What Is The Google Marketing Platform?
In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between the Google Marketing Platform vs Google Ads. The Google Marketing Platform is an integrated suite of marketing solutions. The platform helps digital marketers plan, execute, and measure campaigns across various channels. It offers intelligence data on online user activity across shopping ads, display advertising, video, search, social, and mobile.
Featuring built-in measurement, it empowers marketers to realize how the channel is driving their campaigns and make improvements where necessary. Furthermore, the Google Marketing Platform helps businesses create personalized experiences across channels for their customers.
What Are Google Ads For?
Formerly known as Google AdWords, it’s an online advertising platform that allows you to reach your customers on the web. Using the platform, you can drive more traffic to your website. Google Ads enables businesses to build tailored campaigns using specific search terms, locations, or interests. The platform also offers complete reporting and analytics. This way, companies can monitor how their campaigns perform. More so, Google Ads comes with enhanced automated and programmatic bidding tools that can yield high ROI.
The name Google AdWords also underwent a rebrand. It is now known as Google Ads. Google Ads is a souped-up version of AdWords, with everything inside AdWords and more. It has now been upgraded with Performance Max and Demand Generation campaigns. (formerly known as Discovery Campaigns)
Similarly to Facebook ads, Google Ads dedicates a strong AI to them. Soon, marketers like me will need to focus more on configuration and monitoring. This will save time compared to manual policing of the campaigns. I’ve been testing Smart Bidding for the majority of our clients. I am now seeing tremendous results over the past 2 years.
We have experienced some unsuccessful campaigns as well. For your reference, I will list three main reasons why you should give careful thought to Smart Bidding campaigns. But first, I want to make a brief reference to Smart Bidding.
Google Ads provides varying bid strategies that deliver the required amount of clicks (and conversions) to your site. The smart part is that Google considers a number of data points when bidding for a specific user. It considers location, surfing behavior, device, and search history.
Manual CPC and Maximize clicks are extremely superficial. They are confined to you losing control over settings. But it’s not the Holy Grail yet. I talk to a lot of SaaS agencies and experts who see very different results. It is for this reason that the first rule of thumb dictates that one always commit his/herself to testing. Run it, but don’t run in the “all or nothing state of mind.”
Now off to the 3 reasons that should help you run a successful test.
Without a goal, you haven’t defined reasonable expectations for your campaign objective and have no direction. That’s why we have KPIs. Your campaigns will be like a ship without a captain at all – minus one or a few KPIs. You will be going nowhere fast and get lost quickly. If your campaign is on track, you’ll stick only with KPIs.
Most businesses will simply say, I want more sales.
However, don’t we all desire more sales?
But what if you are launching a new product line?
Are sales expected on day one?
Imagine if you were running Google display ads to users who had never heard of your brand.
Do you expect that a lot of people will click and buy?
I’m not saying it’s impossible.
The fact of the matter is that it will rarely occur.
So before you launch a campaign, check the following first:
1) Who are you trying to target?
2) What are you promoting?
3) How do you measure success with KPIs?
The conversion goals you are tracking should go beyond the end result. Typically, that’s revenue. It could be the sale or a meeting booked. Make sure you measure the steps people take before they buy something from you. That’s page views, engagements, demo requests, demos attended, or product purchases. You could look at how long it takes users to convert or keep buying. This is called LTV. LTV stands for lifetime value.
How about your ads at the top of your funnel? After landing on an overview page, the first engagement event could be a product page click.
Is your advertising aimed at the bottom of the funnel?
Smart bidding works best if actual conversion occurs within the first 5 days after a click. Hence, you should choose that conversion as your main one. If you sell a high ticket item, consider tracking “add to cart” or the “book now” button. These conversions might be very useful for product pages.
These goals can be imported after you’ve set it up in Google Analytics. From there, you will just need to import the conversion goal into the Google Ads UI. Make sure to mark “YES” in the “include it in conversions” column. Otherwise, it will not be considered by Smart Bidding for your campaign.
The most obvious one first: You have no conversion baseline yet.
When you have no conversion data for your marketing campaigns, Google makes a lot of guesses.
It doesn’t have enough data in order to work with your case correctly. At a minimum, you should hit 30 conversions per month for your campaign.
My suggested process is to begin with manual CPC until you have reached +/- 15 conversions in a 14-day period. From there, switch to enhanced CPC until you hit 30 conversions in a period of 14 days. Thereafter, choose either Target CPA or TROAS. Set your target based on the previous 30 days of history.
You can’t “set it and forget it.”
Unlike with Facebook ads, where you can switch from one strategy to another quickly, Google will take longer. You’ll note that the consistency will come after day 7. It is dependent on your conversion lag. Naturally, the more conversions you had in the past, the steadier it would act.
When you make a change, such as bid updates, adding a keyword, ad copy activation, or pausing ad groups, this activates the learning phase again and will “reset” the progress.
These new variables must also be considered. Essentially, this advice is tailored for the first two weeks, or 30 days. You can start optimizing these levers incrementally as your campaigns drive more consistent conversions. However, do not make many changes at once. Happy bidding!
Google Marketing Platform vs Google Ads: What’s the Difference?
Late June 2018 saw the introduction of the Google Marketing Platform for cross-channel marketing. The Google Marketing Platform is a unified entity of DoubleClick advertiser products and the Google Analytics 360 Suite. It also incorporates third-party measurement tools with its own offerings.
Digital marketers now use diverse platforms through the integration of these tools into one brand. The platform combines the planning, buying, measuring, and optimizing of digital media into one platform. Through its various tools, the Google Marketing Platform assists marketers in understanding user behavior.
Google has announced Search Ads 360 and Display & Video 360 within the Google Marketing Platform. These advertising Google products combine a number of DoubleClick Bid Manager, Campaign Manager, Studio, and Audience Center features.
The major distinction between Google Ads and the Google Marketing Platform is that Google Ads has tracking, display, search, and video ads built into one single platform. While GMP has several distinct platforms that integrate together, GMP offers de-duplicated conversion tracking in CM360.
There is cross-channel advertising in SA360 and programmatic advertising in DV360. Within DV360, you can reach more B2B users and get better data insights on view-through conversions.
The goal of Google Ads is lead generation, understanding conversion rates, and increasing targeted web traffic. On the other hand, the Google Marketing Platform provides a unified set of platforms and analytics products.
GMP allows digital marketers to plan, execute, and measure across all channels. GA4 and CM360 offer more data-driven analytics of your users behavior. GMP also covers channels like display, video, and search.
One standout feature is true cross-channel advertising that you can run through social media. You can truly personalize ads at scale and take in user data from any channel. It also works with Google Optimize and GA4 to provide more defined audience information.
What is part of the Google Marketing Platform?
Having used the Google Marketing Platform myself as a digital marketer, here are my thoughts.
With this complete offering of solutions, I am able to do everything with my marketing campaign, from planning, execution, and measurement across channels like search to display to video. I am also able to utilize data-informed insights from online user activities across various channels.
Such data helps me understand how effective my campaigns were and how I can enhance them. With the Google Marketing Platform, I can also tailor experiences for users at scale.
Google Marketing Platform is a web server-based software system and a next-generation demand-side platform (DSP). The Google Marketing Platform integrates with the Google Analytics 360 Suite to provide a unified place to advertise and optimize campaigns.
Over the years, it has developed to provide more mechanisms to make Google advertising for advertisers smarter and faster. It is basically a much improved version of Google Ads. Google promises to offer advertisers one advertising and analytics platform for enhanced campaign management.
Simply put, the Google Marketing Platform provides PPC agencies and advertisers with a sophisticated platform on which they can oversee integrated campaigns across all channels.
Some of its key platforms include:
Campaign Manager 360
Campaign Manager 360 is Google’s entry into a viable, cross-channel ad management tool that has been designed to operate effortlessly with other Google platforms like Analytics and Search Ads 360. This allows advertisers to gain more sophisticated insights into all digital campaigns. Features are centered around:
- Ad trafficking
Benefits and Features of Campaign Manager 360
- Advanced advertising served simply for video and display across the web, apps, TVs and Facebook.
- Centralized cross-channel ad management
- Built-in attribution, reporting and third-party verification
- Simplification of workflows through teams, departments, and channels
- 3rd Party and Server-to-Server Integrations
Display and Video 360
Display & Video 360 is an automated and intelligent media buying platform. Technically speaking, the Google Marketing Platform contains a demand-side platform (DSP). This is where you run programmatic advertising within the Google ecosystem. It also provides over 70 extra sources of high-value ad inventory that include the Rubicon Project.
High-value ad inventory:
With Display & Video 360, high-value ad inventory allows you to reach more than 90% of the web population. You can reach almost 90% of ad-supported connected TV households. This inventory can be purchased in pure open auction with RTB (real-time bidding). Additionally, you can research and place negotiated deals directly in the platform. You can run private auction buys or direct buys with specific media publishers. (Wall Street Journal and other news outlets or B2B sites)
As far as audience targeting within DV360, it has some of the tightest audience targeting features. You can either profile your website audience or use any seed list from your Floodlight-based audiences and Google Analytics 360 audiences.
In this case, you can open a profile in DV360 and then look for the best third-party audience to enrich your data. You can search any preferred inventory sources to access desired addressable markets. That’s a really strong feature of the platform.
It’s a big upgrade from anything you could do directly within the Google Ads Platform itself. In Google Ads, you’re limited to the same inventory as everyone else. It is essentially inventory that publishers have carouseled into the Google Display Network, and it isn’t always the tightest inventory.
Regarding targeting options, the Google Ads Platform supports expanded inventory. Instead of only offering its first-party and third-party audience segments, targeting options in the DV360 environment are more robust. You can use other data providers to run media against their traffic. That’s a huge upgrade compared to Google Ads.
Within DV360, you can research and place negotiated deals directly through the platform. You can get private auction buys or direct buys from certain publishers.
Moving from Google Ads to buying through the DV360 platform is a big upgrade. You can enter business goals and allow the DV360 platform to use machine learning algorithms to optimize your campaigns.
Access to major exchanges in SSP:
Apart from the Google Ad Manager inventory, such as the Youtube TrueView inventory, DV360 accesses all major SSP exchanges, like:
- Rubicon Project,
- Index Exchange
Via the DV360 platform, you can access a much broader universe of advertising inventory. This helps in adding flexibility, reach, and relevance to your marketing campaign and overall objectives.
Additional audience targeting features in DV360
Perhaps you’re accustomed to Google Ads platform features such as RLSA, (Remarketing Lists for Search Ad), Customer Match lists and various Google affinity, intent, or interest-based audiences.
The lists do exist in DV360, and they come from the same sources. You can also activate your rich behavioral segments directly from Google Analytics 360 into DV360. Just like Google Ads, this allows for a more streamlined workflow. This means you can easily target those key 1st party audience segments in your programmatic advertising.
DV360 will also allow you to target floodlight-pixel-based audiences from your shared CM360 instance. Thus, you can have direct integration with several enterprise-level DMP platforms.
For instance, you can link a BlueKai instance to the DMP and directly to DV360 to use for audience activation.
Campaign-based audiences enable sequential or follow-up messaging to users who have engaged in some way with a prior ad campaign.
The DV360 platform also enables it to have a vast number of data partners who syndicate their audiences in their organization’s stack. Such firms include LiveRamp, Dun & Bradstreet, and Acxiom. In your campaigns, you can target these high-value, highly curated audiences at a low CPM fee.
Search Ads 360
However, what are some of the detailed features in Search Ads 360 that would justify an investment in the platform?
Automate campaign management: Advertisers are able to use Search Ads 360 for campaign management automation. Search Ads 360 allows you to build, research, and execute your paid search campaigns in one place.
You can bring in advanced bid optimization strategies at the account level.
You can roll up your campaigns to product lines or service lines. Furthermore, you can even link various business goals to those different portfolios and then automate your bid management to those different campaign portfolios. Another defining feature of the platform is the social media reporting tool.
Here are some of the most distinct features in Google Search Ads 360 that may justify an investment in the platform.
Search Ads 360, being a part of the Google Marketing Platform, shares measurement and reporting capabilities with Google Campaign Manager. Search Ads 360 integrates with various Google Marketing Platform products, enabling you to analyze and report on the performance results that are most important to you.
To start with, its strongest part is deduplicated conversion reporting across media you buy within the Google Marketing Platform stack. It’s a great feature to have for multi-touch attribution because it saves you from the risk of double-counting conversions. It also allows you to see, side by side with programmatic buys, video advertising, and rich media initiatives, how your paid search contributes towards overall success.
The Search Ads 360 platform is integrated with partners like Adobe and Visual IQ. It also integrates natively with other Google products of the Google Marketing Platform, such as GA360 and the rest of the GMP ad tech stack.
Looker (formerly Google Data Studio)
Google Data Studio is perhaps my favorite. An intuitive, visual reporting tool that lets you quickly build clear dashboards and reports from your marketing You can create powerful data visualizations that tell the story behind your marketing performance. Using Google Data Studio’s drag-and-drop interface and tailored templates, it’s seamless.
Furthermore, it integrates with Google Marketing Platform products. The list includes, but is not limited to, CM360, SA360, DV360, and GA4360. Integration allows the easy transfer of data from all your digital campaigns to a single platform. From there, you can then benchmark performance across channels and make better choices about how to fine-tune your campaigns for maximum impact.
Google Tag Manager
I really like Google Tag Manager. Certainly, it is a very potent mechanism for streamlining and fine-tuning all your digital marketing activities. I can easily create tags for different sections of my website—such as Google Ads tracking codes or conversion tracking pixels—even if I don’t understand technology.
In addition, I can conveniently set up my tags to fire on particular pages or events, making the audiences targeted really specific, which also optimizes my campaigns and helps me reach maximum efficiency.
Moreover, I am able to leverage Google Tag Manager in conjunction with other Google Marketing Platform products, such as Search Ads 360 and Google Campaign Manager. This helps me assess how my tag change impacts cross-channel. That’s why Google Tag Manager is highly recommended for anyone who wants to make the most of their digital marketing investments.
I am a staunch supporter of Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
It is a very powerful analytics platform that enables me to better understand my customer behavior and engagement on all of my digital channels. Its interface is easy to maneuver around, and I can therefore rapidly analyse data from my website, app and other marketing channels for invaluable insights regarding my customers’ interactions with the brand.
Additionally, it integrates with other Google Marketing Platform products such as Search Ads 360 and Campaign Manager for measuring the campaign impact across channels, which can help me realize the return on investment.
It also provides me with a better way of determining the right platform to maximize impact. “I also value GA4’s predictive insights tab, which applies existing data to define trends and spot chances of demand among our clients.” I would urge anyone who is interested in elevating their digital marketing endeavors to use Google Analytics 4.
What are the benefits of using the Google Marketing Platform?
Google Marketing Platform is an integrated ad-technology platform that marketers use to create, manage, and grow their Google Ads for SaaS. It not only combines numerous stand-alone tools into a single hub, but it also provides marketers with better data and analytics that they can use to refine their messaging.
For instance, Adidas exploits Google Marketing Platform’s advanced audience insights to ensure all departments’ say the right thing’ to the right customer at the right time. Find out how they did it in this short Google Marketing Platform video case study.
In the end, it releases developers and marketers so they can focus on other projects that generate more sales.
Novartis is another brand operating with the Google Marketing Platform, which helps it reduce its 130 websites into one manageable entity so that every organization department gets relevant metrics and improves all-around customer experience conversion.
This, in turn, gives a way out for developers as well as marketers to invest their time into other money-yielding assignments. Here’s a breakdown of key elements of Novartis’ Google Marketing Platform case study:
In a nutshell, by using the Google Marketing Platform, which helps manage different digital marketing strategies simultaneously across different channels such as email and online advertisements, for instance, it becomes possible to obtain a deeper insight into specific data for each department via a single unified dashboard.
For years now, as a digital marketer, I have been using the Google Marketing Platform, and I’m so impressed by its awesome power. Its user-friendly interface allows me to get the data out of my multiple campaigns across different channels and come up with a full report in a short time.
This enables me to determine how the optimization is impacting performance and profitability and enables me to allocate resources accordingly. Thus, any company interested in improving its digital marketing management performance can rely on the Google Marketing Platform.
Google Marketing Platform is really useful for me as it helps me do away with the clutter that comes with working with products such as Search Ads 360 and Campaign Manager. Using such powerful tools, I am able to compare the effectiveness of my campaigns in all channels quickly, so I understand where I stand. In addition, granular data in the Google Ads data hub reveals customer trends and activity. It also enables me to make more strategic decisions and improve my campaigns.
In sum, the Google Marketing Platform offers an array of solutions aimed at simplifying digital marketing campaigns through various media. It is a great tool that offers a clear interface, powerful integrations, and advanced analytics.
How To Know When You Have Outgrown Google Ads
For me, Google Ads have been an exceptional source of aid when it comes to digital marketing, but sometimes it’s not just enough. There are some key indicators that you have surpassed the stage at which Google Ads meets your needs, and it is time to take your campaigns to another level.
Firstly, if you are employing more than one ad platform and struggling to unify them into a single environment, it is worth considering using the marketing platform as Google’s Marketing Platform.
Consolidate data from multiple platforms and have one place to control everything. It also simplifies the process of tracking performance and supports more sophisticated targeting and analytics. If you’re spending a lot of time setting up campaigns by hand and trying to optimize them, then a marketing platform could save you time.
A platform such as the Google Marketing Platform automates a great deal in that regard, freeing up your time for more involved tasks.
Lastly, if you’re struggling to track the impact of your campaigns cross-channel or make data-driven decisions, a marketing platform may be right up your alley. Google Marketing Platform works with a single platform that allows you to track performance across channels and learn about the behavior of your customers.
This enhances your decision-making and ability to optimize the campaigns. In digital marketing, I strive to maximize my campaigns and get the biggest bang for my buck.
Therefore, I chose to scrutinize the Google Marketing Platform closely just recently. When researching its features and benefits, I noted that it has more advanced analytics that could provide me with the insights to help me make good decisions concerning my campaigns.
Also, it connects with other Google services, such as Google Search Ads 360 and Campaign Manager, enabling me to analyze the performance of each campaign across channels quickly and accurately. These insights will be made available and used to develop new predictive insight tools that will outpace those of any competitor.
Managing my campaigns is much easier with the Google Marketing Platform than before. I can now spend less time and resources and yet have more reliable information to guide my decisions. And I trust Google Marketing Platform gives me the best mileage.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out or message me to understand how we can help you make a better decision on your marketing tech stack.