The Update: Why clarity on marketing objectives is critical in the age of automation
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.
Hi, I'm Jason Spero.
I lead global commercialisation efforts for Google's performance media products.
So we're talking about search, display, programmatic, our GMP platforms, measurement etc.
We're the voice of the customer in Google's product development process.
We bring the markets to product and we bring products to market.
In this episode of The Update,
I will talk to Jason Spero
about why clear marketing objectives
are critical in the age of automation.
I've heard you talk a lot about
consumer transformation on mobile
and the rapid behaviour shift
we're seeing today.
So, can you share the parallels you see here?
So much of the challenge marketers face today reminds me of what we saw 10 years ago.
My first job at Google was to help Google and our partners understand and navigate
the dramatic change that came from consumers’ adoption of mobile devices.
For Google this ultimately meant
transforming our products pretty fundamentally.
For marketers as you know, Marie, this meant
rethinking user engagement and user empowerment.
It required huge changes to their marketing
in order to succeed.
I'm seeing a lot of the same disruption and need for adaptation today.
Whether consumers are interested in a car or a new pair of shoes,
we're watching the rapid shift
toward a much more nuanced and complex customer journey.
And we're seeing the accelerated importance
of digital marketing.
The good news is we see innovation everywhere.
In some ways, we're ready for this moment.
The industry is growing quickly
and there are digital tools that have become incredibly powerful.
But in other ways our marketing
and marketers are extremely stretched.
So Jason, what do you think is the biggest challenge that is faced by marketers today?
I think I'd point to complexity.
There are just so many different places to engage
with consumers today.
I hear this from marketers in just about every conversation I have.
That to address the evolving customer journey,
the industry has come up with all these specialised media and formats,
so teams have to be expert
in dozens of different point solutions
for each point along the journey where they want to invest.
Then marketers need to invest in the post processing to stitch that all back together
to have one unified view of the customer.
This is a ton of work
and it's not at all scalable.
And in many cases we lose our goals in the translation.
Each of these media strategies and buys is an approximation of our business goals.
In the end, marketers are struggling to keep their media
aligned with their marketing objectives,
and we're losing fidelity to what really matters to the brand.
So, goals getting lost in translation…
what does it look like in the real world?
You know, one of the things I see most often
is I see people lose sight of what the original marketing goal was.
So many marketers
limit their strategy
to focus on one particular part of the customer journey.
They say I want to make the sale
so they focus mostly on media that they believe is close to the purchase.
Maybe that's search or remarketing or something else.
Or they want to drive awareness
and so they buy high reach video or social.
But all of that media is then managed to these proxy metrics so, as you will remember,
everyone spends the next two to three years of their lives optimising to these proxy metrics,
but they may have lost track of the original goal,
which is to sell a product, or get people to try a product, or to become more aware of a product
and the actual media goals
get separated from the marketing goals.
Sometimes I've seen marketers
losing track of the business goal…
so did you see that too?
Yeah, you're so right.
Sometimes the marketing goals and these proxy metrics,
as you say, come out of alignment with the business goals and I would point to things like
ROI which is central for so many marketers
and a valuable tool, but it can detract from what's most important
and maybe I'll give you an example.
Take a scenario where you can invest $1
and get $10 in return
or invest $100 and get $300 back.
On a strict ROI basis the ten for one wins,
but it might lead you to refuse to invest
more, even when you know
that you could get sort of this larger return on
revenue and profit and growth.
and a marketer who's focused on profit or overall growth
just missed out because
they run their marketing off that ROI proxy metric.
Across both these examples we just talked about
we think a marketer should be able to state a marketing goal
– customer acquisition or driving footfall to a store
or a business goal, profit or growth –
and that all of their marketing in their media
should work in service of that goal.
What can we at Google
do to help marketers become more successful?
I think the first thing is agreeing that the complexity is a big part of the problem.
We believe the answer to the complexity lies in automation.
With the right tools,
we can align the bids,
the budgets and creative
with the marketers' true goal
and this can work across media.
So instead of optimising search or display
or feed or video ads in a silo,
automation can remove that fragmentation
both at the media level
and at the user journey level.
Automation can work across campaigns
addressing some of the bigger questions I get from marketers.
So one of those is:
how do I get out of managing so much media across
so many different campaigns?
And I think you can see Google's vision
in the innovation around app campaigns,
which we also put into local campaigns and smart shopping.
We built cross media solutions that are optimised to achieve the marketers' goal
is customer acquisition, or overall basket size, or lifetime value.
The second big question I get is: How do I understand
the effectiveness of different campaigns relative to those goals that we've been talking about?
And I think the question of how to give credit is at the core of this fragmentation.
I know so many marketers invest tons of time
trying to manage this and put it all back together.
We believe that cross-media multi-touch attribution is the answer.
We've been clear on that.
We've already made marketers' lives easier with data-driven attribution,
which dynamically assigns
partial credit, journey by journey,
so that you don't have to go through and sort of guess about what the impact was of all those different media types.
How can we help marketers navigate these metrics?
Yeah, it's a pretty significant pivot
and we think the centre of the answer lies in planning.
So we've invested in planning tools
that will allow marketers
to sort of see
the impact of their media and optimise for the business metrics
rather than focusing on maybe cost per acquisition
or ROI averages, which can constrain campaigns
because a lot of this is about,
which I'm sure you remember,
what matters to the CFO, not what matters
to the person who's managing the individual campaign.
So in my previous roles as a CMO,
maintaining line-of-sight to achieve the business objectives
was always a priority
but honestly not that easy.
Many teams naturally silo the world between brand and performance or
digital and television
or linear and OTT.
But this creates more complexity
without providing solutions for this new consumer journey. So
Jason, the question is how do we resolve these tensions?
As you asked that question, I just realised again how hard the CMO’s job is
with all those things to sort of navigate.
I guess the advice I would give, and the first part is the obvious one,
which is set clear goals.
As much as you can,
quiet the media, and the vendors, and the noise
and focus on two areas.
First, and all marketers do this, gaining a deep understanding of your customer.
talking to your CFO,
talking to the people that you need to consult and understanding
what is your business trying to accomplish?
If you can get to that level of clarity and simplicity,
then you can rally your entire organisation
around what you want your marketing to do in service of that.
This ultimately provides the levers
for setting and achieving the objectives as you balance geo priorities,
breadth versus depth,
growth versus profit,
and maybe short-term versus long-term.
So the first thing is to understand what goals you're after.
Second, and this is where things break down,
connect those goals
and you can cascade the business goals down to the marketing objectives
and build back with the right KPIs
to capture those marketing objectives
and then give them out to everybody you're working with
so that third
you can manage your media to achieve those business and marketing objectives.
As I said earlier, we believe automation marshalls all media,
targeting, budget allocation, all of it,
to optimise things to achieve a central KPI,
but automation is only as good as the goals that you set.
What role should Google play
and what does a good partnership look like?
For our part, we want to build better and better solutions
to help you
optimise and achieve these goals.
To do that Google is organising itself,
our products and our go-to-market
in a much simpler way.
We're mapping all of our products and tools
to five to seven of the most common marketing objectives.
You can see sort of the beginnings of this
in our approach regarding apps
where advertisers can buy and optimise activities across channels.
So app campaigns
streamline the campaign process for the marketer
making it easy to promote your apps
across Google's largest media properties
including Search, Google Play, YouTube, Discover
and AdMob and the Google Display Network.
So all you have to do is bring a few lines of text,
that you want to optimise for and your creative, your assets
and the rest is automatically optimised to help your users find you.
We do that same thing that we do in apps
to help drive online sales as a marketing objective,
VR smart shopping campaigns approach
and we do the same thing with driving offline sales through local campaigns
to try to make all of that easier for you as a marketer.
Google's product vision is to bring more of this
into our tools
so that you can give us a goal
and we will bring forward the products
that can work and serve that goal
in an automated way.
Does this really work?
Can you share a real world example of how clear
shared goals and automation are fuelling
actual business growth today?
Yes, of course.
We have a number of these products
that I've been describing in market.
So we've got the app solution, the driving online sales solution,
maybe I'll pick one from driving online sales.
Last year in preparation for the holidays,
a partner of ours, an online handbag company called Dagne Dover
was looking for an efficient way
to sort of drive their overall sales and maximise its overall advertising spend effectiveness.
Together with their agency
called Mason Interactive,
the brand launched on this Google smart shopping
And they let machine learning decide
where and when to show products for customers
who are more likely to buy.
The result of this sort of went right at their goal
was that they saw more than a 300% increase in conversions, their overall goal
of driving effectiveness, and then all of the
proxy metrics which are still relevant
fell out of that.
And so you saw
a more than four fold improvement in return on ad spend
and a dramatic increase in conversion rate because they found the right customers
and overall that drove a decrease
in their cost per acquisition and improvements in ROI.
So all the proxy metrics
but they were secondary to that overall top-line growth
that we're able to achieve by unifying all of these efforts
and serve the true goal that the marketer articulated.
You mentioned earlier that
we are packaging products
to align with the top marketing objectives.
Can you tell me what it means
and what the practical takeaway is for our audience here?
Yes, we put together a marketing objective series
focused on practitioners, and marketers, and agencies
to help you understand how to make some of these changes we've been talking about.
It includes stories like the Dagne Dover example,
so you can learn how to transform your business
and rethink your goals,
especially in light of COVID-19.
It will also help you understand the levers you need to get right
for common marketing objectives.
And it'll help you
effectively use Google products in combination together
to reach those goals that you've worked so hard to set.