October 2017 Digital Marketing News Recap
Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of October 2017.
Google Suggests They Use Off-Site Sentiment Analysis For Ranking: Gary Illyes from Google was quoted by several SEOs as saying at the State of Search event that Google uses a form of sentiment analysis for search rankings. He said that Google looks at off-site sentiment to find supporting signals about quality of a site. He also said that can mean both positive and negative off-site sentiment. The quotes suggest that this may be taken from social signals as well as other web site mentions. This is not just about links, Gary Illyes said.
Google Launches Book A Room For Hotel Search Results: Google seems to have rolled out a feature they have been testing for booking a hotel room directly from the Google hotel search results. If you do a Google search for “hotels near me” chances are you might see listing with a call-to-action button – “Book A Room”. After you click on this button, it then takes you to a new screen that loads pricing from different web sites that have booking options for that hotel room for those dates.
Google Mobile First Index Is Live For Few Sites & Never Will Stop Rolling Out: The mobile-first index has started to slowly roll out, at least for a “few sites,” Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes told an audience at the SMX East conference in New York City. He said there is no reason to panic about the rollout because Google is still testing it and will be rolling it out incredibly slowly. He added that there is no foreseeable time when the mobile-first index will be fully implemented. In selecting sites to be switched over, Google has set up “classifiers” to define how ready a site is for the mobile-first index. Classifiers determine how equal or comparable the desktop site is to the mobile site when it comes to content, links, schema, multimedia, etc. If the content, links, schema and so on all match at a 100 percent level, Google is more likely to take that site to the mobile-first indexing stage. If they are at an 80 percent level, Google might wait and communicate to the webmaster that there are specific changes that need to be made to the mobile site to get it closer to being 100 percent comparable.
Businesses Can Now Sign up to Add Booking Buttons to Their Google Local Results: In July, Google added booking buttons to some local panel results. Now, Google is opening that up to more local businesses by integrating with their “scheduling partners” directly from the Google My Business console. When you log into your Google My Business account, you may see a new button in the console named “sign up for bookings” next to the “accept bookings on Google” section. After you click on that button, you will be taken to a page to choose your booking provider. Google has teamed up with a dozen or so providers. Not all local listings qualify for this new feature. Check in a few days or so, as Google rolls this out to US businesses throughout this week.
Google Searches Now Correspond to User Location Instead of Domain: To make search results more relevant, Google says the country of service will no longer be indicated by the country code top level domain name (ccTLD) such as “google.co.uk” for the UK or “google.com.br” for Brazil, but instead will default to the country where the user is performing the search. Google says that typing the relevant ccTLD into a browser will no longer return various country services. Instead, users must go into their settings and select the correct country service if they don’t see the country they want
Google Announces AdWords Daily Budgets Can Overspend by 2x, Automatically: Google AdWords notified advertisers in their accounts and on Twitter that a change had already happened to the way budgets get handled on a daily basis. In the tweet, Google announced, “To help you hit your advertising goals, your campaigns can now spend up to twice your average daily budget.”
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.
AdWords Rolls Out New Interface to All Advertisers: Google has announced that the new AdWords interface is now available to all advertisers. Along with new features for data visualization, the overhaul enhances load speed of account data up to 20 percent, according to Google. Users can get acquainted with the new interface and its features through the guided tour. For now, it’s still possible to toggle back and forth between the new and old interfaces.
Google Redesigning Flight Search Ads: Pete Meyers posted on Twitter that Google has a new look for the flight search ads results.
Google AdWords New Days To Conversion Report: Google quietly announced on Google+ a new feature to help advertisers understand the time it takes for their customers to convert after they click on their ads. Google wrote “we’re introducing “Days to conversion” reporting to help you see the time between ad clicks and conversions.”
Google AdWords to Roll Out ‘Parallel Tracking’ to Speed Up Mobile Landing Page Delivery: Google announced a change to the way it will handle tracking parameters appended to AdWords landing page URLs. Instead of processing the tracking with the landing page, Google is introducing “parallel tracking” to process the tracking URL, the AdWords click tracker and possible redirects in the background while the user goes straight to the landing page. Parallel tracking will start rolling out later this year and become the default tracking method in early 2018. It will initially be optional and only available for Search Network and Shopping campaigns. Advertisers working with third-party tracking template providers should check in with them about this change now, because the providers may have to make updates to accommodate parallel tracking.
Google Rolls Out New Offline Measurement Tools on YouTube: Google announced that new location extensions and store visits measurement are now available to help measure foot traffic to physical businesses from YouTube. According to the Google AdWords blog, these are YouTube’s first-ever ad extensions for TrueView in-stream and bumper ads and are aimed to influence viewers to engage with a brand offline and drive more visits and in-store purchases.
Google Announces New Online-to-Offline Features on the Cusp of the Holiday Shopping Season: Google is teeing up some new shopping features and reporting capabilities ahead of the holiday shopping season. The announcements include –
1) Local inventory tie-in to Google Assistant – When users ask their phones or Google home, “Okay Google, Where can I buy _____ nearby?,” Google will show a list of local inventory results on their phones. To be eligible for inclusion in local inventory search, retailers need to upload their local inventory feeds to Google Merchant Center
2) Local inventory in display ads – Google is adding a local inventory display ad format that features promotions and local products from a retailer’s inventory feeds. The pilot for this new local display ad format is now open to all advertisers that set up display campaigns and upload their assets, including a feed and images.
3) Store visits measurement updates – Along with the introduction of the local display format, Google is adding reporting for impression-based store visits. Google is also introducing three new reports to AdWords for store visits: Time lag report, Demographic report and New vs. returning customer report
4) Apparel shopping updates – In mobile Shopping results for apparel searches, users will soon see filtering options for sizing, pricing and other criteria. The listings within Google Shopping are bigger and feature brand logos.
Google Employee Clicks On AdWords Ads Do Not Cost: Gary Illyes from Google said that on stage at SMX East, that Google employee clicks don’t count. He said he likes to click on the AdWords ads, he finds them very relevant, but he added not to worry since his clicks do not count.
Bing Ads Offline Conversion Imports: Bing posted on their Bing Ads blog about a new feature to allow you to import your offline conversion data into Bing Ads. You can connect offline conversions to a search ad via the use of a Microsoft Click ID (MSCLKID), which is automatically appended to your ad URLs when you first enable this feature. You will then need to capture this click ID from the referring URL whenever a user visits your website, and store it with any form or quote filled out by a user on your website.
Bing Ads Rolling Out Dynamic Search Ads to US and UK: Advertisers in the US and UK can now run Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) in the Bing Ads platform. DSA support is available in the platform’s online interface and Bing Ads Editor.
Bing Ads Launches Automated Bid Strategy to ‘Maximize Clicks’: Bing Ads has announced the rollout of an automated bid strategy aimed at maximizing the number of clicks advertisers can receive within their budgets. Maximize Clicks is not currently available for Shopping campaigns and does not yet work with third-party bidding platforms.
Bing Ads Launches Multi-Linking for Multiple-Account Management: Starting today, Bing Ads is rolling out a more streamlined and intuitive mechanism called “Multi-Linking” for linking one account to another. The new system allows advertisers to link accounts without having to classify itself as an agency, as advertisers had to do previously. In addition, accounts can have up to five managing entities, and billing responsibility can also be moved between entities with no pausing of the account necessary. Multi-Linking will be rolling out over the next several weeks worldwide.
YouTube Limits External Links in Video Cards: YouTube added new requirements for external links from videos. YouTube creators may now only direct viewers to weblinks using cards if the site is currently associated with their YouTube channel and the creator is a member of the YouTube Partner Program. YouTube states that this new policy “is meant to curb abuse and does not affect current YouTube partners or existing end cards.” YouTube also clarifies that “channels do not have to actually monetize any videos as part of this requirement.”
LinkedIn Tests Geofilters for Event and Conference Videos: LinkedIn is testing a new overlay option that allows event and conference attendees to add location-based filters to videos created within the LinkedIn app. Mashable reports that the graphics are “styled to look like conference badges with the poster’s profile photo in the right corner” and “will also indicate if the person sharing the video is a speaker at the event.” This feature is currently being tested with select events and is expected to become a self-serve option like on Snapchat.
Facebook Tests Publisher Information Buttons on Articles: Facebook is testing a new way “to give people additional context on the articles they see in News Feed and provide people some of the tools they need to make an informed decision about which stories to read, share, and trust. An experimental button on article links shared in the news feed will now provide additional details and context about the publisher or source.
Facebook Tests Facial Recognition to Access Accounts: Facebook announced its testing “a way to regain access by using your face to verify your identity.” Facebook notes that “this optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in” and is simply “another step, alongside two-factor authentication via SMS… to make sure account owners can confirm their identity.”
Snapchat Enhances Advertising Efforts With Snap Accelerate: Snapchat launched Snap Accelerate, a new initiative aimed at helping venture capital-backed startups to kickstart and scale their advertising efforts on Snapchat. This program offers benefits packages in varying sizes and is available to “a select number of startups” on an application-basis only. Adweek reports that Snap Inc. plans to “meet with ‘top’ VC firms in the coming weeks to determine ideal portfolio companies for Snap Accelerate and get them on board with the initiative.”
Snapchat Introduces Context Cards: Snapchat announced “a new way to learn more about what you see on Snapchat” with context cards. With content from partners such as TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, and goop, context cards allow users to take simple actions and learn more about a location from snaps. This new feature is available on both iOS and Android in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Snapchat Tests “Official Stories” From Verified Accounts: Snapchat is testing a dedicated section of Official Stories from verified accounts. Mashable reports that it has been showing up for select Android users in the header of the Stories section. A spokesperson from Snap Inc.
Facebook Allows Admins to Mute Comments and Posts From Selected Members: Facebook rolled out an option to temporarily mute a group member from posting or commenting within the group for up to 24 hours.
Facebook Offers One-on-One Help With a Facebook Marketing Expert: Facebook is inviting “select advertisers” to participate in the Facebook Marketing Expert Program. These marketers get access to one-on-one help from Facebook Marketing Experts who will review past and current campaigns “to learn about your business objectives” and provide “tailored recommendations to meet your business’s specific growth needs.” Facebook assures that calls are scheduled “according to your convenience” and all consultations are free.
Facebook Launches Workplace Chat Apps for Mac and PC: Facebook Workplace, its enterprise collaboration software, has quietly launched official desktop PC and Mac chat apps that feature screen sharing. A Facebook spokesperson states that the desktop app is currently still in beta and being tested by Workplace customers. A wider rollout is expected once Facebook is able to collect initial feedback and make improvements.
Microsoft Integrates Virtual Assistant Cortana Into Skype: Microsoft announced plans to integrate Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent assistant, into Skype “to help you in your everyday conversations” with in-context, behind-the-scenes suggestions such as restaurant options, movie reviews, smart replies, reminders, and much more. Cortana also acts as a contact in Skype with whom you can have natural, one-on-one conversations; make direct requests; or ask questions. Cortana in Skype is gradually rolling out to Skype’s Android and iOS customers in the United States.
Facebook Unveils 3D Posts in the News Feed: As part of the VR product and hardware announcements from the Oculus Connect Conference, Facebook previewed “a new type of News Feed post where users can grab, spin and interact with a 3D object to look at it from all angles” called 3D Posts. According to Facebook, this new media type gives users the ability to share content created inside VR with people who aren’t using a headset or create objects in Medium or Spaces’ marker drawing feature, and then share them to the news feed. TechCrunch reports that Facebook is also working on an API that allows third-party VR app developers to give users the option to share their creations to the news feed.
Facebook Tests Two New Custom Audience Options for Ad Targeting: Facebook appears to be testing two new ways to target ads to custom audiences that are most likely to respond. With “Dwell Time,” advertisers can “create a list of users who have spent time viewing your display adverts on Facebook or Instagram.” Link Sharing allows them to “create an audience based on people who have shared your content on Facebook” in the past.
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 Officially Rolls Out Explore Feed on Desktop and Mobile: Facebook officially rolled out a new Explore Feed on mobile and desktop. Located in the Explore section on desktop and under the “More” menu on mobile, the Explore Feed helps “users discover more content across the social network, beyond posts from friends and Pages they already follow” and surfaces “recommended content it thinks you might find interesting, including posts, articles, photos, and videos from sources you haven’t followed yet.”
Facebook Expands Order Food Feature to All U.S. Users: Facebook announced that the Order Food feature is now available “everywhere in the U.S. on iOS, Android, and desktop.” Rather than directly competing with established meal ordering services, Facebook is partnering with several industry leaders on this effort, including EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash, and more.
Facebook Tests New Resume Feature: Facebook confirmed it’s currently testing a dedicated Work Histories feature that allows users to list their professional experience and education along with their contact details, image, and other work-related details.
Facebook Allows Users to “Create a Set” for Personal Posts: It appears that Facebook now allows users to select a destination for their posts, links, videos, and more on their personal timeline, with the option to “create a set” around certain friends or topics.
Twitter Introduces Video Website Cards: Twitter rolled out the video website card, a new ad format “that combines the power of video with the ability to drive users back to a site to learn more or take action in the moment” and is expected to create more personalized interactions between brands and users. Video website cards feature a customizable headline, a web page preview, and the ability to work “across a variety of brand objectives” such as video views, website clicks, or awareness. Twitter announced that video website cards are available now to all advertisers globally.
Pinterest Expands Search Ads to All Businesses and Adds Autotargeting Feature: Pinterest announced that it’s expanding search ads to “businesses of all sizes” through the Pinterest Ads Manager, its self-serve ad-buying tool. The company is also adding autotargeting for search. Powered by the Taste Graph, the new autotargeting feature “supplements your keyword strategy by automatically targeting relevant searches” and includes more than 5,000 interests to choose from.
Facebook Tests New Web-Based Live Video Producer Tool: Facebook is testing a new web-based Live Video Producer tool that allows broadcasters to “control footage from multiple cameras in one stream” and “choose different formats for displaying the videos, such as a split screen view, dividing into quarters, or a picture in picture mode.”
Facebook Messenger Integrates In-App Payments to Family and Friends With PayPal in the U.S.: A partnership between Facebook and PayPal announced a year ago enabled transactions from online merchants through their Messenger chatbots. Starting this week, Facebook Messenger and PayPal extending this integration to include peer-to-peer payments in the U.S. PayPal also rolled out a new customer service bot for Messenger, which allows customers to “seamlessly receive payment and account support directly in the app.”
Facebook Tests Paywall and Subscription Support for Instant Articles: Facebook announced it will be testing news subscription models in Instant Articles with “a small group of publishers across the U.S. and Europe.” The program will begin with two paywalled options for publishers, a metered model where everyone gets to read 10 free stories per month before needing to subscribe, and a freemium model where the publishers choose which articles to lock. Those who haven’t subscribed to the publication will also be prompted to subscribe to gain full access to the publishers’ content. Facebook confirms plans to initially test paywalls and subscriptions on Android devices but it plans to expand it “soon.”
Facebook Experiments With In-App Purchases and Ads in Instant Games on Messenger: Facebook is working with “select game publishers” to develop interstitial and rewarded video ads and in-app purchases within Instant Games on Messenger. Facebook also announced it’s making it easier for developers to submit and launch games directly on the platform with more robust developer tools for measurement and ad optimization. Instant Games is a closed beta platform for developer partners on Messenger for iOS, Android, and news feed. Facebook plans to open the platform wider once monetization features and tools are firmly in place.
Facebook Partners With Auto Industry Leaders to Simplify Car Buying in the U.S.: Facebook announced that “in the coming weeks,” Marketplace will be partnering with auto industry leaders such as Edmunds, Cars.com, Auction123, and others to make car buying easier for shoppers in the U.S. Facebook users will be able to browse inventory from auto dealers, use enhanced filters to find exactly what they’re looking for, and communicate directly with dealerships from within Facebook and Messenger.
Facebook Workplace Officially Rolls Out Chat Apps for Desktop and Announces Group Video Chat: Facebook officially released a new desktop app for Workplace Chat with new features like screen sharing. Facebook also announced plans to roll out a group video chat with the capability to create virtual conference “rooms” for up to 50 people “in coming months.” Along with these new apps and features, Facebook is also updating the overall design of Workplace to simplify the interface and make it consistent across Android, iOS, desktop, and web.
Facebook Introduces News Feed Publisher Guidelines: Facebook released News Feed Publisher Guidelines, which include “do’s and don’ts” to help publishers succeed on its platform. They offer an overview of how the news feed works in light of the values and signals considered when ranking stories, the standards and policies being enforced, and the available storytelling tools that help content reach the right audience. Facebook then provides “actionable strategies and three publisher principles” for creating and posting content to the news feed.