#10things from Google’s top digital marketing trends

Marketing strategies have a major role to play in business growth as we face a new consumer with new priorities. Insights from global Google business leaders.

After much of the world was on pause for the past three years, this year will be a year of sharpened focus, and marketing strategies have a major role to play in business growth as we face a new consumer with new priorities. Global Google marketing and business leaders from each region give insight into what brand priorities will be.

1. More inclusive media planning: Nishma Robb, senior director of marketing, brand, and reputation, Google UK, predicts that the focus on inclusivity will shift from the ad industry to media planning. “Inadvertent bias can get in the way of inclusive media planning. For marketers to truly engage and connect with diverse audiences, they need to address this bias and embrace the breadth of content their audiences consume. It’s not just important for people to see and hear people like them but, crucially, to experience this in environments that are familiar to them.”

2. Media plan audit: In 2023, brands should carry out an audit of their media plan and assess whether the mix of channels and publishers reaches the breadth of intended audience and review for potential biases in keyword and topic exclusions. Additionally, consider what affirmative action can be taken to authentically support underrepresented voices and communities, says Robb.

3. Better choices, better connections: In 2022, advertisers like Domino’s and Diageocritically assessed their media placement choices and acted to broaden the moments they showed up in to better connect with their entire audience. Robb explains that they did this by lifting keyword and topic exclusions that contained potential bias and by proactively investing in hand-picked authoritative voices and publishers.

4. Advertising with a purpose: Mailine Swildens, director of creative works in Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Google, says this is the year of brands finding their ‘greater purpose’. “People have been prioritising sustainability and they want brands to help them make sustainable choicesmore manageable. They also expect organisations to have an impact on society more than ever before and align promises with actions. In response, we’re seeing brands shift from purely looking at minimising their own environmental impact to focusing on a greater purpose. They are taking a more active role to highlight important causes and inspire action.”

5. Purpose-built campaigns: Swildens cites cat food brand Sheba as an example of industry innovation and purpose changing the world. “Sheba is on a mission to save the world’s fish — and they used an innovative ad campaign to do so. The team launched the world’s largest programme to restore coral reefsby making videos about the work they’re doing and using advertising revenue from YouTube to help fund the campaign.” For other brands, their purpose is their raison d’être, adds Swildens. “French company Back Market tapped into the mantra of “reuse, reduce, recycle” as a response to the amount of e-waste in society. They created a circular economy with their online marketplace for refurbished tech devices to reduce the sector’s environmental footprint. Their ads cleverly convey this purpose.” And, avoid ‘purpose-washing’ – a commitment to causes must be authentic, long-term, and supported by actions beyond words.

6. Privacy and peace of mind: Matt Brittin, president of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Google, said Google research found that privacy experiences impact user trust, “but we were surprised to learn just how damaging a bad privacy experience online can be. Consumers view bad privacy experiences as almost as damaging as a theft of their data. It’s enough to make 43% of them switch to another brand. When people lack control over their data, they become sceptical of digital marketing.”

7. Super apps set super (app) expectations: Super apps are multi-functional mobile applications with a range of different features wrapped into one, such as marketplaces, messaging, and payment services. They’ve already risen to prominence in Asia and the fintech sector in Africa, where they’ve been a gateway to financial inclusion, explains Pendo O’Donohoe, director of large customers for Google in the Middle East and Africa. “In the rest of the world, they’re not as big yet, but some brands are tentatively dipping their toes in. US retailer Walmart, for instance, is building their version of a super app right now.

8. A disruption of the mobile status quo: In fact, all marketers can learn from how super apps are disrupting the mobile status quo — setting higher expectations for apps and mobile experiences as a whole, adds O’Donohoe. “Crucially, they show us that people seek convenience. Super apps take up less device storage than multiple separate ones and there’s no need for users to switch between apps. In 2023, look at how you can make your app experience more convenient. Avoid creating a single-purpose app that people log into once and then delete. Instead, build a holistic, customer-first appthat consolidates features and compels users to embed it into their daily lives.”

9. Snackable, short-form videos: YouTube Shorts now has 1.5 billion monthly active users and sees more than 30 billion daily views, making it a big area of opportunity for advertisers, says Dyana Najdi, MD of video and display for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Google. “Viewing habits are diversifying as people move seamlesslybetween screens and video lengths — with different needs and expectations for each. Many creators are innovating with shorter form, ‘snackable’ content to meet the needs of these viewers. And they’re seeing immense success. In fact, it’s important to leverage storytelling best practices to create highly engaging short-form video content. For example, videos should jump straight into the action. With only 10 to 60 seconds of available ad time, there’s no need to set up a premise or establish a storyline with lots of extra context.

10. Machine learning: Najdi says brands don’t have to reinvent the wheel to use this newer video format. “We’re currently experimenting with a machine learning tool that reformats landscape videosinto square or vertical formats based on how someone is watching YouTube. It’s already available for App campaigns, with Video action and Performance Max coming in 2023,” she adds.

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