Google I/O 2019 kicked off this week with the keynote speech by Sundar Pichai. It started by reminding the audience about Google’s mission statement; to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google though are evolving from being a company that gives us answers, to one that helps us ‘get things done’.
The keynote focused on this by demonstrating how Google wants its products to work harder for you (in the context of your job, home and life), with the single goal of being helpful for you. They want to build a more helpful Google for everyone, particularly around health, success, knowledge and happiness. These are all built on foundations of user trust and privacy.
Despite Google I/O 2019 not necessarily being about Google’s advertising products, it can give you an indication as to what you might expect to see in the future. Last year we covered this and demonstrated how the latest developments that were showcased at Google I/O 2018 could impact Paid Search and Search Marketing in the future. In 2018, we covered how Search is becoming more Assistive (Google Assistant can make phone calls to book haircuts), and how it’s becoming Keyboardless and more Visual (Augmented Reality and Google Map updates were key here).
So what can Google I/O 2019 tell us about the future of Search Marketing?
This year there was a focus on Google being more helpful and assistive by making its products frictionless to use and more trustworthy. To be honest, this seems to just be an evolution from what was discussed at Google I/O 2018 rather than anything brand new. There was definitely a more conscious focus this year on building trust between users and Google, and rightly so. Google recognises that privacy is a huge deal in the industry and for its users. It needs to ensure that ‘trust’ is at the core of everything that they do if it is to built a solid foundation for Artificial Intelligence to flourish.
Control, Privacy and Security was a focus. Of course it is, Google benefits from this as well.
“Data helps make search work better for you” said Sundar Pichai. He’s right, the more data we give Google the better the decisions it can make in surfacing the right content and answers. Through better understanding you, Google can make more personalised recommendations with the right context and intent. Sounds great right?
In order to do this, Google needs your data. To give Google your data, you need to trust what it does with your data. This is why Google is giving users additional controls over what they share, and who they share it with. This builds trust in Google. The more you trust Google with your data, the more likely you are to share your data. You see, trust is key.
At Google I/O 2019 they announced the following to help build further trust into its products:
- More control over how long Google can store your data
- Easier ‘One-tap’ access to your Google Account across it’s products
- Android is getting some navigation updates and reinforced security through better Privacy Setting and Parental controls.
- Bringing incognito into Google Maps. Where you search or navigate to wont be linked to your Google Account.
These are all great additions for users and give the feeling of control back to users.
Indeed this benefits Google as well. By giving users greater control over the data that it collects, it gives people the opportunity to tell Google how it wants to interact with its products. It benefits Google because its users will be more engaged, more loyal and more trusting of its services. This also helps advertisers target these more engaged, pre-qualified, trusted users. In theory, we should see better results as we can utilise more Google data to better target its best users.
Search continues to become frictionless in its experience, and users are responding well to this; Voice Search being a good example. There was some updates to its Voice products, most notably it will be bringing all of this hardware under the ‘Nest’ umbrella branding, the assistant will be frictionless, and there is a great focus on user privacy.
There have been some scary reports of smart home devices “listening” or “watching” users when the devices aren’t in use. Google hasn’t denied that it doesn’t do this from time to time either for “quality control”, however it’s new updates now give users greater control:
- Nothing is streamed or recorded unless you enable it in its new product range.
- You will always know if the camera is on with the green indicator light.
- Multiple controls for the camera such as a button at the back which will manually switch it off, including the microphone.
- If your Smart Display on, you can personalise the experience by giving Google an image of your face in your Google Account. When you walk past your device, it will surface information that is relevant to you such as your calendar or commuting details.
Again, by sharing more of your data Google and by giving users more control, Google is able to be more relevant and helpful.
For advertisers, by being more helpful we should see user trust improve across Google’s products and services which can benefit us. The displays attached to the smart home devices can also provide additional opportunity for campaign types like Google Shopping which can be linked to Shopping Actions to provide a seamless shopping experience whilst multi-tasking.
Search is becoming more visual, and Google showcased how ‘hands-free tapping to search’ is becoming a thing of the past. There was a big focus on Augmented Reality and searching using your camera (as there was in 2018):
- Google is Bringing the camera to Google Search with a focus on Augmented Reality.
- This will give you the ability to place an object you find online, in your own space.
- Google Lens had some big updates.
- A highlight was that you can hover over a restaurant menu and Google Lens will highlight popular dishes based on user reviews from Google Maps.
- Google launched Duplex last year (remember the creepy calls it can make to book appointments). It’s now evolving to become an assistive search tool on the Web.
- You can ask it to book you a rental car and it will find the website and pre-populate the information it knows about you automatically. Your approval will then be needed to finally book the rental car.
- Google Maps will become more visual with the camera
- Use your camera for directions and arrows will appear via Augmented Reality in the real-world to tell you where to turn next.
They have talked about doing this since the last Google I/O in 2018, so there obviously hasn’t been much progress made here. Hopefully we are a step closer though to seeing all of this deployed in the near future.
For advertisers, this could provide some great opportunities for advertising within Google Maps via Local Search Ads and Shopping. By using Augmented Reality, you could also place objects such as Furniture from Google Shopping directly into your living room. This drives more sales for advertisers directly online, without the need to go into store as much anymore.
Being trusted and helpful will be a big focus for Google Marketing Live 2019. We can expect to hear more about how Google’s advertising solutions can deliver on these expectations this year.