This week: Lots of AMP news, digital ad spend tops traditional ad spend for the first time, and Google reverses course on disabling ad blockers.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google Brags About ROI of AMP Display Ads
According to Google, AMP display ads can give you a nice bang for your buck.
The Big G says that AMPHTML ads outperform non-AMP ads.
As a case study to validate its claims, Google cites Volkswagen. That company reported a 48% CTR lift with an AMP display ad for an AMP landing page.
That brings up another point that Google made in its report: AMP display ads work better with AMP landing pages.
If you’re unfamiliar with AMP, it’s technology that delivers content on mobile platforms in lightning-fast time. Since speed is an important part of generating a positive user experience, Google is all-in on AMP.
“AMP pages have seen steady growth over the past few years and advertisers now have access to well over 1 billion impressions/day worth of premium (from a user experience and ad experience standpoint) inventory,” says Vamsee Jasti, project manager, AMP Project, Google. “In addition, more than 35 percent of ads served to AMP pages are already AMPHTML ads.”
Study: AMP Can Lead to an Increase in Organic Search Traffic
Speaking of AMP, a new study by Stone Temple and WompMobile shows that AMP can boost your visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The research focused on 26 domains and more than 9 million AMP pages. At the end of the study cycle, analysts compared results from the 30 days prior to AMP and 30 days after the AMP rollout.
The study showed that 22 of the 26 domains saw gains in organic search on mobile platforms.
Here are a few hard stats from all 26 sites:
- 27.1% increase in organic traffic
- 33.8% increase in SERP impressions
- 15.3% higher SERP click-through rates (CTRs)
Across the different verticals, e-commerce saw the most benefit with a 32.% increase in organic traffic. On the other hand, publisher sites only saw a 13.7% increase.
However, publisher sites did have a higher CTR (23.1%) than e-commerce sites (12.4%).
Only one in five sites didn’t see any improvements.
Google: We Ignore Malicious Backlinks
Are you worried that a competitor might try to sabotage your site with malicious backlinks? According to Google’s John Mueller, you can rest easy.
This past week, a concerned webmaster tweeted that his site was getting blasted with low-grade backlinks. It was a clear attempt at negative SEO.
He asked Mueller what to do.
“I’d ignore them,” Mueller replied. “Someone’s wasting their time on something our systems have a lot of practice at ignoring :)”.
Remember: Google now ignores spammy backlinks. So you don’t have to worry if a competitor is blasting your site with backlinks in an attempt to get its contents de-indexed.
Digital Ad Spend Tops Traditional for First Time
Another first in digital marketing!
Digital ad spend in the U.S. will exceed traditional ad spend in 2019. That’s according to a forecast by eMarketer.
Digital ad spend is expected to grow 19% to $129.34 billion this year. That will make up about 54% of total ad spend.
If you do the math, you’ll see that leaves old-school advertising with just about 46% of the pie.
Unsurprisingly, Yellow Pages took the biggest hit. Its share of traditional ad spend will fall 19% this year.
Spending on the traditional print will drop about 18% and TV ad spend will decline by 2.2%.
Google Reverses, Won’t Block Ad-Blockers After All
Google recently announced that it was going to disable some blocking and content filtering features of Chrome extensions. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the development community, Google has backtracked.
“The webRequest API is not going to be fully removed as part of Manifest V3,” said Google engineer Devlin Cronin in a Google Groups post. “In particular, there are currently no planned changes to the observational capabilities of webRequest (i.e., anything that does not modify the request).”
Google originally said that it was disabling blockers in part to improve page load times. But a Ghostery study showed that “all popular content-blockers” have an insignificant impact on page speed.
Of course, this may not be good news for you as a marketer. It means Chrome users can still block some of your ads.
Reddit Now Offers App Install Ads
Reddit CPC ads now include an app install campaign objective for mobile-first ads.
If you decide to run an app install campaign, Reddit will target your ad on both Android and iOS platforms.
You’ll bid on a per-click basis. That means you’ll only pay when your ad converts to an app store visit.
Reddit is also now adding support for seven new attribution reporting providers:
Also, Reddit’s conversion pixel now tracks eight different events:
- Page visit
- Content view
- Add to cart
- Add to wishlist
Google Updates Mobile Speed Score Calculation for Landing Pages
Google has changed the way it calculates mobile speed score for landing pages.
Specifically, the new algorithm requires fewer ad clicks in order to generate a valid score.
In other words, if you’re running a brand new campaign with a new landing page, you won’t have to wait for as many clicks as you did previously before Google scores your page.
However, Google didn’t specify how many clicks are required before it gives you a score.
Google: You’re Sending Mixed Signals When You Tag Internal Links With UTM Parameters
Are you using UTM tracking parameters in your internal links? According to John Mueller, you’re sending Google “mixed signals.”
During a webmaster hangout this past week, someone brought up the subject of internal UTM links to Mueller.
“I guess that’s always a bit of a tricky situation because you’re giving us mixed signals essentially,” Mueller replied. “On the one hand you’re saying these are the links I want to have indexed because that’s how you link internally within your website. On the other hand those pages when we open them they have a rel canonical pointing to a different URL. So you’re saying Index this one and from that one you’re saying well actually Index it different one.”
Mueller also recommended that anyone with internal UTM links should “really try to clean that up as much as possible.”
Google Algorithm Detects YMYL Queries
The Google search algorithm is written to detect YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) queries and update its results accordingly.
Why is that important? Because results from YMYL queries affect people’s financial and physical well-being.
That’s why the algorithm places more weight in online content that’s authoritative and trustworthy.
If you search for a health-related query right now, you’ll likely find results from WebMD and the Mayo Clinic towards the very top. Those sites, understandably, are considered authoritative sources in that domain.
Interestingly enough, Google determines the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of a site based on its backlink profile. That’s according to a white paper that the company released this week.
Google: Hidden Text for Screen Readers Won’t Hurt Your Ranking
Google normally frowns on hidden text in web page content. It’s considered a black-hat tactic.
However, there are times when hidden text is welcome. For example, if you’re trying to provide context to screen readers.
In that case, you don’t have to worry about taking a hit in your ranking.
Google’s John Mueller was asked about this very question this past week. His reply was simple and to the point: “That’s not a problem as far as I’ve seen.”
He went on: “The content is generally equivalent to other parts of the page (describing functionality/images, etc), and is not placed there for search ranking purposes. Making things accessible to screen reader users is always a good idea.”