November 2017 Digital Marketing News Recap
Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of November 2017.
Confirmed: Google Rolling Out New Curved Mobile Search Results Interface: It appears that Google is now rolling out the new curved mobile design that they have been testing for several months. The new design started rolling out earlier this morning, and now more are seeing it live. Google is known for conducting many user interface tests, but this design appears to be a full rollout.
Google Info Command Stops Working Fully: It looks like the info command on Google has changed what it shows in the search results. Instead of showing the page’s snippet followed by the cache, similar command, links and more, it removed all of those links and is now just showing the snippet. Google confirmed on November 8th that this is the new behavior for the info command.
Google News Adds New Referral URL Source That Publishers Should Begin Tracking: Google has quietly announced in its Google News forum that they have added a new URL referrer source that news publishers should begin tracking to get a “comprehensive view of traffic from Google News.” In addition to tracking referrals from news.google.com, publishers should also track referrals from news.url.google.com. It is unclear if Google Analytics has already updated to support the new referral changes, but one would assume it would be one of the first analytics packages to update its tools. If you are using custom analytics or a third-party analytics tool, make sure to communicate to the developers that they need to make this update to their software.
Google Trends Now Shows Data for YouTube Search, Google Shopping, News Search & Image Search: Google is adding new filters to its trends data, making it possible to see search trends beyond web search. Now, you can find real-time search trends on specific search terms within YouTube, News and Image searches, along with Google Shopping. “We’re opening up more data to show what people in the world are looking for, as they’re looking for it,” writes Google on it’s The Keyword blog.
Google Adds a Donate Button Directly Into Search for US-based Nonprofits: As we near the holidays, Google is making it easier to support your favorite nonprofit organization by adding a donate button directly in search. The rollout of the donate button comes at a time when Google says nearly 30 percent of all giving happens — during the holidays.
Google Book Search Now Includes Audiobook Results: Google has added an audiobook option to its book search feature. Now, if you search for a specific book title, the Google book search feature includes an “Audiobook” button under the “Get Book” tab that will display different audiobook platforms offering the title. To actually listen to the audiobook, users must select their preferred audiobook app.
Google AdWords Now Allows Bidding On Emojis?: Google AdWords has policies against using emojis in your ad copy, in fact, it has been a struggle for them to block it. But now Dan Perach shared a screenshot of Google AdWords allowing him to bid on the rose emoji for money.
AdWords Scripts Now Available in New AdWords Interface: AdWords Scripts are now available in the New AdWords interface, giving users a visual refresh, as well as some new capabilities that make management a bit easier, especially for advertisers with lots of scripts in their accounts. One of the most exciting additions is a convenient new option under the Actions menu for each script: Duplicate. It’s also easier now to find scripts because Google added filters to the page to let us search for a script’s name or creator.
Google AdWords Editor Version 12.2: Google AdWords quietly released an update to the AdWords Editor, they are now at version 12.2 which brings Gmail asset-based ads, full support for promotion and video extensions, and a new budget type option for video ads.
Google My Business Web Search Dashboard Now Ask You To Create Ads: Sergey Alakov spotted that the Google My Business web search dashboard that launched a couple months ago now is asking businesses to create ads using AdWords Express.
Google Rolls Out AdWords Promotion Extensions, Custom Intent Audiences & Ad Variations for Testing: Google made a few announcements for AdWords advertisers just in time before Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season in the US next week.
Promotion Extension is rolling out globally in all supported AdWords languages and currencies in the new AdWords interface.
On the Google Display Network, Google is rolling out custom intent audiences to enable advertisers to target “people who want to buy the specific products you offer — based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel.”
A new way to test ad variations is also rolling out in the new AdWords. Google says you can now test this across thousands of ads in a few clicks. Google will show the results of the test once they are statistically significant.
Facebook Adds New Features to Dynamic Ads for Travel: Facebook expanded dynamic ads for travel “to give businesses the ability to promote relevant flights to people based on what they browsed or to upsell travelers based on flights they recently booked” with three new features. These features include the ability to promote hotels and flights, broad audience targeting to reach more travelers, and more creative options such as social context and new overlays with pricing or promotional information.
Facebook Officially Rolls Out Facebook Polls with Photo and GIF Options: Facebook is launching Facebook Polls with the added options of using photos or GIFs as answers. TechCrunch reports the Facebook Polls are coming to personal profiles and Pages on iOS, Android, and desktop today.
Facebook Adds Notes for Group Posts for Admins: A new Notes feature for admins has been spotted within Facebook groups. The Notes option can be found in the Manage Group section beside each post or update within the group, and allows admins and teams to add a note and communicate about actions different members are taking.
Facebook Introduces Two New Measurement Solutions for Ad Campaigns: Facebook introduced two new measurement solutions that will make it easier for businesses to test and optimize ad campaigns on Facebook. These new tools include creative split testing that enables advertisers to A/B test different ad formats, visuals, headlines, and calls to action to determine which version drives the best results. Facebook is also starting to pilot a new Test and Learn tool that will allow advertisers to experiment with different marketing strategies and find the one that “most effectively achieves their business goals” across all of their campaigns. The Test and Learn tool will be available to all advertisers in early 2018.
Snapchat Opens Conversion-Tracking Snap Pixel to More Marketers: Snapchat unveiled the Snap Pixel, a conversation-tracking tool that allows brands to measure the effectiveness of their vertical-video snap ads on their site traffic. Marketing Land reports that the new Snap Pixel will soon be available to all advertisers as a measurement tool for brands to track conversions and will be available for retargeting purposes “by the end of this year.” The Snap Pixel currently remains in the testing phase, but brands can contact Snapchat’s sales team to request access.
WhatsApp Allows Users to Recall Messages in Chats: WhatsApp now allows users to recall and delete messages that were sent by mistake in a group or an individual chat. With this new feature, successfully deleted message will be replaced with “This message was deleted” to everyone involved in the conversation. WhatsApp notes that the recall option is only available with the latest version of WhatsApp for Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone.
Twitter Officially Expands to 280-Character Count: In September, Twitter began testing an expanded 280-character limit for select languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. This week, Twitter officially rolled out this change to all languages “where cramming was an issue.” This includes all languages except Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, which will continue to have 140 characters.
Twitter Launches Self-Serve Advertising Subscription Tool: Twitter launched a public beta version of Promote Mode, a new self-serve advertising subscription. Once enabled through the mobile app, Promote Mode will automatically amplify your tweets and profile “to reach your best audience and grow your followers” for $99 per month. This tool is currently only available in the U.S. and UK.
Facebook Messenger Makes Sponsored Messages Available to More Businesses: Facebook announced that “in the coming months,” all advertisers will be able to send relevant promotions directly to customers who have previously communicated with the brand in Messenger. Facebook also shared that sponsored messages will be added to a brand’s Messages objective, making these types of ads simpler and easier to create.
Snapchat Prepares for Upcoming App Redesign and Algorithmic Stories Feed: Snap Inc. announced two significant changes coming to Snapchat. The company shared that it’s working on an upcoming redesign that will have a more user-friendly interface and a larger focus on content. It’s also exploring new ways to surface content “in a personalized and more relevant way while still maintaining the exploratory nature of its service,” which suggests possible plans for rolling out an algorithmically sorted stories feed in the future.
Snapchat Proposes More Distribution and Monetization Opportunities for Top Creators: Snap Inc. has “made significant progress” in empowering users to generate content for friends and providing premium content from publishers, but it admits it has neglected the creator community that develops and distributes public stories for the broader Snapchat audience. Following announcements about an upcoming app redesign and a new algorithmic story feed, Snap Inc. shared plans to “build more distribution and monetization opportunities for these creators” and make more professional tools for creating premium content available in the coming year.
Facebook Messenger Experiments With Live Chat Plugin for Business Websites: Facebook introduced a new customer service chat plugin that allows third-party website visitors to engage with the business or brand using the Messenger platform. Facebook’s new customer chat plugin will be widely available on desktop and mobile devices but is currently being tested in a closed beta.
Facebook Rolls Out News Feed Ads With Direct Links to Messenger Experiences: With the new Messenger Platform 1.3, businesses and developers can now promote their Messenger experiences with news feed ads that directly open Messenger conversations. According to Facebook, this new ad format “combines the powerful audience targeting and selection capabilities of ads on News Feed” with “the identity and canonical nature of Messenger conversations” and is available to all Facebook advertisers.
Instagram Redesigns Call-to-Action Bar to Dynamically Mirror Ads: Instagram is currently updating the call-to-action bars on ads “to better blend in while still standing out.” Marketing Land reports that the horizontal bar along the bottom of a photo or video ad will no longer remain a solid blue color. Instead, it will dynamically change to complement the main color contained in the ad’s photo or video and is intended to “grab the user’s attention.”
Facebook Developing Possible Breaking News Tag for Publisher Posts: Facebook confirmed plans to test a new Breaking News tag that publishers will be able to attach to their posts but it didn’t share any further details. It’s speculated that “adding a tag like that to a post could temporarily push stories higher into users’ feeds, generate some sort of alert or notification, or at least help them stand out visually.”
Facebook Adds New Monetization Tab for Instant Articles: Facebook now allows Instant Article publishers currently using the Audience Network to push recirculation ads to “easily turn these ads on or off” in the new Monetization tab. The Monetization tab can be found in the Instant Articles section of Publishing Tools within the Facebook Audience Network.
Instagram Allows Users to Upload Older Photos and Videos to Stories: Instagram now allows any photos and videos taken beyond 24 hours ago to be uploaded to Instagram Stories. Instagram previously limited the Stories feature to “glimpses” into a user’s day, but this update offers more flexibility and creative choices.
Instagram Pushes New Format for Sponsored Posts to More Influencers: Instagram expanded its branded content tool to more celebrities and influencers. The tool helps users better identify sponsored posts, creates a standardized format that clearly indicates that a post is a “paid partnership” from an advertiser or sponsor, and provides data about a post’s performance. It will also notify accounts when it detects that they’ve shared branded content without using this tool and give them the option to “tag a business” in their post
Instagram Test Ability to View Bookmarked Posts on the Web: Instagram introduced saved posts on its platform almost a year ago and now select users can view those “Pinterest-like” bookmarked posts in their web browsers. Instagram confirmed that it’s currently only testing this new feature and it hasn’t officially rolled out to everyone. Users can check their Instagram profile on the web for a new Saved tab to find out if they have it.
Facebook Introduces Campaign Budget Optimization: Facebook gives businesses an easier way to manage their ad budgets and ensure optimal results with the new campaign budget optimization tool. With campaign budget optimization, advertisers can set one central campaign budget to optimize across ad sets by distributing budget to the top-performing ad sets in real time and set a daily or lifetime campaign budget for each ad set. Campaign budget optimization is rolling out to all advertisers in the coming months.
Facebook Adds Housing Rentals to Marketplace: Facebook announced it’s partnering with sources like Apartment List and Zumper and working directly with brokers, agents, and other property managers to pull in “hundreds of thousands” of housing rentals into Marketplace. Searchers will be able to filter housing listings by a number of options such as location, price, rental type, number of bedrooms, and much more, and view 360-degree photos of properties when available.
Facebook Reveals New Data and Metrics for Boosted Posts: Facebook appears to have rolled out new data and metrics for boosted posts. These include boost summary data, which shows how many people were reached, and a new relevancy score that indicates whether a boosted post is getting positive feedback and how much it costing to run relative to “most ads on Facebook.”
Facebook Launches Facebook Local: Facebook relaunched its standalone Events app as Facebook Local, a new, one-stop search engine to “browse all the cool things happening where you live or where you’re traveling to.” Facebook Local is currently available for iOS and Android but is currently limited to the U.S.
Facebook Rolls Out Collaborative Stories for Group and Event Pages: Facebook announced that “users of Facebook Groups and Events will be able to contribute to a Facebook Story visible to the rest of the members and moderated by the admins.” People can now view and contribute to these Stories within their Event and Group pages or see them on the top of their News Feed. This update gives multiple Group members and Event attendees “the opportunity to tell a Story from multiple different angles” while admins and organizers have the ability to moderate, set privacy preferences, and encourage users to share.
Pinterest Introduces New Visual Search and Shopping Tools: Pinterest rolled out a number of visual search and shopping tools to help Pinners find products and ideas they might want to try. These new discovery tools include Lens Your Look, “a new way to find outfit ideas inspired by your wardrobe and add a photo of an item from your closet to your text search,” a more seamless and immersive way to search images on mobile devices with Responsive Visual Search, and Pinterest Pincodes, which offers a shortcut to curated ideas on Pinterest that are “inspired by what you’re looking at in the real world.”
Pinterest Release Sections for Organizing Boards: Pinterest began testing “boards within boards“, a new way easily organize Pins into sections within boards, in mid-September with a select group of users. Now, Pinterest has officially rolled out Sections “with the addition of some cool new features” to all users on iOS, Android, and web.
Facebook Consolidates Event Management for Pages Within Publishing Tools: Facebook makes it easier for Page admins to manage their Facebook Events within Publishing Tools. Page owners and admins can now “schedule, publish, or cancel multiple events at once or more quickly take action on a series of events” in one place. Once an event has been created from a Page, admins can boost the event and turn it into an ad for desktop and mobile with just one click, capture insights on reach, engagement, and audience demographics, or edit the published details.
Facebook Suggests Stories from Pages “You May Like” but Do Not Follow: Facebook now makes recommendations on “Page Stories You May Like” from Pages you do not follow. These alerts can be found between posts in your News Feed.
Facebook Adds Highlighted Shares to Video Metrics for Pages: Facebook added Highlighted Shares to Video Insights to all Pages globally. This new feature gives publishers and creators more information about the top five Pages that are re-sharing their videos, ranked by views. Video publishers will also be able to see associated insights from re-sharers such as post engagement, views, and average watch time.
Facebook Updates Collection Ads to Have More Flexibility in Displaying Products: Facebook is adding more flexibility to the creation process for collection ads. In addition to automatically pulling products from a business’ catalog, marketers can now manually add products and choose the order and color variations of the products that are displayed in the ads. In addition, advertisers can focus on four items to display in their collection ads rather the eight, which was previously the minimum number of products required. Facebook also announced that the lifestyle Canvas template for Collection ads, which was introduced in September, is now available to all advertisers with catalogs on the site.
Snapchat Expands Context Cards: Snapchat rolled out the ability to use context cards to direct consumers to a website after interacting with a sponsored lens or filter. U.S. advertisers can currently attach a context card that links to a website to their campaigns and in the coming months, brands will be able to plug in a website that deep links to their own mobile app.
Instagram Tests Ability to Follow Hashtags: Instagram appears to be testing the ability to follow hashtags in addition to users on the platform. An image obtained by The Next Web shows that Instagram appears to be limiting the hashtag search to “top posts and recent stories.” This possible new functionality remains unconfirmed by Instagram and has only been spotted on select accounts, but is expected to roll out more broadly.
LinkedIn Improves Lead Gen Forms to Drive More ROI: LinkedIn rolled out two new ways to collect leads with LinkedIn’s new Lead Gen Forms for Sponsored Content. Marketers can now use these Lead Gen Forms on their Sponsored InMail campaigns and collect lead data beyond the standard fields LinkedIn provides with new custom question fields. LinkedIn also announced a new Dynamic Ads format that can “can instantly generate leads and enable content downloads – such as the download of an ebook or whitepaper – directly from the ad unit itself.”
Facebook Adds Four New Tools for Helping Businesses Grow Internationally: Facebook introduced four new cross-border solutions “to make it easier for all business to grow, around the corner or around the world.” With dynamic language optimization, businesses can include multiple languages in one campaign. Businesses can also use multi-country lookalike audiences to find their next best customers in any combination of countries or regions and use multi-city targeting to target all cities above a certain population size without having to do research or add the cities individually. In addition, Facebook released the Facebook IQ Cross-Border Insights Finder, a new resource that helps advertisers discover untapped markets for their business by providing comparative country data based on past campaign performance across Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network.
Twitter Expands Display Names to 50 Characters: After officially rolling out a 280-character limit to most languages, Twitter also expanded display names to allow up to 50 characters and now allows longer names, emojis, or complete phrases to identify accounts. Twitter notes that usernames, the account identifier immediately following the @ symbol on Twitter, will continue to be limited to 15 characters.
Facebook Debuts Creator App and Other Creator Community Tools: Facebook announced two new initiatives “to help creators unleash their creativity.” The first is the Facebook Creator app, which offers a wide range of tools and features to help creators manage their Facebook presence. It’s available globally for both iOS and Android.
Instagram Tests Wide Range of New Features: The Next Web reports that Instagram is currently testing a range of new features. These possible new features and tools include a native Regram button, which allows users to easily reshare images and videos from other accounts, the ability to search for and add GIFs to stories, a new archive feature for saving stories, and much more.
YouTube Introduces New Stories Feature: YouTube debuted Reels, the platform’s experimental spin on the popular Stories format found on other social media networks. YouTube notes that Reels is “designed specifically for YouTube creators” in mind. For example, a creator’s reels will be featured in a separate tab on the creator’s channel and these posts won’t expire. YouTube is currently testing a beta version of Reels with a handful of creators but plans to expand it to more creators over time.
Facebook Prototypes Messenger Broadcasts for Businesses: Facebook is privately testing a new Messenger product that will allow businesses to send automated mass-marketing messages to users who have contacted them in the past. Facebook confirms that it’s currently experimenting with this possible new feature internally, but hasn’t yet tested it with the public or any businesses “as of late last month.”
Facebook Introduces Trust Indicators for Published Content in the News Feed: Earlier this year, Facebook began testing a new feature that offers additional context for articles shared in the news feed. These include a description of the publisher, trending or related articles about the topic, and how the article is being shared by other users. Last week, Facebook announced that it will also begin displaying new publisher Trust Indicators such as information on their ethics policy, corrections policy, fact-checking policy, ownership structure, and masthead through this module.
Facebook Introduces New Discovery Tools for Auto Buying on Mobile: Facebook rolled out “a brand new set of mobile features specifically designed to help auto companies expand their customer base.” The first of these updates are dynamic ads for autos that allow manufacturers and dealers to upload their vehicle catalog with relevant details such as make, model, and year, and then automatically generates ads that show the most compelling inventory to the right audiences. Facebook also rolled out new lead ads for autos that make it easy for people to sign up for information such as offers and quotes from a specific dealership.
Facebook Adjusts Dimensions for Group Cover Images: Facebook appears to have adjusted the dimensions for group cover photos to 1640 x 856 pixels or a 1.91:1 ratio. This update was reported by Andrea Vahl and has been confirmed by the Facebook Help Center.
Twitter Tests How Many People Are “Talking About” Tweets: Twitter is experimenting with a new feature that quantifies how many people are “talking about” individual popular tweets. This new metric appears to replace the retweet and replies totals with “one, cumulative total” that has been spotted beneath a handful of tweets when they’re embedded elsewhere on the web. Twitter confirms that this is “just a small experiment” and is simply “part of Twitter’s ongoing attempts to explore new ways of providing more social context around tweets.”
Facebook Experiments With New Way to Tag Friends in Comments: A new option to “Mention a Friend” has been spotted within Facebook’s commenting field. With the new feature, users will no longer need to type “@” followed by a person’s name to tag them in a comment. Instead, users can click this new button and Facebook will bring up a scrollable version of their friends list. Facebook has neither confirmed nor shared any details about this possible new feature.
Google’s Chatbot Analytics Platform Chatbase Launches to Public: At Google I/O this year, Google quietly introduced a new chatbot analytics platform called Chatbase, a project developed within the company’s internal R&D incubator, Area 120. This month, that platform is publicly launched to all. Beyond bot analytics, the tool leverages Google’s machine learning capabilities to figure out what sort of problems could be affecting the bot.
Data Studio Community Connectors Gallery: Data Studio Community Connectors enable direct connections from Data Studio to any internet accessible data source. Anyone can build their own Community Connector or use any available ones. These connectors will let you access data from additional external sources, leveraging Data Studio as a free and powerful reporting and analysis solution. You can now use more than 50 Community Connectors from within the Gallery to access all your data. If your data source is not available to use through any existing connector, you can Vote for your data source. This will let developers know which Data Sources are most in demand.
Google Analytics for Firebase Gets New Dashboard, Real-time Card and More: A refreshed and more consistent look and feel for Google Analytics for Firebase improving the experience of measuring apps, launched this month. In addition to refreshing UI, also new reports and cards are added to Google Analytics for Firebase Dashboard making it more timely and helpful by adding new ‘Real-Time Data’ card that shows details about the number of active users in the last 30 minutes on the dashboard.
New Centralized User Management and User Groups for Google Analytics Business Accounts: Google has announced that in the next few months, businesses will be able to centrally manage their users across the accounts their company holds. Additionally, it’ll be launching new ‘user groups’ to help simplify managing permissions of multiple users’ teams. In addition to managing a user’s access across many Analytics accounts in one console, the centralized user management for an organization also let you view rich cross product and cross account details for users. You can also see new details about how a user inherits their permissions, and get clear in-product explanations of different access levels and privileges.