Google held its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28.
The event announced many research updates regarding these key areas:
After the event, Google’s advertising liaison, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on ads, as well as how they can affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and got valuable feedback from the industry.
The panel of experts consisted of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez and myself (Brooke Osmundson).
The struggle with images
Some of the search updates include browsable search results, larger images, and commercial messages for conversational search.
Brad Geddes, co-founder of Adalysis, said “Desktop has never been mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment that many of their B2B customers depend on desktop searches and traffic. With images serving mostly on mobile devices, their B2B customers won’t benefit as much.
Another big point was raised about the context of the images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by several roundtable members:
- How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to represent what it does in an image?
Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and e-commerce businesses in general. But for B2B, they may be at a disadvantage.
More use cases, please
Ginny asked the group what they would like to change or add to an event like Search On.
The general consensus: Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.
Greg Finn said the Search On event was what he expected, but Google Marketing Live now seems too broad and Google no longer talks to advertisers.
Marvin acknowledged and later revealed that Google had received comments that after this year’s GML, the vision seemed to be geared towards a high profile investor.
The group gave some potential solutions to help bridge the current gap of what was advertised and then later how advertisers can act.
- 30-minute follow-up session on How? ‘Or’ What these relate to advertisers
- Focus less on verticals
- Provide more use cases
Michael Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even simple screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them tremendously. It is essential to provide tangible action items on how to convey this information to customers.
Google product managers give their opinion
The second half of the roundtable included contributions from several Google search product managers. I started with a broader question to Google:
- It looks like Google is becoming a one stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Are we going to expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to conquer this coveted space?
Cecilia Wong, Global Product Manager of Search Formats at Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they are focused on search. Their recommendation:
- Manage assets and images and optimize them for better user experience
- For B2B, line up your images as a preview of what users can expect on the landing page
However, image assets have strict restrictions on what is allowed. I went on to ask if they would relax asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in their image assets.
Google could not comment directly, but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content were needed for B2B advertisers.
Are value-based auctions worth it?
The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said he wanted advertisers to adopt and evolve to value-based bidding. While the comments seemed grim, they opened up a candid conversation.
Melissa Mackey said that although she talked to her clients about value-based bidding, none of her clients wanted to pull the trigger. For B2B, it is difficult to assess value across different conversion points.
Additionally, she said customers become obsessed with information about their pipelines and can end up complicating things. In short, they have trouble translating the entered numerical value into the actual value of a sale.
Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have reverted to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all values and signals to pass.
Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He pointed out that Google hadn’t offered anything on value-based bidding best practices. By having only one value, it looks like a CPA auction. And when a customer has multiple valuable inputs, Google tends to optimize for low value conversions, which ultimately affects lead quality.
Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig deeper best practices to take advantage of research in the world of automation.
Google has made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B businesses, this may require additional creativity to succeed and compete with visualization updates.
However, PPC roundtable experts felt that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, it needs to support advertisers, especially B2B marketers, more. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.
Marketers rely on Google to make these search updates relevant not only to the user, but also to advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is an important step in restoring collaboration between Google and the advertiser.
Special thanks to Ginny Marvin from Google for making room to hear feedback from B2B advertisers, and to all the PPC experts for their input.
Feature image: Shutterstock/TKM