This week: Google confirms yet another update, Facebook updates video ad metrics, and Square has a new toy.
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Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google Confirms Broad Core Algorithm Update
Yes, they did it again.
This past week, Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed that the company released a core algorithm update.
It’s a major change. So if you haven’t already done so, you might want to open your search rank tool to see if any of your blog posts are currently bouncing around the SERPs.
According to Google, the update improves how its search engine matches queries to relevant results.
Okay, but isn’t that the point of all algorithm updates?
If you’re wondering what you should do in response to the change, Google has some advice for you: do nothing.
No, really. That’s what the company said.
Specifically, Sullivan tweeted: “We tell lots of things to do. Improve site speed. Consider secure. Etc. But that’s not what this update was about. It’s broad. And respectfully, I think telling people there’s no particular thing to ‘fix’ is indeed helpful. It means, hopefully, they think more broadly…”
Sullivan also offered a three-word piece of advice that you’ve heard before: “Have great content.”
Square Rolls out New Payment Tool
Credit card processing company Square is making it easier to create customized payment solutions.
This past week, the company announced the Square Reader SDK. It enables developers to deploy their own payment experiences.
The tool also supports inventory management and CRM. That’s the icing on the cake.
Here’s how Square describes its new toy:
The Square Reader SDK is a set of developer tools for building custom in-person checkout experiences on the Square platform. For the first time, iOS and Android developers can build unique checkout or point of sale applications like self-ordering kiosks, mobile points of sale, in-store line busting apps, and more, on top of Square’s hardware and payments ecosystem. These customized solutions enable developers to work with both existing Square merchants in popular industries such as retail and restaurants, as well as new sellers in verticals not traditionally supported by Square like transportation and healthcare.
Shake Shack has already used the SDK to create a self-service kiosk that accepts credit card payments.
Facebook Launches Playable Ads
You can now run playable ads in the Facebook news feed.
If you’re unfamiliar with playable ads, they have nothing to do with video. They’re ads for app installs.
They’re called “playable” because they give Facebook users the opportunity to demo (or “play”) the app within the ad itself. In other words, people get to try before they buy.
Right there in the news feed.
“With playable ads, advertisers can now give players a chance to experience a game in Feed before they install it, creating higher intent,” said Rick Kelley, VP of global gaming at Facebook. “And through two additions to our value suite, game developers can more efficiently reach their most valuable players — whether they’re optimizing for payers or for retention.”
If you want to run a playable ad, you can set a minimum return on ad spend (ROAS) in your Facebook ad campaign. That feature is getting released in the next few weeks.
Facebook is also testing retention optimization. That’s when the Facebook algorithm shows the ad to people who are most likely to demo the app.
Retention optimization should roll out to most Facebook advertisers next year.
Facebook Launches WhatsApp Business API
This past week, Facebook launched a WhatsApp Business API. It’s designed to help businesses communicate with consumers.
Marketers can use the API to send non-promotional content, such as appointment reminders, event tickets, or shipping confirmations in response to customer questions.
That kind of communication is offered free of charge via the API, as long as the company responds to the user query within 24 hours. Otherwise, the business gets charged.
That cost ranges anywhere from $.01 to $.09 per message, depending on the country where the message is delivered.
Any time a user asks a question via WhatsApp, the 24-hour window starts over.
Users will also be able to block any business on WhatsApp.
In addition to the API, Facebook announced that it will soon offer ads that open a WhatsApp chat.
Here’s how it works: advertisers run ads on Facebook. When a user clicks on one of the ads, a WhatsApp chat session will open. That chat session will initiate a dialog between the user and the business.
Facebook says that feature will be released to most countries in the coming weeks.
Google Adds Autosuggest to Featured Snippets
The coveted “Rank 0” spot now has some new additions: autosuggest buttons.
You can see them in action if you Google “how to catch a trout.” Take a look at the bottom of the featured snippet box at the top of the search results.
You’ll see buttons with the following labels: “in a lake,” “in a pond,” “in a river,” and “from shore.”
Those are autosuggest completions. If you click on the first button, you’ll see the featured snippet that appears if you search for “how to catch a trout in a lake.” In this case, it’s a WikiHow article.
Google hasn’t released an official announcement about the new buttons yet.
Facebook Updating Video Ad Metrics
Facebook is changing the way it measures video ad views.
For starters, the platform will measure video consumption by counting only unrepeated seconds.
Facebook is one of the few platforms that allows users to replay and rewind video ads. Those repeated views won’t add seconds to video view time.
The social media company is also updating how it measures video plays.
In the past, Facebook reported an impression even if the video didn’t play because of the user’s settings. Going forward, it will only record actual plays.
Finally, the platform is removing the “Video Percentage Watched” and “30-Second Video View” metrics. They’re now redundant and hardly ever used.
The updates should roll out in the coming weeks.
Bing Ads Rolls out Advanced Bidding Strategies
This past week, Bing Ads introduced a couple of new bidding strategies.
This first, called Target CPA, enables you to set a cost per acquisition.
Here’s how it works: you specify the target cost per acquisition for a campaign. Then, Bing Ads optimizes your bids for ad groups and keywords to match that cost.
Basically, it’s a way of putting your bidding strategy on autopilot so that you don’t squeeze your margins.
You do, however, have the option to set a maximum cost per click (CPC).
The other new bidding strategy is called Maximize Conversions. It lives up to its name.
Again, you can set a maximum CPC. But the platform will optimize your campaign to create as many conversions as possible.
Of course, you also have the option to specify a maximum budget for your campaign.
If you want to use either of these new bidding strategies, you’ll have to meet the following requirements:
- Campaigns must have at least 15 conversion over the past 30 days
- Universal Event Tracking (UET) must be enabled on your landing pages
- Campaigns must target users in the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, or Canada
The new features rolled out this week.
Yext Delivers Local Business Listings to Amazon
Yext and Alexa are now integrated. That means Yext can keep Amazon’s digital assistant up to date with local business listings.
People who use Alexa for voice search will receive current info about businesses in their area. That includes important details such as contact numbers, hours of operation, and more.
A recent study showed that Alexa wasn’t quite as “up to speed” on local listings as other platforms. That’s probably the reason for the integration with Yext.
If you use Yext to manage your local listing, you’ll find Alexa in the Yext Knowledge Network. Also, your business info will sync automatically. You don’t have to do anything.
The Yext/Alexa marriage currently supports businesses in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Austria, Ireland, India, Japan, and New Zealand.