Through "dynamic remarketing" -- creating targeted ads based on customers' browsing activities -- Google says it can help merchants sell more.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

June 24, 2013

2 Min Read

Google I/O: 10 Key Developments

Google I/O: 10 Key Developments

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Copywriters, your days might be numbered.

Google on Monday launched a "dynamic" remarketing service that will automatically fine-tune ads for merchants, based on customers' browsing activities. The hope is these ads will lead to better results for both the search company and its advertising customers.

As celebrated in the television show Mad Men, advertising is an art, driven by creative vision. For Google and many other companies today, it's more about science, driven by customer data, not only for targeting but media production. As Google explains on its website, dynamic remarketing ads can be created "without the help of a professional designer."

Dynamic remarketing, says Google product manager Aitan Weinberg in a blog post, lets advertisers assemble visually compelling, customized ads on the fly, ads informed by the interests of the viewer.

Google began developing the technology back in 2009, following the acquisition of a machine-learning company called Teracent.

[ Been looking for a way to create an online inventory of your possessions? Read Google Mine Wants To Track Your Stuff. ]

"This technology can help advertisers get better results from their display ad campaigns," said Google product management VP Neal Mohan and engineering director Joerg Heilig at the time.

Dynamic ads are assembled from creative elements stored in advertisers' Merchant Center catalogs and remarketing lists. This constrains the extent to which Google's algorithms can alter the ads. Human input is still necessary, for now.

Google Merchant Center provides a way for companies selling products to create a feed of product listing ads, which can appear in AdWords campaigns on and Google Search Network websites.

Google provides dozens of templates to simplify ad creation and merchants can customize the colors, fonts, and layout to suit their individual brands. Thereafter, a dynamic ad could, for example, present socks for purchase to a customer who previously bought shoes. Or it could advertise camera accessories to someone who regularly visits photography websites. The idea is that the ad has been generated from data about the viewer's interests, the performance of the words used in the ad and other factors.

Google argues that remarketed ads tend to perform better than other ads. According to the company, U.S. retailer Sierra Trading Post saw a click-through rate that was two times higher and a conversion rate that was five times higher using remarketed ads.

Google is conducting a test of dynamic remarketing in its travel and education sections, said Weinberg, and the company plans to expand availability later this year.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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