Google Marketing Live 2024 was held in New York this week and unsurprisingly, generative AI took centre stage. Keynote speakers highlighted its role in numerous new Google updates and features, focusing on how AI is shaping a ‘new era’ of advertising and consumer-centric search experiences.

The 90-minute keynote was packed with information, with nine speakers unveiling a total of 30 new Google products and features. To save you time, here’s a quick recap of seven key takeaways you need to know.

Sponsored ads in AI Overviews

Google recently introduced AI Overviews, designed to provide users with instant answers to their search queries. Powered by generative AI, this feature crawls websites for relevant content and presents it in overview cards at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Example of sponsored search and shopping ads in AI Overviews announced at Google Marketing Live 2024

Now, Google is testing the inclusion of ‘sponsored’ Search and Shopping ads within these AI Overview cards. The goal is to help users discover relevant products and services while enabling brands to target their audiences more effectively.

Immersive AI-powered shopping ads

In the coming months, Google plans to enhance its shopping experience with immersive new ad features. These include short-form product videos, 3D product views, and virtual try-ons (VTOs) that demonstrate how clothes fit different body shapes. These features aim to help shoppers realistically see what products look like, engage with them more interactively, and build confidence in their purchasing decisions.

AI shopping recommendations (beta)

Google is testing the use of generative AI to speed up the decision-making process for longer, more complicated shopping purchases. Google’s AI will guide users through their shopping journey, asking them questions to understand their needs and recommend highly relevant products.

To demonstrate the idea, Google used the example of someone looking for storage space. Say you search for “short-term storage” and click on an ad, Google’s AI will ask questions about what kind of storage space you want, and prompt you to upload photos of what you want to store. 

Example of Google AI Shopping Recommendations (Beta) announced at Google Marketing Live 2024

Based on your responses, Google’s AI will recommend the appropriate storage unit size and suggest related items you might need, like packing materials. You can then click through to a product page on the business’s website to complete your purchase and check out.

Visual brand profiles for Google Search  

Google is introducing visual Brand Profiles on Search so users can easily see merchant information at a glance. Brands will be able to upload images, videos and customer reviews to showcase their ethos and offering, as well as product deals, exclusive offers and shipping policies.

Examples of Brand Profiles on Google Search announced at Google Marketing Live 2024

Performance Max Upgrades

Google announced lots of new Performance Max features designed to help advertisers create campaigns faster, and at scale. These include:

Asset-level reporting
With asset-level conversion metrics, advertisers can delve deeper into campaign performance, facilitating more granular ad analysis and optimisation strategies.

Brand guidelines
Advertisers can create set brand guidelines within Performance Max campaigns, specifying colours, fonts, and assets. This streamlines campaign creation, saves significant time and ensures all ads are consistently on brand.

Image generation
Advertisers now have enhanced image editing capabilities, including the option to add and extend backgrounds, incorporate objects, and adjust sizes to suit various ad placements. This streamlined process saves significant time previously spent on editing and creating multiple images for different ad types.

Performance Max Ad Upgrades announced at Google Marketing Live 2024

Profit optimisation
Google is rolling out a “Profit Optimisation” feature so advertisers can create and refine campaigns that meet broader profit objectives, ensuring ad spend is aligned with financial targets. This feature is accessible within both Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns, utilising data from cart-level conversions and cost of goods sold in Google Merchant Centre. 

Visual storytelling and demand-generation

Last year, Google introduced Demand Generation Campaigns as a way for brands to serve visually, multi-format ads on YouTube, Discover and Gmail. Now, a variety of Demand Gen updates and features have been announced, including the roll out of:

Google also revealed that it has reduced the audience size requirements for lookalike audience campaigns from 1,000 to 100 users, making it easier for businesses to find and target similar prospects.

Ads Data Manager launched

Google announced that its Ads Data Manager is now out of beta and available to all. Advertisers can use it to consolidate disparate first-party data, from sources like YouTube, Google Ads, HubSpot, and Shopify, into one analytics hub. The aim is to make managing data easier so brands can better leverage audience insights, target and personalise campaigns effectively.

Summary

The resounding message from Google Marketing Live 2024 is clear – AI isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay and actively shaping the future of Search and Shopping for both customers and brands alike. 

So like it or not, brands must embrace AI and utilise Google’s latest features to achieve the best results. Remember – AI isn’t meant to replace marketers, it’s to help them be more impactful.

If you need support with Google Ads, Search or SEO, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In 2023, nearly a fifth (19%) of global retail sales happened online, and that number is expected to reach a quarter by 2027. 

It’s no wonder – online shopping offers ultimate speed and convenience. Browsing products, checking out and next-day delivery has never been easier. 

But with such ease comes high expectations. Shoppers want everything now, hassle-free and at the tap of a button. Long delivery times and clunky websites simply won’t cut it.

This is why prioritising your online store’s user-experience (UX) is so important. Focus on this, and those browsing your site are more likely to buy from you, come back again, and recommend your brand to others.

Here are four ways to improve your online store’s UX.

Make browsing and buying products easy

Ever been shopping on a website that’s difficult to use, find products and check-out? Your answer is probably yes and chances are you gave up, abandoned your cart and left in frustration.

Stop your customers experiencing this by making your buying journey quick, easy and seamless from start to finish. Conducting a website CRO audit is an effective method to pinpoint problem areas and opportunities for improvement. 

Additionally, consider the following:

Provide a good site search 

Improve your website’s product search functionality by adding features like autocomplete, which suggests popular search terms, and the ability to recognise typos and natural language. Name and tag all your products accurately too, so your search filters work smoothly and only show relevant results. 

These improvements will help users find what they’re looking for, boosting the likelihood of them making a purchase.

Use strategic call to actions

Strategically place call-to-actions (CTAs) such as ‘Buy Now’, ‘Shop Now’, and ‘Checkout Now’, to guide users through their journey, stop them from getting lost and encourage them to purchase. Experiment with different CTA copy, placements and designs to see which ones resonate most with your audience and generate the best results.

Enhance your product descriptions and visuals

Write enticing descriptions that clearly explain what your products are. Pair them with high-quality, attractive photos to create a visually engaging experience that builds brand trust and compels visitors to buy.

Side note – Optimise all product copy and images for SEO to appear high in search engine results. Read this blog to learn about the benefits of good e-commerce SEO

Simplify the checkout process

Customers are more likely to abandon their carts if the checkout process is long. So, eliminate unnecessary steps and only ask for essential details such as name, shipping address, email, and payment information.  Be upfront about additional costs too, because nearly half (48%) of shoppers abandon their carts when costs like shipping or taxes sneak in at checkout. 

Additionally, offer guest checkout options for those who want to purchase quickly without creating an account. You could always give customers the option of creating an account after buying, so they can easily see their orders whenever they like.

Personalise the shopping experience

Make your customers feel valued by tailoring their shopping experience to their wants and needs. You could recommend similar products based on browsing history, display past purchases for easy re-ordering, or offer loyalty programs that reward repeat customers. You could even introduce an agent-bot on your site for a fast, 1-2-1 customer service.

Add new interactive features that bring value

Adding interactive website features can make online shopping more engaging, personalised and drive sales from new customers.

For example, we created Cartwright and Butler’s ’Build Your Own Hamper’ feature. You can curate your own luxury food hamper with biscuits, chocolates, drinks and more, before checking out and getting it delivered. This improved the UX and increased gift sales because users can customise hampers for who they’re buying for.

Website development agency in Liverpool and Chester - Reckless & Cartwright and Butler

Leverage motivation and urgency

Introduce countdown sales timers and limited offers to encourage customers to grab a deal before it’s gone. Highlight ‘best-selling’ or ‘trending’ items too, tapping into your customers’ desire of being part of something popular. Use social proof as well by sharing real-time customer testimonials and star reviews to build credibility and trust. 

After all, sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction and the fear of missing out to generate a sale.

Summary

Every aspect of your website, from design and responsiveness to copy, SEO, and personalisation, needs to work together to deliver the best buying journey. Testing is key, so don’t be afraid to try new features, page layouts and content to see what works best for your customers. 

As an e-commerce web development agency in Liverpool and Chester, we work closely with retailers to improve and build websites with great shopping experiences. If you need a hand improving your website’s UX, get in touch today and let’s discuss your requirements.


The top 5 Halloween marketing campaigns that killed it

This year, Brits are planning to spend over £1-billion on Halloween, with over half of them (56%) intending to buy something for the spooky season. It’s no surprise that brands love launching Halloween marketing campaigns to try to get a piece of the (pumpkin) pie.

This year we’ve seen ads from brands like Ikea (Monsters Not Included), Beavertown (FlightMare) and Liquid Death (Steve-O from Jackass does his first supernatural stunt.

…You read that last one right. 

There have been hundreds of Halloween marketing campaigns over the years. Here are the top five we think killed it over the last decade or so.

LG So Scary It’s Real, 2012

LG engineers secretly installed a grid of its new IPS monitors onto the floor of a New York lift. The screens looked exactly like the usual lift floor so people had no idea. But once someone entered the lift, the lights went out and the screens changed to make it look like the floor was collapsing under their feet. To make it worse, LG hid speakers that played creaking sounds as the floor appeared to crumble away. 

Why we love it: LG proved how high-quality and lifelike its new screens are in a reactive, funny and completely out of the box way. The ad went viral with over 10-million views in just one week, bearing in mind this was in 2012! Sales went through the (lift) roof, increasing the market share of LG monitors by an average of 20%.

LG So Scary It’s Real video

Ford’s Car Wash Prank, 2014

Ford launched a Halloween video campaign where it tricked 30 unlucky strangers into driving their cars into a haunted car-wash in Detroit. Passengers thought they were on their way to a film test drive, before Ford told them to take a quick detour. When they parked up in the car wash, the lights went out and people dressed as monsters  jumped out to scare them and started beating up their car. 

Why we love it: A bit like the LG campaign, we love a prank. The ad went viral pretty much straight away and today, it’s had over 1.8-million YouTube views. The passengers either knew about the prank or were scarily good actors. Either way, the campaign made everyone laugh and is still remembered nine years later. 

Ford’s Spooky Halloween Car Wash Prank, 2014

Coke vs Pepsi, 2014

Pepsi rolled out a cheeky Halloween marketing stunt to get people talking by making fun of Coca-Cola. The iconic campaign centred around a Photoshopped image of a Pepsi can wearing a red Coca-Cola cape and captioned “We wish you a scary Halloween!” While this bit was funny in itself, the part that really killed it came later when a random Coca-Cola fan edited the caption to say “Everybody wants to be a hero!”.

Top 5 Halloween marketing campaigns
Pepsi’s original ad (left) vs Coke’s fan response (right)

Why we love it: Mocking competitors is risky but can be a brilliant way to drum up a buzz online. In this case, Pepsi changed ‘Coca Cola’ to ‘Cola Coca’, reducing the copyright risk and giving people even more to talk about. But the reason we really love it is because it exploded online due to a fan, not a huge marketing team or global agency with a large budget. This highlights perfectly the sheer power of real brand advocacy and audience loyalty. 

Burger King’s #ScaryClownNight, 2017

To increase sales and drive brand awareness, Burger King offered free meals to customers who came into their restaurants dressed as clowns. The campaign slogan, “Come as a Clown, Eat like a King”, not only threw shade at rival McDonalds, but piggybacked nicely on the launch of Steven King’s horror movie ‘IT’. 

Why we are lovin’ it: Burger King smashed a triple marketing whopper with this one. It was reactive to an international movie launch, Halloween and some good old fashioned tongue and cheek brand rivalry. The campaign achieved 2.1 billion impressions, over 1100 articles shared the #ScaryClownNight hashtag and global sales jumped by 15%. 

Burger King’s #ScaryClownNight

Svedka Vodka, Banner Ad Curse, 2017

Svedka Vodka launched a series of banner adverts promoting cocktail recipes. If you clicked on one, it treated you to a short and spooky video saying you’ve fallen under the Svedka curse, and their ads are going to follow you everywhere you go.

Then, Svedka started serving up retargeted ads of cocktails and creepy messages tailored to your vodka preferences, location and browsing habits. The only way to “break the curse” was to visit Svedka’s microsite and share blog posts like “Are Svedka Cocktails Part of the Curse?” with friends. When your friends clicked the links they too became ‘cursed’, so the cycle starts again. 

Why we love it: Svedka Vodka leveraged an opportunity to target and retarget its audience in a very unique and clever way. It plays on the fact that many people believe they are being ‘stalked’ when they see relevant ads, tapping into Halloween and taking a funny approach to data-driven marketing.

The Svedka Vodka Curse

Summary
While you might not fancy going out and pranking your customers this Halloween, you can take real inspiration from all of these campaigns. Video content, reactive and remarketing methods are super powerful ways to engage your audience. Be creative, take risks and don’t be afraid to be different – people love humour and brands they can relate to. 

A bit about Reckless
We’re an e-commerce digital marketing agency in Liverpool, Chester and Manchester. We help brands grow through paid media, SEO, online marketplaces, custom website builds and maintenance. If you need a hand get in touch, we’d love a chat

Let’s talk


    The biggest stuff Google did that changed marketing

    Can you remember a time before Google? For many, it’s unimaginable. A-Z maps helped us drive from one place to another and Ask Jeeves was our trusted, impeccably well-dressed, virtual butler with all of the answers. Without Google today, we’d (quite literally) be lost.

    For marketers, Google has changed the game entirely. It has been at the forefront since the start, shaping digital innovation and constantly upgrading to provide easy search experiences.

    To celebrate Google’s 25th birthday, here are our top 10 most iconic Google developments that have shaped digital marketing today.

    1998: Launch day

    Big things were happening in 1998. MP3 players were invented, DVDs were first sold and ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ debuted on our TV screens.

    But something even more significant happened on September 27th 1998 and it wasn’t just ‘Rollercoaster’ by B*Witched topping the UK charts. 

    Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two PhD students at Stanford University, launched a small company called ‘Backrub’. Fortunately, they later changed the name to ‘Google’ and the rest, as they say, is history.

    Fun fact: The name ‘Google’ is a play on ‘googol’ – the mathematical expression for the number 1, followed by 100 zeros.

    2000: Google AdWords is born

    When Google AdWords (now Google Ads) launched, brands could only promote text-based ads. No photos, no videos – they were solely keyword-based, hence ‘AdWords’. 

    Back then, advertisers had to pay a flat fee for every click, which caused lots of irrelevant clicks and wasted spend. That’s why in 2002, Google overcame this problem by introducing the cost-per-click (CPC) bidding model.

    Thankfully, AdWords has evolved since, and we can now use catchy images and videos to make campaigns more engaging. That’s why it rebranded to ‘Google Ads’ – it’s not only about words now, it’s about the ad creative too.

    Fun fact: The first Google AdWords customer was a company called ‘LiveMessage’. They paid £25 to advertise their customer service tool – a far cry from the multimillion-pound campaigns we see today.

    2001: J-LO invents Google Images

    Well, not quite. But Google Images did launch because there was a high demand for photos of J-LO in a green Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys.

    In the first year, Google Image Search indexed 250 million images. By 2005, it grew to 1 billion, and by 2010, it had over 10 billion images.

    2002: Google Shopping begins

    Google Shopping, previously called ‘Froogle’, was initially a standalone search engine for finding product details, prices, and places to purchase them. In 2012, it joined Google’s main search platform and became Google Shopping as we now know today.

    Today, Google says that users shop across its platform over a billion times a day. Enough said on that one.

    2005: GA debuts

    The start of Google Analytics traces back to an American company called Urchin Software. Urchin had developed a pretty nifty web analytics tool which, Google being Google, saw the opportunity and snapped it up.

    Google announced its acquisition and subsequently launched a paid analytics tool called ‘Urchin on Demand’. It wasn’t until seven months later that Google made it free and rebranded it as Google Analytics.

    2005 was also the year that Google Maps launched. Game.Changer.

    2007: Google snaps up DoubleClick

    Google acquired DoubleClick, a leading company in the ad serving business, for $3.1 billion (around £2.5 million today).

    The search engine used DoubleClick’s technologies to deliver an enhanced user experience (UX) for brands and consumers. Better metrics, targeting and analysis quickly followed, allowing Google to serve more relevant display ads to consumers. 

    2015: Mobilegeddon

    Google made a big change to its search algorithm, giving priority to mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. This sent shockwaves through the digital community (hence ‘Mobilegeddon’). Websites that weren’t mobile friendly dropped in search rankings whereas those that were, climbed the ladder. 

    Fast forward to 2018 and Google officially implemented mobile-first indexing and ranking across the board. The moral of the story is mobile-friendly websites, always. 

    2019: Bert, Bert, Bert

    In late 2019, Google introduced the (deep breath) Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) algorithm update. This helped Google improve its understanding of the natural language used in search terms so it can serve more relevant results.

    Digital marketers quickly adopted their strategies to provide high-quality content that meets the user’s search intent. Keyword stuffing was more prominent back then, so this was Google’s way of saying ‘stop it’.

    2021: Experience is everything

    In June 2021, Google’s ‘Page Experience Update’ integrated Core Web Vitals (CWV) into its ranking algorithm. Google started assessing factors like load speeds, visual stability and crawlability, prioritising websites based on the quality of their UX.

    Honestly, this is why technical SEO and high performance infrastructure are super important today. They’re often overlooked, yet improving them can lead to quick search engine wins.

    2023: Last but certainly not least – Bard

    One of the biggest, more recent developments is the new AI-powered chatbot, Bard

    Where AI competitor ChatGBT has limited data up until 2021, Bard plans on pulling information straight from the web. It aims to be much more visual too, with the search giant planning on bringing Google Lens into the mix

    Over 60% of marketers are already leveraging AI, so it’ll be interesting to see what Bard has in store for the marketing mix.  

    So there you have it. 10 of Google’s most iconic marketing moments since inception back in the nineties. Without them, who knows where marketers would be today? Maybe we’d all still be relying on Jeeves.

    A bit about Reckless
    We’re an eCommerce digital marketing agency with offices in Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. We help brands grow through custom websites, bespoke software development, paid media, SEO and online marketplaces. If you need a hand taking your eCommerce brand to the next level, get in touch 👇

    Let’s talk