If you didn’t catch the Google Marketing Livestream 2021, don’t worry. We’ve watched, digested and condensed into simplified highlight form so that you can get the lowdown easily.

Broadcast on May 27th 2021, the Google Marketing Livestream introduced some of the updates that are coming our way courtesy of the world’s biggest search engine. 

The overriding theme for the livestream was privacy. The marketing industry has known for a while that cookies were on the way out, and that there are going to be some big changes to the way advertising is managed on Google Ads.

So what is happening with Google Ads in 2021 and the immediate future?


The world post-2020 looks very different already, and this is especially true for business owners. The pandemic has changed the way that many of us do business, or even live our lives day to day.

From the start of the Livestream, Google acknowledged that industries from tourism to hospitality have had to change and adapt. And Google too has needed to make the whole process of managing marketing more friendly to these struggling industries.

Alongside this is the long-term approach to changing the way data is handled, with a bigger focus on privacy.

So, what are the changes that Google has in store for marketers?


The main presentation is kicked off by Jerry Dischler, VP and GM of Ads for Google. He starts by highlighting some of the new changes that have come to Google since the start of the pandemic as a result of these global challenges. 

These have included:

  • New insights page
  • Curbside pick-up
  • Booking for local services
  • Google Performance Max campaigns

These Performance Max campaigns have been in beta mode since 2020 and allow marketers to run ads across multiple Google channels from one campaign. The theory is that there is less need to run multiple campaigns, but marketers can still manage their video, shopping, display, and search ads from the same place.

As he points out, the pandemic has been the third transformative change that has changed how we interact with the internet. This has been highlighted by the increases in searches which include the world’s ‘ideas for beginners’, which grew by over 100%. 

Additionally, searches for ‘How to invest’ also grew by over 70% during the pandemic. 

Dischler also points out that these activities have highlighted a change in the way we communicate and connect with customers online. And additionally, we have more opportunities than ever to connect.

The privacy safe world

With the pandemic driving more activity online, the ever-present backdrop of privacy remains a major factor in the changes that Google is planning.

An interesting stat was that 81% of people believe that the risks of data collection outweigh the benefits. 

With so much data about how people are searching online and, by extension, living their lives, Google is highlighting that they will not use personal identifiers online post-cookies. 

It’s already been announced that once cookies are phased out, the focus will be on ‘cohorts’. This means users will be grouped into similar demographic segments according to their general interests, as opposed to individual tracking. 

Jerry Dischler then goes on to advise marketers that the focus will need to be on 

  • Properly consented first-party data – building deep engagement with customers as soon as possible.
  • Be forward looking and predictive – using machine learning when possible to identify trends and patterns to help you grow your business.
  • Committing to new technologies that help to progress privacy and anonymisation. 

Jerry Dischler then wraps up his segment by stating that, “The world of privacy has already changed, and the time to act is now”.

The future of measurement

A subject that is linked to these changes to privacy is measurement. With cookies giving so much insight into customer behaviour online and their interests, understanding the next phase and how to measure customer behaviour is, of course, going to be crucial.

Presented by Vidhya Srinivasan, Google’s Vice President and GM of Ads Buying, Analytics, and Measurement, the key takeaways of this section are:

  • Using first party data – obtained directly from your customers
  • Allowing users to make choices about their data, in-keeping with the changes and privacy laws around the world
  • Observing conversions using sitewide data and modelling future behaviour on this data

It’s clear that the changes to the way analytics are handled is going to drive marketers to depend on additional software to predict behaviour based on site-based interactions. 

There will also be the opportunity to use hashed first party data, such as email addresses, and Google’s new conversion modeling though Consent Mode.                     

Consent Mode is designed to fill the gaps when a customer doesn’t consent to current cookie access. Based on observable user data and historical trends, Consent Mode and Customer Match are both expected to become more important for analytics and data mapping.

In addition to this, Google Ads will be working on improved attribution reporting in the run up to these big changes.

Automation drives results

Looking in more detail at how marketers would be able to adapt to the changes, the presentation shifted to looking at automation. 

In this section, Darshan Kantak, Vice President of Product Management for Search Ads and Google Ads Experiences, delivered some useful tips and suggestions for search marketers.

The main features of this section of the presentation included:

  • Marketers should focus on responsive search ads, with broad match keywords and Smart Bidding. 
  • Image extensions are now available to enhance search results and attract more buyers.
  • Demand forecasts will be added to Google Ads which will enable marketers to plan campaigns based on potential spikes in demand.

For the responsive search ads, Kantak pointed out that many customers see a 20% improvement in conversions when using Smart Bidding with broad match keywords. He also highlighted the case study of a toy company that increased revenue by around 40% while maintaining a similar ROAS.

The introduction of demand forecasts was perhaps the most interesting part of this presentation. With the potential to spot upcoming sales opportunities within a 90 day period, marketers could adjust their ad spend or campaigns accordingly. 

Other highlights from the livestream

At an hour and a half, there was a lot of information to take in and digest during the Google Marketing Livestream 2021.

Beyond the three key changes, there were also a lot of statistics and a strong focus on future behaviour based on the impact of 2020’s difficult year.

Some interesting highlights included:

  • Searches for local businesses have grown 80% year on year
  • Searches for products ‘in stock’ locally have grown by 800% 
  • 70% of shoppers bought something after seeing it advertised on YouTube
  • 71% of shoppers prefer to buy from a brand that aligns with their personal values
  • Retail searches increased by x3 in the last quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year
  • Curbside pickups increased by 3000% during the pandemic
  • 15% of searches each day are completely new – hence the shift to broad match keywords
  • Google will be working closely with Shopify to integrate the Shop Pay extension so that purchases can be made from Google searches. 
  • A new ‘Deals’ section will be introduced to Google Shopping results to highlight promotions
  • An updated Video action ads campaign is being rolled out, in place of TrueView, giving advertisers an enhanced opportunity to promote their products on YouTube

Business owners and search marketers will be busy in 2021 and beyond understanding how they can adapt their paid campaigns, and how these changes will affect them.

Any mention of ad fraud?

One thing that was conspicuous by its absence during the Google Marketing Livestream 2021 was any mention of the handling of click fraud and ad fraud. In an earlier press release, Google has mentioned that there will be changes to the way ad fraud is monitored and filtered.

We have looked previously at the changes to Google’s cookies and the impending FLoC. Although there will undoubtedly be changes to the way click fraud is identified and blocked, it remains a lucrative industry for fraudulent publishers and developers.

What does Google do to block click fraud?

The best way to stay in control of your ad spend during the biggest changes to Google’s ad platform is by using fraud blocking software such as ClickCease. Run a diagnostic on your own PPC campaigns with a free 7-day trial.

Wacth the entire Google Livestream 2021 below: