This week: Facebook explains its search algorithm, WordPress rolls out a major update, and Amazon ad spend soared on Cyber Monday.
Here’s what happened this week in digital marketing.
WordPress Rolls out 5.0 With Gutenberg Editor
Today, WordPress is rolling out version 5.0 of its world-famous content management system (CMS). The new edition will include the controversial Gutenberg editor.
The release date was announced in a blog post by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg.
This is the platform’s only major release of 2018.
Some website owners aren’t happy with the new release date. That’s for two reasons.
First of all, it’s close to the holidays when webmasters need to focus on marketing, not the technical glitches that often accompany software updates.
Second, the release date coincides with the WordPress WordCamp Conference. Lots of users will be occupied at that conference and unable to attend to issues that arise from the upgrade.
Here’s how one irate user responded to Mullenweg’s blog post: “Matt, I’ve been trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but this is entirely irresponsible. You’re giving a release date with 3 days notice and while a huge amount of us who run WordPress-based businesses are traveling to WCUS and will be out-of-office.”
For his part, Mullenweg says that no WordPress user is required to update when the new software rolls out.
The new Gutenberg editor has also received its fair share of criticism.
Why? Because it’s different.
In the current WordPress editor, you add content in one big HTML block.
In Gutenberg, you add content in multiple blocks.
For example, you might add a simple text paragraph in a block. Then, you’d add a pull quote in a separate block. After that, you could include an image in a third block, and so on.
If you’ve ever used the Visual Composer plugin in WordPress, you’ll likely adapt to Gutenberg in fairly short order. It’s the same concept.
On the other hand, if you’re not quite ready to learn a new trick, WordPress will allow you to stick with the classic editor until the end of 2021. So you have plenty of time to traverse the learning curve.
Amazon Ad Spend Skyrocketed on Thanksgiving Weekend
Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t just big for sales. It was also huge for ad spend.
According to digital ad platform Kenshoo, Amazon enjoyed record ad revenues on Cyber Monday.
Kenshoo’s own clients invested more than twice as much in Amazon native ads on Cyber Monday compared to what they spent on Prime Day.
In fact, during the five days between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, Amazon ad spend skyrocketed 3.5 times above the average pre-holiday spend.
“The Q4 shopping days are so critical to brands that they can’t go into them with experimentation in mind — they’ve got to be a well-oiled machine for predictable return,” says Margo Kahnrose, vice president of marketing at Kenshoo. “Prime Day is an unparalleled opportunity for insights gathering — about which products to promote, how to automate and optimize for scale — before holiday ‘go’ time, and that’s how brands should think about it: as a dress rehearsal.”
Kenshoo says that its clients saw a positive return on Amazon ad spend during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Latest Version of Google Chrome Blocks Ads From ‘Abusive’ Sites
Some websites use deceptive ad practices. Google Chrome is doing something about that.
The latest release, Version 71, includes the ability for Chrome to detect websites with unethical advertising. It will block ads on those sites.
Specifically, Chrome will look for hidden click areas, phishing expeditions, and design elements that deceptively launch ads.
Before blocking the ads, though, Google will send a notice to the offending webmasters. They’ll have 30 days to clean up their act before the blockage goes into effect.
If you want to know if your website qualifies as “abusive” in its ad practices, you can visit Google Search Console’s Abusive Experiences Report.
YouTube Launches Stories Feature
It was only a matter of time.
First, the “Stories” format gained widespread acceptance on Snapchat. Then it moved to Instagram. After that, Facebook rolled out its own version of Stories.
For now, though, YouTube Stories are only available to publishers with 10,000 or more subscribers.
If you do fit into that category, you can create a Story by selecting the “Create Story” option in the video camera icon on the mobile app. As is the case with Snapchat, you can add stickers, text, and music to your Story.
Viewers can comment and upvote/downvote Stories just as they do with “normal” videos.
According to YouTube, Stories may appear on the Subscriptions tab, on the home page, or in the “Up Next” list displayed below a video.
As of now, there are no ads in YouTube Stories. It’s safe to say that will likely change in the near future.
Facebook Explains Its Search Platform
This past week, Facebook product manager Yee Lee explained a little bit about the platform’s search algorithm in a blog post.
First, he said that results are influenced by user behavior on the platform, including posts shared from friends, groups they belong to, pages they follow, and so on.
Search is also guided by the info that users share with Facebook.
“Facebook search results are also based on general Facebook community activity, including the popularity of whatever you’re searching for and how recently it was posted,” Lee wrote.
Lee also dispelled the myth that Facebook search is in any way influenced by off-platform searches.
“We want to be more transparent about what happens when you search for content on Facebook. So to help set the stage, we created a video to help the people who use Facebook understand the fundamentals of how it works — most importantly, that while search results are influenced by people’s activity on Facebook, they’re not influenced by searches done off of Facebook,” he said in the blog post.
What that means for you as a marketer is this: the best way to ensure that your content shows up in Facebook search results is to keep followers engaged. There’s not much else you can do to optimize your content for Facebook search.