Digital Journeys 2017: Peter Giles, Google

Blog | 03 Aug, 2017

Consumer experiences in the age of assistance

Peter Giles talks personalisation and the contextual search evolution - focusing on customer interactions that are faster, seamless and more relevant. 


Video transcript 

Peter: All right, good morning everybody. As Greg kindly introduced me, my name is Peter Giles. I work in the Agency Sales team at Google. I've been working with Jellyfish for the last year and a half, so I'm very familiar with this. And I know that I'll be competing with the wonderful view that you have. So not only your phones are going to be distracting you, but also this amazing view from the 22nd floor of the Tower Bridge. So I think it's just great. I'd almost just like sit and watch it for 20 minutes instead of listening to me present, but I hope that I can give you some insights and not scare you so much about, as Greg mentioned, artificial intelligence but what its role is within marketing, but also within customer experiences, and customer experiences that people are experiencing through the mobile device.  

And what I'm going to  talk to you about is not what I usually do, which is presentations on our products. So whether it's universal app campaigns or Dynamic Search Ads which generate automatically from the content on your website, or remarketing lists for search ads, I'm not going to go into Google's advertising products so much. What I wanted to do is offer you a view of how the customer experience is changing and then how the digital world, and particularly the mobile device, is the, as Jason Spero, our Performance VP called it a few weeks ago at Think London, the aperture through which the customer is experiencing your brand. I know that's my American accent. And really so for you to sort of think about, "Okay, what is my competitive set? Is it my usual competitive set? That is that I compete with my products and services around that I think about, or is it actually a wider group of competitors that are offering an assistive experience, the assistive experience that's been driven through machine learning, but also just the way in which people are interacting with their mobiles? So I want you to have a think about that and how these are impacting behaviours.  

I know from my perspective, I've become far more impatient. I think I can attribute that to the speed at which Google serves up its search results. But generally, I think this is impacting society in general, and as marketers, I think you have to give that some thought. And if you don't match up these experiences that people are expecting from you and your brands, that they're getting with the likes of Amazons and Ubers and Googles, and Dominos’ of this world, if you're not matching up with those then people will go and search elsewhere and find somebody that is giving them this sort of experience. Driven by machine learning or not. I also want to give you some practical advice on what you can do as a brand. I'll be talking about speed and personalisation, and seamless experience. But I'll mostly be talking about speed and how you can actually have a look at how your brand is delivering on that front. 
So taking a look at search, if anyone has been to our offices or indeed Jellyfish had this up. This is sort of a Zeitgeist of a snapshot look at the kind of search results that we're seeing around the world internationally. This was done a few weeks ago so it's not entirely relevant. But what we're seeing is that mobile devices have really changed. What sort of information people are looking for, what help they're looking for, and when they're looking for it. And we use these signals to build our products. So two decades of search. I almost have to...gosh, I've got two decades of search nearly. If you think about the look of the way in which our products have evolved since 2000, the two things that sort of really stand out for me in the last couple of years are conversational context-based search and the Google Assistant. I find myself actually saying, "Please" to my phone. I was like, "Really? I've just said please." And I think that's sort of a real indication of how assistive these technologies are becoming, and the fact that, you know, you're now having conversations, voice acted conversations.  

I mean, we launched Voice Search in 2009, but I think machine learning and the technologies that we've been applying to these are now so advanced that they're really coming to the full now, as Greg was saying. Although I'd like to point out that those movies aren't real. So AI...the idea of AI has been around but AI hasn't necessarily been around as long as Greg says, since the Egyptians. Yeah, sorry, Greg. 

So it's working. So what we're seeing is that the products we're developing to delight people and to improve their experiences are actually getting them to our products more. So 75% of people say they're searching more now than ever now that they can use their mobile and do voice searches. I will be sending...we will be sending this presentation around, so feel free to take pictures, but I think they're recording it. Jellyfish are also recording it. But we're not alone. As Greg mentioned, Google is not alone in using the tech, using the machine learning across the products that we have. Either people...companies are developing their own resources or they're using our cloud-based APIs, where you can access our machine learning technology as well. The translation services and other things like that.  

But what I'd ask you to do as marketers, think of the experiences that customers are getting because of this sort of tech. The Deliveroos, the Airbnbs, the Spotifys of this world. It's really assistive. It's assistive technology. And I don't wanna say it's an assistive revolution. And people are expecting faster, more relevant and seamless experiences. I know that when I'm ordering a taxi, I don't actually go to the taxi service that's going to give me the cheapest taxi, or even the best driver, or the best taxi, it's the one that I can access fastest through my mobile device, and it gives me a really assistive experience through my mobile device. And as a brand, you need to keep up with this, and you need to see what sort of experiences you're offering your customers. 

We did a poll in our London office, and these were the sorts of brands that were coming up as to those that are doing well at this. Some are bigger brands, larger brands that are more established, but then you've also got the Netflix and the Spotifys that are really sort of disrupting the space. I would argue that Uber should be up there too but these are just...this is just a straw poll. Can anybody give me an example of a great, delightful mobile experience and assistive mobile experience that they've had recently? Anyone, anyone. No? Panache [SP], you said you would say something. 

Panache: Amazon. 

Peter: Amazon? And what was it about Amazon's experience that was so satisfying?  

Panache: Product suggestions.  

Peter: Product suggestions. Yeah, personalisation of product suggestions, that's great. Thank you for that. I'm surprised nobody's always difficult to get audience interaction. These are some examples that Jason actually pulled out in his talk and I thought I'd use them as well. That the assistiveness can come through an insight or development and technology. So just having the camera on your phone has given companies lots of ideas on how to improve their service. So Taobao is a marketplace, a Chinese online marketplace, and they're using image recognition to drive people to take a picture of what they're looking for and then they match it with their marketplace, with their online marketplace, which is a very easy and easy search to do. 
Opternative do online eye tests using the camera to get you to buy a pair of glasses. And then Shyp. As I was rehearsing this I said you can take a photo of your package and have it delivered somewhere very easily. They come to your door with a van and the packaging the right size to your package and then ship it off to...for you to where you want it to go to. So that was funny when I said it to myself. The problem is if you don't get this right, if you're not offering assistive experiences that people are experiencing in product categories outside your category then, you know, their expectations are so high that they're going to leave you. They're going to go somewhere else and look for brands and companies, often start-ups and disruptors that do offer these sorts of experiences. And 50% of users in the UK abandon mobile transactions because they've had a poor experience. Hopefully, that's not really a surprise if you think about your own behaviour. 
A company that's doing this well is Hilton. And they've been innovating over the last 100 years, but in a category, that's increasingly becoming commoditised, they've looked beyond their category to try to innovate, to offer customers assistive experiences through mobile devices. And I've got a video here because it's quite nice to present a video and take a little break, of...what's her name? Sorry. Geraldine Calpin, CMO of Hilton talking about how Hilton have been rethinking travel experiences and putting the mobile at the heart of those experiences. 

Man: Mister Hilton, you're said to be a man with a divine mission as an innkeeper. Is this true? 

Geraldine: Hilton's mission is delivering great experiences. We were the first hotel to put TVs in bedrooms, first to put air conditioning into rooms, first airport hotel, but having a history of being good at firsts doesn't keep you there. To be first choice for guests, you should be about great amenities. And that's becoming history. Customers' expectations today are accelerating. Our customers are accustomed to controlling their life from the palm of their hand. If you think about Hilton, 4,000 hotels all over the world, nearly 100-year history, but we don't have unlimited budgets, we don't have unlimited resources, so we have to continue to innovate to continue to be first choice. The risk is if we don't do that, we'll lose share to the others that have got their first. 

We have to constantly be obsessive about how we can use digital and technology to create a better experience for our guests, to remove the friction out of those travel moments. People were operating within specific departments. So we had a brand marketing team, digital marketing, e-commerce and demand generation. So one of the first things I did when I started as CMO was bring the departments together, creating a single team, single focus across the customer journey. How do we deliver a better experience, take the friction out of travel, make our customers' lives easier? And a perfect example of that was our digital check-in. If our guests have become accustomed to controlling their life from the palm of their hand, why would we want them to go and stand in line to get a key so that they can go and stay in the room? Picture this, the day before you stay, you can check into the hotel. You can choose whereabouts that you want to be, then when you arrive, you know the room you're going to  be in because you picked it. The next logical consequence to that is digital key. Rather than wait in line, get a plastic key, you can click on your phone and it will unlock the door.  

Great hospitality and great experiences elevates the brand and it creates a loyalty and a stickiness with your customers. So when things change, when we move to voice control, and as you get to smaller and smaller screens, and smaller and smaller attention spans, they will go out of their way to choose you in order to have that great experience. It's really important to be one that's constantly raising the bar, not bumping into it. When you innovate, you do it well, you move first and you do it at scale, that's the brand that customers love.  

Peter: I really like that video. I think it' highlights some of the things that I've been talking about. It's obviously a challenge for brands to do that. And rather than thinking about the technology first, I'd like...I'd recommend that you think about what kind of experiences you want to deliver your customers and work towards that rather than just focus on the tech. That you think about your customers for the insights that you get and stay in touch with them. 
There was actually another example that they didn't present in that video, and that was...that caught my attention. It was the fact that the insight was that people, when they're in a hotel, they have room service, they actually would like to know when exactly to the moment that room service is going to arrive because they might be getting dressed or they might not quite be ready for that knock at the door. So they were toying with creating this sort of like hamburger icon, like an Uber car that starts off in the kitchen and then makes its way on the phone app to your room and you know exactly when that knock on the door is going to be coming. And I think that's quite a cool one too. That's the one I remembered. 

So I could finish there but I want to give you some practical advice to, "Well, how do I apply this," and how are we thinking about this at Google beyond sort of...beyond advertising? And I think there are three areas that we're encouraging our advertisers to focus on. And that is the speed, so "help me faster," sort out your speed, "know me better," and that's about data and understanding what's driving customer behaviour, and "wow me everywhere." That's's very American. "Wow me everywhere." It's thinking about a seamless experience that your customers have with your brand across offline, online on multiple devices.  

With the speed, 53% abandon a mobile site that takes more than three seconds to load. This is GA data from over 4,000 publishers. Publishing sector is obviously important. People want to know something straight away. But three seconds and half of your audience is gone. That's extraordinary. They're going elsewhere. There was a study done by a company called Akamai [SP] in the U.S., and they...everywhere will have slightly different data here, but they showed that actually, a one-second delay caused a 20% decline in conversions on their site. So this is important stuff. I mean, Google's focused on speed, and I think as advertisers, you have to think about speed that customers are expecting your brand to deliver through devices. You can test this. You can test your site. I won't suggest you do it right now, maybe in the coffee break at And what you'll get is a report with about 20, 25 categories. And often it's just about images. Images take so long to load, so make sure you're compressing them and caching them, and giving the customer the best chance to see your content.  

The other thing that we're doing is we're really promoting advertisers to start thinking about things like Progressive Web Apps, which is basically a mobile site that's presented as an app on your phone, you can get an icon but it's actually delivered by a website. And that's one of the things that people ask us, "Should I develop an app? Should I develop a website, a mobile website?" And the sort of thing that we're seeing is that your most loyal customers are probably sort of 10% of your business, single figures really, are experiencing you through the app. But actually, users are really loyal to the websites. They love m-web. And I think in terms of your growth, in terms of your new customers, think about your mobile websites, and I'd almost recommend to prioritise those. 

Accelerated Mobile Pages. I had a call with this team actually last week, and I think that the things that are happening with Accelerated Mobile Pages is that you can convert your site quite quickly to an AMP site. And they load in under a second. And that's exactly what people want to experience. So talk to agencies like Jellyfish about this sort of stuff. They know it well. Settled, they did a Progressive Web App and saw three times reduced load time to their pages and 23% increase in mobile conversions. And these are the sorts of figures that as marketers, you'd be screaming out for. And these are quite easy fixes.  

The second...sorry. The second bit I want you to think about is personalisation. Sixty-three percent of people expect personalisation. I mean, we see the personalisation through Google and Google Search in sort of predicting what you're searching for. That's an element of personalisation. "Know me better" is what people want. And they're looking for things that help their experiences. So I love Chrome autofill. Also, anybody that's always filling stuff for me is just somebody I love. And now with the Google Payment API that we announced at I/O, I don't even have to be a returning customer. So if you've got this, your new customers can have an auto-filled experience, a personalised experience on your site.  

The other place to look at to understand your customers better is Google Analytics. Look at things like user ID. So you can take user IDs and see how these people are moving across your website, your app in different environments and track those journeys and see where are they breaking down? Why are my customers leaving me for my service? The other thing you can do is you can look at a cohort of customers. Maybe the people who've visited your site the most in the last 30 days and see how they're behaving and what that insight is that you're getting around that. So another thing to look at is your Google Analytics data.  

The sorts of personalisation that we're seeing in the UK, eMarketer did a study on this and said, as you said with Amazon, recommendations, product recommendations, personalised emails, personalised offers and custom mobile content, particular videos. Maybelline does this with contouring very well. I don't know why I know that, but every now and then, every now and then. So that's the sort of things that I recommend you to think about personalization as a strategy, not a feature. Lean into the data. I know Phil Miles is talking a bit later about the data that you can collect through DoubleClick, but this could be data from your CRM database, your web data, from analytics. Really get familiar as marketers with the data and what it's telling you about how to personalise experiences for your customers. 

And then "wow me everywhere." I think this is particularly difficult with the older brands who've got, you know, even teams, marketing teams that the digital marketing team sit separately to the, I guess the other marketing team, above and below marketing team, if you want to call it that. And I think what the lady from...I keep forgetting her name, the lady from Hilton said is the first thing she did was get her teams together, to talk about, "What's the best way we can offer a seamless customer experience?" I definitely think you need to bear that in mind. There's only so much that machine learning can do without you getting together as people. 

So a company that does this very well is Domino's. You can order pretty much 16 different ways. You can send little messages, you can talk over the phone to order them obviously, but there's little icons that you can send then to order a pizza. Fifty percent of their pizzas are now ordered through the phone, and 50 of those...or 60% ordered online and 50% through the phone. Domino's now feels like a tech company that's by chance delivering pizzas. And they could go into lots of other areas. And I think that's the thing that Domino's have taken very much onboard.  

This is probably the longest I've talked without mentioning advertising, Google advertising. This is an example of River Island wanting to deliver sort of a localised personal experience. So they used Google Local Inventory Ads, which is basically shopping defined by a particular area. And then they actually also mirrored the content that they had in the store, in the shop store, what the products were available in that local store and mirrored that on their website. So they had local ads with what was available in the local shop and an experience online that's...that mirrored the stock that they had. And that drove a 17% increase in store visits to the areas in which they did that. So there's lots of ways to think about personalisation, including the ads. 

These are the three things you have to think about. "Help me faster," "know me better," and "wow me everywhere." So I know it says "thank you," I've got one last thing to say. So when you go back to your...when you go back to your desks, I know you will be talking about machine learning, and we are...Google is a "machine learning first" company now, AI first, and a lot of our ads, formats, and products use that, a lot of our search and photos and email use machine learning. So we use machine learning to filter out spam. We create these wonderful albums in Google Photos. But from your perspective as advertisers, I'd say how can we make these experiences faster? How can we make them more personal, and how can we bridge the gaps between channels that our customers are experiencing? 

So thank you for listening to me for a bit and not being distracted by the view. I know we've got some more speakers from Google, later on, today and some ex-Google as well, so, yeah, thank you very much Jellyfish for inviting us to speak. 

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