June 2018 Digital Marketing News Recap
Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of June 2018.
Google Search Supports TLS 1.1 & 1.2 With Upcoming PCI Compliance Requirements: On June 30, 2018, the PCI Council is suggesting that all web sites migrate from TLS 1.0 to TLS 1.1 or higher. In fact, if you have a payment gateway integrated with your web site, you have probably been getting these notices for years but the difference is now, it looks like June 30, 2018, that date, is going to stick and not be pushed off.
Hreflang Attributes in Sitemaps & HTML Code Treated Equally By Google: Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter that they treat hreflang found in your XML Sitemaps file and HTML code markup equally. We know it is more efficient and manageable for larger sites to use Sitemaps for hreflang. But either way – they both provide the same level and weight of signals to Google.
Google: Cache-Control Headers Do Not Impact GoogleBot: The Cache-Control general-header has no impact on GoogleBot and how it crawls your web pages. The cache-control general-header “field is used to specify directives for caching mechanisms in both requests and responses,” says MDN docs. “Caching directives are unidirectional, meaning that a given directive in a request is not implying that the same directive is to be given in the response,” they explain.
Stars, Ratings & Surveys Not A Google Ranking Factor: Google’s John Mueller said in a webmaster hangout video at the 24:43 minute mark that Google does not use survey data, ratings, reviews, stars, etc in their organic ranking factors. He said he cannot speak if they use it in local search, which they do, but for organic natural ten blue link results, Google does not use such metrics.
Google Posts Adds Products and Offers: Google announced that within Google My Business, two new Google Posts categories are available. Now, in addition to using Google Posts to tell people what’s new at your business or about upcoming events, you can also post about new offers and new products that you want to highlight.
Google Replacing Video Boxes with Video Carousel on Desktop Search: Google has been replacing the video box in the desktop search results with a new carousel-formatted video box. First reports of this came as early as June 6, but the big change, according to RankRanger, was on June 15. The video carousel box gives searchers a way to click and toggle through more than just three videos by clicking on the right arrow on the last video on the right of the box. RankRanger said that the average number of videos in a carousel is 8.5 cards per video carousel.
Google Search Console Now Shows How Much Of Their Traffic Is Over Web Light: Yesterday, Google announced on Twitter that they added a new Google Search Console filter in the new beta performance report to filter out Web Light results. You can learn more about how Web light works over here.
Search Console Search Analytics API Gets 16 Months Of Data: 16 months worth of data is available not just in the Google Search Console beta user interface but now also in the Search Analytics API within Google Search Console. Developers, webmasters and others can now get their Search Analytics data from Google Search Console programmatically using the API and go as far back as 16-months ago!
Google PageSpeed Insights Now Aggregates Speed Data For Origin Site: Google PageSpeed Insights can now tell you how fast your whole site is as a whole because it now lets you see the aggregated page speed data across your whole domain name. All you need to do is either (a) search using the syntax origin:https://www.domain.com, or (b) do a query for any URL and in that interface, Google provides a link to see the site wide data. This tip came from Dan Nutter on Twitter and it is pretty neat to see the site as an aggregate!
New Google Search Console URL Inspection Tool: Google just announced a new feature in the beta Google Search Console called the URL inspection tool. This tool basically gives you insight into a specific single URL on how Google indexed that version of that a specific page. Google said it “provides detailed crawl, index, and serving information about your pages, directly from the Google index.” The information it provides includes AMP errors, structured data errors, and indexing issues. There is a large help document from Google that shows what specifically this tool does.
Google On Expanding The Google Indexing API: Google has released the Google Indexing API specifically for job posting URLs but if you look closely at the wording, the API can be expanded well beyond just job posting URLs. When asked about it, John Mueller of Google said, the possibility of Google expanding the Indexing API beyond just job posting URLs and he said “I don’t know.” John also said this is a brand new API and has nothing to do with the real time indexing API from a couple years ago or other APIs.
Bing announces Bing AMP viewer & JSON-LD support in Bing Webmaster Tools: Bing has announced support within Bing Webmaster Tools to debug and view your JSON-LD markup. And also announced support for a Bing AMP viewer. Bing AMP viewer will be rolled out this summer and will make AMP-enabled web pages work directly from Bing’s mobile search results.
Google Launches AdWords Add-on for Google Sheets: Google AdWords has launched an add-on to import data for analysis and reporting in Google Sheets. You can share the reports with anyone, just as you can with other Google Sheets. The add-on for AdWords is in beta and is available here.
Google Testing AMP Label in Search Ads: Google started running a test to serve AMP-enabled landing pages from mobile Search ads early last year and rolled it out to all advertisers in September. Now Google is experimenting with showing the AMP lightning icon next to the description in some of those text ads.
Google Announces New Features for Retail Advertisers at SMX Advanced: Google announced several new advertising features for retailers and brand manufacturers during a keynote discussion with Surojit Chatterjee, who leads product for Google Shopping, at SMX Advanced, June 2018 –
- Product price benchmarks for Shopping advertisers – Advertisers running Google Shopping campaigns will be able to compare their product prices against those of competitors.
- Affiliate location extensions on YouTube – Affiliate Location extensions can now appear in TrueView in-stream and bumper ads on YouTube. Google says early testing showed that including affiliate location extensions in YouTube ads could increase CTR by more than 15 percent.
- Local catalog ads in Display – A new local catalog ad unit for the Google Display Network will be available to retail advertisers with physical locations by the end of June. The mobile display ad units feature a hero image at the top followed by product cards of inventory available locally. The product cards show “in-store” availability and pricing.
- Local feed partnership program – Google is launching a new program for retailers’ point-of-sale and inventory data providers that lets them send sales and inventory data directly to Google. With this program, retailers can skip the process of creating local inventory feeds entirely.
Google Updates ‘Ad Settings’ to Allow Users to Turn Off Targeting Signals: Google has updated its Ad Settings feature to give users more options for limiting ad personalization and is expanding the “Why this ad?” notices across all services that display Google Ads. With the changes, users can turn off some of the interest signals that Google uses for targeting ads. The options are located in the “Personal info and privacy” section of users’ account Ad Settings. Turning off an ad targeting signal will apply to Google Ads across all Google services, as well as websites and apps that run Google ads.
Google is Retiring the AdWords & DoubleClick Brands in a Major Rebranding Aimed at Simplification: After 18 and 22 years, respectively, the AdWords and DoubleClick brands will soon cease to be. As part of a comprehensive effort to streamline its offerings, Google’s flagship advertising products are getting new names and reorganizing to better reflect their current capabilities and where the company sees trajectories for growth. Marketers will begin to see the branding and solutions roll out starting in mid-July and through the next few months. The new branding and solutions are aimed at freeing up advertisers to focus more on improving outcomes and less on product selection to keep the momentum going for the next 20+ years.
Google AdWords Bans Bail Bonds Services Ads: Google announced they are banning all bond bail services from using their ad platform, including AdWords search ads. Google said they are “announcing a new policy to prohibit ads that promote bail bond services from our platforms.” The reason is because based on a study that said these services mostly rip off people in “communities of color and low income neighborhoods” when these people are in “their most vulnerable” states of mind. This ban will go into effect in July 2018.
Google Introduces Smart Campaigns for Small Businesses – The First New Solution to Launch Under The Google Ads Brand: The first new solution to debut under the new Google Ads brand is designed specifically for small businesses. Smart Campaigns are designed for small and local businesses that don’t have dedicated marketing staff and may not even have websites. Smart Campaigns will be the default campaign type for new advertisers in Google Ads. The campaigns are almost entirely automated, from ad creatives to delivery optimization, based on the product or service being advertised and the goal the advertiser sets. Campaign goals include phone calls, website visits and requests for directions.
Google AdWords Overview Page New Words & Ad Group Shift Cards: Google said on Google+ and Twitter that two new cards have come to the AdWords overview page for advertisers. Google has brought New Words card and Ad group Shifts insight card to the overview page. New words card shows you new words that people used while searching and finding your ads. Ad group shift card lets you know when there’s a significant change in the cost of an ad group as a percentage of its campaign’s cost.
Bing Ads To Disallow Recreational Guns & Gun Accessories: Bing announced they are not going to be allowing advertisements on the Bing Ads search network for recreational guns or any sort of gun accessory after July 1, 2018. This excludes items such as bb guns, paintball guns, or air rifles and accessories or devices that can be attached to weapons, used to create ammunition, or aid in the reloading process.
Bing Merchant Center Launches Google Merchant Center Import tool: Bing Ads launched the ability to import product feeds from Google Merchant Center into Bing Merchant Center. From the new Import tab in Bing Merchant Center (BMC), advertisers can sign into their Google Merchant Center accounts to pull in feeds directly. No more having to upload product feeds to two separate places.
Bing Ads Rolling Out UI Updates to Make Bulk Analysis & Changes Easier: Bing Ads is rolling out a couple of updates to the UI that make it easier to analyze and optimize campaigns. First, it is making it easier to adjust location target settings, including bid adjustments, in bulk across multiple campaigns. Second are updates to the Dimensions tab. There are more metrics available in Dimensions reports, such as age, gender, geographic, time quarter, ad spend and revenue. It’s also now possible to add filters and adjust the columns shown in reports from the Dimensions tab. Advertisers running Bing Shopping campaigns can also segment Dimensions tab reporting to show Shopping dimensions, including category, product type, brand, item ID and store ID.
Bing Ads App Gets Multi-User Access to Toggle Between Accounts & Ability to Add Funds: The Bing Ads App now support multi-user access and the ability to add funds for prepay accounts. For those managing multiple accounts with one email sign-on, now you can toggle between and add accounts in the app. If your accounts are set up as prepay for billing purposes, you can now add funds right from the app. If your campaigns are paused due to insufficient funds, you’ll get a notification on the main dashboard page in the app alerting you, along with an option to add funds and apply the existing payment method you’ve set up in the Bing Ads web interface.
Apple Expands Advertising Business With New Network for Apps: MarketWatch reports that Apple is expanding its growing advertising business with a new ad network for apps. Businesses will be able to sell promotional ads for search terms in the App Store and share the revenue with the apps displaying the ads.
Instagram Shares Ranking Criteria for Algorithm: Instagram shared which factors are weighed by its algorithm before a post appears in a user’s personal feed. TechCrunch reports that three main considerations that determine what you see in your Instagram feed are interest, recency, and relationship. Instagram also addressed several “myths” about how it ranks content.
Instagram Introduces @mention Sharing for Stories: Instagram added one of its most frequently requested features to Stories; the ability to re-share a post from friends. Now, when another user mentions your username in their Instagram Story, you will be able to share that photo or video to your own Story for a 24-hour period. Instagram notes that only public accounts are eligible to have stories shared in this manner.
Facebook Watch Introduces First Funded News Shows: Facebook announced the first slate of funded news shows for Facebook Watch. The lineup includes news shows from traditional broadcast channels such as CNN, Fox News, ABC News, and Univision, as well as digital publishers like Advance Local, ATTN:, and Mic. Shows from these publishers will debut later this summer and are expected to feature “a mix of daily briefings, weekly deep dives, and live breaking news coverage.” Facebook plans to announce additional shows in the coming weeks.
Facebook Debuts Lip Sync Live and Other Music Features: Facebook is testing Lip Sync Live, a new feature designed to let users pick a popular song and pretend to sing it on a Facebook Live broadcast. Users can also add a description and customize their video with masks or a background. When broadcasting with Lip Sync Live, friends will see the artist and song highlighted in the video and can tap to follow the artist on Facebook. It also announced that it’s working in partnership with the music industry to enable people around the world to include copyrighted music in their Facebook videos.
Newest Apple iOS and macOS Will Block Unauthorized Data Collection and Social Media Buttons: At WWDC 2018, Apple announced that the newest edition of the iOS and the macOS will offer security features to alert users when Facebook or other apps seek to collect data on them. It will block social media buttons and comment widgets from tracking users without permission.
Facebook Monetizes Marketplace With Ads and Boosted Listings: Businesses can now run product ads that will appear alongside other products and services in Facebook Marketplace and “reach people where they’re actively shopping.” Facebook has been testing these new ad placements with select brands and reports seeing increased purchases and year-over-year returns on ad spend. Over the next few weeks, all advertisers targeting audiences in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will be able to run Marketplace ads using the traffic, conversions, product catalog, video views, and reach objectives. TechCrunch reports that in addition to running product ads in Marketplace, Facebook is also testing the option for regular users to “boost” their Marketplace listings to more people through the news feed. Ad buyers simply set a budget and end date for boosting their listing. The article notes that “no additional targeting options beyond being shown to age 18+ users in nearby zip codes” are currently available.
Facebook Introduces Bidding for In-App Ads: Facebook Audience Network announced that it now supports bidding for in-app advertising. Within this new system, ad networks will engage in real-time bidding among themselves to compete for the available ad impressions. The ads from the network willing to pay the most for placement within a publisher’s app will be served.
Facebook Tests Page Post Templates: Facebook appears to be testing customizable templates that allow admins “to easily create a great post” on their pages. It offers a few basic content and topic suggestions for page posts, but not much else at the moment.
Facebook Enforces New Requirements for Custom Audience Targeting: Facebook added new requirements for custom audiences that are built from customer files. Starting on July 2, advertisers will be required to specify the origin of their audience information when they upload a new customer file: directly from customers, directly from partners, or a combination of the two. Facebook will also share the source of the information and specify if the advertiser is able to reach them through their phone number or email address within a drop-down menu from the ads.
Facebook Cracks Down on Bad Shopping Experiences From Advertisers: Facebook launched a new eCommerce review option inside its Recent Ads Activity dashboard that allows buyers to give feedback on products being advertised on Facebook. Any negative responses will be shared directly with advertisers in the hope that they’ll take action to improve their practices. If they don’t, Facebook will reduce the number of ads that particular business can run or ban them outright. This new tool is launching globally this week.
Twitter Introduces Personalized News Alerts and Event Notifications: Twitter is making relevant breaking news, events, and stories easier to discover with topic tabs in Explore, updates to search, expanding the Happening Now feature to include tweets about breaking and personalized news, and sending personalized notifications based on an individual user’s interests. Twitter is also gradually rolling out a new vertical timeline experience for Moments and introducing multiple timelines in some U.S. Moments to help you see all the best Tweets surrounding a story.
Instagram Expands Shoppable Tags to Stories: Instagram is beginning to expand shoppable tags beyond the feed to Instagram Stories. When you see a sticker with a shopping bag icon in an Instagram story, you can tap on it to see more details about that product along with a link to the brand’s site. Instagram is currently piloting this program with select brands and more joining soon.
Snapchat Extends Ads to AR Lenses and Snappables and Expands eCommerce Offerings: Advertisers can now run and manage their own AR advertising campaigns along with snap ads, story ads, and filters from directly within Snapchat’s self-serve ad tool. For example, users would be able to swipe up on a snap ad to unlock a sponsored AR Lens with the new snap ads Lens attachment. Marketing Land reports that Snapchat is testing sponsored snappables, which turn its two-player AR games into ads, with Bud Light, Dunkin’ Donuts, and mobile game developer King, before officially launching it more broadly. Snapchat is building on its eCommerce offerings with the introduction of goal-based bidding conversions around objectives such as purchases or signups.
Snapchat Experiments With Shoppable Snap Ads: Along with expanding its eCommerce offerings, Snapchat is testing shoppable snap and story ads that can run on the Discover tab and between stories. In an example provided by Adweek, these new shoppable ads appear relatively simple with multiple products in a carousel of images at the bottom. Users can click on the items to access the brand’s website and complete the purchase there.
Snapchat Allows Users to Clear Chats: Snapchat introduced Clear Chats, which allows users to delete messages sent in individual and group text, regardless of whether it has been viewed or saved. This new tool is rolling out to all users over the next few weeks.
Snap Inc. Debuts Snap Kit for App Developers: Snap Inc. introduced Snap Kit, a full-fledged developer kit that allows app creators to bring “some of the best parts of Snapchat” to their apps. Developers can now integrate Snapchat features into their apps in four ways. These include the Creative Kit, which helps developers integrate their own stickers, filters, links, and other highlights into the Snapchat camera; the Login Kit that allows users to log in with their Snapchat account information; the Bitmoji Kit, which brings a personalized Snapchat avatar to other apps; and the Story Kit, which lets developers filter and embed publicly shared Snapchat stories into their own apps and services. Developers who are interested in trying Snap Kit can learn more about it on the Snap Kit site.
Facebook Debuts Dedicated Program and Online Destination for Gaming Creators: Facebook announced the Level Up, a new program specifically for emerging gaming creators, and debuted a new place for people from around the world to discover and watch gaming video streams on Facebook. The Level Up Program will be available in the coming months and promises to give creators information and tools “to jumpstart their communities,” early access to new features, and ongoing support. Level Up members will also have a chance to earn money for their work with Facebook Stars.
Facebook Launches Central Hub for Memories: Facebook introduced Memories, “a single place on Facebook to reflect on the moments you’ve shared with family and friends, including posts and photos, friends you’ve made, and major life events.” This new feature is basically an updated and expanded version of Facebook’s “On This Day” tool, which lets you look back on this date last year and the years prior, and includes sections on “Friends Made on This Day,” “Recaps of Memories,” and “Memories You May Have Missed.”
Facebook Announces New Community-Centered Video Platform, Management Tools, and Monetization Opportunities: Facebook launched several new features to make its video platform more community-centered and engaging. Facebook is making Live videos more interactive with polling for live and on-demand videos and gamification for live videos. It’s also bringing videos from pages into the Watch tab and rolling out the “top fans” badge to more creators. Facebook is also testing a new video template for pages that “puts video and community front and center on a creator’s Page, with special modules for things like videos and groups,” and rolled out the Facebook Creator App for Android globally. Facebook also shared three new monetization products. These include testing the new Brand Collabs Manager, which lets brands discover creators with whom they can potentially establish deals and partnerships, opening the Ad Breaks program to more creators in the U.S., and expanding the new Fan Subscription model to more creators. Facebook is launching a limited program called Facebook for Creators Launchpad, another monetization program to support video creators it thinks fans will seek out on Facebook Watch.
Instagram Debuts New Stand-Alone Video App, IGTV: Instagram announced IGTV, a new app designed for watching long-form, full-screen vertical videos from your favorite Instagram creators. The videos can be up to an hour long and can also be viewed from within the main Instagram app. IGTV will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks on Android and iOS.
YouTube Launches New Creative Suite for Marketers: YouTube rolled out a collection of resources to help advertisers tell great stories on YouTube, test creative variations, and measure creative impact. The Creative Suite will focus on delivering insights for brands with the new Video Experiment and Video Creative Analytics tools and storytelling with YouTube Director Mix and Video Ad Sequencing. YouTube is currently working with select brands and agencies to test these new tools and will gradually roll them out soon.
Facebook Pilots Subscription Groups: Facebook is testing a new paid subscription program that gives admins the ability to create and manage separate, subscriber-only groups and charge members a monthly fee for accessing the exclusive content. Members will be able to sign up and manage subscriptions through the Facebook app for iOS and Android.
Facebook Offers Autoplay Video Ads in Messenger: Facebook will slowly begin to roll out autoplay video ads inside Messenger this Month. Facebook began selling static ads within Messenger a year and a half ago and is now looking to expand its portfolio to include video ads. Facebook states that these video ads will roll out “gradually and thoughtfully” and Messenger users “will remain in control of their experience.
LinkedIn Launches the Carousel Ad Format: LinkedIn launched carousel ads to help advertisers deliver a dynamic, interactive brand story to users. With sets of swipeable images and videos, these ads will function similarly to carousel ads on Instagram and Facebook—but for the B2B crowd.
Google Released Dedicated App for Podcasts: Google released Google Podcasts app for Android devices. This new dedicated app for podcasts includes access to a vast library of podcasts (over 2 million) and will sync across virtually everything Google, including Assistant, Home speakers, and search. Google is planning to release automatic transcription that adds closed captioning to podcasts, the ability to see what’s coming next in the episode you’re listening to, and proactive suggestions for material related to an episode in case you want to dive deeper into the subject.
YouTube Announces Next Steps in Creator Monetization, Premieres, and More: At VidCon, YouTube announced the “next big steps for creator monetization” and several upcoming updates. YouTube is rolling out channel memberships, merchandising, and new marketing partnership opportunities between creators and brands through its new branded content platform called FameBit. YouTube also introduced Premieres, which allows creators to debut pre-recorded videos as a live moment. When creators choose to release a premiere, YouTube will automatically create a public landing page “to build anticipation and hype up new content.”
Instagram Introduces Music to Stories: Instagram users can now select music from a music library to add to their in Instagram Stories or choose a song before capturing a video when they open the Instagram camera. Music selection can be found by tapping the Music icon, found among the stickers, GIFs, and hashtags that can also be added to a story. The new music feature is now available as part of Instagram version 51 in select countries, and the ability to choose a song before capturing video is available on iOS only, with Android coming soon.
Facebook and Twitter Get Transparent With Ads: Facebook is taking big steps to ensure transparency with a new Ads Center. Pages will now have an “Info and Ads” button which will give details about who created them when and list all the ads they’ve served on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Twitter is also boosting its transparency with a similar feature, the Ads Transparency Center, which will show all the ad campaigns an account has launched in the last week.
LinkedIn Adds Native QR Codes for Personal Profiles: LinkedIn introduced LinkedIn QR code to make it easier to connect on the spot when meeting someone in person. The LinkedIn QR code can be accessed by clicking the QR code icon in the search box found on the Home tab. It is available now in the LinkedIn iOS and Android apps globally.
LinkedIn Unveils Translations in the LinkedIn Feed: LinkedIn posts that are in a different language than you speak will now show a See Translation button within the LinkedIn feed, the recent activity section on someone’s profile, and the post detail page. The See Translation feature is available in more than 60 languages including Spanish, Japanese, and German to a majority of global members on desktop and mobile web and more languages will be supported in the future.
Twitter Expanded In-Stream Video Ads to More Advertisers: Twitter introduced in-stream video ads in April 2017 in the U.S. Earlier this month, Twitter expanded this feature to all advertisers around the world. Advertisers in 12 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, the UK, and the U.S., will be able to start in-stream video ad campaigns directly through Twitter’s self-serve ad tool.
Facebook Experiments With Snoozing Specific Keywords: Facebook is testing Keyword Snooze, which gives users the option to temporarily hide posts based on text directly pulled from the post. An example given in the announcement is spoilers on television or movie endings. With this new feature, users can block news feed posts containing that exact word or phrase from any person, page, or group for 30 days.
Facebook Tests the Ability to Cross-Post Facebook Updates to Instagram: Facebook appears to be testing the option to simultaneously share a single-image Facebook post to your page, page story, or Instagram. This new feature was discovered by Mari Smith.
Reddit Launches Native Video Ads Which Will Autoplay In-Stream: Reddit has added native video ads, which will autoplay in feeds. Reddit’s video ads are rolling out now, and will be available to all advertisers over the course of the Summer. You can find more information here.