The Update: Why clarity on marketing objectives is critical in the age of automation

The Update: Why clarity on marketing objectives is critical in the age of automation

Guests
Jason Spero, VP of Global Performance Solutions at Google
Marie Gulin-Merle, Global VP of Ads Marketing at Google
Published
July 2020

In this episode of our video series The Update, Google’s Global VP of Ads Marketing Marie Gulin-Merle talks to Jason Spero, VP global performance solutions at Google, about the challenges faced by marketers today. They discuss how marketers can navigate increasing complexity with a clear focus on their marketing objectives.

In the months ahead, we’ll be exploring marketing objectives in more detail:

  • June: Growing apps and mobile
  • July: Driving online sales
  • August: Generating leads
  • September: Increasing awareness
  • October: Driving offline sales

Short on time? Watch the 2 minute version.

0:02

Hi, I'm Jason Spero.

0:06

I lead global commercialization efforts for Google's performance media products.

0:13

So we're talking about search, display, programmatic, our GMP platforms, measurement etc.

0:16

We're the voice of the customer in Google's product development process.

0:20

We bring the markets to product and we bring products to market.

0:26

In this episode of The Update,

0:27

I will talk to Jason Spero

0:29

about why clear marketing objectives

0:32

are critical in the age of automation.

0:34

I've heard you talk a lot about

0:36

consumer transformation on mobile

0:38

and the rapid behavior shift

0:39

we're seeing today.

0:42

So, can you share the parallels you see here?

0:47

So much of the challenge marketers face today reminds me of what we saw 10 years ago.

0:52

My first job at Google was to help Google and our partners understand and navigate

0:57

the dramatic change that came from consumers’ adoption of mobile devices.

0:59

For Google this ultimately meant

1:01

transforming our products pretty fundamentally.

1:04

For marketers as you know, Marie, this meant

1:07

rethinking user engagement and user empowerment.

1:09

It required huge changes to their marketing

1:10

in order to succeed.

1:14

I'm seeing a lot of the same disruption and need for adaptation today.

1:18

Whether consumers are interested in a car or a new pair of shoes,

1:20

we're watching the rapid shift

1:23

toward a much more nuanced and complex customer journey.

1:27

And we're seeing the accelerated importance

1:28

of digital marketing.

1:31

The good news is we see innovation everywhere.

1:33

In some ways, we're ready for this moment.

1:35

The industry is growing quickly

1:38

and there are digital tools that have become incredibly powerful.

1:40

But in other ways our marketing

1:43

and marketers are extremely stretched.

1:49

So Jason, what do you think is the biggest challenge that is faced by marketers today?

1:51

I think I'd point to complexity.

1:54

There are just so many different places to engage

1:55

with consumers today.

1:58

I hear this for marketers in just about every conversation I have.

2:02

That to address the evolving customer journey,

2:05

the industry has come up with all these specialized media and formats,

2:08

so teams have to be expert

2:10

in dozens of different point solutions

2:12

for each point along the journey where they want to invest.

2:17

Then marketers need to invest in the post processing to stitch that all back together

2:20

to have one unified view of the customer.

2:22

This is a ton of work

2:24

and it's not at all scalable.

2:27

And in many cases we lose our goals in the translation.

2:32

Each of these media strategies and buys is an approximation of our business goals.

2:35

In the end, marketers are struggling to keep their media

2:37

aligned with their marketing objectives,

2:41

and we're losing fidelity to what really matters to the brand.

2:45

So goals getting lost in translation…

2:47

what does it look like in the real world?

2:50

You know, one of the things I see most often

2:54

is I see people lose sight of what the original marketing goal was.

2:56

So many marketers

2:57

limit their strategy

3:00

to focus on one particular part of the customer journey.

3:03

They say I want to win the sale

3:06

so they focus mostly on media that they believe is close to the purchase.

3:09

Maybe that's search or remarketing or something else.

3:12

Or they want to drive awareness

3:15

and so they buy high reach video or social.

3:21

But all of that media is then managed to these proxy metrics so that you will remember

3:26

and everyone spends the next two to three years of their lives optimizing to these proxy metrics,

3:29

but they may have lost track of the original goal,

3:33

which is to sell a product or get people to try a product or to become more aware of a product

3:35

and the actual media goals

3:37

get separate from the marketing goals.

3:40

Sometimes I've seen marketers

3:43

losing track of the business goal…

3:44

so did you see that too?

3:46

Yeah, you're so right.

3:50

Sometimes the marketing goals and these proxy metrics

3:53

as you say come out of alignment with the business goals and I would point to things like

3:56

ROI which is central for so many marketers

4:00

and a valuable tool but it can detract from what's most important

4:02

and maybe I'll give you an example.

4:06

Take a scenario where you can invest $1

4:08

and get $10 in return

4:11

or invest $100 and get $300 back.

4:16

On a strict ROI basis the ten for one wins,

4:19

but it might lead you to refuse to invest

4:23

more even when you know

4:25

that you could get sort of this larger return on

4:28

revenue and profit and growth

4:32

and a marketer who's focused on profit or overall growth

4:34

just missed out because

4:36

they run their marketing off that ROI proxy metric.

4:39

Across both these examples we just talked about

4:42

we think a marketer should be able to state a marketing goal

4:45

customer acquisition or driving footfalll to a store

4:47

or a business goal, profit or growth,

4:49

and that all of their marketing in their media

4:51

should work in service of that goal.

4:53

What can we at Google

4:56

do to help marketers become more successful?

5:00

I think the first thing is agreeing that the complexity is a big part of the problem.

5:03

We believe the answer to the complexity lies in automation.

5:04

With the right tools,

5:06

we can align the bids,

5:08

the budgets and creative

5:10

with the marketers true goal

5:12

and this can work across media.

5:15

So instead of optimizing search or display

5:17

or feed or video ads in a silo,

5:21

automation can remove that fragmentation

5:23

both at the media level

5:25

and at the user journey level.

5:28

Automation can work across campaigns

5:31

addressing some of the bigger questions I get for marketers.

5:32

So one of those is

5:35

how do I get out of managing so much media across

5:37

so many different campaigns.

5:40

And I think you can see Google's vision

5:42

in the innovation around app campaigns,

5:45

which we also put into local campaigns and smart shopping.

5:50

We built cross media solutions that optimized toward the marketer’s goal

5:51

whether that

5:55

is customer acquisition or overall basket size or lifetime value.

5:58

The second big question I get is how do I understand

6:02

the effectiveness of different campaigns relative to those goals that we've been talking about.

6:07

And I think the question of how to give credit is at the core of this fragmentation.

6:10

I know so many marketers invest tons of time

6:12

trying to manage this and put it all back together.

6:16

We believe that cross-media multi-touch attribution is the answer.

6:17

We've been clear on that.

6:20

We've already made marketers lives easier with data-driven attribution,

6:22

which dynamically assigns

6:24

partial credit journey by journey

6:29

so that you don't have to go through and sort of guess about how the impact was of all those different media types.

6:33

How can we help marketers navigate these metrics?

6:35

Yeah, it's a pretty significant pivot

6:38

and we think the center of the answer lies in planning.

6:40

So we've invested in planning tools

6:41

that will allow marketers

6:42

to sort of see

6:46

the impact of their media and optimize to the business metrics

6:49

rather than focusing on maybe cost per acquisition

6:52

or ROI averages which can constrain campaigns

6:54

because a lot of this is about,

6:55

which I'm sure you remember,

6:58

what matters to the CFO not what matters

7:01

to the person who's managing the individual campaign.

7:03

So in my previous roles as a CMO,

7:07

maintaining line-of-sight to achieve the business objectives

7:09

was always a priority

7:11

but honestly not that easy.

7:18

Many teams naturally silo the world between brand and performance or

7:20

digital and television

7:23

or linear and OTT.

7:26

But this creates more complexity

7:30

without solving for this new consumer journey. So

7:34

Jason, the question is how do we solve these tensions?

7:39

As you asked that question, I just realized again how hard the CMO’s job

7:41

with all those things to sort of navigate.

7:45

I guess the advice I would give and the first part is the obvious one

7:47

which is set clear goals.

7:48

As much as you can,

7:51

quiet the media and the vendors and the noise

7:52

and focus on two areas.

7:57

First, and all marketers do this, gaining a deep understanding of your customer.

7:58

And second,

8:00

talking to your CFO,

8:02

talking to the people that you need to consult and understanding

8:04

what is your business trying to accomplish.

8:07

If you can get to that level of clarity and simplicity,

8:09

then you can rally your entire org

8:13

around what you want your marketing to do in service of that.

8:15

This ultimately provides the levers

8:19

for setting and achieving the objectives as you balance geo priorities,

8:21

breadth versus depth,

8:22

growth versus profit,

8:25

and maybe short-term versus long-term.

8:28

So the first thing is to understand what goals you're after.

8:31

Second, and this is where things break down,

8:32

connect those goals

8:36

and you can cascade the business goals to the marketing objectives

8:38

and build back with the right KPIs

8:40

to capture those marketing objectives

8:42

and then give them out to everybody you're working with

8:44

so that third

8:48

you can manage your media to those business and marketing objectives.

8:52

As I said earlier, we believe automation marshalls all media,

8:54

targeting, budget allocation all of it

8:57

to optimize for a central KPI,

9:00

but automation is only as good as the goals that you set.

9:02

What role should Google play

9:04

in this

9:07

and what does a good partnership look like?

9:09

For our part, we want to build better and better solutions

9:10

to help you

9:12

optimize toward these goals.

9:14

To do that Google is organizing itself,

9:16

our products and our go-to-market

9:17

in a much simpler way

9:20

We're mapping all of our products and tools

9:23

to five to seven of the most common ---marketing objectives.

9:26

You can see sort of the beginnings of this

9:27

in our approach on apps

9:30

where advertisers can buy and optimize across channels.

9:32

So app campaigns

9:35

streamline the campaign process for the marketer

9:37

making it easy to promote your apps

9:39

across Google's largest media properties

9:44

including Search, Google Play, YouTube, Discover

9:47

and AdMob and the Google Display Network.

9:50

So all you have to do is bring a few lines of text,

9:51

a goal

9:54

that you want to optimize to and your creative, your assets

9:58

and the rest is automatically optimized to help your users find you.

10:01

We do that same thing that we do in apps

10:04

to help drive online sales as a marketing objective,

10:06

VR smart shopping campaigns approach

10:10

and we do the same thing with driving offline sales through local campaigns

10:13

to try to make all of that easier for you as a marketer.

10:15

Google's product vision is to bring more of this

10:17

into our tools

10:18

so that you can give us a goal

10:20

and we will bring forward the products

10:22

that can work and serve that goal

10:23

in an automated way.

10:26

Does this really work?

10:30

Can you share a real world example of how clear

10:33

shared goals and automation are fueling

10:36

actual business growth today?

10:38

Yes, of course.

10:40

We have a number of these products

10:42

that I've been describing in market.

10:46

So we've got the app solution, the driving online sales solution,

10:47

and local

10:49

maybe I'll pick one from driving online sales.

10:52

Last year in preparation for the holidays,

10:56

a partner of ours, an online handbag company called Dagne Dover

10:58

was looking for an efficient way

11:03

to sort of drive their overall sales and maximize its overall advertising spend effectiveness.

11:07

Together with their agency

11:08

called Mason Interactive,

11:11

the brand launched on this Google smart shopping

11:12

campaigns experience.

11:14

And they let machine learning decide

11:16

where and when to show products for customers

11:18

who are more likely to buy.

11:22

The result of this sort of went right at their goal

11:26

was that they saw more than a 300% increase in conversions, their overall goal

11:29

of driving effectiveness and then all of the

11:31

proxy metrics which are still relevant

11:33

fell out of that.

11:34

And so you saw

11:37

a more than four times Improvement of return on ad spend

11:41

and a dramatic increase in conversion rate because they found the right customers

11:43

and overall that drove a decrease

11:46

in their cost per acquisition and improvements in ROI.

11:48

So all the proxy metrics

11:49

were successful,

11:52

but they were secondary to that overall top-line growth

11:55

that we're able to achieve by unifying all of these efforts

11:58

and serve the true goal that the marketer articulated.

12:00

Earlier you’ve mentioned

12:03

we are packaging products

12:06

to the top marketing objectives.

12:07

Can you tell me what it means

12:12

and what the practical takeaway is for our audience here?

12:17

Yes, we put together a marketing objective series

12:20

focused on practitioners and marketers and agencies

12:24

to help you understand how to make some of these changes we've been talking about.

12:27

It includes stories like the Dagne Dover example,

12:29

so you can learn how to transform your business

12:30

and rethink your goals,

12:33

especially in light of COVID-19.

12:35

It will also help you understand the levers you need to get right

12:37

for common marketing objectives.

12:39

And it'll help you

12:42

effectively use Google products in combination together

12:44

to reach those goals that you've worked so hard to set.

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