Google Marketing Live is one of the search engine’s biggest events and this year, unsurprisingly, machine learning and changes to Google Shopping were the headline acts.

Big changes in Google Shopping to take on the marketplaces, but is there trouble ahead?

The biggest announcement by some margin was the changes coming to Google Shopping, the new Google Shopping homepage and the ability for consumers to purchase products directly within YouTube, Google Images and other Google properties – without clicking away to a retailer’s site and backed by Google Guarantee.

This is the new shopping experience that will provide users with product recommendations based on what a user has previously bought, allowing those users to filter for specific brands and features. This will add huge levels of interactivity to the user experience, particularly on YouTube where users may be watching product reviews or unboxing videos.

The move is almost certainly designed to win back market share for product searches. Marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Rakuten have effectively become search engines in their own right for product-related queries, with many advertisers moving budgets away from Google and into Amazon. This could be a real game changer.

But the announcement will have surely caught the eye of the European Commission, which has already taken a strong stance on Google’s dominant position in the market and on Google Shopping in particular. The EU hit Google with a €2.4bn fine back in June 2017 for abusing its position in the market and favouring its own shopping platforms in Google search results, and you have to expect that they’ll be keeping a close eye on this latest development.

Products coming out of beta.

There are advertising features that are coming out of beta testing and coming to market, adding a much more visual advertising element to help brands to fill the top of the funnel.

Discovery Ads, Gallery Ads and Showcase Shopping have been in beta for a number of months and we’ve been trialling them on a number of brands. The results have been interesting, but there are clear benefits when using these models with very granular ads, such as promoting specific products and services, rather than using them for top-level brand advertising. This makes sure that these ads are as relevant as possible to search terms.

Machine learning to help brands know the true value of their conversions.

It wouldn’t be a Google conference without some announcement on machine learning, and Google Marketing Live 2019 was no exception. This year, the focus was very much on measurement and understanding audience value, with two new developments.

One of these was Seasonality Controls, which will allow brands to let Google know the dates of their promotional period. Google will then gain a better understanding of how you perform during that promotion to better automate next time it comes around. This feature also negates data from these periods from your BAU optimisation to ensure automated rules don't become skewed by discounting periods.

The second was Conversion Value Rules and this is potentially the most exciting development. This will allow brands to assign different values to conversions generated by different audience segments to reflect their anticipated worth to your business. This helps us look beyond metrics such as CPA and puts wider business performance and objectives at the forefront of our measurement and optimisation.

Bridging the gap between the web and connected TV.

Similarly, thinking beyond traditional search, Google seems to be looking to leverage their online video dominance (YouTube) to break further into wider TV.