Google aims to spend 60% of digital marketing budget on programmatic campaigns

Google is aiming to shift more of its digital marketing budget into programmatically traded campaigns, and has set its sights on a 60 per cent target, according to its global chief marketing officer Lorraine Twohill.

Speaking to The Drum at the Web Summit in Dublin, Twohill revealed that Google is in the process of moving all of its campaigns, such as for its Chromecast product, over to programmatic “one by one”, and is working to overcome the current limitations of programmatic, which doesn't currently cater for skippable ads.

“I want 60 per cent of my marketing digital spend to go through programmatic,” remarked Twohill. “The biggest barrier to getting to that is that the team gets the value, so retraining your team because it changes their jobs.

"Then we have to test and learn, so in the US we’ve started getting some of our newer campaigns into programmatic so they are programmatic from day one, and we’re moving campaigns in one by one. Sometimes it’s hard to disrupt existing campaigns because you worry about what could happen if you turn stuff off.

“There’s things in programmatic that aren’t quite there yet. I really care about ads where people can play and engage so skippable ads, mutable ads; programmatic doesn’t support that yet. I care about cost-per-click, programmatic doesn’t support that yet. I assume all this will come, I think it’s inevitable, but until all those things are there it’s hard for me to get to 60 per cent but we’re moving as fast as we can.”

Twohill predicted that all advertising will eventually become programmatic, including outdoor billboards, and voiced her surprise that all billboards across major cities are not yet digital, and called for innovation in the space which “sorely needs it”.

Speaking about the marketing focus for Google over the coming months, Twohill said the company will look to push forward consumer awareness around some of its search functionalities such as voice and knowledge cards, and focus on telling stories around those capabilities.

When asked about how Google might look to market driverless cars, Twohill commented that it is “too early to have that conversation” but revealed that it is looking at creating tools and teaching modules around the cars for those who want to learn more and understand the technology.

Another focus for Google is to communicate the shift from desktop to mobile and to highlight some of its hardware products, like Chromecast, something Twohill admitted has been challenging for the brand.

“I have to talk about a whole new category that didn’t exist before and I have to make sure you can find it in stores. So my team works a lot on how the brand appears in the physical world and that was a new challenge for us as a company.

“We didn’t exist outside of devices and now we have to think about how the brands appear in the stores [and think about] can you find the product and where do you place them in the store. So you’ll start to see us in Dixons for example to have Google spaces in stores and that was a big moment for us to have our products in store and tell our stories in store.”

Twohill brushed off the suggestion that the ‘right to be forgotten’ has placed a strain on the search giant’s resources and said that its staff’s day jobs haven’t changed as a consequence, “I don’t think it has an impact on the business, we just get on with the day job. It doesn’t affect our business, not that I’m aware of that’s for sure,” she continued.

Agencies’ approach to pitching and creating work was called into question by Twohill, who accused the industry of holding onto a “comfort blanket” of continuing to follow past behaviour.

“I think the ad industry is going through enormous change and I think creative agencies have this comfort blanket that is how they’ve always pitched in the past and how they do work. As someone that does a lot of work with creative agencies I’m trying to encourage them to think about and be opened minded about all the opportunity there is now and be immersive and not follow the comfort blanket of the past.”

Natalie Mortimer

Natalie is The Drum's fashion, design, luxury and food & drink reporter.

Tweet her @nataliemortimer

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