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Good morning, Marketers, here’s a thought experiment.
How would your job change if Google wasn’t the leader in search market share? I think most marketers would agree that a more competitive landscape would be a good thing. It could spur innovation in SEO and PPC, better customer service from search tech, more intuitive platform UI, and more — all benefits to us. On the flip side, if there were more diversity in search tech, marketers may have to learn multiple platform dashboards and different search marketing methodologies (for example, Bing’s ranking signals aren’t all the same as Google’s).
A shakeup could go far beyond just marketers, too. Competition in search engine platforms could also be better for searchers — offering more dominant options for privacy, a more varied SERP, and potentially even more innovations in ML and AI for search.
This is all speculative, of course, but an interesting thought experiment to help us imagine a search world that we want to live in and figure out ways to get there.
Google Posts for verified knowledge panels are going away
On July 20, 2021, those who own or manage verified knowledge panels will no longer be able to use Google Posts, the company announced via email. To be clear, this only impacts verified knowledge panels, not the local Google Posts you manage within Google My Business.
In the screenshot above, taken by Jason Barnard, you can see a Google Post at the bottom of a verified knowledge panel, where Google is also making this announcement accessible to knowledge panel owners. If you use Google Posts in knowledge panels to communicate to searchers about updates, changes or new events, this is your heads-up that, in less than a week, you will no longer be able to use this tool. The company is giving you 30 days to download your Google Posts history, so if you want to save it, make sure to download the data.
Yelp Audiences allows advertisers to reach Yelp users off the platform
Over the years, Yelp has extended its offerings far beyond that of a local business review platform and this latest announcement continues to build on that trend. Yelp Audiences is the company’s first ad product that enables both location-based and non-location-based advertisers to reach Yelp users across the web, based on their search activity in the online directory. Targeting is based on the user’s purchase intent on Yelp, but the ads do not have to lead back to Yelp’s platform.
Since these ads can take users to pages that are off of Yelp (like a product landing page, for example), they may appeal to more brands. “Yelp Audiences can serve as an omnichannel solution or help increase audience reach when a national coffee chain is looking to target users who’ve recently searched for coffee and tea as part of a holiday campaign,” Tom Foran, Yelp’s SVP and head of GTM, national, provided as an example. “Yelp Audiences can also support a direct-to-consumer mattress brand looking to target users who have searched for a mattress store in their local market, offering those users a free trial to try their mattress in-home when they browse other sites or apps.”
Twitter’s Fleeting moment
Less than eight months after Fleets rolled out globally, Twitter has announced that it is removing the feature on August 3. The full-screen, ephemeral video format has drawn many comparisons with Instagram’s Stories. In the announcement, the company explained why it didn’t see wider adoption among its users and revealed a bit about what we can look forward to in the future:
- Fleets were mainly used by people who are already tweeting, which meant they were less useful at increasing engagement.
- Twitter will soon begin testing updates to its tweet composer and camera to include features from the Fleets composer, like text formatting options, GIF stickers and the full-screen camera.
- Fleets are going away, but you’ll still see Spaces at the top of your timeline when someone you follow is hosting or participating in a live audio conversation.
Why we care. Last month, Twitter tested its very first full-screen ads in the form of Fleet ads. Although the company didn’t disclose details pertaining to that test, it did say, “We’re taking a close look at learnings to assess how these ads perform on Twitter.” For now, this is one more feature that Instagram and TikTok offer to advertisers that Twitter doesn’t. Twitter, TikTok and Instagram tend to be popular among different demographics, so hopefully deprecating Fleets will clear the way for another, more popular format and an ad product to go with it.
Google Ads, Google trending events and Google…dogs?
Google Ads made it easier to create sub-manager accounts. PPC professionals can now create new sub-manager accounts from within their existing manager accounts. As part of this update, you no longer need to have a user assigned to a sub-manager account, and you can now remove users from your existing sub-manager accounts.
How Google understands trending events. “Let’s say you start searching for ‘fire near me,’ and a lot of other people in your area are looking up the same thing. When our systems detect this uptick in similar searches, and can also see there’s a lot of fresh content available regarding fires, we’re able to recognize this local fire as a trending search.” Learn more about how Google identifies trending events and how search results change in response to them with this 2-minute explainer by Google.
Is the W3C purgatory for privacy proposals?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an online community where academics, big tech, browser companies, publishers, privacy advocates and more converge to establish web standards. With all these cooks in the kitchen, is it any surprise that progress is being stalled by a glut of opinions from individuals and companies whose revenues are at stake? In Issie Lapowsky’s article for Protocol, she goes over the debates that neutered Do Not Track and how essentially the same thing is going on now with initiatives that seek to replace third-party cookies.
W3C discussions happen in plain sight, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a level playing field. Although every company gets just one vote, larger companies are more likely to have resources to dedicate specifically to submitting proposals to the W3C, meaning that they’re more likely to have a say in what standards get adopted.
Lapowsky’s article also shines a light on the debate surrounding the very definition of privacy. I’ve come across the term “privacy washing” numerous times in my reporting, and now that Google has delayed deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome, it seems that more companies than ever are publicly waving a privacy banner while lobbying for some alternative way to track users. I’m as unsure as anyone else about how this is going to turn out, but I’m looking forward to us, as an industry, achieving some sort of consensus on how to move forward.