Welcome to the October digital marketing round-up. As October ends, Halloween is officially finished, and you can now look forward to the upcoming Christmas season without being spooked. It was another busy month as DC’s Joker wowed audience to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, a UK general election was called for 12th December and Google achieved Quantum Supremacy with a computer in their research lab. October was a busy month in terms of SEO, PPC and Content. So, whether you think you missed something or would simply like a recap, grab a cuppa and take a look at the latest updates.
1. Google Tested the removal of URLS from Website Rankings
Earlier this month, Google tested removing the URLs from Google search results. This meant that the full path to each webpage was no longer visible. Google searches therefore only displayed the name of the website rather than an explanation of the complete pathway next to this. One potential issue which could be problematic would be determining the legitimacy of a website at a first glance. For example, how would the average person know that the result wasn’t actually for a different company that imitated the original? While Google hasn’t said whether this could be a permanent change, we would suggest that this will largely depend on how well the revised search resultings are received. So, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the change now, so you’re prepared.
2. Google Rolls Out Customisable Search Snippets
As of the week commencing 14 October, Google started to enable users to customise how their search snippet will appear within search results. Website owners will now have more say in how their page appears in search snippets thanks to this feature. The search details which will now be customisable for website owners moving forward are expected to include the size of the thumbnail images, the duration of video previews and the length of the snippet itself. It is thought that this update will give more control to the owner of the URL.
3. Twitter Ends its Association with Political Advertising
It’s not only Google that’s providing users with more control. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced that from 22 November 2019, political advertising will not be permitted across the popular social networking site. The decision to remove paid political advertising was made by Twitter in an attempt to place the right to decide whether to spread a political message in the hands of social media users. According to Dorsey, once you remove political advertising, whether or not a political message is widespread is up to the public, as they then choose to either follow a political account, retweet or simply ignore the message. The timing of the announcement coincided at the same time as the UK announced a December general election.
4. Facebook Users Can Now Communicate with Brands Through Stories Ads
Facebook has also introduced a brand communication feature through Stories Ads, which could be said to increase user control. For any brands and businesses that choose to have a ‘Send a Message’ call to action, Facebook Stories Ads will enable users who engage with them to swipe upwards to start a conversation with them. This function will enable users to start such conversations with brands and businesses in Messenger without leaving the app. It therefore adds another engagement method to Facebook’s advertisement offering. The Stories Ads messaging feature is available to all businesses with existing Messenger templates enabled in their Facebook Ads accounts. It is anticipated to be particularly beneficial to brands and businesses whose conversion cycle is longer than average, as it facilitates engagement and encourages communication throughout the decision-making process.
5. Facebook Search Ads Are Now Open to All Advertisers
After almost a year of testing within the News Feed and Marketplace search platforms, Facebook will roll out its search ad placement to all advertisers. Ads will therefore appear in results primarily for searches with commercial intent, including e-commerce, retail and auto vertical. Previously, it was long-established that search ad placement would only be available on mobile devices. Search ad placement will not be offered as a separate option: advertisers must be running a current News Feed ad to have the ad also feature in general search results.
6. Google will Anticipate Ad Traffic with Machine Learning
Google is adopting a new approach to ad frequency which does not rely on cookies. The new feature analyses traffic patterns using machine learning when cookies are available, and uses this data to predict how traffic would apply when cookies aren’t present. The process will be applied to Display & Video 360 initially but Google have confirmed that they plan on extending it to Google Ads on a general basis in the future. You may also be relieved to know that all user data is aggregated before being the machine learning model is applied. So, any analysed traffic patterns will not be able to track an individual user’s patterns.
7. Google Ads Alters How ‘Placements’ Data is Displayed
Google Ads will be updating its ‘Placements’ column in Reports Editor to show the same data displayed in the ‘Placements’ section of campaigns and ad groups. ‘Placements’ in this context means locations on the Google Display Network where an ad appears. This can include relevant apps and websites that show Google Ads too. Once rolled out, the change will only apply to manually targeted placements. This differs from the current system, where the ‘Placements’ column incorporates both manually targeted and automatically targeted placements. This does not, however, mean that less data will be made available to users. The ‘placement (group)’ filter will still be able in Reports Editor, which enables users to view all placements data collaboratively. Or, if users prefer to do so, they can select the ‘Where ads showed’ section within campaigns and ad groups, which will have the same result.
8. BERT, Google’s new algorithm, will impact 10% of searches
BERT, which stands for ‘Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers’, is Google’s latest search update. Natural language has been something Google wants its algorithms to have a better understanding of and this latest update is a part of that push. As BERT has been developed to offer increased accuracy in relation to the context of advanced search queries, it’s an eagerly-anticipated update.
9. We Revealed the top Halloween Costume Trends of 2019
We love a bit of research at Ricemedia, so we decided to do our own. With Halloween becoming more and more popular on these shores, we wondered what interesting search data we’d find around Halloween Costumes. What is the most popular costume in 2019? What costumes have declined in recent years? Can we predict 2020’s trends? Find out in Revealed: The Top Halloween Costume Trends of 2019.
10. PPC Budgets can be Set to Minimise Spend
If you’re an SME or perhaps a start-up business that’s in need of a PPC strategy, it’s important to remember that Google Ads gives you the important tools to set a spending limit. You can choose your daily spend via caps and use campaign-level shared budgets. Unlike with other marketing campaigns, you can also stop or temporarily pause a campaign immediately if, for example, you did not start to receive the anticipated ROI. Regardless of the platform you decide to advertise on, even a small PPC budget can provide a wealth of opportunities.