November 2016 Digital Marketing News Recap
Here are some major digital marketing updates from the Month of November 2016.
Google Launches Mobile-First Index Experiment: Google has begun testing its mobile-first index, which will primarily look at the mobile version of your website for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version. This experiment is live for some subset of users now but it is limited. It will gradually be pushed out to more and more searchers as Google wants to test it on more and more users. Eventually, it will replace the desktop index fully and Google will move on from this experiment and on to others. Google wrote on their blog post, “if you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.”
Google’s SEO Friendly Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) Recommendations: Google has published a blog post on how to build crawlable Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are basically mobile web sites that act like native Android or iOS apps with a lot of the same functionality. It is a Google backed technology that Google has a developer page on and is becoming more and more popular. If you are interested in going the PWAs approach, it is worth a read.
Google Revamps Structured Data Documentation For AMP: Google has completely updated its article structured data guidelines in the developer section. The guidelines have been rewritten to highlight the differences between article markup for AMP and normal HTML pages. Aaron Bradley discussed these changes on Google+.
Google Retires Feature-Phone Googlebot & Feature Phone Tools in Search Console: Since feature-phones are not as widely used as they once were, the majority of websites do not provide feature-phone-compatible content in WAP/WML. As a result, Google will no longer be using the feature-phone Googlebot anymore. With the feature phone Googlebot no longer operating anymore, it’s Search Console tools have been rendered obsolete. These include the Fetch as Google feature-phone options, and feature-phone crawl errors report.
Google Knowledge Panel With Video Carousel: Google is now showing videos in the knowledge graph panel on mobile. Here is a picture from Sergey Alakov of “videos from the web” showing under a knowledge panel result.
You Can Disable Your Google AdWords Automated Ad Extensions: Cassie from Google said in the Google AdWords Help forums that you can now disable automated ad extensions directly from the AdWords interface. How do you do it?
- Sign into your AdWords account.
- Click the Ad extensions tab.
- Click the “View” dropdown and select Automated extensions report.
- Click Automated extension options (advanced).
- Click Edit next to “Show all automated extensions for this account”.
- Click Exclude specific automated extensions for this account.
- Check the box next to the automated extension you’d like to disable.
- Click Save.
Carousels of Google Shopping ads spotted on YouTube: It appears that Google is testing a traditional carousel format for Shopping Ads on YouTube. Rather than showing a couple of ads along the right-hand side of a video on desktop, a scrollable carousel shows four ads below a video at any one time. The test appears to be on desktop only at this point. The format was spotted by the team at s360 in Denmark and was reported by Search Engine Land.
Google Launches AdWords Marketing Goals Website: Google introduced a new AdWords Marketing Goals website that “puts your goals front and center and shows you which ads work best to accomplish those goals.” The new site provides marketers with Google’s “latest ad innovations, success stories from other marketers and best practices guides.”
Google officially changes AdWords price extension format to Carousel: Google announced in a tweet that the swipeable card format that has been popping up will now be the standard format for price extensions. In addition to the new standard, Google announced price extensions will be available in 10 more languages.
Google testing new Promotion Extension in text ads: Moz’s Dr. Pete noticed a new promotion extension being tested in a text ad. Both Ginny Marvin at Search Engine Land and Conrad O’Connell at SERPTests.com confirmed it is new on their end.
AdWords Price Extensions spotted on desktop: Google officially launched price extensions for mobile text ads out of beta in July. Not surprisingly, they now appear to be extending to desktop. The horizontal layout is what has been spotted on desktop by Conrad O’Connell of Serptests.com in ads for Airbnb, an early beta tester of price extensions on mobile.
Google Home Services Ads roll out on mobile: Google’s home services ads are finally showing on mobile. The mobile ad format features a swipeable carousel of listings that feature a map of the service area where the advertiser operates. These ads are now set to dominate the above-the-fold real estate on both mobile and desktop results. In most cases, the organic local pack appears below the Home Services Ads block and one or two text ads.
Google is testing images in Sitelink extensions: Google tested image extensions in 2013, but they never got off the ground. Now, Google appears to be giving images in text ads another spin. This time in a type of Sitelinks test. In a screen shot provided by The Zebra, a mobile ad for Quotewizard.com includes a swipeable carousel of sitelinks with accompanying images.
It will be interested to see how these image Sitelinks or Visual Sitelinks as they are called, perform compared to standard text Sitelinks.
Ad customizers just got a whole lot more powerful: The brand-new customizer capabilities use simple functions and code to customize the text. For example, there is a function to show a countdown timer, as well as a brand-new IF function (not yet available in all accounts). These IF statements can be used to do different things depending on certain conditions, like the device a user is on or an audience list the user is a member of. Besides the new “IF” function in customizers, another welcome new addition is the availability of default text. Now you can include a default insertion when using customizers, making it unnecessary to write a fallback ad. Just like with the default text for DKI, if a particular dynamic insertion makes the ad too long, the default will be used instead. Frederick Vallaeys has covered most of the uses of these new features on his excelled article on Search Engine Land.
Bing Ads launches Structured Snippets for text ads: Bing Ads has released Structured Snippets for text ads and is rolling them out globally over the next few weeks. As in AdWords, Structured Snippets in Bing Ads aren’t clickable. They are designed to showcase particular aspects of the products and services a business offers. Structured Snippets from AdWords campaigns will also now import into Bing Ads.
Bing Ads Editor now supports Shopping campaigns: The update to Bing Ads Editor makes it possible to create new Shopping campaigns and edit existing ones in Editor. A new Shopping settings tab is now available in the editor panel to set the store ID, region of sale and campaign priority.
Twitter Rolls Out Quick Replies and Welcome Messages in Direct Messages: Twitter introduced two Direct Message features, quick replies and welcome messages, which are designed to help businesses create rich, responsive, full-service experiences that directly advance the work of customer service teams and open up new possibilities for how people engage with businesses on Twitter.
YouTube Adds New Comment Features: YouTube rolled out three new comment features and is beta testing a new moderation feature set to roll out “in the coming months.” In addition to the delegated comment moderation and blacklisted keywords features that were introduced earlier this year, creators can now add pinned comments, creator hearts, and creator usernames to their YouTube conversations. YouTube is also testing a new comment tool that “allows you to hold potentially inappropriate comments for review.” YouTube creators who are interested in testing this upcoming comment review feature may apply online to receive early access to it.
LinkedIn Opens Sponsored InMail to All Marketers: LinkedIn announced that sponsored InMail is now available to all marketers through LinkedIn Campaign Manager. Sponsored InMail allows you to “engage your target audiences in a personalized, direct and meaningful way.” It can be used to personalize outreach prospects, drive conversions with mobile-optimized features, and reach other LinkedIn members when they’re “most engaged” and active on LinkedIn.
Facebook Opens Sponsored Messages on Messenger: Facebook made sponsored messages within Messenger generally available to all advertisers. According to Facebook, “sponsored messages give businesses the ability to send targeted updates, information about promotions, reminders and other relevant messages.” All Facebook advertisers can now reach people through sponsored posts and ads in the news feed and direct them to a conversation in Messenger.
Pinterest Renames and Expands Marketing Partners Program: Pinterest is expanding its third-party partner network to include two new specialties, measurement and audiences, and renaming the Marketing Developer Partners program to simply “Marketing Partners.” Pinterest also added new partners to its existing specialties, including Adglow, AdParlor, Bidalgo, and Sprinklr for advertising and Socialbakers for content marketing.
YouTube Debuts Official VR App for Daydream: YouTube released a new stand-alone YouTube VR app for a Daydream-ready phone like Pixel and the new Daydream View headset and controller. According to YouTube, “every single video on the platform becomes an immersive VR experience, from 360-degree videos that let you step inside the content to standard videos shown on a virtual movie screen in the new theater mode.”
Facebook Updates Metrics and Reporting Standards: Facebook rolled out several updates to its metrics and reporting standards to give its partners “more clarity and confidence” about the insights it provides. These updates include increased third-party verification to review and validate data on impressions and views, the formation of a Measurement Council that will address the “growing need for measurement standards tied to business outcomes,” a new internal review process to ensure Facebook’s metrics are “clear and up to date,” and regular communication about future updates. Facebook also addressed and corrected several bugs that led to inaccurate data over the last few months.
Facebook Updates Inbox to Include Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram: With Facebook’s updated inbox, businesses can link their Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram accounts into one place where you can “quickly scan all three channels for new updates and feel confident that you’re not missing an important message.”
Facebook Rolls Out Smart Ad Targeting Capabilities to Pages: An update to Facebook Ads Manager has made it possible for page owners to retarget “Everyone Who Engaged With Your Page” in their custom audiences. According to a screenshot, this option includes “everyone who visited your Page or engaged with your Page’s content or ads on Facebook or Messenger.” This new capability rolled out to a limited number of users for the time being. Facebook has not confirmed when it will be widely available.
Facebook Introduces New Android Auto Integration for Messenger: Facebook rolled out an Android Auto integration for Messenger that enables drivers “to listen to and reply to messages using voice commands” or press a button that sends an “I’m driving right now” message as a quick reply to incoming texts.
New Facebook Page Layout Rolls Out on Desktop: The new layout features customizable sections in the middle column, new templates for different business types with various tab options, and an easier way to see and share the unique URL for each tab.
Instagram Adds Disappearing Photos and Videos, Announces Live Video: Instagram launched the ability for users to share disappearing photos and videos directly to groups and individual on Instagram Direct. Instagram notes that users can only send disappearing photos and videos to people who follow them and vice versa. This new feature is rolling out globally. Instagram also announced the upcoming rollout of live video on Instagram Stories.
Facebook Opens Analytics and Developer Tools to Messenger Bot: Facebook opens Facebook Analytics for Apps to Messenger bots and invites developers to join its FbStart program, Facebook’s global program to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their apps. By extending analytics support to bots, Facebook is among “the first analytics solutions for bots in the industry to provide actionable insights and transparency.” The reports from Facebook will include information such as “aggregated and anonymized demographic reports such as age, gender, education, interests, country, language and much more to help [businesses] better understand who’s engaging with your bots.” In addition, businesses building bots for multiple pages will be able to “filter results at the page-level to view analytics for a specific Page.”