It was a delightful day when we got the news of being invited for the Google Partner Summit and being upgraded to a Premier Google Partner. So when the time came, Rohit & I packed our bags and took the journey to cover 13,876 kms from Chennai to San Francisco. The journey was not just the distance, but the fact that at the Summit we were amongst 900 partners around the world, who together controlled about 8% of the global digital advertising spend. It was indeed a delightful experience to be part of it.
"Now is our Moment" was an apt theme for the Google Partner Summit with multiple interactions with senior Google product managers and account managers interspersed with knowledge on how to manage talent as well as clients. It was a holistic agenda to help agencies like us succeed.
While a lot of the inputs provided at the Summit were confidential, we have summarized what we are allowed to share. Below were the 5 key takeaways for us:
- Be there in the moment - Being there in the moment in the mobile first world is key and there was indeed a lot of discussion on the usual topics of mobile responsivness as well as website speed. There was discussion around the growing adaptation of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and infact Social Beat has already implemented AMP as well. With the responsive ads that Adwords has launched, the ads become a lot more immersive and adaptable to any device/ad unit size allowing brands to be there in the moment.The challenge with mobile has been that almost 75% of the audience start the interaction with the brand on one device, but complete it on another device. So measurement and tracking of ROI becomes a challenge. Fortunately, some tools like Optimizely help us resolve this.
- Measure across devices, channels, offline - Measurement being key, there was discussion around multi device, multi channel and offline measurement since many visitors who search online do visit the retail store. We do have an interesting article on how search can help offline and omni channel retailers in India. While store visits as a conversion metric is already live in Google Adwords, there are many more exciting developments that we can watch out for in the online to offline measurement.
- Leveraging Video for Brand Building & Sales - There is no doubt that video is the fastest growing medium in the digital space and many brands are creating engaging yet low cost videos for better brand recall and sales. Lucinda Barlow, Global Director of YouTube marketing pointed out that "There are only two things Americans do more than watch video: sleep & work" and that's the reason why digital video is going to be even bigger going forward. YouTube has lined up some interesting features for ecommerce and omni channel retailers so watch our blogs for more info on this.
- Virual Reality / AR - Part of the swag given by Google was the Cardboard which gave us a glimpse into the low cost Virtual Realty but what amazed us was the Google Day Dream (with Pixel) which is a very immersive VR experience and with devices becoming better and cheaper we are surely going to see more of them around. The experience brands can provide via VR is going to be a game changer and we look forward to exploring it. While Adwords is yet to integrate to VR/AR we do see that happening in the near future.
- Machine Learning - Machine learning not only refines the experience we get at Google but is also helping agencies like us with programmatic advertising, some of which we have started experimenting with our clients using Double Click. Its only going to get better, allowing brands and agencies to deliver relevance at scale.
Apart from the product learnings, it was amazing for us to network and meet Google Partners from around the world and we even got to visit Googleplex and interact with product managers one on one (though we cannot share the details of these discussions yet).