September 2016 – Digital Marketing Recap @Hacktraction

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

SEO Recap

Google Local Pack Results Algorithm & Ranking Update: At the beginning of September, there was a ton of chatter around the search forums about a possible Google algorithm update affecting local search results. Google denied any such update and has still not confirmed it, but we in the search community saw enough drastic fluctuations – some say the most since Google’s Pigeon update in 2014 and is named as “Possum” Update.

Google Confirms: Google AMP Results Now Rolling Out: AMP has officially been rolled out in mobile searches. John Mueller of Google shared that this is a gradual rollout and not everyone will see it fully yet. Malte Ubl from Google, the lead tech on AMP, reiterated there is no ranking boost for going AMP specifically.

Google Penguin Goes Real Time: After a nearly two year wait, Google’s Penguin algorithm has finally been updated again. It’s the fourth major release, making this Penguin 4.0. It’s also the last release of this type, as Google now says Penguin is a real-time signal processed within its core search algorithm. Google would not give a specific number of the percentage of queries it impacted, mostly because the update is constantly happening and the percentage will constantly be changing.

Google reminds webmasters that widget links are against their webmaster guidelines: Google issued a stern warning on the Google Webmaster Blog saying that they are reminding webmasters that links within widgets can be against their webmaster guidelines.

Google adds new schema named “Science Datasets”: Google added a new structured data type named Science datasets. This is a new markup, which technically can be used by Google for rich cards/rich snippets in the Google search results interface. Google said this is something they are experimenting with: “Dataset markup is available for you to experiment with before it’s released to general availability.” Google explained you should be able to see the “previews in the Structured Data Testing Tools,” but “you won’t, however, see your datasets appear in Search.”


SEM Recap

Google AdWords Adds Campaign Groups & Performance Targets:  Google announced on the AdWords blog two new features to help you track your AdWords performance, campaign groups and performance targets. Campaign Groups is accessible from the left sidebar in AdWords. It allows you to group all of your Google ad campaigns including search, shopping, display and YouTube all into one campaign, making them easier to track and improve.

The performance targets feature improves on your ability within Adwords to set goals and track clicks and conversions by campaign group. Combining performance targets with campaign groups feature lets you set target clicks and conversions across Google’s network of marketing platforms.

Google’s New Shop The Look Ads: Google is launching a new shopping ad format called “Shop the Look”.  It allows smartphone users to purchase apparel and home decor products through the images that appear in response to search terms. The program, which is currently in partnership with sites like Polyvore, Curalate, and, pulls images and links to products from fashion blogs, retailers, publishers, and brands. Once a user sees a photo of the product they like, they can tap on the picture, and Google will show them that item or one similar to it. Retailers will be charged on CPC basis, and all impressions and clicks will be reported within existing Shopping campaigns. For now, Shop the Look is being tested on mobile devices in the US; but could be expanded in the future.

Google AdWords Adds Multiple Account Access & Management:  Google AdWords has added a feature that lets you sign in with one account and quickly switch between different AdWords accounts without using the MCC (My Client Center). Google is calling it “multiple account access and management.”  You can now associate up to 5 AdWords accounts (including manager accounts) to a single email address. You can invite new users to access your account with a single click.. Once your colleagues receive your invitation, they can start accessing your accounts right away — no email confirmation required.

Google AdWords To Kill Off Campaign Experiments: Google quietly announced on Google+ that no one will be able to make new Campaign Experiments starting on October 17th, 2016. Exiting active Campaign Experiments have until February 1, 2017, to run, after which unapplied changes will be removed. All advertisers will be transitioned to the newer Drafts & Experiments tool for testing proposed campaign changes. Drafts is sort of like AdWords Editor in that it allows you to make multiple edits to a campaign without the changes going live until they are posted. From a draft, advertisers can run an experiment to see how the changes might impact performance.

Google introduces TrueView for Action ads on YouTube: Google introduced a new format for YouTube TrueView video ad : TrueView for action. With TrueView for action, advertisers can display a call-to-action banner at the base of the video during and at the end of the video. The branded banner can be tailored to a specific action goal such as “Book now,” “Get a quote” or “Learn more,”.  A Google spokesperson says the reporting and user experience are being fine-tuned, and the aim is to make the new format available globally.

Google Expands the Audience Targeting for Search Ads with New Innovations: Google continues to make remarketing an even more powerful tool for advertisers with the release new advertising innovations for RLSA, unveiled at SMX East:

  • Cross-device remarketing: Target the same customer with relevant ads as they move between their various devices.
  • Keep people in your list longer: Now you can keep site visitors in your list for up to 540 days.
  • Remarketing lists at a campaign level: Later this year, Google will make it possible to do this, which will make it faster and easier to use RLSA.
  • Similar audiences for search are now in open beta: Advertisers with account managers can reach out to their reps to find out about joining that beta now.
  • Demographics for Search Ads (DFSA): This has been in beta for some time now. Demographic targeting will be rolling out generally, allowing advertisers to target based on gender and age.

Google Introduces New Features for Display Network Campaigns: In an announcement posted on the AdWords blog, Google’s VP of Display and Video Advertising, Brad Bender, revealed that clients will now be able to add location extensions to their Display Network ads, and track real-world shop visits from customers who have seen ads promoting the location:

  • Location extensions for Google Display Network: allows Display Network users to add their business address, phone number and other information to their ads. Location extensions may show with Display Network text ads when people viewing your ad are near one of your locations. If you have both location extensions and text ads, your text ads may appear on the Display Network across computers, mobile apps and mobile web with your location marked on a map. You will be charged when users click the title, swipe up, tap the arrow button or click the expanded map on mobile to see more of the surrounding area on the map.
  • Store visit conversion tracking: uses mobile data to track store visits, which are logged as conversions. At present this is only available to high-volume AdWords clients with multiple locations.
  • Cross-device re-targeting for Display Network and DoubleClick Bid Manager: to reach people across platforms and apps. To do so, it must identify and match users on PCs and mobile devices, which is now widely being done by others.

Google AdWords Enables Campaign Drafts & Experiments For Display Ads: Campaign drafts and experiments in AdWords is now available for campaigns running on the Google Display Network. You’ll now see the Drafts box next to the date range in the upper right corner when you’ve selected a display campaign. Clicking on that button brings up the dialogue box below showing the steps to get started.

Google Extends Its Brand Lift Measurement to TV: Google is extending its popular Brand Lift service (which shows marketers how YouTube campaigns impact brand metrics like awareness and purchase intent) to include TV campaigns. Brand Lift Measurement will now alllow marketers to compare how many times people search on Google and YouTube after seeing a YouTube ad versus how frequently they search after viewing a TV spot. Google claims that the measurement tool has “seen YouTube generate almost two times the searches per impression than TV generates.”

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.


SMM Recap

Facebook Updates Offers and Speeds Up Mobile Load Time: Facebook has announced several updates to its Facebook Offers program. According to Facebook’s official announcement, advertisers can now create two types of Offers—one for online purchases and one for in-store purchases. An online offer might contain a promotional code while an in-store offer might contain a specific barcode or QR code. Consumers can also click on the new Offers tab within the Page to see all of the Offers the advertiser has posted. To claim an Offer, consumers can click the “Get Offer” button and have it automatically save to Facebook’s new Offers bookmark. Advertisers will gain better targeting in their Offers by sending them only to the consumers most likely to purchase their products. The new features will also record how many Offers are claimed. The announcement also says that Facebook is working on unique offer code capabilities, which will be “coming soon.”

Facebook Rolls Out Prefetching, Urges Improved Mobile Site Performance : Facebook announced that they want to speed up the web, so they are introducing “prefetching” to pre-load mobile content in the Facebook in-app browser before a link is tapped. The most interesting part of the release said that they cut down on the ad reach if advertisers don’t improve their page speeds. To be able to differentiate pre-fetched clicks from regular ones, Facebook advises marketers to include a specific header with HTTP requests, which they can find here.

Pinterest Introduces Engagement Retargeting and a New Pinterest Tag for Websites: Pinterest introduced a way to “uncover a new audience” based on engagements on Pinterest and expanded the ability to create audiences from your website with the new Pinterest tag. With engagement retargeting, marketers on Pinterest can “effectively target people who have shown interest in [their] brand by interacting with [their] Pins in a variety of ways.”

LinkedIn Launches Conversion Tracking: LinkedIn introduced conversion tracking, which offers a set of capabilities built directly into LinkedIn Campaign Manager that lets you easily measure how many leads, sign-ups, content downloads, purchases and other specific results you are getting from your Sponsored Content and Text Ads campaigns.

Facebook Announcing New Features for Cross-posting Video: Facebook recently granted publishers the ability to cross-post videos on Facebook to pages under the same Business Manager account. Facebook announced that any Page can cross-post a video, including 360-degree videos and soon for videos that had been live but aren’t anymore, originally uploaded by another Page, so long as that cross-posting Page has the originating Page’s permission.

New Facebook Ad Tools Help Businesses With Global Marketing: Facebook has added a feature within their Lookalike Audiences tool that helps businesses reach target customers in new countries who are similar to their existing ones. With the tool, a business can upload a list of leads or their current customers and Facebook will find potential similar leads.  Facebook has also added extended location targeting capabilities, where advertisers can expand their website conversion or mobile app install targeting objectives to a worldwide region or trade zone. Facebook says it will “optimize delivery to the countries with the greatest return.”

Facebook Rolls Out New Custom Ad Targeting Option: Facebook is allowing brands creating custom audiences to target users who have viewed their Canvas ads. As noticed by Jon Loomer, Facebook appears to be on the verge of adding another new valuable targeting method for publishers: Target users who have shared articles from your website.

Snapchat Launches Three New Ad Targeting Tools: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that,  Snapchat is now providing marketers with some new ways to target its users, including by email address, device-specific advertising identifiers, content-based categories and even lookalike audiences.  The three new ad targeting options are called Snap Audience Match, Lookalikes, and Snapchat Lifestyle Categories. The targeting tools can be used for advertising in places where Snapchat’s vertical video ads can run, including between Stories, in Live Stories and on the Discover portal. The Snap Audience Match and Lookalikes targeting tools are already available, while the Snapchat Lifestyle Categories tool is expected to be rolled out widely later this year.

Facebook Redefines Messenger Experience with Easy Payments, Enhanced Mobile Websites, Link Ads, and More:

  • Facebook Messenger made it easier for companies to sell products through their Messenger bots by adding a buy button, the ability to people to buy products from a bot without needing to leave Messenger and a way for brands to direct people from their Facebook ads to their Messenger bots.
  • People can have Messenger automatically plug in the credit card and address information attached to their Messenger profiles when buying something from a Messenger bot.
  • Facebook is also giving bots new tools to increase their sales through Messenger. Advertisers can now add links to their Facebook ads that direct people to their Messenger bots.
  • The new features enable sharing of bots and also messages from bots to their friends on the Messenger. All these shared messages will include the bot icon, CTA, and name that also allows people to initiate a thread with the associated bot.
  • Brands can also improve how their products are displayed in Messenger.
  • Bots will also be able to display web views inside Messenger, allowing for greater customization of how they can function.

Instagram Enhances Call-to-Action Buttons and Video Links on Ads: Instagram has added Four new features this month with the hopes of upping revenue stream. The first three improvements involve updates to the call-to-action button on Instagram ads.

  • The call-to-action button will now be highlighted when people show interest on or around an ad – like resting on the ad for four seconds or tapping on the profile name.
  • Advertisers now have the option to extend the call-to-action button into the comments section.
  • Also, when Instagram detects additional information from an ad, like price, destination URL or app store rating – it will automatically add it to the call-to-action button.
  • Instagram also announced that links in video ads can now redirect to the destination URL, where people can explore, browse and take action on a landing page while continuing to watch the video.

Instagram Adds Custom Keyword Moderation for Comments: Instagram introduced a new keyword moderation tool that allows users to filter any words they consider “offensive or inappropriate” from their comments. Any comments with these words will be hidden from the user’s Instagram posts.

Facebook Launches Blueprint Certification: As part of its Blueprint learning platform, Facebook is launching Blueprint Certification, a new credential for digital advertising professionals. Once a marketer passes their secure proctored online exam, they are awarded a badge that can be placed on Facebook pages, online resume, professional websites and on email signatures. Blueprint already offers Blueprint eLearning modules as well as hands on training via Blueprint Live.

Instagram Rolls Out Save Draft Feature: Instagram released a Save Draft feature that allows users to “start creating a post, save it as a draft and share it later.”  Drafts will be saved in the user’s Library, where they can return to continue editing their post and share it later.

Twitter Relaxes 140-Character Limit: From September 19th onwards, @names in replies, media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) and quoted Tweets will no longer be counted against the valuable 140 characters that make up a tweet. However, attachments are still limited to up to four photos or one GIF, video, poll, quote tweet, or DM deep link per tweet. Some of the early reports suggested that Twitter might also exclude links from the character count, which also take up 23 characters but that apparently isn’t part of the latest roll-out.

Facebook Announces Inventory-Smart Dynamic Ads for Nearby Retail: Facebook’s new dynamic ad for retail highlights available inventory at nearby stores, and can be targeted to consumers who are most likely to visit. Facebook, with this new feature, gives retailers the ability to create customize creative for every store location based on local product availability, pricing or promotions. Facebook’s store visit targeting ads will become available in the next month, but not to all retail brands. Retailers with stores in dense urban areas and multi-level malls will not be able to use the function, as Facebook would have a hard time tracking whether people in those areas are visiting a specific store, or just walking around in the area.

Facebook Tests Product Tagging on Pages: Facebook is testing a new feature that gives page administrators the ability to tag products in photos, videos, and posts on their pages. This test is currently only available to page admins with access to product catalogs or Shop section. Its goal is to develop “more tools to drive organic product discovery” on Facebook.

Analytics Recap

Facebook’s Analytics for Apps Now Lets You View Cross-Platform Metrics All in One Place: Facebook Analytics for Apps can now track cross platform metrics all in one dashboard. To be clear, the app could previously track metrics for apps on various platforms – including iOS, Android, Windows and more – but now you can view information for all of them in one place. Also a new tool simply called ‘user properties’ lets you integrate online and offline data from your customers for better measuring user acquisition lifecycles. And there is an update to your sharing insights which now offers‘virality’ metric for how often a link from your website is shared on Facebook.

Now You Can Move a Google Analytics Property Between Accounts: It’s now possible to move a Google Analytics property, or Analytics 360 property, between Google accounts.

Google Analytics Mobile App Gets Automated Insights: Google added a new feature to its analytics service that taps A.I. to surface insights automatically. Now available in the Assistant screen in the Google Analytics mobile app, the new automated insights feature “lets you see in 5 minutes what might have taken hours to discover previously,” wrote Ajay Nainani, product manager for Google Analytics, in a blog post. You may also see Quick Tips and other recommendations in some insight cards. You can easily share insight cards — to text, email, Slack, social media etc. by clicking the upload/share icon in the top right menu. And while insights are just launching on mobile for now, Nainani said Google is working on a desktop web version too.

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