10 insights and musings from Google Partners Accelerate 2014 #gpaccelerate

I’m just back from a couple of inspiring and educational days with Google in Dublin. This was a very international event for Google Partner agencies from as far afield as Russia and South Africa.

Here’s some of the key insights and thoughts that the event has triggered off for me.

1. Mobile, mobile, mobile

Which we all know of course. But the event has really hit home just how quick and significant mobile adoption has been and frankly how business is just not keeping up or appreciating it’s impact. Some stats:

  • Time spent: 147 mins a day on smartphone vs 113 on TV
  • Mobile search volume is exceeding desktop search volume right about now.
  • Only half the top 100 advertisers have mobile friendly websites.

Smell the opportunity?

2. Mobile does the pre-sale, desktop closes the deal.

A survey says:

65% of decisions start on mobile. 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal.

We used to have a desktop where people started their research and completed their sale. Now more often than not the research happens on a different device. Some pretty good data suggests that seeing mobile as the place where people do research and desktop (or store) as where they subsequently buy is not a bad way of looking at things. To date, we haven’t appreciated this because…

3. Measurement is harder and we’re reading the numbers wrong

Currently we have no practical way of seeing a user cross from one device to another so we are underestimating the contribution of mobile. Worse, because mobile is driving many desktop sales, we see increased conversion rates on our desktop site making the relative performance of mobile look even worse.

Visitor numbers are also no longer a good proxy for numbers of individuals interacting with us since one individual may use 6 or more devices. And it’s only going to get more complex. Like it or not, we are going to have to bring gut feel to the table (but with data to support it).

Between 2010 and 2013 offline store footfall dropped 55% but value of that footfall doubled

That was driven by the internet, yet none of it appeared in any conversion tracking reports.

conversion rate

4. Facilitate Research on Mobile

We know how to make conversion paths as simple as possible on mobile, but are we focusing on things like ’email yourself’, wishlists and other tools that support this multi-device behaviour? We should be.

5. Clients need to Innovate. Agencies need to help them do that.

It was great to hear Google make the case that, as agencies, we need to help clients innovate in ways that will deal with disruptive threats to their businesses (a taxi company facing uber being the example put forward). This has been a major focus for us for the last few years, so it’s nice to know we are thinking on the right lines.

Assuming that something its preposterous and insane is not good enough, at Google you have to prove it.

6. “How” and “Why” searches are on the up

People are now using search engines to find advice. Yes, there are still the product searches we’ve always targeted, but search volumes including the word “why” are increasing 1.5x faster, whilst “how” searches are up 4 times. This change is nicely summarised as “it’s not the product that counts its the purpose”. It’s not the running shoes, it’s the marathon. Marathon gets 4x the search.

how to searches

And this new search volume is cheap to advertise on.

affinity search

Let’s face it, Google AdWords is seen as a performance channel. The people making the decisions on AdWords purchases are largely performance marketers such as ourselves. If it doesn’t produce sales, we don’t spend money. Searches involving “How to” don’t lead to trackable sales. This combined with the increasing difficulty of measurement (see above) mean that they are being ignored and effectively undervalued i.e. they represent opportunities.

7. Branding and Performance Marketing are Converging

Performance vs branding divide

Of course its in Google’s interests to persuade us ROI driven marketers that we should be spending money on branding, but the reality is it’s in our clients interests too. A strong case was made for paying for advertising to push content, but more importantly using the performance marketing skills to improve branding and branding skills to improve performance marketing. Certainly we are going to be having some discussions about getting our two teams to plan strategies together more (believe it or not, we do have a brand marketing team at Attacat, it’s just cunningly disguised as our SEO team).

Performance and branding converge

8. Become a Membership Organisation

So this one came from a chat I had with my brother-in-law a few months ago whilst climbing a hill, but was cemented by much that was discussed in Dublin. Every company needs to be thinking in terms of having a membership, whether that’s a paid membership or a more internet-type loyal fan base.  That’s a subsect of your potential audience.

Google are adding an audience layer to all their [advertising] products


This is the new generation of targeted advertising that is making display advertising more effective, but the audience concept is one that is making all marketing more effective. Their advice? Worry less about the channel and more about understanding your prospects.

9. Remarketing List Size should be added to the KPI mix

A picture was painted of a sales funnel whereby getting people on your site becomes a “goal” in the same way we might think about someone signing up to email ramblings or filling out a lead form. Why? Because once someone has visited, we can then re-market to them using display. In essence, a relationship is kindled when someone opts to visit your site. Clearly this a more tenuous and non-opt-in type of relationship, but it is better than no relationship.


(Image was inspired by the thoughts the event triggered, not a Google graphic just in case Brussels is looking this way)

So my current headache is to work out how we can place a financial value on a remarketing list member. If all else fails though, I’ll start with a £1 and work from there!

10. Google are investing heavily in supporting agencies assisting growth clients

That’s great news not only for us, but also for you as a client. Google have realised that the growth in their business is coming from smaller but ambitious businesses, whilst the largest brand advertisers are more static. End result: we now have a much more robust and useful agency team.

Thank you Google for a great time, all the answers you gave us and most importantly all the questions that I’m now seeking to answer.  The Guinness was simply a nice “value add” by comparison.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “10 insights and musings from Google Partners Accelerate 2014 #gpaccelerate”

  1. Adam Holt says:

    Thanks for publishing this Tim, some great insight to be had here. I am a strong purveyor of brand marketing and the importance of building and maintaining this online – a big part of which is the need and strive to stand out from the crowd.

  2. Very useful Tim, thanks for sharing.
    I take it the conference was all Analytics based rather than any other service they deliver?

  3. Attacat Tim says:

    Hi Colin. Ultimately their deep down objective is to increase use of their advertising products but they did a great job of not pushing the products. Ultimately though it was more about making advertising work rather than analytics but with an audience of performance marketers they rightly spent a lot of time on metrics.

Like the Brain? Sign up for the packed-full-of-tips monthly newsletter