September 2017 Digital Marketing News Recap
Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of September 2017.
AMP Powers Google Featured Snippets On Mobile: Google seems to have made a switch a few days ago where on mobile search they are now likely to serve featured snippets from pages that are powered by AMP. @thefke and @glenngabe were one of the first to notice this and I am able to replicate it. Some publishers and webmasters are noticing significant changes in their traffic because of this change. It seems, although Google has not confirmed this yet, that Google may prioritize an AMP document in the mobile featured snippets over even mobile-friendly pages that are featured on desktop.
Google Officially Launches Editing Local Business Info In Search Results: Google announced this morning that they are officially launching the ability to edit your business details in search, without having to go to Google My Business or use the mobile Google My Business app. This is something Google has been testing and testing for the past few months. All you need to do is find your business in search and be logged into the account you have verified the business with originally and you can edit it inline within search.
Google Wants You To Ignore The Cache Date: John Mueller of Google said on Twitter that we should really ignore the cache date. Obviously, you can use Google Search Console index status reports and the sitemap reports, as well as fetch as Google to get better timelines on Google crawling specific pages. Also, if you are a real nerd, you can use your access logs.
Google: First Click Free is Over, Being Replaced by Flexible Sampling: Google is yielding to publisher requests and replacing its much-debated “First Click Free” program with what it calls “Flexible Sampling.” Content and news publishers will now control whether and how many articles they want to let searchers access before showing a paywall or subscription prompt. The company is also working on an array of other tools to help boost publisher subscriptions.
Gingras said Google is going to use ad-targeting tactics to identify which audiences are most likely to subscribe. He said that publishers would need to share their audience profiles, and Google would then seek out lookalike audiences to maximize subscriber signups. Subscription optimization won’t become available until next year, however.
Google also wants to make it much easier for users to subscribe to publisher content. The company is building a standard or template-based checkout flow that will be available to publishers at their discretion. Publishers will be free to ignore it, adopt it or modify it.
Gingras concluded by teasing that Google will more prominently expose content from publications users already subscribe to, which will be given a one-box like treatment above the fold or at the top of the page. Organic results will not change or be impacted.
Google Local Ffinder Rolls out Website Mentions Matching Your Query: Sergey Alakov first noticed that Google has begun rolling out the local finder website mentions that Google began testing earlier this month. Website mentions in the local finder show the searcher if their query, the search they used to bring up the local results in Google, matches any of the content found on the local business website. Now it seems to be live for all.
Bing now Officially Supports Fact Check Label With ClaimReview Markup: Bing has finally announced their official support for the “Fact Check” label in search. This is powered by the ClaimReview schema markup and now shows up in the Bing search results. Now if you do searches, you may see a line that reads “Fact checked by Snopes” followed by a False or True statement. Google added this feature about a year ago.
Google Rolls Out New Content Discovery Tool in the Google App for iOS: Google debuted a new exploration and discovery feature that will recommend articles related to what you’re currently reading on the Google Search app on iOS. Suggestions for additional content will automatically appear when the user scrolls down to the bottom of the page. This new recommendation tool is currently only available to iOS users in the U.S.
Google AdWords to Roll Out AMP Landing Pages: In May, Google announced they are beta testing AdWords AMP landing pages. Well, the beta is just about over and in the next two weeks, Google is opening up this feature to all advertisers in two weeks, Google said. Here is help documentation on how to make AdWords AMP landing pages, so you should read up on it. Google said AMP landing pages for search text ads will be available for all mobile clicks—however, caching will initially only be available for the Chrome browser on Android. They will be rolling out support for additional mobile browsers in the coming weeks.
Google AdWords’ Automated Ad Suggestions Test is Getting a Reboot: Earlier this year, Google launched a beta test that automatically launched machine-generated ads in a small set of AdWords accounts. The lack of control in that test wasn’t particularly well-received. Now, Google is giving it another shot, with some adjustments aimed at addressing advertiser concerns. Like the earlier test, the system takes into account several factors when generating new ad variations, including content in existing ads and ad extensions and landing pages to identify ad content that could drive the best ROI. The new beta is set to start on September 30. If you’re interested and are in the US or UK but haven’t been notified, reach out to your Google rep about it.
New Google AdWords Reporting Dashboards: Google AdWords has announced they are going to be rolling out new reporting dashboards that give advertisers a “panoramic” view of their account. Advertisers would be able to create their own dashboards and lump them into one screen to get a quick look on a single page on how well their campaigns are running. This is rolling out over the “next several weeks” says Google – so you might not see it yet.
New Google AdWords Terms & Conditions: Google earlier this month updated the terms and conditions for their massive ad network, Google AdWords. Google sent out emails to their advertisers saying “you’re receiving this message because we’ve updated our Terms and Conditions, which impacts your AdWords account.” Google added if you do not sign in and approve the new terms and conditions that your ads can be paused in 45 days from the email.
Google Gradually Limiting Search Ads on Addiction Treatment Queries: Google has started limiting ads on search results pages for drug and alcohol treatment center queries. Rehabilitation centers like those operated by Advanced Recovery Systems have suddenly seen ads disappear from roughly 40 percent of queries they were targeting, reported The Verge. Unlike the pharmacy and payday loan scenarios where ads can still appear on related queries, Google is disabling advertising on certain addiction treatment-related search results altogether — for now at least. This could evolve as Google works with outside advisors and experts in the field.
Google AdWords Editor Version 12.1: New features include Expanded Dynamic Search ads, Shopping Showcase ads, and new bid options in the Advanced Bid Changes tool. The new Keyword display width column shows the length of keyword text in display units to help users judge text limit. You can now download metrics for first position bid, ad relevancy, landing page experience, and click-through-rate. You can now view campaign and ad groups that violate your custom rules. These violations will not be separate from other error and warning messages in your account.
New Merchant Center Tools For Google AdWords: Google announced they have new merchant tools available for their AdWords customers for the upcoming holidays. Google said “the new feeds experience, you’ll be able to add or override product information with supplemental feeds, easily expand to new countries with multi-country feeds, and use the power of Feed Rules on product data from the API.” Also you should be able “to see the new Opportunities tab, which surfaces improvements to your product data or campaigns that could drive more clicks for your account.” These new changes are currently available to all accounts created on or after July 13, 2017, and are rolling out to everybody over the next month.
3 AdWords Extensions Now Eligible for Call-only Ads: The three ad extensions available for call-only ads are: Location extensions, Callout Extensions and Structured Snippets. If any of these extension types are already set at the account level, they will be eligible automatically to display with call-only ads. Customized extensions can also be set at the campaign level for this ad type.
New: Bulk Cancel Inactive Google AdWords Account: You can now cancel in bulk your inactive Google AdWords accounts from your manager account. All you need to do is login, select them and click edit and then cancel. This should help those with lots of inactive accounts to clean things up quickly.
Bing Ads Now Shows Remarketing Bid Adjustment Suggestions Based on CPA Data: Bing Ads has added suggestions for remarketing bid adjustments to the Opportunities Tab in the web interface.
Account-level Ad Extensions Now Available in Bing Ads: Bing Ads announced that it is rolling out account-level ad extensions globally over the next few weeks. Via the Bing Ads UI, Google Import, Bing Ads API and Bulk Upload tools, advertisers can set extensions at the account level rather than having to repeatedly assign the same extensions at the campaign or ad group levels. Once enabled, advertisers will see an “Account” option next to “Campaign” and “Ad group” under the Ad Extensions tab in the Bing Ads UI.
Bing Ads & LinkedIn Graphs Integration Underway, More In-market Audiences Available: Rik van der Kooi, during a speech at Advertising Week in New York City, announced that Microsoft is integrating the LinkedIn Graph with Microsoft’s Audience Intelligence Graph. The natural assumption is that advertisers will be able to harness data from both graphs and use it in campaigns across Bing Ads and LinkedIn. Bing Ads is still piloting in-market audience targeting, but announced that the program is broadening and is expected to be available generally soon.
Bing Ads Chat Bot Extension Pilot: Bing is starting to integrate brands’ bots right within the search results. Chat Bot Extensions will help businesses surface answers to common questions about their products or services right within the search results pages. This initial test is launching now, and Bing plans to make it more widely available later this year.
Bing Ads Announces New Editor Features for Ad Extensions: Bing Ads announced some new features in Editor related to the ad extension management. These new features are now available for the Windows version of Bing Ads Editor, and they will soon be available for the Mac version. Bing has also upgraded the management capabilities of their Shared Library to include location and call extensions. Advertisers can now create a library for each and quickly associate them to multiple campaigns in a few clicks.
LinkedIn Officially Launches New LinkedIn Audience Network: LinkedIn announced the new LinkedIn Audience Network, “a native advertising network that enables you to reach even more professionals with your ads by placing your Sponsored Content on high-quality, third-party publishers across mobile and desktop.” LinkedIn assures marketers that it has “taken measures to ensure brand safety within [its] recently launched LinkedIn Audience Network” such as vetting partner publishers to verify that they meet its advertising guidelines and regularly monitoring campaign activity on the network. LinkedIn also promises to give advertisers control over where their ads appear within the network. Adweek reports that the list of third party publishers and apps includes Microsoft properties like MSN and Outlook.com.
Instagram Tests Ability to Push Stories to Both Facebook and Instagram: Instagram is testing the option to share photos and videos created with Instagram’s in-app camera to Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories simultaneously.
Facebook Adds Floating Call-to-Action Button on Posts: Facebook appears to be testing floating call-to-action buttons that are found at the bottom of the news feed as you scroll.
Facebook Offers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Music Rights: Bloomberg reports that “Facebook Inc. is offering major record labels and music publishers hundreds of millions of dollars so the users of its social network can legally include songs in videos they upload.” Under current law, copyright holders are responsible for asking Facebook to take down videos with infringing material. Although Facebook has promised to develop and build a system that properly identifies and tags music that infringes copyrights, the setup process is expected to take too long and both sides are eager to find a quicker solution for this growing concern.
Facebook Officially Rolls Out Watch to All U.S. Users: TechCrunch reports that Facebook has officially opened the new Watch tab to everyone in the U.S. after a limited rollout a month ago and a further expansion to more users last week. The report confirms that the new Watch tab is now available across Facebook’s native mobile apps, desktop site, and TV apps.
WhatsApp Announces Free Tools for Businesses: WhatsApp announced plans to build and test new business apps to help small companies using WhatsApp to communicate with customers. It will also roll out an enterprise solution for bigger companies such as airlines, ecommerce sites, and banks operating at a large scale with a global base of customers.
Snapchat Expands On-Demand Geofilter Creation on Mobile to Europe: Snapchat users in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland will now be able to create on-demand geofilters from their mobile devices through Snapchat Creative Studio. Snapchat rolled out this feature to the U.S. this past June.
Facebook Combines Power Editor and Ads Manager Into One Powerful Tool: In an updated Ads Manager interface rolling out this week, Facebook combined “the ease of use and familiarity advertisers love” about Ads Manager with “the powerful ad creation and editing features” of Power Editor into a single platform.
Instagram Brings Facebook Canvas Ad Format to Stories: Instagram announced that “in the coming weeks,” businesses will be able to easily integrate Instagram stories with Facebook’s fast-loading and immersive Canvas ads format and use them in campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network. Instagram also introduced a new uploading tool that allows advertisers to use their existing organic stories as ads and gives them access to stickers, filters, and drawing tools found in the native Instagram Stories camera.
Twitter Adds Team Management Feature on Mobile: With a new update rolled out this month, multiple Twitter users can now share access to a single account via the social network’s iOS and Android apps without needing to share that account’s password. Twitter details how to set up the new teams feature and grant levels of access in a Twitter Help Center post.
Twitter Tests Built-In Tweetstorm Feature on Android: Twitter appears to be testing a built-in but hidden “tweetstorm” feature within the Android app. This new feature automatically splits larger blocks of text into individual tweets and appends the tweet count at the end.
Facebook Tests Meet-Up Feature: Facebook is running “a very small test” of a new feature that makes it easier to discover potential new friends by connecting users with mutual friends of friends with whom they might have other things in common and encouraging them to meet up in person.
Facebook Tests New Group Video Chat App Called Bonfire: Facebook has been quietly testing a new stand-alone group video chat app called Bonfire. The Next Web reports that this new app allows up to eight friends to join a conversation, use special effects, and share pictures from the chats through Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger. Facebook confirmed that it’s only running a very small test of the Bonfire app in Denmark.
Facebook Tests Mentorship Matching Service: Facebook is testing a new feature that matches people looking for professional guidance with potential mentors based on mutual interests, friendships, education, geographic location, and profession.
Instagram Rolls Out Ability to Share Stories Through Direct: Instagram announced that users can now privately share Instagram stories in Direct messages. Stories sent in Direct will disappear just as they typically do in the app.
Facebook Establishes Clears Standards and Guidelines for Monetization: Facebook introduced new monetization eligibility standards, which provide “clearer guidance” on the type of publishers and creators that are eligible to earn money on Facebook, as well as the type of content that can be monetized. Facebook also provides a detailed list of prohibited content types that can’t be monetized. While the criteria and terms for monetization are clearly outlined, Facebook states that it “reserves the right to modify, suspend or terminate access to, or discontinue the availability of, the content monetization features at any time.”
Facebook Debuts Redesigned IQ Site, Highlighting Insights to Go: Facebook launched a newly redesigned website for Facebook IQ that now features an easy-access portal of all of its marketing and measurement data, white papers, and success stories on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and the Facebook Audience Network. Facebook also added a new Insights to Go tool, a “discovery engine” that enables agencies and marketers to filter, find, and share relevant insights and data instantly. The new Facebook IQ experience is available to all users globally and across all screens. There are also region-specific, in-language views of the site for various countries.
Facebook Introduces New Way to Match Creative Assets With Target Audiences and Ad Placements: Facebook rolled out Dynamic Creative, a new way for advertisers to automatically match what creative works best for a target audience or placements. This new system is “geared towards performance-driven marketers who use manual techniques to find the best performing ad creative to use for a target audience.” Dynamic Creative is now available through Facebook’s marketing APIs with an “initial phased rollout” for Power Editor and Ads Manager.
Facebook Introduces More Ways to Drive Offline Outcomes: Facebook introduced “more ways to help marketers better connect with their customers by re-engaging their offline audiences on Facebook.” These updates include the ability to build custom audiences from offline conversion event sets entirely comprised of people who have previously purchased offline and store visits reporting based on location service data from customers’ mobile phones.
Facebook Rolls Out Ability to Track Recent Ad Activity: Adweek reports that Facebook has “quietly rolled out a feature that enables U.S. users (desktop and mobile) to revisit ads they have interacted with” on the platform called Recent Ad Activity. Found among bookmarks, the new Recent Ad Activity button allows users to find a list of ads they’ve clicked, liked, commented on, or shared “over the past three months” and a tab that shows if other users have saved those ads. According to Facebook, this new feature provides “a way to come back to ads with an eye toward potentially making purchases” and “enables users to share feedback with Facebook about their experiences when making purchases via Facebook ads.”
Instagram and Whatsapp Launche Directly From Facebook App: Facebook is rolling out a direct link from the main navigation menu of its mobile app to the user’s Instagram account. Facebook also appears to be testing a dedicated shortcut to WhatsApp from the main Facebook app. This new feature has been spotted on Android devices in the main navigation menu of the Facebook app.
Pinterest Taste Graph Expands Interest Categories for Ad Targeting: Pinterest launched a new ad product within the Pinterest Taste Graph that has the power to surface over 100 billion pins based on a pinner’s interests. With the rollout of this new tool “in the coming weeks,” advertisers will have access to over 5,000 interest categories with which to target campaigns.
Facebook Tests New Snooze Feature for the News Feed: Facebook is testing a new feature that allows users to “temporarily unfollow friends, Pages or Groups for 24 hours, 7 days or 30 days” and “stay connected with the stories they find most relevant.” TechCrunch reports that this “snooze button” has been spotted on desktop sites in the U.S.
Facebook Introduces Option to Get Messages on Page Posts: Facebook appears to have added the ability to contact a page on Messenger directly from a post with a new Send Message button. Admins have the option to “get messages” on page posts once an image or video is added to a post.
Facebook Developing Voice Chat Device and Smart Speaker: Facebook is reportedly working on a video chat device for the home that will feature a large touchscreen and smart camera technology. A prototype is already being tested in people’s homes and is expected to be debuted as soon as next spring’s F8 developer conference. Facebook is also working on a stand-alone smart speaker that would compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Vimeo Launches New Live-Streaming Platform: Vimeo acquired live video streaming platform Livestream and is launching a new live-streaming platform called Vimeo Live. With this new platform, creators will be able to capture, edit, stream, and archive their live events in addition to hosting, distributing, and generating revenue from their videos. Vimeo Live will be offered as a set of annual and monthly paid membership tiers across a range of price levels, similar to Vimeo’s other paid membership plans.
Facebook Shows How Long Since a User Has Been Active on Messenger: Facebook Messenger now shows the time since a user was last active on Messenger. It appears that Facebook limits the timeframe to within one hour. Once a user has been inactive on Messenger for longer than one hour, the time marker and flag reportedly disappear from Messenger.
Snapchat Introduces Sponsored 3D World Lenses: Snapchat introduced 3D World Lenses, “a new kind of World Lens that allows you to bring your characters and products to life inside the Snapchat camera.” Snap Inc. is betting that 3D World Lenses can help brands drive their business objectives by bringing products or branded characters into Snapchatters’ “real-world” environments, drive awareness and favorability, and encourage consideration and intent to purchase.
Instagram Adds Face Filters to Live Video: Instagram is rolling out the ability to add face filters while sharing a live video broadcast. Face filters in live video will be available globally “over the next several weeks.”
Facebook Messenger Adds More Advertising Objectives for Brands: Facebook is rolling out additional advertising objectives for brands using Messenger to promote branded chatbots and other “conversational campaigns.” These objectives include the ability to target users based on increasing brand awareness, lead generation, and driving store visits.
YouTube Studio Update Features In-App Scheduling Tools and Subscriber Stats: The YouTube Creator Studio app has been renamed YouTube Studio and now includes the ability “to schedule posts right from your phone” and “a prominent subscriber count card right at the top of your YouTube Studio app dashboard.” YouTube also announced that it plans to roll out the ability to use creator hearts and pin comments “in the coming months.”
YouTube Debuts New Ad Tech Tools for Brands and Marketers: YouTube rolled out four new ad tech tools to help advertisers “capture the attention of their audience on YouTube.” These new tools include Director Mix, a new technology that allows a company to “simplify the process of creating different versions of the same creative tailored for each audience,” and an expansion of YouTube’s Custom Affinity Audiences offerings, which allows marketers to “reach people based on the kind of searches they do or the kind of places and apps they like.” YouTube also introduced Video Ad Sequencing “to help you architect an ad experience that unfolds over time” and a new, global approach to measuring sales lift with Nielsen MPA
WhatsApp Tests Verified Badges to Select Business Accounts: WhatsApp is testing verified business accounts to select contacts. A green badge next to the account name confirms that the phone number of this contact belongs to a business account. WhatsApp announced that business verification is currently limited to a small number of businesses participating in a pilot program.
Google Data Studio Adds Third-Party Data Connectors from Supermetrics and Others: Google introduced a beta for third-party connectors. Supermetrics is among the launch partners. Users will find the new options in the Data Studio Community Connectors Gallery. Once the third-party connection is established, the process for creating reports is the same as when using Google data sources. Along with this new beta, Google has added the ability for users to embed interactive Data Studio reports on their websites. Select Report > File > Embed report, then put the HTML code snippet into an iframe.
Google Responds to Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention with AdWords Tracking Update: Starting this month, Google is making changes to the way it captures and reports on conversions in AdWords in the response to Apple’s coming Safari update. In June, Apple introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), an initiative aimed at limit third-party trackers from capturing cross-site browsing data, in the next version of Safari, coming out this fall. Namely, Google has developed a new Google Analytics cookie that will be used to capture campaign and conversion data from Safari in a way that conforms with ITP.
Google Analytics Adds Feature to Unify Users to Google AMP Cache Pages & Non-AMP pages: A visitor who went to an AMP-enabled page and a non-AMP page of a site was being counted as two separate people in Google Analytics. In May, Google fixed the double-counting issue for visitors to publisher domain pages, but visitors to AMP Cache pages have still been counted separately in Analytics. This Month, Google announced a fix for AMP pages served via Google AMP Cache, including from Google search results. Users will need to opt in to the new solution, and a small code change is required on both AMP and non-AMP websites to enable it. Instructions for setting up the Google AMP Client ID API are here.