This week: Google Ads announces automated insights, a popular WordPress plugin has a vulnerability, and Web Stories are coming to Google Discover.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
Google Ads Rolls out Automated Insights
Google recently announced a few new features in Google Ads.
For starters, you’ll see Google Trends data on a new Insights page. It will show you trending searches, interest predictions, and auction insights.
For example, if you’re selling saltwater fishing supplies, you might see that “Penn Reel” is a trending term and that your competitors are gaining impression share on that keyword.
You also might see Google predict that “tuna fishing tactics” will be a popular search term next month.
The new Insights feature enters beta in the next few months in the U.S. and UK.
Additionally, Google is currently testing Automated Performance Max campaigns. You can use them to create a single strategy that runs across multiple channels.
Here’s how they work: you supply an image (or video) and ad copy. Google uses machine learning to serve your ad across its various properties using Smart Bidding.
Performance Max campaigns run on search results, the Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, and Discover.
Also, Google will release Video action campaigns to all marketers in the coming weeks. They run on YouTube and Google Video partners.
WPBakery Plugin Affects Millions of Sites
If you’ve got a pretty home page on your WordPress website, then it may be in part thanks to the WPBakery plugin.
But don’t thank the software developer too much. Some researchers recently found a vulnerability in that add-on.
Specifically, the vulnerability allows hackers to inject code on your site. They can exploit that code to attack your visitors.
It’s called a cross-site scripting (XSS) threat.
The good news here is that the hacker must first have access to the website to inject the code. So the threat exists more for visitors of websites hosted by bad guys than it does for you if you’re a straight-shooter running your own site.
The threat exists in WPBakery Page Builder versions 6.4 and under. The plugin developer released the patch that fixes the vulnerability on Sep. 24.
Google Lists 6 Reasons Why It Will Ban a Web Story
Interested in getting your Web Story banned? Probably not.
So that’s why you should avoid doing these six things that Google says could disqualify your Web Story from appearing in search results:
- Include copyrighted content
- Use too many words or include videos more than 60 seconds in length.
- Post low quality images or video.
- Add a sequence of posts that lack any narrative or theme.
- Post incomplete Web Stories.
- Post an overly commercial Web Story.
It’s the same old story (no pun intended) here. Google is all about user experience.
So make sure your Web Stories give users a great experience.
Web Stories Are Coming to Google Discover
Speaking of Web Stories, they now appear in a carousel at the top of Google Discover.
The carousel shows previews of the Stories. Users can tap on a specific Story if they’d like to see more. Then, they can tap or slide through the Story.
Google Web Stories will continue to appear in search results as well.
GMB Will Log Recent Customer Calls
Google My Business (GMB) is developing a new feature that will allow you to see calls triggered from search results.
According to Google: “You can use call history to keep track of phone calls from your customers on Google Search and Maps. Your calls are all in one place to help you respond to missed calls and stay engaged with your customers.”
When the new feature rolls out, you’ll see a Calls tab in GMB. There, you can view a report that lists logged calls from people who clicked the Call button on a GMB profile.
Keep in mind, though: if you decide to opt in to call history tracking, Google will create a forwarding phone number for your business. It won’t use the phone number on your business profile.
That could be a show-stopper.
GMB Adds More Insights
Speaking of GMB, it’s adding more insights.
For starters, you’ll soon see analytics about interactions. That data will let you know how often people contact you after visiting your GMB profile.
Next, you’ll see detailed reports about searches. They’ll show you how many people saw your business profile in search.
That data will be available for up to six months.
Finally, GMB is also rolling out changes to video uploads. The max video size has been reduced to 75Mb from 100Mb.
If you’re having issues uploading videos to Google My Business, it could be because they just changed the video maximum file limit from 100MB to 75 MB. https://t.co/S5VL7QTRE5
— Joy Hawkins (@JoyanneHawkins) October 4, 2020
Google Still Fixing Indexing Issues
Earlier this week, Google confirmed two separate issues with indexing. One issue involved mobile-indexing and the other involved canonicalization and how the algorithm detects duplicate content.
More recently, Google says it’s still working to fix those problems.
According to the Google SearchLiaison official Twitter account, Google engineers have now restored about a quarter of the URLs impacted by the canonical issue and about half of those impacted by the mobile-indexing issue.
So you might still notice problems with your own site if it includes one or more of the URLs that haven’t been fixed yet.
Snapchat Launches ‘First Commercial’ Ad Option
In April, Snapchat began testing its “First Commercial” ad unit. It’s a marketing strategy that guarantees your ad is the first one shown during a Snap Discover show.
Fast-forward to today, and Snap is making that ad unit available to all advertisers in the U.S. and UK.
“First Commercial is effective, efficient, and now easier than ever to buy,” said Snap in a statement. “With its move into general availability in Ads Manager, we’re unlocking the ability to run Extended Play Commercials up to 3 minutes in length, transact via self service, and enable conversion tracking. This gives advertisers the ability to access First Commercial seamlessly alongside their existing, always-on video campaigns in Snap Select.”
Keep in mind: it’s an expensive ad option. So be prepared to open your wallet if you want to go that route.
What a long year this past week has been! Still, no rest for the weary. Here are a few action items:
- Take a look at First Commercial ads on Snapchat. Determine if you can use them to reach people in your target market.
- Keep an eye on all the new features rolling out on GMB. Find out which ones you should use to maximize your impact online.
- If you’re using Web Stories to boost your brand, make sure you follow the rules. Don’t do any of the six “thou shalt nots” that Google says could get your Web Stories delisted.
- If you’re using the WPBakery plugin and the version number is lower than 6.4, make sure you upgrade immediately.
- Keep an eye out for those automated insights on Google Ads. That might help you save time and land more customers: the best of both worlds.