Event Recap: Google Marketing Livestream 2021 Sets the Stage for the Future of Digital Marketing

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Google held their big Google Marketing Livestream (GML) 2021 event yesterday. Nearly two years since the last one, the event featured a variety of guest speakers and gave advertisers, agencies and partners a better idea about what Google is focusing on in the year to come. 

From beginning to end, this year’s virtual event made clear that Google’s future solutions are rooted in the steps we as marketers take today. In a world navigating the challenges of a pandemic, looking for better ways to improve on diversity, and working within the confines of a privacy-conscious world, a brand’s ability to implement forward-thinking processes and solutions is more important than ever. 

As I reflect back on yesterday, three main focus areas emerged: privacy, measurement and eCommerce. Read on to see how each area sets the stage for the future of digital marketing.


Privacy was a front and center theme of this year’s GML. Google has stood firm in its privacy-first plans introduced earlier in the year, reaffirming its commitment to not build an alternative ID to replace the cookie. 

Noting that, “81% of people believe the risks of data collection outweigh the benefits,” Google wants to support a free and open internet while respecting user privacy. Consumers are losing trust in the way their privacy has been utilized in the past, and in order to successfully gain back some of that confidence, marketers will need to:

  • Put the consumer first with proper collection and use of consented first-party data
  • Use forward-looking and predictive technologies (automation solutions/machine learning)
  • Commit to new technologies that preserve privacy (Privacy Sandbox)

Google has maintained that there will be “no backdoors,” with the way they use their own captured data. They will use the same proposal they are sharing with everybody. Privacy is a top focus — they never sell data, never use sensitive data for ads, and will not use the contents that consumers create and store (drive photos, gmail). 


With cookies going away, solutions that worked in the past are becoming no longer viable. In order to preserve the future of measurement, marketers need to be taking steps now to set themselves up for a sustainable future. Google again emphasized the need to put first-party data first, with solutions to collect this information in a consented way. 

This topic of first-party data is sure to sound familiar if you are a follower of our blog or have checked out our recent ebook. Investing in first-party data now is investing in a solution for your future. It’s about gathering data you’ve collected directly from your customers in a way that respects user consent and encourages value exchange between consumer and marketer. 

For Google, the future of measurement starts with: 

  • A clear plan on data consent
  • Sitewide tagging 
  • Enhanced Conversion Measurement
  • Customer Match 
  • New Google Analytics (previously called GA4 - hear more about Google’s plans for this platform here

Future of eCommerce

Google also focused on the recent worldwide surge in eCommerce. Unique challenges during the pandemic forced unique solutions as many brands joined their storefronts and websites together to adapt to the unpredictable changes.. 

Google has taken the role of “connector” to help merchants deal with the unprecedented growth, building on 3 core principles:

  • Crafting and sharing the open ecosystem
  • Knowing the shopper is always right (to help create the best consumer experience)
  • Letting business focus on what matters in an ever-shifting environment

Google also announced a new partnership with Shopify, giving merchants the ability to get their shop up and running quickly. Shopify merchants are now able to seamlessly install the Google channel, complete easy syncs to product feeds for personalized experiences (i.e. curbside, immediate pickup, and highlighting in-store), and are able to go live quicker than ever. 

Additionally, Google announced that they are moving forward with Performance Max, a type of automated campaign that allows you to easily run ads across all Google's inventory to make cross-engine/platform experience significantly easier for the average user. Advertisers simply supply the image, video and copy, and Google’s machine learning will do the rest to serve responsive ads across channels. This is another example of Google’s continued support and ingenuity in automation. They’re working towards new ways to steer automation, create faster learning periods and provide transparent insights and testing in a privacy-centric way.

As we move into the second half of 2021, we anticipate that Google will continue to reinforce its commitment to privacy-first solutions and build upon the announcements they made yesterday. You can catch GML’s keynotes — as well as a variety of additional panels on vertical-specific content, automation, marketing objectives and more — here.