Google Performance Summit 2016 Review

Yesterday was the “big day” for fans of Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Google had teased upcoming announcements at their “Performance Summit” for months, and I have been dying to attend virtually ever since I marked it on my calendar.

Having attended 7 Google Analytics summits in the past (2008-2014) and live-blogging the announcements in 2012, 2013 and 2014, I was excited to see what would happen next.

Why the excitement? Because the announcements have been true “game changer” moments for me. In 2012 they announced Universal Analytics. In 2013, they had 14 new product announcements.

Way back in 2014, I predicted that Google would open GA to more third-party integrations, open the system to developers and do better with artificial intelligence. Google delivered.

So with that back history, what was the theme of the Google Analytics announcements in 2016?

Integration-Collaboration-Intelligence

Google Analytics Announcements 2016: Integration – Collaboration – Intelligence

Looks like I nailed these predictions in 2014… I was just two years ahead of my time!

Google Analytics Innovations

Even though AdWords was covered first (and took up 80% of the Summit time), I am going to cover Google Analytics first for obvious reasons. This blog is called Jeffalytics after-all. If it were Jeffwords, I’d be talking AdWords first, capisce?

My original verdict on the Google Analytics announcements = disappointing.

It was probably a timing thing. The past summits I have reviewed were all 1-2 hour keynotes with 10-15 product announcements packed in.

This year we had 10 minutes and 3 announcements. There is only so much that can be announced (and it is impossible to match my high expectations). Maybe we have just been spoiled in the past.

Most important: Free Version of Data Studio

Let’s cut to the chase. The coolest thing to come out of the keynote is that we can all try Google Data Studio, today, for free.

Just go to datastudio.google.com and sign up. It is a very powerful tool. Look for a demo video in the near future.

Check out the chart I made in about 5 minutes with Jeffalytics data:

Data Studio Sample

This is approximately 1342.6% better than the current dashboards in Google Analytics.

The other announcements

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It hasn’t even been 24 hours since the Summit, and my disappointment with the announcements has already started to subside. 1 hour after the keynote I was surly. About 2 hours after the keynote, I recorded the video above. As I write this post the next day? I think data studio is pretty cool.

My verdict on the GA announcements has changed from disappointed to appeased.

Now the other announcements are: better integration between Google products and that you can use natural language to build reports.

The integrations are nice, but are still nowhere near as useful as integrations that are outside of the Google ecosystem.

Seriously. How can a marketer build a meaningful marketing dashboard in 2016 without being able to list Facebook ad spend? Facebook made $17,928 billion in revenue last year! We can’t build a total marketing dashboard without including Facebook spend.

This is why I still recommend Klipfolio as the premiere tool for creating marketing dashboards.

And the intelligence tool is not really artificial intelligence, but rather a Siri-like interface for requesting reports. Here’s a screenshot of a screenshot (sorry for the quality).

Natural Language Query

This announcement will not change the way I use Google Analytics.

That’s it for Google Analytics. What do you think about these announcements?

Google AdWords Announcements for 2016

I can see why Google spent 80% of the presentation talking about AdWords. There is just so much more to share.

First of all, I have to give props to the production crew at Google. This stage and live stream was super professional. Just look at the 2016 stage compared to 2013.

Google Performance Summit Stage

Here’s 2013 for reference.

Babak-Pahlavan-Keynote.jpg

Do you think there might be some more money in AdWords?

We are in a mobile world

There are trillions of searches happening on Google each year. The majority are on mobile devices.

So Google is making adjustments to become mobile-first in the way they deliver ads. I won’t cover all announcements here. Just the ones with screen shots. Check out this post from Matt Umbro to see even more on these changes.

Announcement #1: Bigger ad text

Much More Ad Copy Space

This is the biggest change to ad text in 15 years. Gone are the 25-35-35 ad text requirements.

Now we have 35-35-80!

I suspect that this will be a true “game changer” for many advertisers and tool vendors. Gone are the days of cutting off product names because of an archaic 25 character headline requirement. Bravo!

Announcement #2: Native display formats

Display Ad Formats

Finally, mobile ads that don’t make me want to vomit!

Announcement #3: Cross platform bid adjustments

Individual Bid Adjustments

Dear Google,

Finally!

Sincerely,

Everyone

Announcement #4: Drive people in store through search

Mobile Pin Ads

“People searching for electronics on mobile devices are looking to find retail stores”

No shit sherlock.

Announcement #5: Similar Audiences for Search

Similar Audiences for Search

yeah_boyeee_shaun_of_the_dead-gap
Announcement #6: Demographics in search ads

Demographics for Search Ads

And to top it all off, the slick new AdWords interface

New AdWords Interface

This interface is pretty nice looking. AdWords was in desperate need of a redesign and this really satisfies.

And good news: I have nearly a year before it’s released and I have to completely re-record all of my PPC Course videos!

Summary: What did we learn?

Here are the things we learned about Google AdWords:

  • New Ad Formats – Bigger text ad + better and more native display ads
  • Google AdWords is now Mobile-First
  • Simplifying the experience across devices through ad format + targeting options
  • Many of the features appeal to big box retailers (actual words used in presentation)
  • AdWords is redesigned entirely and you’ll be able to get it by 2017
  • Similar audiences is really cool and so are demographics in search
  • New Interface comes out in 2017 for all

Google Analytics announcement summary

  • Big announcement: Free data studio
  • 5 Reports only for free version
  • Collaborative features
  • Collaboration is only with Google products
  • Text based querying of reports is cool, but useful?
  • Won’t beat Klipfolio without integrations

What are your thoughts on these announcements? Please share in the comments.

About the Author

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of a suitcase somewhere in the world. Formerly of Minneapolis, MN and San Francisco, CA.