Google Cloud Platform: what are the benefits for marketers?

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Today, marketers can be divided into two groups: those that use streamed data to receive and respond to customer signals and those that don’t.

To help embrace the benefits that streamed data can bring to a business, Google is talking a lot about their Google Cloud Platform right now, with conferences, advertising campaigns and direct conversations with brands across the industry.

Some companies embracing and acting on this message are driven by their own initiative, others by necessity. They are in a process of moving from a world where data that is held in isolated databases and managed in batch processing to a new world in which their data flows in automated pipes.

This is what we mean by streamed data – signals that flow in automated pipes from your website to your analytics tools and back to your website…or into your email tools…or into your programmatic media buying tools. These streamed processes can be described as 'triggered' marketing, in which a set of responses are planned and optimised in reaction to a wide range of predicted and desired customer actions.

Is your company embracing this new world of streamed data? Is it part of your plan for 2019?

It's time for you to start the process. You will have experienced the power of this type of responsive marketing if you have personally shopped at Amazon, used some betting apps and booked travel on some websites. If you have failed to complete certain predicted processes, if you are repeating a regular purchase, or if you have forgotten a task, the more advanced websites and apps give you nudges and suggestions to help you. They send you messages and pop-ups to give you tips. When you return they can make your next purchase easier. When you need another piece of encouragement to complete your registration or make a purchase, they offer you a further incentive to close the deal.

The line between these ‘nudges’ being perceived as helpful or manipulative is fine, but this is one of the new arts of the marketer’s job in the 21st Century. And there are tools to help you eradicate messages that put consumers off, optimising sales and engagement.

Scalable solutions

Many of us in the digital marketing industry have advocated agile and responsive digital best practice for many years. And the examples outlined have been possible for some time. But they have not been scalable, due to the fact that the sheer number of options for personalisation and activation were limited by the number and scale of options.

For example, you could use a data feed to adjust your audience targeting in search and programmatic display, but there were genuine issues with the accuracy of your segments, how complex your analytics could be, and how regularly the data could be updated. And there were especially complex IT challenges around connecting these marketing data with customer data from the business’ on-premise systems.

With the advent of Cloud computing, new levels of deployment are possible, in terms of the scale of the data, the types of data sources that can be accessed and the ability to apply machine learning to the data as it changes. The special features of Google Marketing Platform derive from its exclusive access to Google media data. It is, therefore, the tool that marketers have to use for the ingestion and deployment of media data for most brands – namely, search and Google Ads Network data, which are such an important and a large proportion of digital media activity.

One point of definition that is worth clarifying is that marketers should be tuning into conversations about Google Marketing Platform rather than G-Suite. A lot of discussion on Google’s Cloud proposition focuses on their G-Suite offering, which is important but can be considered as the 'IT' side of the platform, such as providing companies with email, IT storage and other corporate functions. The Google Marketing Platform leverages the same technology, but is dedicated to linking your company data to your digital marketing channels.

Hard work, but worth the results

A critical question for marketers is: which cloud solution (or mix of solutions) do you opt for? This is a complex and potentially strategic question, based on a number of IT and marketing factors in your business.

In making this analysis, remember that a significant part of the promise of digital marketing is to make possible the immediate deployment of campaigns based on recent data. Google Cloud is critical for making this happen for most brands. You can connect the Google data to other clouds – such as AWS, Salesforce and others. But because Google Marketing Cloud is the native source of much of your media data, GCP will almost certainly be part of your architecture.

So, now that we’ve considered what can Google Cloud Platform do for marketers like you, two questions remain: when are you going to start deploying it to make the possible a reality? And can you afford not to?

Richard Wheaton, managing director, Fifty-five London

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