Obviously the biggest news of this week is IT’S WARM. So in case you’ve spent this week “working from home” to catch the most of the sun, here’s what you might have missed in digital marketing news…

YouTube launches video banner ads

YouTube has launched a new ad product… “Outstream Video Ads”. The benefit is that with this service advertisers can place YouTube video ads on websites even without a YouTube video. Personally, I’m skeptical. In the past I’ve had clients interested in video banner ads, and a well known programmatic advertiser advised me, “they don’t really work”. While pre-roll and in-stream reaches people at a moment where they’re ready to consume video content, outside of this context, video can be intrusive and annoying. One clue that shows how much YouTube care about a non-intrusive experience is that they’re allowing them to be bought on an interstitial basis (basically a pop up). I’m not holding my breath. More info here.

 

Facebook trials allowing pre-recorded video as “live” video

Busy week for video producers – Facebook is rolling out a trial where some businesses will be able to publish pre-recorded video segments as a “live” video with its new “Premiere” feature. With live video receiving such visibility within the algorithm at the moment, this is an interesting development.  Will we all see our feeds fill with pre-recorded “live” video? It’s being trialled with a small group of advertisers at the moment, but they expect to roll out more widely soon. More info here.

 

Snapchat continues to roll out new advertising

Over the last few weeks, Snapchat have made a lot of changes. The latest one, Shoppable lenses, allows advertisers to place a Lens in a users’ feed with three calls to action options: Buy Now, Install Now (for apps) or Watch Now (for game or movie trailers). Previous ad formats have allowed advertisers to place ads in Stories and to sponsor lenses, but this takes the platform to a new level in terms of driving user action. Snapchat still suffers from being difficult to access for smaller organisations, and whether they’ll solve this issue (or even want to solve the issue) is another matter. Some more info at Mashable.

View last week’s update.

 

 

 

We took a cheeky day off last week to allow more time for dairy-free chocolate eggs, but we’re back in action now, so let’s hop to it…

1. Facebook shuts down Partner Categories

Behind the scenes at Facebook, there are different ways to target your audiences. The most basic is based on what users do within Facebook – if you target “dog lovers”, for example, they’re users who have liked other pages about dogs. However, Facebook also allows you to target based on third party data, such as from Experian. A lot of this data relates to purchases and buying history, for example, luxury purchasers, or charitable donors. Seedling works in this sector, and “gives to charity” is a useful, albeit intrusive, targeting technique to find new audiences. Facebook has made the move to try to regain some ground after trust in their privacy and consumer data hit an all time low. These options will be “winding down over the next six months“.

2. AdWords updates Keyword Planner

In line with the new version of AdWords, Google has now updated Keyword Planner. Visually, it feels a bit like Google Trends, which isn’t a bad thing. One benefit is that getting that top level forecast is quicker and easier, but there are mixed reviews – you can no longer download data on a month-by-month level. This a really useful feature I’ve used before when building forecast models. So, like the new AdWords itself, reactions are mixed. More info at SEORoundtable.

3. Business Descriptions in Google My Business

Standing out in local search is still a source of frustration for many local businesses. Now you can add “business descriptions” in your Google Business profile to help. For now, any keywords appearing in this description don’t appear to help you be discovered for generic queries though. Google suggests your descriptions should focus on your business’ history, and what sets you apart from competitors. I’m using it to list features and services. Info at Google.

Missed the last weekly round up? Find it here.

 

There’s only really been one story in the digital marketing news, as well as general news this week: Cambridge Analytica.  However, there have been other developments that it’s worth checking in with. And I guess we’ll give a nod to the CA story.

1. Google Mobile Speed Update is on Schedule for July

While the Mobile Speed Update was announced in January so isn’t technically this week’s news, Google confirmed this week it’s still on track to roll out in July. This update to the algorithm will focus specifically on mobile pagespeed. Pages that are slow to load will likely see a drop in rankings. This confirmation is significant, seeing as the Mobile First Index has seen multiple delays in rolling out. The update will only affect “a small percentage of queries”, but all sites are encouraged to check their mobile pagespeeds and get to work now. More about the update and tools to help.

2. AdWords launches Shopping actions

Some might see this as a continuation of Google creeping its way in to every aspect of your life. Quick background: Google Express is a function within Google that allows users to search for a product and purchase it directly in Google Search results – bypassing the need to visit your site at all. Shopping Actions is a trial that Google have been working on with some US retailers like Target, allowing them to bid on a cost-per-sale basis for relevant searches, based on purchasing the products within Google Express.

This update is to help advertisers make the most of this improved user flow, integrating voice search, saved payment details and instant checkouts for users, supposedly making their lives easier.  Here’s Google’s take on it. The losers to this new flow are likely to be retailers who rely on impulse purchases or glossy editorial style photography (i.e. actual website visits) to sell. In addition, retailers who rely on upsells and cross sells at basket stage on their sites will likely see a drop in revenue if this shopping behaviour becomes the norm. No doubt Google will create their own tools for this at some point in the future.

3. We Should Mention Cambridge Analytica

So far we’ve seen a whole lot of outrage and not a lot of action. Keeping it digital marketing focussed and not politically focussed, there are two issues under question. The first issue is Facebook’s reputation being severely tarnished due to its failure to protect user data (especially with GDPR looming…) Mozilla have been the first to pull their advertising, but unlike in the recent YouTube scandal, there hasn’t been a stampede of other advertisers following suit. The second issue under question is the way that users can be so psychologically targeted, based on fears, anxieties and other personality traits. However, Facebook aren’t the only platform to target in this way, with most programmatic advertising platforms openly discussing these technologies. This is a great example of technology moving much faster than legislation, or even informed debate, and we’re likely to see more and more debate of this nature being sparked – which can only be a good thing.

Bonus story: Zero Results Follow Up

Following on from last week’s controversial announcement on Zero results search – Google have now ended the experiment:

Hello readers old and new – and what a week it’s been, both in and outside digital marketing. But let’s cut to the chase, your 90 seconds starts now:

1. Google delivers a zero results search results page (shock horror)

This news has had the SEO world in a frenzy. Traditionally, Google delivers 10 organic results for a search query (commonly called “10 blue links”). However, this has been dying for a while now, with News articles, Map results etc. all making the results page more complex. Now for the first time, for a very small number of queries that have a single definitive answer, e.g. what time is it, Google is experimenting with delivering only that single definitive answer, and not 10 links to other pages about the answer.

Moz have written about this in pretty great detail – the consensus is, this has been coming for a while, and if your business depends on receiving traffic from what time is it queries, or maths calculations or metric/imperial conversions… it’s time to change your strategy.

2. YouTube launches more targeting options

YouTube is still one of the most underused channels I see. Its power in storytelling, creating emotion, informing and educating is unparalleled in digital marketing. Plus, it’s currently pretty cheap (especially considering Facebook’s costs continue to rise). This week Google announced an exciting new targeting method: Custom Intent Audiences. This basically means you can reach users in YouTube who have performed specific searches in Google search recently. So let’s say you want to reach users interested in finding out more about social housing, animal conservation, or how to go vegan. Now you can target those users with video ads in YouTube. This is an exciting development for bridging that gap between top of the funnel, wide reach, less targeted campaigns and bottom of the funnel, high intent targeting.

More info at Search Marketing Land.

3. Google confirms core algorithm update

This feels like minor news after the “zero results” debacle, but some sites have seen fluctuations in their organic traffic recently and now Google has confirmed it: there was a “broad, core algorithm update” rolled out week of 5 March. It wasn’t aimed to fix a specific problem like some updates that focus on rewarding good content, or mobile performance, for example. Sites that have seen drops have been given no advice on “fixing” these losses. But at least you know own you’re not the only one. Limited details but a longer version of this story is available at SEO Roundtable.

Hello!

Unless you were under a rock this week, you’ll know it has been International Women’s Day. To celebrate/highlight ongoing issues in the tech sector, our good friends over at TechForGoodLive have done an excellent podcast on female experiences in tech . And for anyone worried about when’s International Men’s Day, Richard Herring has your answer.  PS It’s November 19th.

Aside from that entertainment, here’s the stories you need-to-know-but-might-have-missed.

Evidence that Facebook’s Algorithm Update has increased advertising costs

It’s what everyone expected, and now it’s confirmed. With the reduction of page content in users’ newsfeeds, fewer ad impressions are available to buy, and so the cost has gone up. See this chart below mapping the change, courtesy of Recode:

 

Facebook impression costs

There are a lot of other factors at play, as the number of advertisers has continued to grow anyway, even without this algorithm change. But it certainly looks like what was foretold has come to pass.

 

Google My Business creates “Woman Led” attribute in Maps

The day before International Women’s Day, Google announced a new attribute that local businesses could add – “Women led”. One of Seedling’s clients is Siren Asylum, a female only gym and fitness studio, so for them it’s perfect to stand out when potential new customers are browsing Maps results. How many other businesses this will be relevant or advantageous for, I’m not sure. More info on how to set up here.

 

Twitter investigating ways to verify all accounts

You’ve seen that little blue tick against celebrities’ Twitter accounts to confirm they’re the real deal? Twitter have confirmed they’re looking for a scalable way to roll this out to all users, likely due to issues with hate speech and bots that has often made the platform a frustrating place to communicate. What this means for popular “character” accounts like @SICKOFWOLVES or @Queen_UK remains to be seen. It doesn’t sound like this is likely to roll out any time soon, as no details have been confirmed. More info.

 

 

 

Welcome! It may not feel like it, but it’s now meteorological springtime. If you’ve had a busy week hiding from the snow and not managed to catch the biggest digital marketing news of the week – never fear! Here’s a quick round up of the most important updates that you may have missed.

1. Google launches two new tools to help organic search performance

With site speed so critical in reducing bounce rate and improving conversion rate, Google has launched two new tools: the Mobile Speed Scorecard and Impact Calculator.

Mobile Speed Scorecard is a super quick and easy tool that allows you to compare your site speed against competitors, to see how you stack up. The Impact Calculator estimates how much revenue you could be losing based on a slow site speed. You need to input your average monthly visitors, estimated average order value and current conversion rate. Great for building a business case and getting site speed to the top of your dev queue. You can access both tools here.

2. Facebook ends its double newsfeed test

You may have heard a few months ago how Facebook was splitting its newsfeed in two, a normal newsfeed focused on friends and family, and a separate newsfeed called “Explore” to house publisher content, where users would have to actively click to access. Armageddon would surely ensue, and no user would ever see any publisher content again ever. The test ran in six different countries, but user feedback wasn’t positive – they didn’t find that it helped them “connect more with friends and family” as was Facebook’s stated goal. Facebook have ended the test and admitted, “People don’t want two separate feeds”. The most recent algorithm update has ended up superseding what they were aiming for with that test anyway. Mashable has more info.

3. Snapchat rallies after an awkward week

First with Kylie Jenner’s tweet “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore” wiping £1.3 billion off its market value, then with an extremely unpopular interface update, it seemed like a bad week for Snapchat. However, the volume of complaints and discussion over its layout update appears to have stimulated an increase in downloads… possibly to see what all the fuss is about. According to Techcrunch, the app saw an additional 322,000 vs. the previous week. So maybe for Snapchat, any publicity is good publicity? Snapchat certainly isn’t dead yet. More info over at Techcrunch

Did you know, for eligible applicants, Google will donate up to $10,000 in paid search spend per month (around £7,500)? That could mean hundreds of additional visitors to your site, discovering your services, volunteering more time, or making more donations. Read More

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg announced that posts from business pages (including charities) would begin to see less visibility in the Facebook newsfeed, favouring content from friends and family instead, particularly content that is more likely to stimulate conversation. So what does this mean for small businesses and charities, many of whom are only just getting to grips with the potential of social media, and don’t have much budget? Read More

If you’re a small business, chances are, you’ve already set up a Google My Business profile. If not, stop reading this and immediately set one up. Read More

It feels like supermarkets have reached a turning point this Christmas. With seasonal ranges only on shelf for a matter of weeks, it’s the perfect time to trial new products and inform your NPD for the rest of the year. And this is exactly what we’ve seen, with an explosion of vegan and free from products on shelf. My personal favourite so far has to be the Lazy Day Vegan Tiffin Box (tastes as good as it looks). But as we sit down to feast, it’s a good time to reflect on how NOT to market to cruelty-free, ethical and vegan shoppers. Read More

Setting up an account for ad grants is different to a standard AdWords account, and some of the set up requirements may be counter-intuitive. Below we’ve compiled some of the top sticking points that people experience in setting up their accounts. Read More