December 2016 Digital Marketing News Recap

Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of December 2016.

SEO Recap

Google Machine Learning Sentence Compression Algorithms Powers Features Snippets: As explained in an article on Wired.com, Google is now using “sentence compression algorithms” in the desktop search results. Sentence compression algorithms is Google’s way of extracting the best answer for a query to be displayed in the featured snippets. This is not just used for featured snippets but also for Google Home responses, Google Assistant and more.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool Allows You To Submit Pages To Google’s Index: Google has added the ability to submit a page to Google’s index directly from the new version of their mobile-friendly testing tool, which is at search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly. Of course, this does not mean the page will show up in search – but it does place it in the queue to be indexed.

Attributes Are Finally Coming to the Google My Business Dashboard: Google has added Attributes to the Google My Business Dashboard. Earlier they had added the ability to add menus via the Google My Business API, but now some businesses are able to add attributes directly from GMB Dashboard. They simultaneously updated the Google Guidelines to provide guidance on what is an acceptable menu and made clear that a menu of services (in addition to a restaurant menu) is welcome.

Google Image Search Now To Use Product Schema Markup: Aaron Bradley posted on Google+ that the product schema page has added that it can be used not just in the web results but also in Google image search results. To show your product information in the rich image viewer: Include the name, image, price, and priceCurrency properties. Alternatively, instead of price and priceCurrency, you can include any four properties and exclude price.

AMP results now showing in Google Image Search: Google has started to show AMP results in their image search results. If you go to Google Image Search on your mobile device, do a query and click on the image results. You can swipe through the image results, and some may show an AMP logo. When you click on the title of the image, it takes you to the AMP version of the page.

Google Reviews Markup Guidelines Now Disallows Profanity & Vulgar Language: Google’s review markup guidelines now prohibit including profanity and/or vulgar language in your reviews. So if you have people using bad language in the reviews section of your site and you are marking it up using Google’s reviews markup then you must remove the profanity and/or vulgar language to qualify to show your rich snippets and rich cards. This was spotted by Aaron Bradley and posted on Google+ where he said “no more f@!ing vulgar reviews, okay?” Indeed.

 

SEM Recap

Google AdWords Customer Match With Easier Email Address List Maintenance:  Google announced that you can now easily add new emails, remove old emails or replace your whole email list quickly in Adwords for Customer Match. AdWords Customer Match lets you show ads to your customers based on data about those customers that you share with Google. Customer Match is a useful advertising tool for many business goals, from increasing brand awareness to driving performance.

Google AdWords Editor V11.7: Google has quietly updated their AdWords Editor to version 11.7 with the below new additions:

  • Export expanded text ads as responsive ads: Version 11.7 lets you use the “Export as” feature to convert expanded text ads into responsive ads.
  • Location extensions: You can now create, edit, and remove location extensions. Keep in mind that linking to Google My Business accounts isn’t supported.
  • Bumper ads: This version fully supports bumper ads, a short video ad format designed to allow you to reach more customers and increase awareness about your brand by using a short, memorable message.
  • Gmail multi-product promotion template: You can now use AdWords Editor to create and edit Gmail ads using the multi-product promotion template.
  • Square images for responsive ads: Square images for responsive ads are now supported.
  • More frequency options for video campaigns: In addition to “per campaign,” you can now also use “per ad group” and “per ad” frequency capping for video campaigns.

Google brings campaign-level audience targeting to all AdWords advertisers: Google announced that campaign-level audience lists are now available. Advertisers can finally add audience lists at the campaign level in AdWords. No more having to waste oodles of time adding audiences to every ad group in a campaign and having to manage audience bid adjustments at that level.

Google Shopping Carousel Adds Category Filters:  Google seems to be rolling out a new carousel feature set for shopping ads. When you search for specific retail or shopping queries, Google may show you a carousel that lets you refine and filter your search results. The categories let you ‘refine by style’ and other options.

Google Maps Promoted Places Gives Branded Pins & More to Brands: Google announced Promoted Places in Google Maps, a way for businesses to get more play in the Google Maps results. Google said this allows businesses “improve awareness for their stores by branding their location icons with their logo. Clicks on a business’s logo will reveal promotions such as in-store sales or new products and services to help consumers decide where to go. They can also view the business’s place page to see store hours, check live updates to Popular Times, get directions, and more.”

BingAds Editor Version 11.7: With the release of Bing Ads Editor version 11.7, Bing has added support for managing remarketing audience associations. Additionally, product filters in Shopping campaigns are also supported.

 

SMM Recap

Pinterest Business Pages Get a Big Update: Pinterest has launched a new feature it calls Showcase, allowing visitors who interact with business profiles on Pinterest to see manually selected visuals that best depict the brand. When customers land on your profile page, they will see the new rotating showcase. This space can be used to feature up to five of your boards and your buyable pins. Showcase is editable only on the web interface, but viewers will be able to benefit from it within iPhone, Android and web. On mobile devices, the showcase sits right where the icons for recent Pins was located.

New Instagram Features Improve Engagement and Moderation for Comments: Instagram has added the ability to like comments by tapping a heart icon next to any comment and the option to turn off comments on any post.

Facebook Expands Dynamic Ads to Drive Mobile App Installs: Brands can now use Facebook dynamic ads “to show relevant ads to people who are more likely to install their app, including people who recently browsed their products.” Advertisers can pair this tool with Facebook’s App Event Optimization feature to identify “the customers who are more likely to take valuable actions after downloading an app – such as completing a level in a game, booking a trip or making a purchase.”

Twitter and Google Deliver Local Search Results with an Emoji: Twitter users can receive local search results just by tweeting an emoji to Google’s official Twitter account. CNET reports that a burger emoji will return a list of nearby burger spots and an umbrella emoji will tell you if rain is expected where you are. The article also shares that there are “about 200 emojis that Google will respond to on Twitter, which the company wants users to test and discover on their own.” Users must have location services enabled for this service to work because all replies are localized based on where you’re tweeting.

Facebook’s New Tool Lets Anyone Create Custom Profile Frames: Facebook is unveiling a new tool that will allow anyone, including Facebook Page owners, to create custom profile frames for users’ photos. It’s also introducing similar capabilities, along with other effects that can be used on both photos and videos, with its new “in-app camera” available in a single test market. Using a simple online tool that doesn’t require any technical skills — only graphic design skills — anyone can develop and then submit frames that can be used by others on Facebook. The frames can support teams, causes, businesses, events or anything else someone wants to promote.

Instagram Tests Links to Facebook Page in Profiles: Links to corresponding Facebook pages have begun to show up on the Instagram profiles of “select users” on the site. The URLs can be found on a new line at the bottom of the users’ Instagram bios as hyperlinked text that “mimics” the name of the Facebook page to which it redirects. This new feature is being tested on the web, but not in the Instagram apps.

Instagram Rolls Out Live Video to All U.S. Users: Instagram is rolling out Live video in Stories to everyone in the US. With this new video feature in Stories, users can instantly go live by swiping into the Stories camera mode and tapping the Live button. The Next Web reports that the live videos will disappear once the recording is done. Also, a “Top Live” section in the Explore tab will direct users to “some of the best ongoing footage” on Instagram.

Snapchat Introduces Groups & New Creative Tools: Snapchat has added some new features, including Groups, a new group chat that lets up to 16 friends share conversation and media. Group chats self-delete after 24 hours by default, and Snaps sent within a group can be opened only once, and replayed only once, by each member of the group, just like a regular Snap. All features supported in Chat are supported in Groups, including stickers, vote and video notes, Bitmoji and more. Snapchat also rolled out two new creative tools called Scissors and Paintbrush. Scissors let you snip out part of a Snap and make it into its own sticker, which will then be available in the sticker drawer. Paintbrush – you can use on any Snaps you have in memories, which works similar to how artistic filter apps like Prisma work. Also new is Shazam support, built right into the Snapchat camera, which lets you identify music playing right within the app.

Twitter Adds Ability to Broadcast Live Video From iOS and Android Apps: Twitter users can create and Tweet live video from the Twitter app, powered by Periscope with the tap of a button. To go live, users can simply compose a tweet and tap a new “LIVE” icon. A pre-broadcast screen opens and waits until you’re ready to “Go Live” and start broadcasting. Twitter announced that this update is rolling out to everyone on Twitter for iOS and Android.

Facebook Introduces Live 360: Facebook announced “a new way to go live on Facebook” with Live 360. As the name suggests, this new format combines the ability to share “an immediate, authentic window into what’s happening in the world right now” with Live video that “immerses viewers fully into the scene, letting them explore on their own and experience a new environment” in 360 degrees. Facebook announced that “Live 360 video will be available to more Pages via the Live API in the coming months” and will be rolled out “more broadly for all Pages and Profiles in 2017.”

Instagram Rolls Out Saved Posts: Instagram’s new Saved Posts feature allows users to bookmark images or videos that they would like to revisit later.  A new bookmark icon now appears underneath every post in the Instagram feed. With a tap, the post will be saved to a new private tab on your profile that’s only visible to you. The new Saved Posts feature is available to all users as part of Instagram version 10.2 for both iOS and Android.

New Facebook Messengers Update Rolls Out Video Group Chat Feature, 3D Snapchat-Like Masks: You can now start a video group chat with Facebook Messenger and try out new 3D masks with the app’s 100.0 update. Messenger supports group video chats for up to six people at one time. To get started, users simply need to jump into an existing group chat, or start a new one and then select the video icon up in the top-right of the conversation. Users can then add users directly, or they can send out a general invite to the group and let five other people join in when they want. Facebook Messenger also added a new native camera app with features like 3D Mask, special effects, and which feels and looks very similar to what Snapchat offers on its camera.

Twitter Phases Out Lead Generation Ads: Twitter is phasing out its lead generation ad format used by brands to request people’s personal details such as their names, Twitter handles, and email addresses. Brands will no longer be able to create lead generation ads, nor will they be able to create and edit lead generation cards after February 1, 2017. By March 1, 2017, “it will no longer be possible to view lead generation cards” at all.

Facebook Introduces Live Audio: Facebook introduced “another way to go live on Facebook” with Live Audio. This new format allows publishers that “want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video” to go live with audio only. Live Audio also provides broadcasters with another option for “connecting with audiences in real time” from areas with low connectivity. Just like with Live Video on Facebook, listeners can “discover live audio content in News Feed, ask questions and leave reactions in real time during the broadcast and easily share with their friends.”

Facebook Messenger Tests Group Calling on Desktop: Group calling was widely rolled out on the Messenger mobile app earlier this year. Facebook is now “working out the kinks to bring the feature to your home and office” by giving a small number of desktop users the ability to test group audio calls in Messenger. TechCrunch reports that “those with access will now see a phone icon on their group chats that they can hit to instantly invite the members to join the call.”

Snapchat Launches New Native Games Feature: TechCrunch reports that “new Selfie Lens filter games are starting to appear to users, creating an addicting new Snapchat feature that also inspires competition between friends and could become a powerful ad revenue driver.” The new native games feature in Snapchat is embedded in one of the first Lenses shown this past week. Users can find it by opening the camera, holding on your face to scan it, and then choosing the “Santa’s Helper Lens” as one of the filter options.

 

Analytics Recap

Google Optimize Beta Limited Launch: A few months ago, Google announced that it would be offering a free version of Google Optimize 360 to the public. In December 2016, people who requested an invite to Optimize got to receive access to the tool. If you would like to sign up for Google Optimize, but have not requested an invite yet, you can do so here. Google is granting access on a first come first serve basis through early 2017.

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