Marketing Live is Google’s annual conference to announce new advertising features. This year’s event, on May 21, emphasized AI initiatives. Many changes — from Performance Max to Search — apply to ecommerce companies.

Google announced over 30 updates. In this post, I’ll review the 10 most impactful to merchants.

Ad Updates for Merchants

Ads in AI Overviews

AI Overviews is Google’s response to a query, displayed directly on search results. Google scrapes Overviews from external sites and then inserts limited links to those sources. Google Ads can show above or below Overviews and, soon, in them.

For example, the query “how should I clean my couch” produces an Overview with an ad for cleaning services below it.

Screenshot of search results showing the query, AI Overview, and ad from Stanley Steemer

The query “how should I clean my couch” produces an AI Overview with a related ad below it. Click image to enlarge.

Shopping ads in visual search

Shopping ads now appear at the top of visual search results. Consumers don’t search by text alone. They may see an item, take a picture, and then search on that image for options to purchase. Google Lens or Circle to Search provides this functionality.

3D images

A coming feature later this year in Shopping ads is 360-degree views. Merchants can provide Google with footwear images, and AI will repurpose them into three-dimensional spins, giving shoppers a more complete look. Likely the feature will roll out to more categories.

Profit optimization

Advertisers can soon optimize Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns for profit. The feature is not a new bid type; instead, it uses cart-level conversions and Merchant Center account data to highlight products with higher margins. Advertisers have long maximized profits manually by creating campaigns around specific products. This new feature will make it easier.

Shopping ads by customer type

Many ecommerce stores have separate marketing programs for customers versus prospects. Merchants can now include those promotions in Shopping ads and customize by user type. Google hasn’t explained how, but my guess is via Customer Match. Advertisers can upload customers’ info and show ads to that group. Everyone else is a prospect.

Brand standards

Advertisers can soon upload brand guidelines such as colors and fonts when creating Performance Max and Demand Gen campaigns. Google’s AI would then create images that match the guidelines or produce variants to test. This feature ensures advertisers’ branding is consistent across sites and platforms.

Performance Max asset-level reporting

A common frustration with Performance Max campaigns is the lack of conversion data by asset. Advertisers can see conversion performance at the ad level but not individual assets. Hence Headline 1 could generate more sales than Headline 3, but an advertiser wouldn’t know it. Until now. Asset-level reporting will be invaluable.

YouTube transparency in Performance Max

Performance Max campaigns include YouTube video ads. Advertisers can set account-level YouTube exclusions but cannot view the performance of individual placements. That’s now changing. YouTube advertisers in Performance Max can soon see conversion data by placement and adjust budgets as needed.

Lower lookalike threshold

Google Ads demand generation campaigns resemble those on social media platforms such as Meta and LinkedIn. Such campaigns don’t often drive sales, but they do grow top-of-the-funnel audiences. The critical segment with the Demand Gen type is lookalikes. Advertisers upload a list of customer email addresses, and Google creates a lookalike segment to target, similar to Meta’s program.

The challenge has been Google Ads needs at least 1,000 contacts to create the segment. That’s not always attainable for smaller advertisers. But now, as announced at Marketing Live, Google requires only 100 contacts.

AI Essentials

Google Ads recommends optimization tactics in its interface. Many don’t make sense, although they inform Google’s priorities, which include growing advertising revenue. In the example below, Google recommends driving more traffic by updating responsive search ads and customer match lists. But more traffic isn’t always advertisers’ primary goal, although it does produce more revenue for Google.

The “AI Essentials” portion of the recommendations is new. It states where and how advertisers should use Google’s AI. But be wary. Carefully weigh each recommendation.

Screenshot of AI Essentials recommendations in Google Ads interface

The new “AI Essentials” recommendations states where and how advertisers should use Google’s AI. Click image to enlarge.

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