Speaking with Marketing Week at the Think With Google event in London today (7 July), Alferness said the customer journey has become increasingly fragmented, adding that “the online existence is shifting from one where folks would sit down and spend all of this concentrated time online in one chunk to essentially those micro moments of time throughout the day that add up in reality to even more time than we were spending online before”.
He said the tech giant is trying to address by “connecting consumers to merchants and measuring that in meaningful ways” by reaching them in moments of transaction.
“If you don’t have a sense of how to connect with users in these moments and if you can’t provide your brand or experience in a frictionless method, users in this minute or two of time are going to see it as too much frustration or as a waste and will let it go and move on to something else,” he said.
“If there are obstacles in their way they simply give up. It’s not like there aren’t other brands, merchants and marketers out there willing to capture the user’s attention and time.”
One way of doing this is cross-device measurement according to Alferness, who said Google is developing a framework called Estimated Total Conversions that will provide marketers with the total value they’re getting from their marketing spend across different devices.
“We’re now able to report back to marketers how much of their advertising spend actually drove consumers into stores,” he explained
The next stage of personalisation
He stressed that it is also important to provide a more personalised experience for the consumer.
“The more personalised the experience you can give the user the less forced it will feel,” he added.
“As we evolve we’re going to get to the point where I understand you and what your needs are well enough that I can give you the answers to the question before you even ask it.”
This is all in an effort to “evolve the digital advertising ecosystem” through the “massive shift” Alferness said is occurring in mobile.
Digital personal assistants
He added that personalisation is one step along the way to what he sees as the future – a digital assistant.
“I still think that we are at the beginning stages of digital marketing, especially of mobile digital marketing,” he said. “In the shopping context I think a lot about the future and how we can develop a personal shopping assistant.”
The service he imagines would provide recommendations to a user based on previous purchases, preferences and location.
“I see more of an intersection of the work that we’re doing in personalisation and machine and artificial intelligence and tying that to make a assistant that helps the user through this fragmented journey,” he said.