May 2018 Digital Marketing News Recap
Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of May 2018.
Google Launches New Google My Business API, New Dashboard to Manage Multiple Locations: Google announced a new GMB API, new agency dashboard and new agency partner program. The API will enable agencies to manage additional categories of content, such as merchant descriptions and Posts for multilocation brands and small businesses at scale. Registered agencies are also being given early access to new GMB tools and features. They’ll have a dedicated partner manager and other benefits. You can sign up for the agency partner program here. There will also be a new partner directory. The new dashboard will become available in the next three weeks.
Bing Entity Search API is Now Available: Bing announced that their Bing Entity Search API is now available to US based users and also in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom regions. The Bing Entity Search API lets developers and creators programmatically pull in Bing Knowledge Graph structured data on topics such as people, places, things, and local businesses into their platforms and tools. The standard pricing is $3 per 1,000 transactions and you can get 100 transactions per second through the API. You can start experimenting with this API here.
Google Page Speed Uses Desktop Or Mobile Based On Searcher: There has been some confusion around page speed recently, especially around the new Speed Update coming in July. Before this, Google only looked at desktop page speed. Now, Google will look at both desktop and mobile. Only really slow pages will be negatively impacted by these page speed algorithms. If you site is a tad faster than another fast page – it won’t do much for you in ranking.
Google Recipe Structured Data Updated For Google Assistant & Search: Google announced, new recommendations for recipe structured data properties. Now, if you want to be included in Google Assistant or Google Home, you need to use the recipeIngredient and recipeInstructions properties. This way, Google can read off the instructions step by step, in an orderly fashion. Google said they “added more guidance for recipeInstructions. You can specify each step of the recipe with the HowToStep property, and sections of steps with the HowToSection property.”
Squarespace Google Search Console Verification With One Click: Squarespace announced you can now verify your Squarespace site with Google Search Console with one click. Here are the instructions on how to verify your site in Squarespace with Google Search Console.
Google Posts Adds Videos To Search Results & Local Listings: Google has officially added the ability to add videos to your Google Posts. Google has said it is rolling out to everyone who has access to Google Posts now.
Google Updates Image Search Guidelines For SEOs & Publishers: John Mueller from Google posted on Twitter that they have updated their image publishing guidelines at this help document. Google has a section around the page titles used as image captions now. They also have information around how Google Image search uses structured data, specifically Product markup, Video markup and Recipe markup, to improve the image search results. Google also talks about page speed and gives information on the latest image optimization and responsive image techniques, AMP and PageSpeed Insights tool.
Google Cuts Down Search Snippets By Half: Less than six months ago, Google increased the max characters shown in the search results snippets box to 320 characters but now it seems Google has cut it down to 160 or less characters. Google will not state what the length is anymore.
Google Expands Job Posting Structured Data to Additional Countries: Google has expanded the job posting schema and structured data to additional countries outside of the United States. The experience is currently available in the following countries: USA, Canada, India, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Mexico. Aaron Bradley posted on Twitter.
Google “Similar To” Carousel For Local Search Results: Sergey Alakov spotted another Google local feature that might be undergoing testing now, he posted it on Twitter. Google may show on both mobile and desktop a carousel of other options which they call “similar to” the local result they are showing by default. Another form of Google expanding the query by showing other search results options in a carousel.
Google Testing Disambiguation Box for Local Packs: Google is testing a disambiguation box which shows up on the mobile search results for a local pack. Disambiguation features in the search results show up when Google isn’t entirely sure which meaning of a word someone is trying to search for. Cindy Krum first spotted the test.
Google Rich Results Test Now Supports Movies, TV Shows & Events: Aaron Bradley posted on Google+ that the Google rich results testing tool now supports testing on movies, TV shows and events markup. So now in addition to job posting, recipe, and course, it also supports those three new types.
Google releases Lighthouse Version 3.0: Around Google I/O this year, Google released a new version of Lighthouse, a tool backed by Google to help developers make better web pages by providing a set of audits against a web URL. The tool will return tips and guidance on how to improve a specific web page for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps and more. For more on these changes and how to upgrade, see this page.
Google Trends Keyword Research Tool Updated: Google has announced a major update to the Google Trends tool. Google Trends interface has undergone a redesign to make it conform closely to the Material Design framework. Google has added a revamped Trending searches section, showing what is trending in search right now, both daily and minute-by-minute. You get easy access to Year in Search data going back to 2001, so you can see how search interest has changed over time. Google trends new features allow you to identify where keywords are popular and target those geographic areas with specialized content or outreach.
Google My Business Reportedly Removes Anonymous Reviews: Google My Business appears to have stopped counting anonymous reviews toward a business’s overall rating. In the tweet from May 24th it was reported that anonymous reviews stopped counting toward the total rating, but were still visible when a user clicked through to see all reviews. On May 28th it was reported by another user that Google My Business has stopped displaying anonymous reviews altogether. This brings Google in line with other other local review sites on the web. Yelp and TripAdvisor are two other prominent review sites which also allow only registered users to submit reviews.
Google Maps Lets Users Search for Reviews by Keyword: Google Maps has introduced the ability to search through reviews for keywords or phrases. With this feature it’s now easier for users to find reviews showing them exactly what they want to know, such as whether or not a location is wheelchair-accessible.
Amazon Drops Out of Google Shopping Ads: It has been reported that Amazon has stopped bidding on Google’s Product Listing Auctions as of April 28th. Amazon had been a top bidder in that auction for a year and a half. In the meantime, Amazon had been cultivating a competing product.
AdWords Editor 12.3 is Out With More Robust Filtering, Search Query Reports & More: Google released the latest version of AdWords Editor this week with several new features, including the ability to download search terms reports, more robust filtering options, account-level extension associations and more. When viewing keyword lists in AdWords Editor, a new Search Terms tab is now available. There’s also an option to save the reporting preferences. There are eight functions now available from the advanced search box that allow advertisers to build queries on items contained in the item being filtered when those items meet specific criteria. You can find more details on using these filter functions on the help page. AdWords Editor 12.3 also supports account-level extension associations, interest categories for Search and Shopping campaigns, custom intent audiences, TrueView for action campaigns and responsive search ads, which are now in beta.
Google Combos Shopping & Dynamic Remarketing in New Goal-Optimized Shopping campaign Type: Google announced a new Shopping campaign subtype – that is “goal-optimized”. The campaigns will use machine learning to aim to automatically optimize ad delivery to achieve the defined conversion goal value, such as revenue or return on ad spend (ROAS). The automated Shopping campaigns combine Shopping and display remarketing campaigns to extend reach across Google properties and display network. Ads can display on Google Search results, Gmail and YouTube, as well as Search partners and the Google Display Network. Goal-optimized Shopping campaigns are rolling out globally over the new few weeks.
Google AdWords New Responsive Search Ads Can Show 3 Headlines: Google’s new responsive search ads are now in beta in AdWords, though not available to all advertisers yet. With this, we can set up one ad with multiple headlines and a couple of descriptions, and Google will start testing combinations dynamically to serve the combination deemed most likely to achieve the advertiser’s stated goal. And get more real estate than a standard text ad for giving the new machine learning option a go. You can find more details on the AdWords support page.
Google Testing Product Listing Ad Carousels With 30 Products on Mobile: Google is testing a new version of their Product Listing Ads Carousel with 30 products instead of the usual 10 or less. It looks like a standard carousel, but in addition to the 30 products, it also included the keywords carousel to narrow it down more. When you scroll all the way to the end, it also just looks like a standard PLA carousel. This test was first reported by Jennifer Slegg on The SEM Post blog.
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.
Old AdWords Interface Will Be Phased Out by Year-end: Bing is the latest ad provider to ban cryptocurrency advertising, joining other ad giants such as Google and Facebook. This policy change will officially come into effect in June, with enforcement rolling out in late June to early July.
Bing Bans Ads for Cryptocurrency: Google announced that the old AdWords interface will hit the dustbin by the end of the year. Reports, filters and automated rules that are available in the new AdWords will be moved over automatically from the old one. Google will send out email notifications ahead of the switch.
Google to Deactivate Non-Spending AdWords Accounts This Month: Google will be deactivating AdWords accounts with no recent ad spend starting in mid-May. This will affect users with AdWords accounts who have not spent any money on ads in the past 15 months. Users can wait for their account to get deactivated and then reactivate the account for free. However, if there is still no ad spend within 3 months of reactivation, the account will be deactivated once again.
Google Announces Ads Updates for App Developers at Google I/O: Google announced updates for app developers buying and selling ads via AdWords and AdMob, respectively. In a new beta, advertisers will be able to show more content within their app promotion ads in Google Play. In March, Google introduced Google Play Instant for users to be able to try out a game app from an ad before downloading it. That format is now being tested in AdWords to make it available via Universal App Campaigns, which provide distribution to inventory across Search, Google Play, YouTube and the Google Display Network. View-through conversion (VTC) reporting will be available for app advertisers in AdWords later this month.
AdWords Sets Parallel Tracking Deadline & Will Warn Advertisers Using HTTP Landing Pages Parallel tracking will be required for all accounts using click measurement systems starting October 30, 2018. Parallel tracking helps speed up landing-page load times by separating tracking parameters from the landing page URL. Rather than loading the tracking URL, AdWords click tracker and any redirects before the user sees the landing page, with parallel tracking, the user can go straight to the landing page while the tracking functionality loads separately. If you’re using a click measurement system and have already confirmed it is compatible with parallel tracking, you can opt into it in the “Tracking” section at the account-level Settings in AdWords. It will apply to Search Network and Shopping campaigns for now.
Regarding HTTPS – In the next few weeks, Google will start to warn advertisers in AdWords when they’re using HTTP addresses for landing pages. Google has launchecd Ad version history to allow advertisers to update landing page URLs from HTTP to HTTPS without resetting performance statistics. Enabled HTTP Search ad clicks to automatically be redirected to HTTPS when it “knows” that your site prefers HTTPS. This will begin rolling out the week of June 11.
Google Brings ‘Optimize’ Integration to New AdWords Experience: Google Optimize and AdWords integration has been available since last October, but until now has not been available as part of the new AdWords experience. Google is also giving users the ability to link multiple AdWords accounts at once. Google is also introducing the ability for Optimize users to run a single experiment for multiple keywords, even if the keywords are spread across different campaigns and ad groups.
AdWords Notes Have Arrived: How to Get Started: The Google Notes feature has arrived in Adwords. Here’s a look at how to get started using it. Notes are available at the account, campaign and ad group levels. Just as in Google Analytics, notes in AdWords can be added by clicking on a point in the performance chart. When you create a note, it will be visible to anyone with access to the AdWords account. Notes are only available in the new AdWords experience.
Bing Ads Rolls Out In-Market Audience Targeting to All Advertisers: Bing Ads is introducing a way for advertisers to target in-market audiences. In-market audience targeting is now available to all advertisers in the US.
Facebook Messenger Platform Welcomes Augmented Reality: Augmented reality has arrived on Facebook’s Messenger Platform, which was announced at its 2018 F8 annual developer conference. Facebook announced at F8 that Asus, Kia, Nike and Sephora are the first brands to debut AR effects for their Messenger experiences, adding that other brands can join the wait list to integrate AR into their experiences on the messaging app via Facebook Camera effects. Facebook also announced that Messenger’s suggestions from M will be extended to provide translation suggestions for different languages in the social network’s Marketplace commerce section.
Facebook Debuted Its Overhauled AR Studio for Facebook Camera at F8 2018: Facebook announced that it is expanding the article context features in News Feed that it began testing last October to all U.S. users, along with two new feature updates. Users will see an “i” button atop the links for certain articles in their News Feeds, and tapping that button will launch a pop-up with additional context about those articles, including:
- Wikipedia entries for the publishers of those articles.
- Related Articles on the same topics.
- Information about how other Facebook users are sharing those articles.
- Informing users if any of the information above is unavailable, which may help to provide context, as well.
The two new features that were added with this week’s rollout are:
- More from This Publisher: Just as the name suggests a snapshot of other recent stories posted by the publisher.
- Shared by Friends: Users will see if any of their friends have shared the article.
Snapchat Makes Story Ads Available Through its Self-Serve Ad Manager: Snapchat is now letting marketers purchase Story Ads, formerly known as Promoted Stories, through its self-serve ads manager. Now that Story Ads are available through the self-serve ads manager, they will have the same targeting options and auction-based pricing model as other Snapchat ads. This includes Snapchat’s 500+ predefined audience segments.
Facebook Dating Feature Coming Soon: Facebook said it will begin testing a feature for dating and relationships within its flagship mobile apps later this year. Users will be able to create dating profiles that are separate from their Facebook Timelines, and activity within the dating feature will not be shared with their friends.
Camera Effects Platform for Instagram: Third parties can now design “unique, interactive camera experiences”—including face filters, text styles and stickers—for users to add to their content. Instagram said users who see new effects in Stories from accounts they follow can tap “Try it on” to add those tools to their trays, adding that new effects are coming soon from accounts including Ariana Grande, Baby Ariel, Liza Koshy, Vogue and Buzzfeed.
Facebook Is Adding 2 New Metrics to Its Video Retention Graph for Pages: Facebook is beefing up the video retention graph in video insights for pages, adding two new metrics, along with a way to more closely examine the data that is provided. Facebook page administrators will gain access to these new metrics “in the coming weeks”.
Followers vs. non-followers: A breakdown of audience retention by people who follow the page and those who do not.
Audience demographics: A breakdown of audience retention by gender.
Publishers of Facebook Live Videos Got 3 New Features to Play With: Facebook introduced three new features for publishers creating Facebook Live videos: persistent stream keys, cross-posting and Live Rewind. Persistent stream keys enable publishers that frequently broadcast via Facebook Live to send one permanent stream key to production teams, in advance of shoots, enabling them to collaborate across teams and locations. The ability to cross-post videos across all of a publisher’s Facebook pages has been added to publisher tools on pages and the Live API. Facebook also began testing the ability for viewers to rewind Live videos from pages during the actual livestreams.
Facebook Adds Boost Button to Group Posts: The Boost Post button has arrived on Facebook Groups. With this new tool, group admins get three targeting options for link posts inside a group: generate more clicks; attract more engagement with likes, shares, and comments; or prioritize potential customers. Admins may also integrate a WhatsApp number, change the call-to-action button, gather insights on reach, and more.
Instagram Testing a Booking & Payments Feature: Instagram has started testing a new booking and payments feature that lets users book services and make direct payments to businesses directly from the app. Right now, the feature is only available to a limited number of partners and businesses on Instagram. Users can register a debit or credit card through their Instagram profile and set up a security code with it, making it possible to send payments without ever leaving the app, according to TechCrunch.
Instagram Rolls Out New Messaging Features for Business Profiles, Expands Action Buttons to More Third-party Apps: Now, messages to a business will show up in the business profile’s main Direct inbox versus the pending folder, and businesses will be able to star and filter conversations to better manage their messages. Instagram says it will also be testing quick replies in the coming weeks, giving businesses the ability to craft messages that can be sent in response to commonly asked questions.
Klout Loses its Influence, Announces Shutdown on May 25: Social media measurement platform Klout announced that its parent company, Lithium Technologies, has decided to shut the service down at the end of this month.
WhatsApp Introduced Several New Features for Groups: WhatsApp announced several new features for groups in a blog post. Group administrators can establish the purpose, guidelines and topics for groups, and new members will see this information atop the chat. Admins can restrict which members can change the group’s subject, icon and description. They can also remove admin permissions of other group members. Group creators can no longer be removed from groups they started. Group members can catch up on messages that mention them or replies to their posts by tapping a new @ button in the bottom-right-hand corner of the group chat. Group members can find other group members by searching the group information page. WhatsApp also said users cannot be repeatedly added back to groups they have left.
Facebook Is Releasing 3 Features to Make Its Stories Easier to Use: Facebook announced three new features that are coming to Facebook Stories, initially launching in India and then going global shortly thereafter. Photos and videos captured via Facebook Camera will soon be able to be saved to people’s Facebook accounts so that those with limited space on their devices don’t have to delete that content. Those photos and videos can also be edited and shared later, so people don’t have to stop what they’re doing to prep them. Facebook users will also soon gain the ability to share voice posts to their Stories by using the audio option in Facebook Camera. Finally, Facebook said to be testing an archive for users to save their Stories.
Facebook Rolled Out Dynamic Ads for Lead Generation for Auto Dealers: In a Facebook Business post, Facebook announced the availability of dynamic ads for lead generation, which enable auto dealers to combine their vehicle catalogs with lead-generation forms to be filled out by potential car buyers. Once the forms are filled out, leads can be sent directly to CRM systems so that local sales representatives can follow up on them.
Instagram’s New Emoji Sliders Can Gauge Your Audience’s Opinion on Topics: Instagram has introduced a new feature that lets users rate their opinion on various topics by moving an emoji along a sliding scale. These new emoji sliders, now available for use in stories, are a new take on Instagram’s poll stickers. Similar to how poll stickers would let you know which option your followers selected, emoji sliders will let you know how far individual followers moved the scale. This new feature is now available by updating the Instagram app for iOS and Android.
Snapchat Quietly Rolled Out a New Way for Friends to Share Their Locations: Snapchat has been quietly rolling out a new way for users to share their locations or request the whereabouts of their friends. The messaging application said the feature has been rolling out over the past few weeks to iOS and Android users, and most of its user base should now have it.
Facebook Introduced 2 User Privacy Protection Tools for Developers of Apps, Websites: Facebook introduced a callback URL that can be used when users remove apps and websites from Facebook’s apps and websites settings. Those users can request that they apps and websites they remove delete all information that was received about them through Facebook. Facebook will inform those users when they send such requests and when those requests are acknowledged by the developers of the affected apps or websites, as well as with confirmation numbers so they can monitor the status of their requests.
Facebook also introduced a way for developers to comply with the GDPR requirement that companies that serve users in the EU designate and publish contact information for a data protection officer to assist in matters of processing personal information. Developers can go to the Facebook Login settings page in the app dashboard and add the name, mailing address and email address for their DPOs, and that information will be available in users’ apps and website settings.
Facebook’s New Rules for Political & Issue Ads Start Today: Facebook is now enforcing its new policies for political and issue-related ads. Announced last month, the new rules require all advertisers running political or issue ads on the platform to verify their identity and location. US election and issue ads will have to be clearly labeled and will include “Paid for” information to identify the person or organization behind the ad. In addition to verifying the advertisers and labeling the ads, Facebook has also created a searchable archive that will log political and issue ad content from advertisers going back seven years. Information about individual ads — such as the campaign budget for the ad, how many users saw it along with their age, location and gender — will be included in the archive which can be found at Facebook.com/politicalcontentads or accessed by clicking on the “Political Ad” label now identifying the ads.
Instagram Lets Users ‘Mute’ Other Accounts: Instagram is introducing a way for users to hide posts and stories in their feed without actually unfollowing other accounts. This new feature, called “mute,” will not block content from other users entirely. Content from muted accounts can still be seen by visiting their pages, but it will no longer show up in the main feed.
Facebook Lets Users Sell Home Services in Marketplace: Facebook has recently added support for home services to its Marketplace platform. Now, those looking for home service providers such as cleaners, plumbers, and other contractors, can find qualified professionals directly via Facebook Marketplace. Facebook will be working with Handy, HomeAdvisor, and Porch to provide the following solutions to Facebook users.
Snapchat’s New Lens Reacts to the Sounds It Hears: Snapchat began rolling out a lens that reacts to sound, and a spokesperson said additional similar lenses will be added to the lens carousel “over the next few weeks.” The new lens is an animal mask overlay, and its ears pulse and glow and its eyes move based on the sounds it picks up via users’ smartphones.
Polls Can Now Be Included in Facebook Messenger Stories: The poll stickers Facebook added to Instagram last October have proven to be popular enough for the feature to be extended to Messenger Stories.
Instagram Lets Users Re-Share Posts in Stories: Instagram recently rolled out the ability for users to re-share posts from other accounts in their Instagram Stories. This feature was spotted in testing earlier this year, and it is now available to everyone. To re-share someone’s post in the form of a Story, tap on the paper plane icon that appears next to the like and comment icons. From there, users will have the option to either share the post via DM with people they follow, and directly at the top there will be an option to add the post to their story.
Facebook Introduces Ads in Stories After Reaching 150M Daily Viewers: Facebook has finally started including ads in Stories, which some might say was only a matter of time. Facebook began testing Story ads earlier this month in the US, Mexico, and Brazil. The ads are 5-to-15-second video clips, which users can simply skip by tapping through to the next story. Brands can run ads in Facebook Stories simply by extending their Instagram Stories ads to this new platform. Alternatively, brands can have their Facebook news feed ads reformatted into Stories ads, with color-matched borders and text at the bottom.
Facebook Unveils New Analytics Features, Including a Tool to Track The Omnichannel Journey: Facebook introduced new analytics features – including a tool to track customer journeys through multiple channels on at its F8 developer conference. Journeys is the most notable addition to Facebook’s currents analytics tools. It provides omnichannel data and reporting, so marketers can see what users are doing right before they take an action that results in a conversion. Facebook’s new analytics can auto-detect sales funnels using machine learning algorithms across channels. The enhancements will also provide insights gleaned from both auto-detected and user-created funnels.
Facebook Introduces an Analytics App for iOS and Android: Facebook has introduced its first-ever Facebook Analytics app for measuring the performance of business pages. Now available for iOS and Android, the Facebook Analytics app will help businesses conveniently review their key metrics in a mobile interface.
Advanced Analysis in Google Analytics 360: Starting this month Advanced Analysis will soon be available to all Google Analytics 360 Customers. While the tool has many benefits, one of the biggest use cases for enterprise organizations is Customer Journey Analysis. Previously, users have had limited insight into this data without integrating with a tool like BigQuery. Now, Google Analytics is making sophisticated analysis streamlined and available. Advanced Analysis is composed of three primary reporting tools: Exploration, Segment Overlap, and Funnels. Each tool will be explored further below. As of now, these reports can be exported into Google Sheets, .CSV, or .TSV. The tool is still in beta, so features are subject to change.