This week: Facebook is losing users, there’s a security vulnerability in a WordPress plugin, and Instagram is releasing a new ad format.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Facebook Will Shutter Relevance Score, Add New Analytics
Facebook is eliminating its Relevance Score and replacing it with three “more granular” metrics.
The three new metrics are:
- Quality Ranking – Measures ad quality compared to other ads targeting the same audience.
- Engagement Rate Ranking – Shows an ad’s expected engagement rate compared to other ads targeting the same audience.
- Conversion Rate Ranking – Show an ad’s expected conversion rate compared to other ads targeting the same audience with the same optimization goal.
In addition to eliminating the Relevance Score, Facebook is also sunsetting the following metrics:
- Offers Saved
- Costs Per Offers Saved
- Messaging Replies
- Costs Per Messaging Replies
- Mobile App Purchase ROAS
- Web Purchase ROAS
But Facebook giveth and taketh away. The social media giant is rolling out new metrics as well:
- Posts Saved – Shows how many people saved your ads.
- New Messaging Connections – Shows how many people who’ve never interacted with your business before started a conversation via message. Also shows people who initiated a conversation after a period of inactivity.
Additionally, the Mobile App Purchase ROAS and Web Purchase ROAS metrics will be consolidated into a single metric.
There’s a Security Flaw in a WordPress Plugin Designed to Win Back Cart Abandoners
You’ll want to pay attention to this if you’re using the Abandon Cart Lite plugin for WordPress.
According to a recent report, that plugin could leave your e-commerce site vulnerable to a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack.
An XSS attack injects malicious code into a web application. Digital thieves use that code to gain access to sensitive user info.
Some XSS attacks have successfully retrieved browser session cookies, enabling a hacker to impersonate another user on one or more websites.
The plugin developer, Tyche Softwares, has already released a patched version: 5.2.0. If you’re using the plugin, make sure you update it to that version or later.
Report: The Podcast Audience Is Growing
You might want to start a podcast if you haven’t already done so. That’s because the U.S. podcast audience keeps growing.
According to a report released this week, more than half (51%) of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast. That’s up from 44% last year.
If you’re looking for a raw number, 144 million Americans have listened to a podcast.
About 90 million Americans, or 32%, listen to podcasts monthly. That’s up from 26% a year ago.
Also, 22% of Americans are weekly podcast listeners. That’s an increase from 17% last year.
Those weekly listeners said that they heard an average of seven podcasts in the previous week.
Men are more likely to listen to podcasts than women by a margin of 36-29.
Podcasts reach roughly 40% of Americans between the ages 12-54.
Google Ad Manager Moving to First Price Auctions
Google Ad Manager is moving to a first price auction format.
In a first price auction, you’ll pay the price you bid for an ad. In a second price auction, you pay the amount bid by the competitor who came in second place.
“Since the change from second to first price will require both buyers and sellers to make changes in their programmatic strategies, we’ll give everyone time to prepare over the next few months before we start testing,” Google said in a statement. “During this time, publishers and app developers will need to rethink how they use price floors and technology partners will need to adjust how they bid for Google Ad Manager Inventory.”
The move only affects inventory sold in Google Ad Manager. It has no impact on Search, AdSense for Search, YouTube, or other Google properties.
Google said the transition to a first price model will happen in the coming months.
Google: Recent Ranking Shifts Might Be Due to “Normal Changes”
Many folks in the SEO community think that Google rolled out a major update or two in recent weeks. Google won’t confirm.
In a Google Webmaster Hangout this past week, John Mueller was asked point-blank if there were any “heavy” updates in February or March.
Mueller gave an unexpected reply: “I don’t know.”
He went on to repeat the “we do updates all the time” party line.
Mueller also offered this: “If we look at the web overall, maybe this is just like normal changes as they always happened.”
In other words, we’ll all have to keep wondering for a little longer.
Google: We Prefer JSON-LD for Schema Markup
Not sure whether to use JSON-LD or microdata for your structured markup? Here’s some info that might push you in the right direction: Google prefers JSON-LD.
This past week during a Google Webmaster Hangout, someone asked John Mueller the following question: “What type of Schema markup is preferable for Google? Should I use Jason or… microformats? Which format is preferable?”
“We currently prefer JSON-LD markup,” Mueller replied. “I think most of the new structured data that are kind of come out for JSON-LD first. So that’s what we prefer.”
If Google prefers JSON-LD, so should you.
Instagram Is Rolling out Sponsored Posts Published by Influencers
Instagram is releasing a new ad format: sponsored posts published by influencers.
According to AdAge, the new format is called a “branded content ad.”
A branded content ad works like a post published by an influencer with one noticeable advantage: the ad will reach people beyond the influencer’s followers.
All advertisers are welcome to apply to join the branded content program.
According to Instagram, the new ad format has been in testing for the past year.
Google Ads Is Rolling out a Budget Planning Forecaster Tool
Google Ads is making it easier to forecast your ad spend.
The ad platform is introducing a new Budget Planner. It’s still in the process of rolling out, though, so you might not see it in your account.
Here’s how it works: you create a budget based on clicks or conversions. You can also set a target: clicks, spend, or average CPC.
Once you’ve entered all the info, Google Ads will show you a budget plan. It’s a forecast that predicts how your campaigns will perform over time.
Keep in mind: Google can’t forecast your future performance without past data. So if you want to use the new tool, you’ll need historical data from ads you’ve already run.
The Budget Planner also allows you to compare your current settings against your new settings so you can see which of the two options is best for your business.
Google Rolls out Query Builder for Google Ads API
Google already has a query building tool for the Google Ads API it rolled out just last week.
The new tool makes it easy to build queries for your own Google Ads reports.
If you’re a developer, you can use the new Google Ads Query Language to extract exactly the info that you’re looking for.
“The language’s syntax allows you to select from all the resources that are available for reporting, and also filter or sort the result set on the server before they are returned to your application,” said Cory Liseno, who works on the Google Ads API Team.
You don’t need to be a developer to take advantage of the new tool, though. Google provides a user interface so you can build your own reports without knowing anything about the query language.
Google: No SEO Benefit to Hosting Images on Your Own Domain
There’s no SEO benefit to hosting images on your own domain versus another domain. That’s according to Google’s John Mueller.
This past week on Twitter, someone asked Mueller the following question: “What are the best practices around maintaining links, traffic & #SEO value for images when they are hosted on a CDN, since the CDN is on a subdomain or separate website?”
Here’s how he replied: “It doesn’t matter how you host the images, there’s no SEO-bonus for having them on the same host/domain. However, since changing image URLs is “hard”, I’d use your own hostname for the CDN (avoid http://yoursite.cdncorp.com and use http://cdn.yoursite.com), so you can change CDNs.”
Report: Facebook Usage Dropped for Second Year in a Row
According to a new report by Edison Research, Facebook lost 15 million users over the past couple of years.
That’s about 6% of its active audience.
The Edison Research report doesn’t stand alone. Other recent studies have shown a decline in Facebook usage as well.
The trend is not in Facebook’s favor. That’s why management is looking at new ways to spark engagement on the platform.