AI-enhanced and AI-powered advertising is coming, and nothing will stand in its way. At its recent Google Marketing Live conference, the search giant unveiled a gaggle of new AI features set to roll out across its advertising suite over the near weeks and months. How many times can we say “AI” in an opening paragraph?

If the newly announced products, tools and add-ons have a theme or throughline it is one of personalisation. Increasingly advertisers and brands will be able to instruct the creation of new advertising materials based on and using their existing inventory, assets and visual identity. It’s not just about more ads, it’s more ads with the look and feel of your own. Hopefully that should quell your design and copywriters anxieties about the robots coming for their jobs.

In no particular order, here’ what’s coming down the pipe.

Stay ‘On-Brand’ with new Product Studio features

It’s one thing to be able to create images and videos at the touch of the button, quite another to produce examples that feel like they belong within your library of existing advertising assets. Google Product Studio came out a year ago. It featured tools that allowed you to generate additional product backgrounds and improve the resolution of pre-shot images, the new mod cons take the suite’s usability to the next level.

At Google Marketing Live we learned about additions employing generative AI to allow you to create entirely new product images by combining existing inventory with image and text prompts. Simply start with a single standard product shot and apply a description of the environment you’d like to see it in, or a separate image representing that aesthetic. Voila, a whole new library of looks.

You’ll even be able to use it to create short videos and animated gifs from a single photo.

Bring your products to life with immersive Shopping Ads

As much as we like shopping ads, aesthetically the format hasn’t moved on much in the decade or so it’s been around. No longer the compelling top screen option it once was, dare we suggest it now looks a bit flat?

You can now supplement your product images with short product videos. You can create them, or your customers can. They can contain styling tips, place the product in real life context, or offer examples of other items from the same range. Google will even display AI-written descriptions of the product below the video to provide further information to the shopper.

Originally floated last year, Google’s Virtual Try-On technology is now coming to apparel ads. Starting with men’s and women’s tops, you’ll be able to show shoppers how your garments look on a variety of different body types, providing a level of reassurance previously unavailable.

Lastly in the shopping ads category we have virtual 3D spins. When purchasing footwear, the traditional top and side views (plus the sole, if you’re being generous) really isn’t enough to give shoppers a complete impression. Now you can have a 360 degree view of the shoe created from just a handful of high res images, allowing a complete exploration from heel to toe. Puts a whole new spin on things, eh?

Expanding brand searches

According to Google, 40% of shopping searches include a reference to a brand or retailor. That sounds about right to us.

Rather than drawing from that datapoint the conclusion that the shopper holds pre-existing knowledge about a brand, Google has decided it means they want to know more about them. Not only that, but that the brand itself should pay to provide that information, via “new visual brand profiles right on Search that gives richer results for those common shopping queries.”

“Richer” is certainly one word for it.

A cynic might suggest that this is intended to eat into the organic real estate with advertising. We, who are longer in the tooth than perhaps some of you, couldn’t possibly comment.

All we will say is that when all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

A search feature so cutting edge it doesn’t have a name yet

But described as ‘a new ad experience in Search to help guide people through complex purchase decisions’ (working title.) The basic idea, it seems, is to blur the space between promotion and purchase process, taking information and imagery provided by the shopper themselves, and guiding them down the funnel, providing reassurance and turning a simple inquiry into more of a commitment before the user even knows they’ve made.

It sounds more likely to deploy against higher ticket, longer lead-time items, of the sort that people still feel less comfortable purchasing or even enquiring about online. The early example given is a search for ‘storage facility’, but perhaps furniture, travel and property might get more of a look-in as well.

Ad formats taking on vertical video

YouTube Shorts launched in 2020. It is Google’s answer to TikTok. Does the fact that it’s taken PPC Hero until now to realise that reflect worse on us, or on Google themselves? Let’s call it a tie.

Whether or not the platform will ever rival its Chinese competitor probably has more to do with whether or not the latter ends up getting banned in the US than anything even Google can do about it. Even if the ByteDance behemoth sticks around, vertical video isn’t going anywhere. That means there will only be greater demand for more dedicated ad options, rather than the clunkier, ill-fitting examples that currently exist.

Google may have been slow on the uptake but they’re committed to catching up. Promised at Google Marketing Live are “vertical ad formats, ad stickers to drive action, and new animated image ads automatically created from images in advertisers’ accounts and Demand Gen product feeds.” About time, we say.

Ads under and over and alongside AI Overviews

This one has arguably been overtaken by “events” (dear boy, events.)

AI Overviews is not the first Google product to get off to a sticky start, and it’s not likely to be the last. The big difference is that this is neither completely new, nor entirely separate from the company’s core business. Previously when Google introduced something to the market, it was always separate enough that finding out it didn’t work, and then quietly shelving it could be achieved without triggering an existential corporate crisis. Google Plus, anyone?

AI Overviews feels different, because it’s impacting search. For the first time in decades, this not fit-for-purpose feature, which seems to have been rushed out before it was ready because AI has to be in everything, has users questioning whether Google can do the one thing upon which it could always be relied.

Which is why it’s been rolled back as quickly as it has.

But that doesn’t mean AI overviews won’t be coming back, and when it does, advertisers should be ready. Not that you’ll have to “do” anything, except keep an eye on your numbers. On the one hand they could be better, but if people really do desert the big G in droves, they could also be a lot worse.

Google Ads Data Manager coming to everyone

Better news is that Google Ads Data Manager, which allows advertisers to gather all their data sources into a one-stop analytical shop, is now universally available.