This week: New insights on last year’s holiday ad spending, AMP Story Ads are out of beta, and it sure looks like the Google search algorithm has a bug.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
AMP Story Ads Emerge From Beta
This past week, Google announced that AMP Story Ads have emerged from beta testing.
Now, you can launch an AMP Story campaign via Google Ads Manager.
As the name implies, AMP Story Ads appear within AMP stories. They look similar to the story ads you’d see on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Unsurprisingly, they rely on the open source AMPHTML ad framework.
The new ad format also offers a call to action button that curious viewers can click to access a landing page.
Report: More Than Half of 2017 Holiday Ad Budgets Went to TV
Last year at this time, the top ten retailers spent about $1.2 billion on advertising. TV ads accounted for 62% of that spend.
According to a new report from Kantar Media, only 27% of top retailers’ advertising budgets went to digital sources. That includes search, display, online video, and Facebook ads.
Walmart spent the most on TV ads (76%). Kay Jeweler spent the largest share of its budget on television (96%).
The report also found that TV advertising spiked on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.
Facebook only accounted for 6% of ad spend. The most popular ad formats on the social media platform were carousel ads (46%) and link posts (42%).
The ten retailers featured in the study include Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Lowes, Home Depot, Macy’s, Amazon, Kohl’s, JC Penney, and Kay Jewelers.
LinkedIn Rolls out Content Suggestions for Company Pages
If you’ve got a company page on LinkedIn, watch out for a new tool that you’re going to absolutely love.
The content suggestions feature highlights topics and posts that are likely to resonate with your target audience. Use them to get an idea of what kind of content you should create.
That’s not the only new feature offered this week, though.
LinkedIn has also made it possible to post updates and respond to comments from its mobile app.
Additionally, you also have the ability to associate your company page with hashtags.
Finally, the platform also lets you share employee posts from your page.
Google Launches a New Tool That Grades a Site’s SEO
Just in time for the holidays: a new Google tool!
It grades your site’s SEO. The evaluation is based on four categories:
- Performance – measures page speed
- Accessibility – checks for issues that might prevent the display of content
- Best Practices – determines whether your page is using HTTPS, correct aspect ratios on images, etc.
- SEO – evaluates your optimization strategy
Truth be told, you’ll see some of that same info in other reports, such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
For example, if you have render-blocking resources, expect to get flagged for that problem with the new tool.
Still, it’s nice to have a single, comprehensive utility that gives your site a thorough audit.
Here’s what Google has to say about it: “As the bar for high-quality experience continues to rise, users are quickly disappointed in a web experience that doesn’t deliver. And then they’re gone. We believe, however, the web now has the capabilities to overcome that challenge—to give all users the best possible experience wherever they are.”
You can access the tool at web.dev.
Google PageSpeed Insights Now Uses Lighthouse Analytics
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool now has a new analysis engine: Lighthouse.
The Big G switched to a new engine so that its reporting would stay consistent across other tools.
In the past, Google used different analysis engines on separate tools. As a result, each tool offered different recommendations.
Now you’ll get the same results from Chrome DevTools, command line applications, and the web.
PageSpeed Insights will also offer the following insights:
- Lab Data – simulates how the page loads on a mobile platform
- Field Data – offers real-world insights into how quickly the page loads
- Opportunities – provides you with suggestions for improvement
- Diagnostics – analyzes the page for best-practices
SEO Contest Reveals Bugs in Google Search Algorithm
A recent contest conducted by a Facebook group reveals that there are still a few bugs in Google’s system.
That’s because one of the contest entrants managed to get a site ranked at the #2 position even though it was written entirely in Latin.
Here’s how it all went down: contest admins challenged SEOs to rank a site for “rhinoplasty plano” within 30 days.
“Challenge accepted,” they said.
By the way, in case you’re wondering: rhinoplasty is a form of cosmetic surgery. Plano, of course, is a city in Texas.
The person who got the top rank (rhinoplastyplanotexas.com) did so in part with a lightning-fast website. It used a bare-bones WordPress template with very few bells and whistles.
So there might be a lesson there.
The second spot (rhinoplastyplano.co) is a different story. It’s written entirely in Latin.
So why did it rank? Maybe because of a flaw in the local search algorithm. The site had positive (fake) reviews. It also included a Google map and address.
Bottom line: expect an algorithm update soon.
Report: More Than Half of Consumers Okay With ‘Incentivized’ Reviews
By now, you already know about the importance of reviews. But how much do incentivized reviews influence consumer behavior?
According to a new study by Bazaarvoice, 58% of U.S. shoppers say that incentivized reviews can inform their purchase decisions.
Of course, that means 42% don’t trust incentivized reviews. That’s a significant chunk of market share.
The Bazaarvoice report also recommends some best-practices about incentivized reviews:
- Never delete bad reviews
- Never use fake reviews
- When you offer incentives for reviews, emphasize that you want honest feedback
- Always label incentivized reviews
- Make sure reviewers have used the product or service
Google: Alt Image Attribute Mainly Used for Image Search
Although Google does use the image alt tag for web search, it’s primarily used for image search. That’s according to John Mueller.
Here’s exactly what Mueller said on the subject:
So the text in the alt attribute for image tags is seen as a part of the text on the page. So that’s something where it does help us a little bit to understand that page better. But for most cases it’ll be that we already have this text on the page somewhere anyway. So just by also having it in an alt attribute for an image tag wouldn’t change anything.
It does play a big role for image search though. So if you have images that you want to have appear in Google images then make sure that you have a clean alt text there. Also make sure that you watch out for the other aspects that relate to image search as well.
Google Doesn’t Care If You Use Boilerplate Privacy Policies and Disclaimers
Good news: you don’t have to worry about a thing.
This past week on Twitter, somebody asked John Mueller if it’s a problem to copy and paste that type of content to other websites.
His answer was short and sweet: “That’s no problem.”