Google’s Ryan Olohan emphasizes incremental results

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Google’s Ryan Olohan emphasizes incremental results

By Mark Hamstra - 06/21/2018
Implementing small changes in the way companies approach their digital marketing and commerce operations can drive significant results, said Ryan Olohan, managing director of health care at Google Health, in a talk at the 2018 Digital Disruption Innovation Summit in Schaumburg, Ill., presented by Walgreens, Drug Store News and Mack Elevation.

“Imagine, instead of saying, ‘I have to be the best,’ — that is, an optimist — we simply said we’re going to be ‘meliorists,’” he said, using a term that simply means striving to be better and improve each day.

Mobile platforms in particular may be an area ripe for changes that drive results, Olohan said. With 57% of health searches conducted via mobile devices, retailers and CPG brands should be taking steps to ensure that their websites are optimized for mobile viewing, he said.

Consumers have grown increasingly impatient when it comes to shopping online, and, in fact, health and beauty brands have a bounce rate of 53% — meaning more than half of users leave a website almost immediately, a figure Olohan attributed in part to the slow load time for many of these sites. The average health and beauty website takes six seconds to load, he said, and this sluggishness has a direct impact on sales.

Even Walgreens, which has a relatively fast mobile load time of three seconds, could drive incremental sales by cutting that in half, Olohan said.

One simple way to speed up website loading is by compressing images, he said, which can often be done without sacrificing image quality. He cited one example in which an image was reduced by 78%, from 2.3 MB to 500 KB, which reduced load time to 6.5 seconds from 11 seconds.

Understanding how health and beauty shoppers conduct searches also can help optimize a brand’s web presence, Olohan said. Consumers conducted 160 billion health-related searches on Google in 2017, he said, noting that 9-of-10 people go online when they experience new symptoms.

Interestingly, however, searches actually increase after patients have been diagnosed and are prescribed medication, and when they are experiencing a reaction medication they are taking, Olohan said.

At Walgreens, most people visit the website early in the mornings, and the most common search is for store hours of operation, he said.

“They’re looking at what time your store opens, because in the night something went on — their kid got sick — and they’re trying to go to the store,” Olohan said. “How does that change everything you’re doing trying to communicate to someone at seven in the morning versus another time of day?”

The second most popular search is for a “Walgreens near me” or a “pharmacy near me.”

Using AI and voice
Using artificial intelligence to generate relevant online content is another opportunity for brands. Campbell Soup saw a 24.7% increase in ad recall and a 55.6% increase in Campbell’s Simply Soup sales through a campaign it ran in which it served up 1,700 different versions of an online video ad based on the context of the viewer, Olohan said.

Brands also need to consider the implications of the growing use of voice-based search, he said. About 20% of Google searches are now done using voice-based search, thanks to the increasing adoption of such devices as Google Home.

Olohan also offered a glimpse into a potential future world of health care, in which artificial intelligence can be used to remotely detect health conditions. While exploring computer-aided diagnostic screening for an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy — the fastest-growing cause of preventable blindness globally — Google discovered that its test also could be used to predict heart disease, among other ailments.