Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.
Good morning, Marketers, and let’s chat ch-ch-changes,
It seems like Google has announced change after change these past few weeks, especially on the Ads side. Most PPC marketers understand the move is toward automation, but the constant updates can make it hard to keep up. The new Partner Program details were released this week. Google is getting rid of Showcase Shopping Ads. The political ad ban was lifted (including Shopping ads). RSAs are now the default. And, of course, the transition of BMM keywords to phrase-match. Plus, the Google Ads outage probably didn’t help anyone’s stress level. You get the picture.
It’s all part of the game, at this point, though. In fact, I think so many search marketers enjoy the industry so much because the ever-evolving nature of it is almost like a puzzle. It’s engaging. It keeps us sharp. It feels like such a success when we really get it right. As Sean Healy, Head of PPC at Jaywing told us, “Remaining responsive and adaptable is the key to making sure your PPC strategy continues to be the best value for your brand.” And paid search marketers are showing themselves to be the most adaptable.
Director of Search Content
If you’re using Showcase Shopping Ads, they’re going to move to product Shopping ad groups as of April 1. You’ll still have access to performance data, but Google will remove your Showcase ads and ad groups as part of the change.
Showcase Shopping ads were the standard Shopping format for broad queries. As such, “I would just suggest monitoring Shopping ads for a few weeks after the change, since it is possible advertisers could see an influx of top-of-funnel placements,” Kirk Williams of ZATO Marketing told Search Engine Land. Additionally, advertisers reliant on these ads may have to revisit their strategies once it disappears. It’s unclear whether Smart Shopping campaigns will fill the void left by Showcase ads, but hopefully Google will provide an update on that in the weeks between now and April 1.
Google Search may be showing featured snippets less often
Multiple SERP tracking tools have noted that Google seems to be showing fewer featured snippet results. Each tool tracks different sets of keywords, but the decline is consistent across them all.
For search marketers whose sites receive a decent amount of traffic from featured snippets, this could be a big deal and result in traffic drops. It’s worth annotating in your Google Analytics in case you start to see fluctuations sessions. It also potentially means more competitions for the featured snippets that are still showing, so make certain your structured data is accurate and up to par.
What digital advertising gets wrong
Your ads may not be as effective as you think. After all, how many of those conversions are coming from people who would’ve bought from you anyway? That’s the premise behind Sinan Aral’s article for the Harvard Business Review.
Aral focuses on distinguishing lift (ads that cause behavioral change) and conversion rate. Targeting people who are more likely to buy your goods or services may result in wasting budget and annoying customers with redundant ads. “Unless the targeting is directed at customers who aren’t already prepped to buy the products, the conversion from click to cash will not generate any new revenue,” Aral said.
A few years ago, Procter & Gamble and Unilever overhauled their PPC strategies and took a scalpel to their budgets, decreasing them by 6% and 30%, respectively. Their strategy worked: P&G’s organic sales growth increased 7.5% in 2019 and Unilever gained by 3.8%. “The improvements were made possible because both companies also shifted their media spend from a previous narrow focus on frequency — measured in clicks or views — to one focused on reach, the number of consumers they touched,” said Aral.
So, if your campaigns are stagnating or you’re just looking to increase efficiency, dig into the data to assess who you’re targeting and start experimenting.
Twitter trends: How brands can react
Some brands are absolutely nailing it on Twitter. See Wendy’s, Ben & Jerry’s, No Name Brands, HeyBippy, and Fazoli’s to name a few. In a recently released trends report, Twitter highlights 6 big trends on the social media platform and how brands can act on them. To help brands stay aware of current buzz on Twitter, the report recommends focusing on the following topics for your social media strategy:
- Creator culture
- Everyday wonder
- One planet
- Tech life
- My identity
The report discusses the data behind the trends and ways that brands can take part in the conversations in genuine and meaningful ways. For example, Twitter has noted a 53% increase in conversations around clean corporations and holding businesses accountable “as people feel increasingly empowered to demand more from businesses.” Some of the conversations that are shaping the topic include green design, sustainable packaging, and youth activism.
In the “How brands can act” section, the report dives into ways to build awareness around each trend, like recommending green businesses “Identify ways to lead — from eco-conscious innovation and corporate accountability to renewed focus on nature.” Each section also includes relevant ways to connect and become part of the conversation as well as the most commonly used hashtags around the topic. It’s worth a download and conversation for any social media team.
Ban lifted on Shopping Ads, core web vitals spam and work at Bing.
Page Experience Update spam. Google’s Malte Ubl said he won’t be talking about spam prevention for the upcoming Page Experience Update and core web vitals hacks. He said on Twitter “I’m definitely concerned about abuse. But I will not say what if anything we are doing to address it as this is naturally a cat and mouse game.”
Political Shopping Ads. Google lifted the ban on political ads yesterday and clarified that the restriction also no longer extends to Shopping Ads: “We no longer consider the US 2020 elections-related events to be a sensitive event.”
Join Microsoft Bing Search. Microsoft is hiring a new PM for Microsoft Bing Search. Frederic Dubut from Microsoft said on Twitter “Job Opportunity! I’m looking for a PM to join the Bing search ranking team, arguably the leading applied ML team Microsoft. It’s a nice mid-level, hybrid Product/TPM position, perfect for someone with a couple of years of experience and lots of headroom to grow.”