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Google’s annual developer conference (Google I/O 2018) has been and gone for another year. There were super exciting showcases from Google’s Assistant as well as cool ad updates for app developers looking. For us marketers, we have the Google Marketing Live conference in July to look forward to. But what can the latest Google I/O event tell us about what we could expect to see this year at Google Marketing Live?


Search will become more assistive through AI

The Google Assistant took centre stage at the Google I/O event this year with some key announcements

  • 6 new voices for greater personalisation
  • Google Assistant now allows for more natural conversations, removing the need to start every sentence with “Hey Google”
  • Smart Displays will be coming around July time
  • Much better visual experiences on Mobile with richer detail
  • Google Maps integration with the Assistant
  • Using AI to be more predictive with what you are wanting to do through Gmail ‘Smart Compose’
  • ‘Duplex’ – an AI phone powered system for booking appointments with local businesses that don’t have a very good online presence

All of the above helps point to the fact that the assistant is becoming so much more useful to it’s users in the real world, which further encourages it’s adoption. If it’s adoption continues at this pace, surely there will be an untapped lucrative market for Google to start developing advertising solutions specially targeted at the Google Assistant via Smart Home Devices and on Mobile.

Does this mean that in the future we could be marketing to ‘assistants’ rather than ‘people’?

One of the standout features of Google I/O was the fact that it’s AI Assistant can now make real phone calls, all in an effort to make it more human.

Whether we like it or not, Google’s latest developments with it’s Assistant definitely throws wood to the fire of the argument that in the future we will be marketing to assistants rather than people.

Today though, Google’s focus for their assistant is to understand your habits, and focus on what matters. The mission is to make the assistant “naturally conversational”. It’s there when you need it, so that you can get things done in the real world.

Could it be possible that we will have to work to convince the assistant to choose our service over a competitor’s through paid search in the future?


Search will become keyboardless

Search has been built a foundation for fast information retrieval, factually correct answers and queries based on words. But things are changing, with keywords becoming a shrinking element for your campaign performance in PPC. With Google Lens and the AR features they showcased at Google I/O, they are trying to build a future where search is associative, visual, and subjective. To do this, Search is now about utilising the other senses to provide a more useful search experience, predominantly through Augmented Reality via your smartphone camera.

Augmented Reality

Google showcased some powerful new features to Google Lens and Google Maps which utilised your smartphone camera to help you try to understand the world around you. The ultimate aim with these updates is to make the assistant more visually assistive.

Google Maps

Google Maps looks set to create street view-style visual guides for step-by-step directions which aee overlaid onto the real world  through the smartphone camera.

What was also cools is that Google is going to integrate its Assistant, equipped with the vision from Google Lens, into Maps. You’ll be able to pan over a city street and see pop-ups highlighting restaurants and other locations, in real time.

Credit: Google I/O 2018

Smart Text Selection

Credit: Digital Trends, 2018

This was showcased at Google I/O to help demonstrate the power of it’s search capabilities through your smartphone camera. It can now highlight text and search on Google accordingly.

Style Match

Credit: Digital Trends, 2018

Style Match brought a lot of excitement at Google I/O. You can now use Google Lens to search for similar styles and products using your smartphone camera. This should drive good growth for your Google Shopping campaigns.

Smart Displays

We first heard about around January, and now Google said that these will be shipping around July this year. Smart Displays are screen-enriched smart speakers powered by the Google Assistant.


Looking at Marketing Live 2018’s agenda, what can we expect to see?

Now that we understand what Google wants developers to focus on this year, when we look at the Google Marketing Live agenda points for this year you can see how it’s all tied together.

Using AI to better understand user intent 

Intent is Everywhere: Anticipate what people want to drive growth

Assist to Win: Predicting intent to drive results

Convert Search Intent into Action with Video

Assist to Win: Leveraging Data to Reach the Right Audiences

Continuing on the trend from last year’s Google Marketing Next, the roadmap looks set to marry data with AI to help better understand user intent. This will be about leveraging all of the search signal data that Google is able to gather, and mixing this in with automated bidding and audience products to drive better results in every auction.

Trying to find the right formula to measure an online/offline world

Advance Your Online-to-Offline Strategy

Assisting customers to win in an omni-channel world

How Retailers and Brand Manufacturers Can Win Today’s Shoppers

This continues to be a focus for Google who are still trying to find the magic formula to help close the gap between your online activity and brick and mortar stores. Potentially we’ll see further advancements to Store Visits and making it easier for us to utilise more of our offline data.

Growth through Audiences 

Drive Growth with Audiences and Targeting

Use Your Data to Reach Audiences in the Right Moments

Audiences will build upon data and AI in trying to understand user intent, and ultimately create more powerful products for advertisers to use these search signals to better performance.

Assistive Search Ads

Create Better, More Assistive Search Ads

Search & Assistance Keynote

This is where I believe it gets super exciting this year. With it being a keynote, be ready for some exciting updates & developments here for both SEO and PPC. We’ll no doubt get more of an update on shopping actions too.


What do you need to do?

Prepare for more backlash with the power of the Google Assistant

The ethics around what Google showcased at Google I/O with it’s Assistant making phonecalls for you have been called into question, forcing Google to say that they will make it clear to callers when they are speaking to an Assistant on the other line. Of course, this has also spawned parody videos already too. Be careful the Google Assistant doesn’t call your parents…

Tune into the Google Marketing Live event, July 9 to 11 2018

Preview the product roadmap, stay ahead of the curve, and help lead the industry dialogue. It’s going to be a good one!

Dan Roberts
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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan has worked in agencies for over 5 years and was awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards for the work delivered for his clients and wider industry. Dan founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight from blogs.

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Dan Roberts
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