What I Thought of the 2018 Google Partners Summit

Thomas Burke | 13 September 2018

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, but I’m going to tell you anyway, Google is amazing.

Not too long ago BBT’s comms and data guru’s took a Friday afternoon off to pop down to Shed 10 and attend the 2018 Google Partners Summit.

This was the second year in a row the BBT team have attended this event, formally known as the Google Masterclass, and without fail Google outdid themselves. The Google Partners Summit is a chance for Google’s partner agencies to get a sneak peek at the latest Google tools, understand how Google sees the future of digital and mix and mingle with like-minded creatives.


The Summit kicked off with a discussion on how Google is harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. After a fairly detailed explanation of the two ideas, we were left with the understanding that AI is the practice of making smart technology, while MI is machines that are programmed to learn to become smart.

While, on their own both topics are far-reaching and complex, put together, Google is creating platforms and algorithms that are going to vastly change how we operate. Which is what this opening discussion really boiled down to was Google’s ultimate goal for AI.

Google isn’t simply playing with AI for the sake of making a buck from agencies. Instead, their end goal is to make AI accessible to everyone so we can solve and eliminate all the hurdles we face. This was highlighted by a short but overwhelmingly touching video of a high school student using AI and MI to help detect cancer in its earliest stages.


Next stop on our Google Partners Summit journey was Dave Booth. What can I say about Dave? As a newbie to these Google events, I had been told of Dave’s ‘legendary’ performance last year. Boy, he did not disappoint.

As soon as he stepped on stage, he had the audience hanging on every single word. Not only was he extremely knowledgeable and passionate, but he was also entertaining. Personally, I left his session with two main takeaways. Firstly, I know New Zealand is tucked away in its own little corner just minding our business but we’ve had some slow news days lately. We were taken on a Google search of New Zealand news and I think it is something you need to look up yourself.

After a good old laugh, we got down to the nuts and bolts of Dave’s chat. The overarching theme: Simpler Experiences, Better Results. Basically, Dave explained how Google is attempting to streamline and simplify the Google Ads platform by going on a good old-fashioned diet. With the aim of making our marketing and SEO tasks more effective, Google has collated all of their old Google Adwords programs into three, Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager.

After this session, we were comping at the bit to get our hands on these three streamlined platforms to see how they were going to take away some of the grunt work and allow us to focus on what’s important, creating and optimising campaigns for our clients.


Next, Reuben Halper of Google New Zealand, challenged us to stop chasing intent but to start predicting it, if we want to create real, tangible results for our clients. His take-home messages were, to focus on business outcomes, don’t market to the average and to automate, automate, automate.


The day was starting to wind to a close and the sound of the bar getting set up was starting to get a few people excited. But, just as we thought it was time to say goodbye to the formal aspects of the day, Dave appeared again. Much to my delight!

In his second appearance of the day, Dave did a bit of a 180. The whole day we had been discussing how technology is making marketers lives easier through smart AI and MI. But, in this session, Dave wanted to stress the importance of breaking the shackles of structured and routine thinking, which many of us can get stuck in.

Even though the room was filled with creatives, I feel we all fall victim to finding something that works and sticking to it. Dave wanted to emphasize that being able to continually think outside the box is routed in every agencies DNA. Whether it’s always looking to evolve and create different campaigns for clients or how we interpret our data and formulate insights, the ability to look at things from different angles is critical.

Reflecting on Dave’s two sessions, I found myself thinking that Google’s latest changes and their attempts to streamline their platforms, is to allow creatives and agencies to spend more time thinking outside the box.


All in all, the 2018 Google Partners Summit was an awesome afternoon. As a newbie to these events, it was an eye-opening day filled with a lot of learning and things to ponder.

There was one downside I must say… Google was running a social media competition to see how many likes an agency could get on a photo using #PartnersSummit2018, BBT was robbed. Pipped at the post. We will be back next year and it is our mission to take home gold!

Thanks, Google for a great day!