Breaking Digital Marketing News
News 11/13/2023 - 11/17/2023
This week: Google promises big changes, OpenAI pauses ChatGPT Plus subs, and X rolls out timestamp links for videos.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. Google Prioritizes First-Hand Knowledge in Rankings
It’s no secret that Google ranks search results to deliver queries based on user intent.
These new personalization features will prioritize content that demonstrates first-hand knowledge.
This might mean fewer, second-hand sources will appear at the top of search engines results.
Google’s also letting you tailor your own search results.
Use the new “Follow” feature to track specific topics right from search results. This will allow Google to show you relevant articles, videos, and timely notifications.
Stay tuned as we track this story to see how it impacts SEO.
2. Meet “Notes” A New Experiment in Search Labs
Google’s rolling out a new opt-in experiment in Search Labs called Notes.
This feature will allow people to share their own personal knowledge and opinions right in Search.
Notes are designed to work in tandem with existing content on the web, bringing human insights to your search results.
“Our goal with the new Labs experiment is to provide access to helpful tips about an article or topic from both experts and everyday people.”
3. Google: Big Changes Coming to Rankings
Those are the words of Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan.
Here’s the full context of what he said on X: “I was talking about various things people have raised where they want to see our results improve, or where they think ‘sure, you fixed this but what about….’ And that these things all correspond to improvements we have in the works. That there’s so much coming that I don’t want to say buckle up, because those who are making good, people-first content should be fine. But that said, there’s a lot of improvements on the way.”
No word yet on when we can see those improvements.
4. Instacart Ad Rev up 19%
Instacart’s Q3 ad revenue rose 19% to $222 million.
The company also reported 66.2 million orders. That’s a year-over-year increase of 4%.
And cash flow came in at $163 million. That’s a 120% YoY increase.
In spite of that, Instacart still reported a $2 billion net loss for its first earnings since going public.
5. OpenAI Pauses New ChatGPT Plus Subscriptions
OpenAI was forced to put the brakes on ChatGPT Plus subscriptions because too many people wanted to sign up.
The company says it wants to preserve quality for its current user base.
If you want to subscribe, you can sign up to a notification list that will let you know when the system is open to new users.
6. Google Adds SGE to More Countries
Google just expanded the Search Generative Experience to some 120 countries. And four new languages.
Before SGE just worked in the U.S., India, and Japan.
The four new languages include Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Indonesian.
Additionally, SGE AI now offers multiple translations for words that have more than one meaning.
“Soon, if you ask Search to translate a phrase where certain words could have more than one possible meaning, you’ll see those terms underlined,” Google said in a statement. “Tap any of those words and you can indicate the specific meaning that reflects what you want to say. This option may also appear when you need to specify the gender for a particular word."
7. TikTok Rolls out Integration With Music Streaming Platforms
A new feature in TikTok enables you to add tracks you hear in TikTok clips to your music library on whichever streaming service you prefer.
“TikTok is known for being one of the world’s best places to discover both new and catalogue music, constantly creating viral trends which drive music listening on streaming services,” TikTok said in a statement “The new Add to Music App feature has been designed to help music fans capture songs that they love on TikTok in the moment of discovery, and to easily save the song to their preferred music streaming service to enjoy whenever they like.”
Recent research suggests that 75% of TikTok users discover new artists in the app.
8. X Unveils Timestamp Links for Video Uploads
X just rolled out timestamp links. They enable you to link to specific points in long videos.
Just one catch: it only works in iOS as of now.
But X will roll out the feature to other platforms in the future.
X previewed this new feature last August.
9. Google Announces Structured Data for Educational Videos
This could come in handy if your content marketing includes video tutorials.
Google just rolled out structured video markup for educational videos.
The new schema.org markup enables you to identify skill level involved as well as video type (such as “overview” or “solution”).
Rich results produced by the markup are currently available in English for both desktop and mobile.
10. Meta Partners With Amazon to Streamline Conversions
Meta just rolled out a new feature that enhances the conversion process for Amazon sellers
The new feature includes:
- Better targeting and optimization
- Better conversion rates
- Better ads creative personalization
If you’re interested in taking advantage of the integration, you need your Prime account linked to your Meta account.
11. Meta’s Ad-Free Subscription Service Restricts Running Ads
If you sign up for Meta’s ad-free subscription service, you won’t be able to run ads of your own.
Or boost posts. Or promote your business.
Meta does notify people in advance that they can’t run ads if they go ad-free. But it’s in the proverbial “fine print” that few people actually read.
Hope you got your Thanksgiving food shopping done. Now you can take care of these action items:
- Take advantage of that Meta/Amazon integration to get better insights and conversions in your digital marketing efforts.
- If you make educational videos, make sure you use structured data markup so Google can put them in rich snippets.
- Be sure to link to specific points in long videos if you’re using X on iOS.
- If you haven’t yet subscribed to ChatGPT Plus, get on that notification list so you can subscribe when OpenAI opens it up again.
News 11/6/2023 - 11/10/2023
This week: Google has yet another update going out, OpenAI offers new products, and Yelp had a great quarter.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. Google Rolls out November 2023 Core Update
And another update is on the way.
Google started rolling it out last week. It’s a core update that should take a few weeks to complete.
“We have different systems that are considered core to our ranking process; this month’s core update involves an improvement to a different core system than last month,” Google said in a statement. “However, our guidance about core updates is the same for both.”
The “guidance” referenced there means this: do nothing. Just keep cranking out quality content and you’ll be fine.
2. OpenAI Announces New Products
At DevDay, OpenAI announced new features for ChatGPT developers and users alike:
- GPT-4 Turbo - An enhanced AI model that supports a 128k context window.
- Assistants AI - A tool that makes it easier to create AI-based apps.
- Multimodality - Integration with DALL-E 3 for image generation.
- Fine-Tuning - Access to an experimental feature that allows custom AI training.
Additionally, OpenAI also announced price reductions for various services.
3. AdSense Changes Revenue Sharing Structure
Google just announced that it’s changing how it pays publishers who run ads via AdSense.
Starting next year, Google will pay per impression instead of per click.
The Big G also stresses that the payout should remain the same for most publishers.
If you’re an AdSense publisher, you can expect to make about 2/3 of the amount that the advertiser pays Google.
4. Yelp Ad Revenue Rises 12%
Good news for Yelp.
The company announced record-breaking profits driven by a nice gain in ad revenue. Among the highlights:
- Total revenue increased 12% to $345 million
- Ad revenue came in at $330 million
- Non-ad revenue came in at $15 million
Yelp also reported a 9% increase in ad clicks year over year.
5. SEMRush Returns to Profitability in Q3
SEMRush reported its first profitable quarter since Q1 2021.
Q3 revenue came in at $78.7 million. That’s up 20% YoY.
SEMRush said it expects to break a profit or break even for the full 2023 fiscal year.
The company lost almost $34 million in 2022.
SEMRush reported 106,800 customers as of the end of September. That’s up almost 14% YoY.
6. Musk Launches New Chatbot to Compete With ChatGPT
Elon Musk’s X launched its first chatbot, named Grok.
It’s in limited testing right now. Eventually, X will make Grok available to Premium+ subscribers.
Musk says that Grok will be more accurate than ChatGPT because it’s gleaning info from X.
Recall that X’s updated user agreement means people consent to using their posts for AI training.
7. WordPress 6.4 Is Out
WordPress released v6.4 (“Shirley”) of its content management software this past week.
It’s got a new default theme, unsurprisingly called 2024. That theme includes 35 web page layouts.
Shirley also features new keyboard shortcuts to streamline writing, a new navigation toolbar, and more than 100 performance improvements.
The general theme of the new release is that there aren’t any “huge” changes, but there are several smaller changes that add up.
8. TikTok Launches Updated Events API
This past week, TikTok announced an updated Events API. It’s designed to help you track ad campaign performance.
The update supports server-to-server integration so that you can match your data with TikTok.
“By sharing this marketing data with TikTok, advertisers are able to unlock the performance advertising benefits of better optimization and delivery,” TikTok said in a statement.
TikTok also says that, on average, marketers who use the TikTok Pixel with the Events API see 19% more conversions.
9. Report: X Selling Dormant Handles for $50K
If you’d like to pick up a dormant X @handle, prepare to start shoveling lots of cash.
According to a new report by Forbes, X will charge you $50,000 for the privilege of snapping up one of those handles.
“Emails reveal that a team within the company, known as the @Handle Team, has begun work on a handle marketplace for the purchase of account names left unused by the people who originally registered them. In at least some cases, X/Twitter has emailed solicitations to potential buyers requesting a flat fee of $50,000 to initiate a purchase,” the report says.
X owner Elon Musk also says that the company will start freeing up the namespace of 1.5 billion accounts.
Happy Veterans Day! When you get back to work, take care of these action items:
- Think about how you can use the updated TikTok Events API to reach more people in your target market.
- Talk to your software team about upgrading to WordPress 6.4.
- Keep an eye on your keyword rankings as the core update rolls out.
- Take a look at the new suite of OpenAI products and think about how you can use them to streamline business processes.
News 10/30/2023 - 11/03/2023
This week: Google finally finishes mobile-first indexing, X says posts corrected by community notes won’t be eligible for revenue sharing, and consider gathering B2B leads with... TikTok?!?
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. Google Completes Switch to Mobile-First Indexing
And it only took 7 years.
Google now does mobile-first indexing. That means the search engine prioritizes mobile versions of web pages when crawling around cyberspace.
It’s a change that makes sense as mobile Internet usage surpasses desktop usage.
For the few remaining sites that don’t work well on a mobile platform, Google will continue crawling desktop versions. For now.
2. Two Years In: IndexNow Boasts 1.4 Billion Daily Submissions
Happy birthday to IndexNow. It’s all of two years old.
If you’re unfamiliar with IndexNow, it lives up to its name by offering real-time indexing.
And 60 million websites join IndexNow every day. Also, website owners submit 1.4 billion URLs daily.
IndexNow also integrates with popular website solutions such as WordPress, Wix Premium, and Duda.
3. HubSpot and TikTok Team up for B2B Lead Gen Solution
When you think of a social media channel for B2B marketing, you probably think of LinkedIn.
But soon you might start thinking about... TikTok?
That’s because TikTok is partnering with HubSpot to streamline B2B lead generation.
It’s doable because HubSpot offers a CRM. And thanks to the partnership, that CRM now integrates with TikTok to capture leads.
All you have to do is link your TikTok for Business account to the HubSpot software. Then, create lead gen ads on TikTok that sync with the CRM.
As of now, the integration is only available in the U.S. and Canada.
4. TikTok Launches New Guide for Fashion Marketers
TikTok just published a new marketing guide for businesses in the fashion industry. It’s 29 pages long and packed with goodies.
It starts off like most similar guides: loaded with stats. For example, 75% of TikTok users visit the platform to be entertained.
The lesson is obvious: don’t make ads, make TikToks.
Then the guide offers tips about how to reach users on TikTok. And continues with more stats relevant to the fashion industry.
It also shows you how to build an effective TikTok strategy.
5. X Says Posts Corrected by Community Notes Won’t Be Eligible for Revenue Sharing
Seems like a good move.
As you may know, sometimes people post false information on X. And a group of X users post a Community Note in response to that post correcting the record.
Well, when that happens, then that post is no longer eligible for revenue sharing.
It’s a great incentive to make sure that people aren’t gaming the system with clickbait just to get some income.
6. Pinterest Revenue Rises 11%
Pinterest posted Q3 results this past week. And earnings took off.
Overall income rose 11% to $763 million. Ad revenue jumped 8% to $482 million.
Pinterest credits the success to its “ability to attract and retain advertisers and effectively measure advertising campaigns.”
The company expects 11-13% revenue growth in Q4.
7. Amazon Ad Service Revenue Rises 26%
Amazon hauled in just over $12 billion in ad revenue during Q3. That’s an increase of 26.3%.
Some of the high-profile advertisers on Amazon include:
- Hearst Newspapers
Amazon also attributed its better-than-expected Q3 results to artificial intelligence (AI). In India, the company recently rolled out an AI digital assistant to help small businesses set up an online store.
8. Instagram Expands Marketing API
Instagram’s Marketing API now supports product tagging from third-party platforms.
“Starting today, Instagram will allow for advertisers to seamlessly create and promote posts with Product Tags via the Instagram Marketing API for feed photos, carousel, and existing feed videos,” Meta said in a statement. “This new process alleviates unwanted friction for third-party platform users and allows advertisers to more easily utilize Ads with Product Tags in new and existing media posts.”
Instagram added Search Ads placement via the API back in May.
9. YouTube Ramps up Fight Against Ad Blockers
YouTube continues to alert users that they won’t be able to watch videos unless they disable the ad blockers they’re using.
It all started last June with limited testing. But lately, more users report seeing the message.
And YouTube confirmed the expanded “global effort” to combat ad blockers.
Further, YouTube says that ad blockers violate its terms of service.
Less than a third (31%) of YouTube users use ad blockers, according to Tinuiti.
Stop eating your kids’ Halloween candy long enough to take care of these action items:
- If you’re in the ecommerce space, think about how you can use product tagging on Instagram with your tools.
- Look into advertising on Amazon as a means to reach people you currently don’t reach.
- If you’re in the fashion space, take a look at that new TikTok guide. You might get some great ideas about how to promote your products on that platform.
- Go out of the box and think about using TikTok for B2B lead gen.
News 10/23/2023 - 10/26/2023
This week: Google completes a rollout, ChatGPT Plus offers access to the DALL-E 3 image generator, and we have quarterly reports from some of the biggest tech names.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
1. ChatGPT Plus Now Offers DALL-E 3 Image Generator
OpenAI just announced that it’s adding DALL-E 3 support to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise users.
If you’re unfamiliar with DALL-E 3, it’s a text-to-image generator. You can use it to create a unique image using prompts.
And, unsurprisingly, DALL-E 3 is an upgrade over its predecessor: DALL-E 2.
Among the enhancements in the latest version: a multi-tiered safety system that prevents the tool from generating “potentially harmful imagery.”
2. Google Completes Rollout of October Spam Update
Google’s October Spam Update is officially in the books. It was completed on October 20.
The Big G says it rolled out the update based on user feedback. Lots of folks reported seeing spam in search results.
Examples of webspam include sites with text visible only to search engines, scraped content, AI-generated content, affiliate content designed for monetization, and pages overloaded with ads that disrupt the user experience.
Google says you should focus on offering a great user experience on your site rather than just optimizing it for clicks from search results.
3. Google Ads Uses Stricter Scrutiny for New Certifications
If you’re a Google Ads user looking for professional certifications from Skillshop, you’re going to have to jump through a few more hoops.
Going forward, you’ll need to:
- Take a picture of a photo ID
- Take a picture of your face
- Record a video of the place where you take your test
Also, a live proctor will monitor your activity via webcam as you take exams. And there are tougher exam guidelines as well.
4. Report: X Usage Declines
Maybe some of those recent changes that Elon Musk put into place aren’t adding value to the X brand.
According to a new report by Apptopia, X currently boasts around 121 million daily active users (DAU).
That means the platform lost 13% of its DAU since Musk took over about a year ago. Further, the company’s rebrand from Twitter to X just expedited the drop.
X, for its part, claims 253 million DAU.
So who’s telling the truth? Or is it just a case of “lies, damned lies, and statistics?”
We’ll need more info to answer that.
5. X Blocks Bingbot
For some reason, X is blocking Bingbot from crawling and accessing content on its platform.
Why? I have no idea.
A while ago, X similarly blocked Googlebot. But then reversed course a few days later.
In fact, only 180,000 X pages are indexed in Bing. But Google has more than 4 million.
For whatever reason, X doesn’t want its content showing up in Bing Search.
6. LinkedIn Sees ‘Record Levels of Engagement’
This past week, Microsoft released its Q1 earnings report. It’s packed with good news about LinkedIn.
For starters, the company said it’s seeing “record levels of engagement” on the platform.
And it boasts 985 million members.
Further, LinkedIn sessions rose 12%.
Perhaps best of all, revenue generated by the platform grew 8%.
7. Snapchat Crosses 400 Million Users
Snap Inc. shared its quarterly report this past week as well. And Snapchat’s DAU count grew 12% year-over-year to 406 million.
That’s a record.
Snap also says that 200 million people used its “My AI” chatbot. And they’ve sent over 20 billion messages to it.
Finally, the number of Stories grew by a factor of three since the last quarter.
8. Google Search Revenue Rises 11%
For Q3, the Big G reported an 11.3% gain in search revenue YoY.
Growth in YouTube ad revenue jumped by 12.5%.
However, revenue for the entire advertising network dropped 2.6%. But that’s an improvement over the Q2 loss of 5%.
The company took in almost $60 billion in ad revenue for the third quarter.
9. Microsoft Reports Strong Quarterly Results, Boosted by Search Ads
Microsoft also enjoyed an outstanding quarter. In fact, it was the best quarter the company ever reported.
Search and news ad income rose 10% YoY. But that excludes acquisition costs that Microsoft pays publishers.
Last quarter, search and news ad rev rose just 3%.
Total sales for the 3-month period amounted to more than $56 billion.
Once you’re done raking the leaves, take care of these action items:
- Snapchat continues to grow. Think about how you can reach people in your target market on that platform.
- LinkedIn also continues to grow. If you’re in the B2B space, look at ramping up your marketing on that Facebook for grown-ups.
- If you’re going for certification related to Google Ads, make sure you’re also ready to meet Google’s new scrutiny requirements.
- Check your analytics to see how the Google spam update affected your rankings.