5 Reasons We’re Seeing a Resurgence of Google’s Zero Moment of Truth

Their foresight in 2011 didn't really come into play until last year

ZMOT is spelled out across the page;
Google created the Zero Moment of Truth campaign in 2011. - Credit by Google
Headshot of Chris Chang

In 2011, Google launched the Zero Moment of Truth campaign (ZMOT). It made a strong case for capitalizing on those on-the-go moments in the buyer’s journey. For example, when a shopper looks up product reviews on their phone in the store before deciding to purchase an item.

However, Google’s ZMOT campaign seemed to fall on deaf ears. By 2012, it was sporadically mentioned on Google’s blog, and the world (and Google) had moved on—until now, apparently.

Eight years after Google’s initial push, ZMOT is back. But it’s not called ZMOT anymore. It’s called micro-moment marketing, and it’s a marketing trend to watch in 2019.

Whatever you call it, turns out Google was onto something in 2011. So why did it take until 2018 for the world to recognize its value?

ZMOT was, by all accounts, a future-forward campaign. The iPhone had only been released four years prior, and the iPad was only a year old. However, the eBook, tutorials and case studies were packed full of data clearly indicating that winning “on-the-go” moments would be imperative to every businesses’ future marketing strategy.

If you’re looking at last-click, you’ll never truly know where you should be spending your effort and budget because last-click never tells the real story.

Mobile marketing was still in its infancy at the time, but Google had the foresight to see where search was going. However, many advertisers weren’t willing to bite, and here’s why.

Advertisers failed to read between the lines

Advertisers tend to take advice from Google with a grain of salt. On one hand, they recognize the value of Google’s insight, but on the other hand, they understand that revenue is an underlying motive for any Google recommendation.

Regardless of the motive, there is always a deeper value and significance in the data and tools Google shares with the world, but it’s often hidden between the lines. In dismissing ZMOT as a ploy to advertise and spend more, advertisers overlooked data and insight from Google that carried an important message: Consumers are shifting how they make buying decisions; now is the time to shift how you are selling.

Advertisers couldn’t measure the ROI of ZMOT

Digital marketing has always been blessed—and unfortunately challenged—with the fact that you can tie your dollar spend with a return. Although this is not something that ever existed before digital marketing, marketers who had always operated with this mindset struggled to quantify the value or importance of a moment before or beyond the conversion. If it couldn’t be measured and reported (which much of ZMOT couldn’t at the time), it wasn’t a priority.

From ZMOT to micro-moment marketing

It seems that eight years after ZMOTs initial introduction, the technology has finally caught up and advertisers have finally accepted what the data (and Google) has been telling us for so many years: Micro-moments are the future of marketing and they’re here to stay (this time).

Here’s what advertisers need to consider in order to be successful as the future moves forward with micro-moment marketing in 2019:

Goodbye, last-click attribution

You can’t use last-click if you want a mobile-first mentality. The most important takeaway is that advertisers have to dump last-click attribution for good.

Your audience is on their devices for hours every day. It’s impossible to think that they’re going to buy after seeing just one ad. If you’re looking at last-click, you’ll never truly know where you should be spending your effort and budget

Many advertisers still gravitate toward last-click because it’s easy and what they’ve always known, but nothing in the era of micro-moments is simple. Advertisers need to reevaluate how they’re attributing at every touchpoint. When we give credit where it’s due, we’ll have better insights into not only our audience behavior but the efficacy of our campaigns.

You can run, but you can’t hide (from Google)

Regardless of the complicated relationship between Google and advertisers, we need to accept the fact that embracing the advice, data and direction from Google is inevitable. It’s no coincidence that Google is pushing for automated ad serving. If we weren’t going to go mobile willingly, Google obviously had other plans.

Google may not always get the timing or execution right, but they know what they’re talking about. Sure, they’re revenue driven, but at the end of the day, your success is their success.

ZMOT may have sputtered out in the past, but it’s clear the shift to micro-moment marketing is here to stay. With the infrastructure and technology in place to execute and measure micro-moments in advertising, the question is how the future is moving forward with them.


Chris Chang is director of client services at Elite SEM.
Publish date: February 6, 2019 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/5-reasons-were-seeing-a-resurgence-of-googles-zero-moment-of-truth/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT