As a marketing manager or business owner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the Google updates. How do you understand the trends? How do you even keep up? Google is continually changing and the old strategies that worked to rank on Google are no longer relevant. The old marketing funnel–awareness, consideration, decision–is also obsolete and Google’s old mission of ‘organizing the world’s information,’ helping you find answers has now announced its mission is to ‘help you get things done.’ How do you keep your share of the market (and grow) without having to overhaul all of your past content? How do you keep your products, your marketing, your website, everything ahead of the curve to meet the demands of ever-evolving technology? Let’s explore AI-first, how it’s replacing mobile-first and understanding how to anticipate your customer’s needs to stay ahead of changing technology.
Google is making changes
AI first isn’t new. It was first discussed in 2017 but it’s only now being fully integrated after testing, trial and error and perfecting. Google notes that they are rethinking all of their products and using machine learning and AI to improve their user experience. So, if you’re using Google search, you’ll get different results than when using Google maps. (This is some of the thinking of the importance of not only mobile-first but also local search.) Machine learning also adapts for low bandwidth. Furthermore, those of you who have Gmail may have noticed the ‘Smart Reply’ feature so you can send a quick reply just like predictive texting and when composing an email, you may have noticed that Gmail may even suggest words you’ll use to write your message.
Here’s a two-minute video clip explaining these concepts.
Google has updated the following. We’ll provide a more in-depth look at each of these soon.
- Neural Matching
- Street View
- Search in Photos
- Smart Reply
- Predictive Typing
- Next Generation Assistant
- On-Device Speech Recognizer & Recurrent Neural Networks
These changes are happening–some subtle and some bigger. Google collates and collects your data to improve your experience overall–for everyone–and it impacts how you search, how you shop, and how you interact with technology.
“We are now witnessing a new shift in computing: the move from a mobile-first to an AI-first world.“– Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google @ blog.google
The evolution of mobile-first and discovery ads
We hope everyone (by now) has got the memo that mobile-first is a priority when ranking on Google or it was. Check out our piece on the importance of mobile-first if you need a refresher and here’s a piece on the importance of user-experience. Now Google is setting preference for its AI first technology.
Google notes that data shows customers shop differently, searching for the best deal, and the best places to buy. But, as many marketers known, consumers are more informed than ever before. Google notes that there’s an increase in customers watching product videos and user experience on YouTube. However, Google says 90% of purchases still happen in stores, which seems surprising with the rise of Amazon and other online retailers.
Just as those companies who aren’t embracing optimizing their websites for mobile and voice search, there’s now a separation between brands who adapt and those who do not. Although marketers have more touch points than ever before (Facebook ads, radio, discovery ads, YouTube, apps, mobile search) which all build brand awareness, there’s so much data to wade through that traditional marketing practices fall short. To anticipate what your customer wants, you need an even better understanding of your target customer, moving away from the traditional practice of writing ‘a day in the life’ of your ideal customer and more towards truly understanding who buys your products, what prompts them to buy, and what they will need in the future to return.
Since digital marketing companies aim to drive business growth simply surviving as a company is no longer enough. Now, companies need to harness their consumer behaviours and data to meet those consumer’s needs at each step, shaping the customer journey as it happens and anticipating the customer journey and their behaviour. How do you do this without mining through an endless stream of data? Well, Google suggests with machine learning, computer power, and data, you can ‘anticipate to win.’
Here’s Google’s video explaining how companies ‘anticipate to win,’
AI first will allow you to optimize across the entire customer journey using Google’s machine learning which will optimize the variable for you. People’s journeys go beyond basic search which is why discovery ads were created and Google is now moving to journeys and not simply keywords with results. Studies have shown that people prefer ads that are relevant to them. To get consumers to take action, you have to anticipate what they want and/or need and fully understand them.
Google provides business with many tools to keep abreast of its changes such as providing SEO tools, a search console for webmaster’s, and insights. Google is now coupling these trends with its own algorithms which are updated two to three times per year based on testing and experimentation. To stay relevant in business, you will need to stay abreast of these changes–even more so now than ever before.
Do these updates violate my privacy?
One of the most important questions is do these Google updates violate my privacy? Does all of this data collection harm me in any way? The short answer is no. As far as privacy and security, the data is anonymous and does not contain personally identifiable data. When you search signed into your Google account, your search history, location, device searching on, and a number of factors across all platforms will be collated and analyzed to help tailor your results to your needs, but it will not personally identify or violate your privacy in any way. So, for those companies who deal with European clients and are concerned with GDPR legislation.
In short, AI-first is transcending mobile-first thinking–and many of the past ways of marketing content. It’s a way for businesses to connect with consumers more directly. You can anticipate what they want, when they want it, with content that meets their needs. Instead of wasting your ad spend on showing ads to consumers who aren’t interested in your product, you can team up with Google’s machine learning with new tools like discovery ads to create the right message at the right time.
Computers (and Google searches) are evolving from input a search and get results to anticipating what you want to see from your search query, collating all of the data collected from users over time, so if millions of people search for certain terms and they end up buying certain products as a result, Google may think that you’d want a similar result from your query–and these results are further personalized when you’re using your Google account.
It’s matching their new Google journeys (that we have written about here) and taking it a step further. The idea isn’t to be all-invasive but to increase productivity in all aspects of our lives. Think of it like a helpful friend who recommends you read an article or watch a video, someone who knows what your interests are and what will be helpful in the moment.
Companies who work on adapting to Google’s updates will see their market share increase as those competitors who do not adapt will fall behind. The idea is Google wants companies to be flexible and adaptable to the market–good not perfect.
If you want a company who is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest trends, ensuring that companies are successful, no matter the shifting sands, get in touch today.
Want to find out how we can help you with your AI-First strategy? Get in touch here or explore our bespoke menu of digital offerings ranging from branding and web design to development and AI-first digital marketing services.
Elaine Frieman is a UK-based professional editor, educational writer, and former marketing agency content writer where she wrote articles for disparate clients using SEO best practice. She enjoys reading, writing, walking in the countryside, traveling, spending time with other people’s cats, and going for afternoon tea.