Google’s AI panic, the aftermath of the March core update, how to measure Insta engagement, and more…

May 24, 2024

Hello, My Digital Darlings,

Google Marketing Live was this week and, surprise, surprise… it was all about AI mania! From AI-generated ads to virtual try-ons, Google’s going full throttle on automation. But are they leading the pack or just panicking? Grab your popcorn and let’s dive into the digital drama.

Let’s dish about Google Marketing Live

No surprises here - the entire event was about AI. The opening line of this roundup even says, “we're showcasing how AI is transforming media, creative, and measurement to usher in a new era of ads”. I feel like the AI mania is getting a little out of hand. Ex-Googler Scott Jenson wrote on LinkedIn that Google’s AI projects are “poorly motivated” and “driven by a stone cold panic that they are getting left behind.” It sounds like Google is afraid that the likes of OpenAI and Anthropic could be the death of them, so they’re rushing to build generative AI features as quickly as possible. Thank you, Scott, for confirming my suspicions! 

Anyways, here are the major updates from Google Marketing Live:

  1. PMAX upgrades harness AI to mass produce creative assets that follow brand guidelines
  2. Immersive shopping ads with virtual try-ons are a thing now
  3. You can now auto-generate animated ads for YouTube and Discovery campaigns
  4. Merchants can create a brand profile to make their AI-generated ads more customized
  5. They’re testing AI-powered ads for complex purchases which will provide advice and recommendations based on the user’s unique needs
  6. Arguably the most interesting point on the list–they’re testing ads in AI overviews. This one deserves its own section…

Google started testing ads in AI overviews

Dang, that was quick! It’s only been a week since they rolled out AI overviews and they’re already monetizing them?? One thing about Google - they’re gonna secure the bag. Search, PMAX, and Shopping ads can now be included within the AI Overview in a sponsored section. This could be good for advertisers, but it could also result in lower click through rates to our websites if all the info the searcher needs is summarized at the top of the SERP. And if your website is not featured in that AI overview… that could be bad news for CTRs. 

The best thing we marketers can do is make sure the content on our website is as relevant and helpful as possible to increase our chances of being featured in an AI overview. I’m thinking about optimizing for AI overviews the same way I think about optimizing for snippet features - provide clear, concise, and helpful answers to the queries you want to rank for, and then pray the algorithm favors you. Speaking of SEO…

Here’s how the March core update impacted SEO

According to SEO expert Lily Ray, the March core update was one of the most significant updates in Google history. Woah! Since the update, she’s observed 4 major shifts: 

  1. Reddit is winning the SERP. The forum has seen an enormous surge in organic traffic across tons of different queries and categories. It’s now the biggest threat to SEOers, IMO.
  2. The surge in Reddit visibility consequentially drove a decrease in SERP visibility for news and affiliate websites. Particularly, informational sites that monetize using display ads or affiliate links have lost a significant amount of traffic to Reddit.
  3. Google claims that the update reduced unhelpful content by 45%. Spammy sites that use generative AI to provide generic answers to popular questions and then spam searchers with ads have largely been deindexed, which is good!
  4. It provided no relief for sites that feel they were unfairly, negatively impacted by the Helpful Content Update in September.

The ‘Site Reputation Abuse’ update is still rolling out, and Google’s algorithms still appear volatile, so stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks. Now for a quick social update…

Post “shares” are the most important metric on Instagram

In a recent Q&A, IG chief Adam Mosseri said that send rate is more important than watch time or “like” and “comment” count. It sounds like the algorithm considers the likelihood that people will share your post via DMs to be the biggest factor determining which content to serve. So if you’re trying to measure the success of your Marketing content on Insta, perhaps send rates should be your top priority. Now for my last bit of marketing news…

Marketing budgets dropped 15% in 2024

Budgets for marketing have fallen from 9.1% of overall company revenue in 2023 to 7.7% in 2024. Gartner calls this “the era of less”... hmmm, that doesn’t sound fun. Apparently, CMOs are depending on AI to produce more with less. A Gartner rep said, “sixty-four percent of CMOs say they lack the budget to execute their 2024 strategy, but GenAI offers the opportunity to grow the marketing function’s impact far beyond its budgetary constraints.” Maybe I’m a skeptic, but I feel like counting on AI to solve every single problem the marketing industry faces may not be the best strategy. Only time will tell. Speaking of AI…

OpenAI intentionally made its voice sound like the sexy robot from Her

Remember that flirty AI we chatted about last week? It turns out OpenAI intentionally made the voice sound like Scarlett Johansson, who voiced the robot from the movie Her. The company approached Johannson 9 months ago and asked her to voice their AI system, and she declined. When she heard the voice they chose during last week’s reveal, she was mad. And rightfully so! Many news outlets and bloggers (myself included) immediately compared the voice to the robot from Her. Why would you intentionally make a robot sexy? Her was a cautionary tale. Why would OpenAI try to make it come true? I’m scared!! In my last bit of AI news…

Google is building “Gems”, a customizable version of Gemini

You’ll be able to tell a Gem what to do and how to respond, then use it for repetitive tasks. According to a Google blog post, Gems can be “a gym buddy, sous chef, coding partner, or creative writing guide.” You can tell your gem to be positive and upbeat, or strict and disciplined. This sounds exactly like the custom GPTs you can build with ChatGPT+, so I’m curious to see how Google will attempt to stand out in the ‘AI-assistant’ space. Also, this sounds cool in theory, but what ever happened to having a real, human gym buddy? Methinks we are moving in the wrong direction… once again, I don’t understand why Google and OpenAI want to make Her a reality. Lord help us…

And that’s a wrap, Darlings. As AI takes over and budgets tighten, don’t let the drama get you down. Stay sharp, stay skeptical, and remember: knowledge is power. Until next week, keep it cute and stay ahead of the curve. 

You know you love me.

Maddie Marinsider

Marin Software
By submitting this form, I am agreeing to Marin’s privacy policy.

See why brands have relied on Marin to manage over $48 billion in spend