Here at After Digital, we love a trip to Google London HQ. It’s a great way to learn about all the latest advances with Google technology, whether with clients or up-skilling our own team. We were delighted to be there again last week at an event hosted by our friends at Periscopix and Google.

The agenda for the day focused on three main areas - latest goings on in search, display and concentrating on RTB (real time bidding) and finally, improvements to Google Analytics, namely the super duper Universal Analytics.

As an agency, we’re perfectionists and we’re always looking for ways that our campaigns and solutions can deliver more for clients. Understanding what channels actually contribute to the overall process of delivering a lead, sale or other action has been made even easier by attribution modelling – we’re Big advocates! Being able to get an insight into the consumer path to acquisition is such an important part of understanding how effective online and offline touch points actually are.

Alistair Dent, Director of Paid Media at Periscopix, is probably the most excited and enthusiastic search guru out there. He truly loves what he does, and it shows! In his session at Google he focused on the beauty of RLSAs (remarketing lists for search ads). RSLAs allow us to retarget those who may have visited the site and not completed a conversion (i.e. added an item to the online shopping basket and not purchased) or indeed those who we know have purchased in the past and are likely to do so again. You can then customise search ad campaigns with tailored bids and targeted ads.

Better targeting is also available via new ad formats - image extensions, expanded site links and app extension ads, not forgetting location, time of day, day of week, device and site behaviour multipliers. We can also look forward to access to more metrics including estimated total conversions.

Next up was Liz Rutgersson, Head of Real-Time Bidding (RTB) at Periscopix, to take us through RTB which is regarded as one of the most exciting developments in this space. RTB allows you to target users based on their interests and behaviour in real-time. RTB sits much closer to search in the conversion funnel and allows advertisers to seek out users as they show intent via overlapping filters including demographics, placements, remarketing and audiences. Ten years ago, clients would pay for a banner or a skyscraper on the homepage of a leading financial news site (reservation display) for example, as they assumed people who wanted their finance product would visit this site. Now, we can find these users by seeking out behavioural patterns and targeting exactly who we'd like to talk to, wherever they happen to be online and based on their browsing behaviour.

We've all been on clothes / holiday / shoes sites (well I have) and then been served an ad that shows us the last products we've just been looking at / resorts with discounted prices / gorgeous boots. More and more, display is becoming interest and intent based, which can only be a good thing for advertisers and, hopefully, create more relevancy for consumers too.

The day finished off with Ben Gott, Head of Web Analytics at Periscopix, who covered his recommendations on the '5 Things You Need to do in 2014' where Google Analytics (GA) is concerned. GA is one of our favourite tools here at After Digital, so we loved hearing about all the latest and imminent advances with Analytics technology and metrics. So, what are the five must-do things?

  1. Install Google Tag Manager - revolutionising the way that we track campaigns, with an intuitive and simple singular set of code. This approach is highly agile, providing dependable and easy-to-update data.
  2. Install Universal Analytics - so many additional features, and not enough space to list them! Better tracking, even more relevant data and custom variables, including user ID tracking across multiple devices.
  3. Use Attribution Modelling - in particular, multi-touch attribution modelling that was mentioned. This allows you to see the user path to acquisition, enabling you to optimise performance of these channels and the full funnel, rather than looking at the last click in isolation.
  4. Use Demographic data - improved, fully featured demographic data enhances your reporting and targeting capability.
  5. Implement Remarketing - one of the key takeaways from the day was the power of RLSAs. Ben’s advice - Use them!

Test, learn, refine

We love digital because it is so transparent and offers us deep and meaningful insights. Understand what data and reporting you should be looking at and why, and what learnings to apply to your activity. Google has placed a wealth of tools at our disposal, so our advice would be to identify what ones will benefit your business and achieve your objectives, and use them wisely.