.

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It's clear that there are things that we can do to help, and we want to help,

1:32

and so the focus of my role and my team's role has really shifted since the break of COVID-19,

1:35

to identify new product ideas and best practices

1:39

to help our customers get back on their feet.

1:42

In this episode, Jerry Dischler talks to me about

1:47

the recent changes we made to Google Ads in response to COVID-19.

1:51

As it comes to the business, Jerry, can you let us know about what you see

1:56

about businesses coping with COVID?

2:00

If you take a look from the consumer perspective, interests are shifting.

2:04

One beauty brand is now focusing on skin care rather than makeup,

2:07

which was historically their most popular category.

2:11

Or, real estate companies are now offering extensive virtual tours

2:17

because they can't bring people directly into homes.

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Now, a lot of businesses particularly in the retail sector are finding that online is not an optional side business,

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but an important focal point for their business.

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And at times like these, those with strong online presences are doing really well

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relative to the competition.

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And how have you and your team have been thinking about responding to COVID?

2:44

What we did was we identified three high-level principles for the product roadmap

2:46

in terms of how to respond.

2:50

The first is to build for what customers need right now.

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So we took a look at our product roadmap and said,

2:58

“How can we make resources available in order to respond during a time of crisis?”

3:01

We wanted to make an investment in automation tools

3:04

to help customers who now have less time and resources

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to invest in creative design and targeting and things of this nature.

3:12

We thought it inappropriate to ask advertisers to do heavy lifting,

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like doing migrations or campaign overhauls at this time.

3:21

Building for customers now let us to pull forward our plans to open up inventory

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on shopping.google.com for more products and customers.

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On not asking for heavy lifting, we had some migrations scheduled

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and then finally, in investing in automation tools like responsive search ads,

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Smart Bidding and data-driven attribution.

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These are areas of the product roadmap where we invested more resources.

3:48

Do you have any favorite tools to help understand how companies can be helpful

3:50

and respond to their customers’ needs?

3:54

So I've been a big fan of Google Trends for a long time,

4:00

and we have released a new data interactive on Think with Google.

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What that does is it shares insights on what people are searching for

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during this time of need.

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Although your brick and mortar location may be closed,

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your customers who are sheltering in place haven't stopped shopping

4:16

—they're just looking for different things.

4:20

We're seeing in some cases rapid spikes and sharp declines in consumer demand

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for various products and services.

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So we want you to help uncover pockets of opportunity by highlighting categories of

4:34

products and services with high volumes of queries that are also growing at a fast rate.

4:38

Can you talk about bringing free listings to Google Shopping?

4:41

The retail sector has been heavily affected by coronavirus,

4:44

and without physical stores,

4:47

digital commerce has become a lifeline for businesses.

4:50

Consumers are searching beyond essentials

4:54

for things like toys, and apparel and home goods et cetera,

4:58

and this is an opportunity for businesses to reconnect with consumers,

5:00

but many can't afford to do so at scale.

5:05

So in light of these challenges, we have made it free for merchants to sell on Google,

5:08

via the Google Shopping property.

5:12

For shoppers, it means that they get broader selection

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at a time when it's often hard to find products in stock.

5:22

For advertisers, this means additional traffic beyond what you can get from your paid campaigns.

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But if you're an existing Merchant Center and Shopping ads user,

5:29

not only do you not have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings,

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but you also are getting a boost on top of the very high effectiveness that you're already getting

5:36

from your shopping investments.

5:41

For new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue to work to streamline the onboarding process

5:43

over the coming weeks and months.

5:50

But if you'd like, you can sign up now and start taking advantage of this additional free traffic.

5:56

Tell me about updates to local inventory ads?

6:01

Partially due to COVID, curbside pickup has become an emerging behavior.

6:06

Consumers are limiting their time in stores, and want contactless store pickup experiences.

6:12

Merchants who have local inventory, and use our local inventory ads product,

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can already highlight whether a product is available for store pickup.

6:21

Soon, retailers will be able to indicate that they can offer

6:25

curbside as a store pickup option, right in Shopping ads.

6:27

So can you talk about automation?

6:34

How does it help to deliver results, especially for people who are short on time?

6:36

I can absolutely empathize.

6:40

We have two young kids at home who are not in school right now.

6:43

And so it’s a constant struggle.

6:45

So what I would recommend is that you use Google's automation tools.

6:53

As search behavior changes and evolves in rapid cycles, Smart Bidding is built to handle that

6:54

If your volume is changing

6:59

and your conversion rates are relatively consistent to what you've seen historically,

7:04

you can use Performance PlannerM or budget and target simulators

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to understand your potential.

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But try not to forecast too far beyond seven days though,

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and reassess often because of the

7:14

constantly changing environment.

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If your conversion rates are changing,

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monitor how quickly they're changing.

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Our automation handles gradual changes well,

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but sudden drops in conversion rate may necessitate new performance targets,

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just like if you were changing bids manually.

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Remember to use top signals

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for maximum insights into your performance.

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Smart Bidding delivers insights that you can use

7:40

elsewhere in your campaigns.

7:42

It's also possible to use automation

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to guide you through times of turbulence like this,

7:48

with your automated creative strategy.

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Like in responsive search ads,

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or even your App campaigns

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where these adjustments are handled automatically

8:00

in order for you to achieve your business objective.

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Also because businesses of all sizes are strapped for time and resources,

8:10

and in-person video is no longer practical, we've also been investing in Video Builder.

8:13

For businesses who don't have resources to create videos from scratch,

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Video Builder can help by animating static assets—images, text, and logos—

8:21

with music from YouTube's library.

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And you can quickly generate a short video of 6 or 15 seconds.

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For example, Havenly, an online platform that offers interior design services,

8:33

has been using Video Builder.

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And free tools like this help them continue to create new and fresh content at a time

8:42

where they can't film professional content.

8:45

Well, thank you Jerry for all the insights and inspiration.

8:50

Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with us?

8:56

This is a really difficult time for all of us, and I really understand that.

8:59

And at Google, we're committed to helping you and your business

9:02

weather the storm and then thrive and succeed.

9:07

First, we would love to hear your input, and your help.

9:11

We would love to magnify the creativity that you have in dealing with these situations,

9:16

and so we would love to hear what the new use cases are that we can support.

9:20

The second way that we're here to help is by making it easier for you to make

9:24

advertising investments that allow you to achieve your business goals.

9:28

So taking a look at our automation, our planning tools, our insights and things like that

9:29

is really important.

9:40

And then finally, I hope that all of you stay healthy and safe, and I hope to see you soon.