Ubaid Zargar

SMEs stand to gain the most from Google’s new AI tools, say industry experts

Google announced a series of new tools in its Marketing Live Event, and the initial reactions of experts are in. Take a look.

At its recent Marketing Live event, Google announced an array of cutting-edge AI tools designed to strengthen the relationship between shoppers and merchants through engaging and dynamic content.

Among other updates, Google is testing new methods for displaying ads that are integrated within the automatically generated summaries of Search query results called AI Overview.

Ads in AI Overview
Ads in AI Overview

The tech giant also announced latest enhancements to Product Studio, an AI-enabled platform for merchants, to further empower advertisers by allowing them to generate visuals for products via text. Merchants can also upload an image that reflects their aesthetic, input a descriptive prompt, to generate campaign-ready content. Furthermore, users can also create videos from static images.

Google's Product Studio
Google's Product Studio

In addition to these image-generation capabilities, Google has launched new ad formats powered by generative AI. These formats, initially available to retailers in a closed beta later this year, enable brands to incorporate short-form product videos and creator content into their ads. This development is expected to make ads more engaging and effective.

For consumers, Google has introduced tools that enhance the shopping experience. Shoppers can now engage with short videos showing how clothes would look on them, receive styling suggestions, and explore related products from brands via the Virtual Try-On feature, which was added to the suite last year. AI-generated summaries below video highlights provide key product details, aiding in decision-making. 

Google's Virtual Try-Ons
Google's Virtual Try-Ons

The new tools come two weeks after Meta announced its own set of AI facilities that enable advertisers to generate variations of their product images. The new tools are available through Meta’s Advantage+ Creative portal.

What is lacking, however, about Meta’s AI infrastructure is the complete autonomy to marketers in creating visuals via text prompts, which the company has announced are soon to follow.

With Google taking the lead in its available services, likely to be rolled out in India in the coming weeks, industry experts have responded positively to the platform's latest innovations.

Pradyumn Pasari, who leads the AI and growth initiatives for marketing at HP India, says that the new offerings have enabled enterprises to do personalised campaigns at an unprecedented scale. 

Pradyumn Pasari
Pradyumn Pasari

He says, “The new generation of AI tools is helping marketers in expediting A/B testing processes. Marketers can now run hundreds of experiments in half the time compared to the pre-AI ecosystem. As we move forward, marketers should try their hands on the new tools more often, so they learn fast, fail fast, and see the successes inevitably.”

A/B testing, also known as split testing or bucket testing, involves comparing the effectiveness of two different versions of content to determine which one resonates better with visitors or viewers.

Pasari also points out that the new tools can help smaller businesses amplify their marketing efforts, in ways that would traditionally appear out of their budget. 

“Previously, smaller businesses didn’t have the capacity to come up with personalised campaigns to reach out to their audiences. But with these tools, they are able to generate audio, video, or even textual content and send out personalised communications to the consumers.”

Rajiv Dhingra, who is the founder and CEO of ReBid seconds the idea of smaller and medium-sized businesses standing to gain a lot from these tools. 

Rajiv Dingra
Rajiv Dingra

He says, “Google's AI-powered tools, such as Product Studio, can democratise access to professional-grade imagery and immersive ad experiences. By reducing the costs and time required to create compelling ads, these tools enable SMEs to compete more effectively with larger brands. The ability to generate product images and create interactive ads without extensive technical knowledge or large budgets levels the playing field, allowing smaller businesses to achieve similar levels of engagement and consumer interest as their larger counterparts.”

These tools enhance product listings with more dynamic imagery, create immersive ad experiences, and increase consumer engagement through interactive features.
Rajiv Dhingra, who is the founder and CEO

Discussing the most prominent use cases for the new services, Dhingra says, "These tools enhance product listings with more dynamic imagery, create immersive ad experiences, and increase consumer engagement through interactive features. For instance, businesses can use generative AI to produce a variety of product images that cater to different contexts and target audiences, improving click-through rates and sales."

He continues, "Immersive ad formats like Swirl ads allow consumers to interact with products in 3D, making it easier to understand features and benefits. This can be particularly effective in industries such as automotive, fashion, and consumer electronics, where visual detail and interaction can significantly influence purchasing decisions."

With regards to Google’s consumer-oriented AI features such as virtual try-on and 360-degree product viewing, Pasari opines that these tools will significantly improve the viability of the markets, enabling higher success in bottom-funnel marketing. 

Rahul Agarwalla, who is MMA India’s AI mentor and advisor, and managing partner at SenseAI Ventures, says that the new generation of AI tools has caused a shift in consumer expectations in the way they engage with brands. 

Rahul Agarwalla
Rahul Agarwalla

He says, “Earlier there would be a flow to a consumer’s purchase journey. Now, the path between intent and outcome is linear. If a consumer intends to make a purchase, AI will provide the outcome. Whether it's planning a holiday or buying a vehicle, all of these purchase decisions are being affected directly by AI, which means that consumption patterns have evolved.”

Fundamentally, if everyone has the same weapons, it’s a question of who uses them the best. What is required of the marketers is to adopt the stack at a deeper level.
Rahul Agarwalla, MMA India AI mentor and advisor, managing partner at SenseAI Ventures

Speaking on the new tools introduced by Google, and its counterpart Meta, Agarwalla says that the tools have become so accessible, that the efficacy of any campaign would be predicated on who puts the said tools to best use. 

“Fundamentally, if everyone has the same weapons, it’s a question of who uses them the best. What is required of the marketers is to adopt the stack at a deeper level. Largely talking about performance marketing, whether it is Meta or Google, there are digital-first brands that make use of AI throughout the entire funnel of their marketing journey. From content creation to delivery.”

With how things stand, Agarwalla points out that it is the larger FMCG brands that are still not fully optimising AI for their marketing, while smaller and newer businesses, who are predominantly digital-first, are adopting AI at a higher pace.

“Large enterprises need to move away from their skin-deep use of AI to become more nuanced. But it is understandable since AI is still fairly new and people take time to adapt.”

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