Tag Archive | "Digital"

Digital Marketing News: Gen Z’s Snapchat Love, LinkedIn’s GIFs, & Google Gets More Time

Digital Marketing News: Gen Z’s Snapchat Love, LinkedIn’s GIFs, & Google Gets More Time

Snapchat Remains Teens’ Favorite Social Platform, Instagram Their Top Marketing Channel
Snapchat has remained the top social platform among teens, who also see Instagram as the best way for brands to communication with them, according to Piper Jaffray’s latest semi-annual “Talking Stock with Teens” survey. MarketingCharts

LinkedIn Teamed Up With Tenor to Add GIFs to Its Messaging
A feature allowing the use of animated GIF images has begun rolling out to LinkedIn users, the latest in a series of changes to add more fun to the business-oriented social platform. AdWeek

Google, Others Cut Into Facebook Share Of Consumer Time
Google’s properties including YouTube have grown more popular among U.S. adults than Facebook, with both taking up a greater share of consumer time than the properties of Verizon, Amazon, Snapchat, and Twitter, according to recently-released January 2018 Nielsen ratings data. MediaPost

Native Advertising Growth Projected to Slow
Native advertising spending growth among U.S. marketers will continue at a slower rate, less than half of the 64 percent figure seen in 2016, according to new eMarketer report data on the ads, which imitate the look of surrounding content. Wall Street Journal

Only 3% Of Marketers Deem MRC Video ‘Viewability” A Reasonable Standard
Just three percent of brand marketers see the current Media Rating Council’s (MRC) video viewability standard — which determines what is counted as a viewable impression — to be reasonable, according to recently-released survey information. MediaPost

62% of B2B marketers see video as priority format, finds LinkedIn study
62 percent of B2B marketers polled by LinkedIn feel that content creators should favor video among all platforms, ahead of email, infographics, and traditional social media creative material. The Drum

PiperJaffray Spring 2018 Taking Stock With Teens Statistics Image

What marketers need to know about Facebook’s updated Business Tools Terms
Facebook’s decision to apply the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards worldwide means an update to a number of the firm’s business tool definitions and accompanying terminology for marketers. Marketing Land

Google launches Enterprise Dialogflow chatbot platform out of beta
Google has launched its smart chatbot platform for businesses — Dialogflow Enterprise Edition — offering the ability to build artificial intelligence-based processing systems for customer service agents, virtual assistants, and other AI-infused support capabilities. VentureBeat

Ad tech streams into audio
Streaming audio providers are increasingly turning to new marketing methods for audio advertising technology that take advantage of smart speakers and voice search, and with digital audio ad revenue topping $ 1.1 billion in 2016 and growing 42 percent during the first half of 2017, creative targeting is abundant. AdAge

AR Drawings Can Now Be Added to Videos in Facebook Stories
Facebook will roll out augmented reality (AR) drawing features for videos within its Facebook Camera offering, the company announced, a potential new promotional tool for marketers. AdWeek

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

The New Yorker Daily Cartoon: Thursday, April 5th, 2018

A lighthearted look at Facebook’s recent travails by Jeremy Nguyen — The New Yorker

Researchers Find New Malware Designed To Make ATMs Spit Out Cash — The Onion

Facebook Adds Ability to Tip Live Streamers to Mobile Apps — Variety

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Pubcon Florida 2018: Chatbots Are Cool, But We Gotta Keep Marketing Human – Search Influence — Search Influence
  • Lee Odden — 6 Keys to a Blissful Marriage between PR & Marketing (including insights from @leeodden & @mattschlossberg ) — Glean.info
  • LinkedIn (client) — Serving it Hot: Pro Tips to Make Marketing on LinkedIn Easy — MarTechSeries
  • Lee Odden — 3 Reasons You Need to Attend Content Marketing Conference 2018 — WriterAccess

Stay tuned for next week, when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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Digital Marketing News: Gen Z’s Snapchat Love, LinkedIn’s GIFs, & Google Gets More Time | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Digital Marketing News: CMO Diversity Shortfalls, Goo.gl Retirement, Facebook’s New A/B Tests

Brands Fail to Meet the ANA’s Diversity Goals, Too

Brands Fail to Meet the ANA’s Diversity Goals, Too
Progress has been strong in CMO gender balance while ethnic diversity continues to face significant shortfalls, according to new research from the Association of National Advertisers and its inaugural CMO scorecard. While 45 percent of top marketer positions examined in the ANA member data were female, only 13 percent were people of color. AdWeek

Instagram Makes Stories Advertising Easier with Automatic Full-screen Support
Instagram advertisers can now have square or landscape ad photos or videos automatically reformatted for full-screen utilization, one of several new features the firm recently announced as part of an effort to improve Instagram Stories. Marketing Land

YouTube Launches Reach-Based Pricing for User-Skippable Ads
YouTube advertisers can buy spots skippable after five seconds with prices based on a CPM basis, the firm has announced. With TruView for Reach, YouTube now offers an ad option aside from its in-stream non-skippable “bumper” ads and its traditional TrueView ads. Variety

Goo.gl Shutting Down – These are Your Options
Google’s popular URL shortener goo.gl is being phased out over the next year, with the Internet giant supporting a move to the newer take on short and persistent links that is offered with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL). Existing goo.gl links will continue to function, however, Google has noted. Search Engine Journal

Advertisers on Facebook Have Some New Ways to Conduct A/B Tests
Facebook advertisers can now use split A/B tests in its Ads Manager’s Quick Creation system, the company announced Monday, a new option to augment the creative split testing it launched in October. The option to easily duplicate split tests while keeping them separate from existing settings was also among several new features Facebook rolled out this week. AdWeek

Snapchat Lays Off 100 From Advertising Division in Department Restructure
Three percent of Snapchat’s workforce has been cut in layoffs, with 100 workers in the firm’s advertising department being the latest affected in a series of downsizing that has followed lukewarm quarterly earnings results, Snapchat announced this week. AdWeek

Diversity And Gender Progress Is Mixed Among ANA Member CMOs

Facebook Will No Longer Allow Third-Party Data for Targeting Ads
Facebook has begun disabling its popular Partner Categories, as part of a continued recent effort to combat potentially vulnerable advertising practices, the company has announced. The Verge

Twitter’s Timestamps Lets You Share Live Videos from Any Specific Moment
The ability to schedule live videos with a new Timestamps feature has been announced by Twitter, as part of a new set of tool options that also allows video replays to begin at any point. The Verge

Snapchat is Testing ‘Connected Apps’ for Sharing Information
Snapchat has made way for the possibility of offering connected apps in its latest beta version, a move which could eventually mean a similar feature in its widely-used release version. Mashable

Google Lets Businesses Post Offers to Organic Search Results
Google is testing a new feature that allows businesses to present offers in both maps and directly in SERPs, from Google My Business pages, including offer photos, text, link, dates and times. Search Engine Journal

Facebook Restricts APIs, Axes Old Instagram Platform Amidst Scandals
Facebook is shutting down portions of the Instagram API for developers months ahead of a previously-scheduled July 31 deprecation, in the wake of Facebook’s must-publicized recent privacy concerns. TechCrunch

Bing Adds More Intelligent Search Features
Bing has launched several new search features, including aggregated facts from multiple sources, hover-over definitions for uncommon words, image search object detection zoom enhancements, along with updated handling of how-to questions, the company announced. Search Engine Roundtable

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Personal Data Simplicity Comic

A lighthearted look at product proliferation, non-universal USB frustration, and Steve Jobs’ product matrix – Marketoonist

April Fools’ the Day After: Our Roundup of Every Brand Stunt You Missed the First Time Around – AdWeek

Google Rickrolls SEOs With Recrawl Now Button – SEO Roundtable

‘Stolen office lunch’ drama has Twitter gripped – BBC

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • LinkedIn (client) – How to Ignite Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy [Infographic] — MarketingProfs
  • Lee Odden – 47 Quotes about content marketing from top content marketers — Medium
  • Steve Slater – Search Marketing Scoop with David Bain #5 [podcast] — SEM Rush
  • Ashley Zeckman – Romancing B2B Influencers: How to Attract, Engage and Persuade Influencers to Co-Create — AMA Iowa
  • DivvyHQ (client) – [Interactive Guide] Take Your Content Marketing Program Back to the Future with DivvyHQ — DivvyHQ

Don’t miss next week, when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. |
Digital Marketing News: CMO Diversity Shortfalls, Goo.gl Retirement, Facebook’s New A/B Tests | http://www.toprankblog.com

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What’s different about digital marketing in the cannabis industry?

Contributor Brett Middleton explores the current challenges and opportunities facing this budding industry, given the differences in local, state and federal regulations across the US.

The post What’s different about digital marketing in the cannabis industry? appeared first on Search Engine…



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Google’s Walled Garden: Are We Being Pushed Out of Our Own Digital Backyards?

Posted by Dr-Pete

Early search engines were built on an unspoken transaction — a pact between search engines and website owners — you give us your data, and we’ll send you traffic. While Google changed the game of how search engines rank content, they honored the same pact in the beginning. Publishers, who owned their own content and traditionally were fueled by subscription revenue, operated differently. Over time, they built walls around their gardens to keep visitors in and, hopefully, keep them paying.

Over the past six years, Google has crossed this divide, building walls around their content and no longer linking out to the sources that content was originally built on. Is this the inevitable evolution of search, or has Google forgotten their pact with the people’s whose backyards their garden was built on?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question, but the evolution itself is undeniable. I’m going to take you through an exhaustive (yes, you may need a sandwich) journey of the ways that Google is building in-search experiences, from answer boxes to custom portals, and rerouting paths back to their own garden.


I. The Knowledge Graph

In May of 2012, Google launched the Knowledge Graph. This was Google’s first large-scale attempt at providing direct answers in search results, using structured data from trusted sources. One incarnation of the Knowledge Graph is Knowledge Panels, which return rich information about known entities. Here’s part of one for actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (note: this image is truncated)…

The Knowledge Graph marked two very important shifts. First, Google created deep in-search experiences. As Knowledge Panels have evolved, searchers have access to rich information and answers without ever going to an external site. Second, Google started to aggressively link back to their own resources. It’s easy to overlook those faded blue links, but here’s the full Knowledge Panel with every link back to a Google property marked…

Including links to Google Images, that’s 33 different links back to Google. These two changes — self-contained in-search experiences and aggressive internal linking — represent a radical shift in the nature of search engines, and that shift has continued and expanded over the past six years.

More recently, Google added a sharing icon (on the right, directly below the top images). This provides a custom link that allows people to directly share rich Google search results as content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and by email. Google no longer views these pages as a path to a destination. Search results are the destination.

The Knowledge Graph also spawned Knowledge Cards, more broadly known as “answer boxes.” Take any fact in the panel above and pose it as a question, and you’re likely to get a Knowledge Card. For example, “How old is Chiwetel Ejiofor?” returns the following…

For many searchers, this will be the end of their journey. Google has answered their question and created a self-contained experience. Note that this example also contains links to additional Google searches.

In 2015, Google launched Medical Knowledge Panels. These gradually evolved into fully customized content experiences created with partners in the medical field. Here’s one for “cardiac arrest” (truncated)…

Note the fully customized design (these images were created specifically for these panels), as well as the multi-tabbed experience. It is now possible to have a complete, customized content experience without ever leaving Google.


II. Live Results

In some specialized cases, Google uses private data partnerships to create customized answer boxes. Google calls these “Live Results.” You’ve probably seen them many times now on weather, sports and stock market searches. Here’s one for “Seattle weather”…

For the casual information seeker, these are self-contained information experiences with most or all of what we care about. Live Results are somewhat unique in that, unlike the general knowledge in the Knowledge Graph, each partnership represents a disruption to an industry.

These partnerships have branched out over time into even more specialized results. Consider, for example, “Snoqualmie ski conditions”…

Sports results are incredibly disruptive, and Google has expanded and enriched these results quite a bit over the past couple of years. Here’s one for “Super Bowl 2018″…

Note that clicking any portion of this Live Result leads to a customized portal on Google that can no longer be called a “search result” in any traditional sense (more on portals later). Special sporting events, such as the 2018 Winter Olympics, have even more rich features. Here are some custom carousels for “Olympic snowboarding results”…

Note that these are multi-column carousels that ultimately lead to dozens of smaller cards. All of these cards click to more Google search results. This design choice may look strange on desktop and marks another trend — Google’s shift to mobile-first design. Here’s the same set of results on a Google Pixel phone…

Here, the horizontal scrolling feels more intuitive, and the carousel is the full-width of the screen, instead of feeling like a free-floating design element. These features are not only rich experiences on mobile screens, but dominate mobile results much more than they do two-column desktop results.


III. Carousels

Speaking of carousels, Google has been experimenting with a variety of horizontal result formats, and many of them are built around driving traffic back to Google searches and properties. One of the older styles of carousels is the list format, which runs across the top of desktop searches (above other results). Here’s one for “Seattle Sounders roster”…

Each player links to a new search result with that player in a Knowledge Panel. This carousel expands to the width of the screen (which is unusual, since Google’s core desktop design is fixed-width). On my 1920×1080 screen, you can see 14 players, each linking to a new Google search, and the option to scroll for more…

This type of list carousel covers a wide range of topics, from “cat breeds” to “types of cheese.” Here’s an interesting one for “best movies of 1984.” The image is truncated, but the full result includes drop-downs to select movie genres and other years…

Once again, each result links to a new search with a Knowledge Panel dedicated to that movie. Another style of carousel is the multi-row horizontal scroller, like this one for “songs by Nirvana”…

In this case, not only does each entry click to a new search result, but many of them have prominent featured videos at the top of the left column (more on that later). My screen shows at least partial information for 24 songs, all representing in-Google links above the traditional search results…

A search for “laptops” (a very competitive, commercial term, unlike the informational searches above) has a number of interesting features. At the bottom of the search is this “Refine by brand” carousel…

Clicking on one of these results leads to a new search with the brand name prepended (e.g. “Apple laptops”). The same search shows this “Best of” carousel…

The smaller “Mentioned in:” links go to articles from the listed publishers. The main, product links go to a Google search result with a product panel. Here’s what I see when I click on “Dell XPS 13 9350″ (image is truncated)…

This entity live in the right-hand column and looks like a Knowledge Panel, but is commercial in nature (notice the “Sponsored” label in the upper right). Here, Google is driving searchers directly into a paid/advertising channel.


IV. Answers & Questions

As Google realized that the Knowledge Graph would never scale at the pace of the wider web, they started to extract answers directly from their index (i.e. all of the content in the world, or at least most of it). This led to what they call “Featured Snippets”, a special kind of answer box. Here’s one for “Can hamsters eat cheese?” (yes, I have a lot of cheese-related questions)…

Featured Snippets are an interesting hybrid. On the one hand, they’re an in-search experience (in this case, my basic question has been answered before I’ve even left Google). On the other hand, they do link out to the source site and are a form of organic search result.

Featured Snippets also power answers on Google Assistant and Google Home. If I ask Google Home the same question about hamsters, I hear the following:

On the website TheHamsterHouse.com, they say “Yes, hamsters can eat cheese! Cheese should not be a significant part of your hamster’s diet and you should not feed cheese to your hamster too often. However, feeding cheese to your hamster as a treat, perhaps once per week in small quantities, should be fine.”

You’ll see the answer is identical to the Featured Snippet shown above. Note the attribution (which I’ve bolded) — a voice search can’t link back to the source, posing unique challenges. Google does attempt to provide attribution on Google Home, but as they use answers extracted from the web more broadly, we may see the way original sources are credited change depending on the use case and device.

This broader answer engine powers another type of result, called “Related Questions” or the “People Also Ask” box. Here’s one on that same search…

These questions are at least partially machine-generated, which is why the grammar can read a little oddly — that’s a fascinating topic for another time. If you click on “What can hamsters eat list?” you get what looks a lot like a Featured Snippet (and links to an outside source)…

Notice two other things that are going on here. First, Google has included a link to search results for the question you clicked on (see the purple arrow). Second, the list has expanded. The two questions at the end are new. Let’s click “What do hamsters like to do for fun?” (because how can I resist?)…

This opens up a second answer, a second link to a new Google search, and two more answers. You can continue this to your heart’s content. What’s especially interesting is that this isn’t just some static list that expands as you click on it. The new questions are generated based on your interactions, as Google tries to understand your intent and shape your journey around it.

My colleague, Britney Muller, has done some excellent research on the subject and has taken to calling these infinite PAAs. They’re probably not quite infinite — eventually, the sun will explode and consume the Earth. Until then, they do represent a massively recursive in-Google experience.


V. Videos & Movies

One particularly interesting type of Featured Snippet is the Featured Video result. Search for “umbrella” and you should see a panel like this in the top-left column (truncated):

This is a unique hybrid — it has Knowledge Panel features (that link back to Google results), but it also has an organic-style link and large video thumbnail. While it appears organic, all of the Featured Videos we’ve seen in the wild have come from YouTube (Vevo is a YouTube partner), which essentially means this is an in-Google experience. These Featured Videos consume a lot of screen real-estate and appear even on commercial terms, like Rihanna’s “umbrella” (shown here) or Kendrick Lamar’s “swimming pools”.

Movie searches yield a rich array of features, from Live Results for local showtimes to rich Knowledge Panels. Last year, Google completely redesigned their mobile experience for movie results, creating a deep in-search experience. Here’s a mobile panel for “Black Panther”…

Notice the tabs below the title. You can navigate within this panel to a wealth of information, including cast members and photos. Clicking on any cast member goes to a new search about that actor/actress.

Although the search results eventually continue below this panel, the experience is rich, self-contained, and incredibly disruptive to high-ranking powerhouses in this space, including IMDB. You can even view trailers from the panel…

On my phone, Google displayed 10 videos (at roughly two per screen), and nine of those were links to YouTube. Given YouTube’s dominance, it’s difficult to say if Google is purposely favoring their own properties, but the end result is the same — even seemingly “external” clicks are often still Google-owned clicks.


VI. Local Results

A similar evolution has been happening in local results. Take the local 3-pack — here’s one on a search for “Seattle movie theaters”…

Originally, the individual business links went directly to each of those business’s websites. As of the past year or two, these instead go to local panels on Google Maps, like this one…

On mobile, these local panels stand out even more, with prominent photos, tabbed navigation and easy access to click-to-call and directions.

In certain industries, local packs have additional options to run a search within a search. Here’s a pack for Chicago taco restaurants, where you can filter results (from the broader set of Google Maps results) by rating, price, or hours…

Once again, we have a fully embedded search experience. I don’t usually vouch for any of the businesses in my screenshots, but I just had the pork belly al pastor at Broken English Taco Pub and it was amazing (this is my personal opinion and in no way reflects the taco preferences of Moz, its employees, or its lawyers).

The hospitality industry has been similarly affected. Search for an individual hotel, like “Kimpton Alexis Seattle” (one of my usual haunts when visiting the home office), and you’ll get a local panel like the one below. Pardon the long image, but I wanted you to have the full effect…

This is an incredible blend of local business result, informational panel, and commercial result, allowing you direct access to booking information. It’s not just organic local results that have changed, though. Recently, Google started offering ads in local packs, primarily on mobile results. Here’s one for “tax attorneys”…

Unlike traditional AdWords ads, these results don’t go directly to the advertiser’s website. Instead, like standard pack results, they go to a Google local panel. Here’s what the mobile version looks like…

In addition, Google has launched specialized ads for local service providers, such as plumbers and electricians. These appear carousel-style on desktop, such as this one for “plumbers in Seattle”…

Unlike AdWords advertisers, local service providers buy into a specialized program and these local service ads click to a fully customized Google sub-site, which brings us to the next topic — portals.


VII. Custom Portals

Some Google experiences have become so customized that they operate as stand-alone portals. If you click on a local service ad, you get a Google-owned portal that allows you to view the provider, check to see if they can handle your particular problem in your zip code, and (if not) view other, relevant providers…

You’ve completely left the search result at this point, and can continue your experience fully within this Google property. These local service ads have now expanded to more than 30 US cities.

In 2016, Google launched their own travel guides. Run a search like “things to do in Seattle” and you’ll see a carousel-style result like this one…

Click on “Seattle travel guide” and you’ll be taken to a customized travel portal for the city of Seattle. The screen below is a desktop result — note the increasing similarity to rich mobile experiences.

Once again, you’ve been taken to a complete Google experience outside of search results.

Last year, Google jumped into the job-hunting game, launching a 3-pack of job listings covering all major players in this space, like this one for “marketing jobs in Seattle”…

Click on any job listing, and you’ll be taken to a separate Google jobs portal. Let’s try Facebook…

From here, you can view other listings, refine your search, and even save jobs and set up alerts. Once again, you’ve jumped from a specialized Google result to a completely Google-controlled experience.

Like hotels, Google has dabbled in flight data and search for years. If I search for “flights to Seattle,” Google will automatically note my current location and offer me a search interface and a few choices…

Click on one of these choices and you’re taken to a completely redesigned Google Flights portal…

Once again, you can continue your journey completely within this Google-owned portal, never returning back to your original search. This is a trend we can expect to continue for the foreseeable future.


VIII. Hard Questions

If I’ve bludgeoned you with examples, then I apologize, but I want to make it perfectly clear that this is not a case of one or two isolated incidents. Google is systematically driving more clicks from search to new searches, in-search experiences, and other Google owned properties. This leads to a few hard questions…

Why is Google doing this?

Right about now, you’re rushing to the comments section to type “For the money!” along with a bunch of other words that may include variations of my name, “sheeple,” and “dumb-ass.” Yes, Google is a for-profit company that is motivated in part by making money. Moz is a for-profit company that is motivated in part by making money. Stating the obvious isn’t insight.

In some cases, the revenue motivation is clear. Suggesting the best laptops to searchers and linking those to shopping opportunities drives direct dollars. In traditional walled gardens, publishers are trying to produce more page-views, driving more ad impressions. Is Google driving us to more searches, in-search experiences, and portals to drive more ad clicks?

The answer isn’t entirely clear. Knowledge Graph links, for example, usually go to informational searches with few or no ads. Rich experiences like Medical Knowledge Panels and movie results on mobile have no ads at all. Some portals have direct revenues (local service providers have to pay for inclusion), but others, like travel guides, have no apparent revenue model (at least for now).

Google is competing directly with Facebook for hours in our day — while Google has massive traffic and ad revenue, people on average spend much more time on Facebook. Could Google be trying to drive up their time-on-site metrics? Possibly, but it’s unclear what this accomplishes beyond being a vanity metric to make investors feel good.

Looking to the long game, keeping us on Google and within Google properties does open up the opportunity for additional advertising and new revenue streams. Maybe Google simply realizes that letting us go so easily off to other destinations is leaving future money on the table.

Is this good for users?

I think the most objective answer I can give is — it depends. As a daily search user, I’ve found many of these developments useful, especially on mobile. If I can get an answer at a glance or in an in-search entity, such as a Live Result for weather or sports, or the phone number and address of a local restaurant, it saves me time and the trouble of being familiar with the user interface of thousands of different websites. On the other hand, if I feel that I’m being run in circles through search after search or am being given fewer and fewer choices, that can feel manipulative and frustrating.

Is this fair to marketers?

Let’s be brutally honest — it doesn’t matter. Google has no obligation to us as marketers. Sites don’t deserve to rank and get traffic simply because we’ve spent time and effort or think we know all the tricks. I believe our relationship with Google can be symbiotic, but that’s a delicate balance and always in flux.

In some cases, I do think we have to take a deep breath and think about what’s good for our customers. As a marketer, local packs linking directly to in-Google properties is alarming — we measure our success based on traffic. However, these local panels are well-designed, consistent, and have easy access to vital information like business addresses, phone numbers, and hours. If these properties drive phone calls and foot traffic, should we discount their value simply because it’s harder to measure?

Is this fair to businesses?

This is a more interesting question. I believe that, like other search engines before it, Google made an unwritten pact with website owners — in exchange for our information and the privilege to monetize that information, Google would send us traffic. This is not altruism on Google’s part. The vast majority of Google’s $ 95B in 2017 advertising revenue came from search advertising, and that advertising would have no audience without organic search results. Those results come from the collective content of the web.

As Google replaces that content and sends more clicks back to themselves, I do believe that the fundamental pact that Google’s success was built on is gradually being broken. Google’s garden was built on our collective property, and it does feel like we’re slowly being herded out of our own backyards.

We also have to consider the deeper question of content ownership. If Google chooses to pursue private data partnerships — such as with Live Results or the original Knowledge Graph — then they own that data, or at least are leasing it fairly. It may seem unfair that they’re displacing us, but they have the right to do so.

Much of the Knowledge Graph is built on human-curated sources such as Wikidata (i.e. Wikipedia). While Google undoubtedly has an ironclad agreement with Wikipedia, what about the people who originally contributed and edited that content? Would they have done so knowing their content could ultimately displace other content creators (including possibly their own websites) in Google results? Are those contributors willing participants in this experiment? The question of ownership isn’t as easy as it seems.

If Google extracts the data we provide as part of the pact, such as with Featured Snippets and People Also Ask results, and begins to wall off those portions of the garden, then we have every right to protest. Even the concept of a partnership isn’t always black-and-white. Some job listing providers I’ve spoken with privately felt pressured to enter Google’s new jobs portal (out of fear of cutting off the paths to their own gardens), but they weren’t happy to see the new walls built.

Google is also trying to survive. Search has to evolve, and it has to answer questions and fit a rapidly changing world of device formats, from desktop to mobile to voice. I think the time has come, though, for Google to stop and think about the pact that built their nearly hundred-billion-dollar ad empire.

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3 ways to revitalize your digital marketing program

Ever hit a performance plateau? Contributor Elizabeth Laird looks at three ways to jumpstart your marketing efforts when you’re stuck and spinning your wheels.

The post 3 ways to revitalize your digital marketing program appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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The Biggest Mistake Digital Marketers Ever Made: Claiming to Measure Everything

Posted by willcritchlow

Digital marketing is measurable.

It’s probably the single most common claim everyone hears about digital, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen conference speakers talk about it (heck, I’ve even done it myself).

I mean, look at those offline dinosaurs, the argument goes. They all know that half their spend is wasted — they just don’t know which half.

Maybe the joke’s on us digital marketers though, who garnered only 41% of global ad spend even in 2017 after years of strong growth.

Unfortunately, while we were geeking out about attribution models and cross-device tracking, we were accidentally triggering a common human cognitive bias that kept us anchored on small amounts, leaving buckets of money on the table and fundamentally reducing our impact and access to the C-suite.

And what’s worse is that we have convinced ourselves that it’s a critical part of what makes digital marketing great. The simplest way to see this is to realize that, for most of us, I very much doubt that if you removed all our measurement ability we’d reduce our digital marketing investment to nothing.

In truth, of course, we’re nowhere close to measuring all the benefits of most of the things we do. We certainly track the last clicks, and we’re not bad at tracking any clicks on the path to conversion on the same device, but we generally suck at capturing:

  • Anything that happens on a different device
  • Brand awareness impacts that lead to much later improvements in conversion rate, average order value, or lifetime value
  • Benefits of visibility or impressions that aren’t clicked
  • Brand affinity generally

The cognitive bias that leads us astray

All of this means that the returns we report on tend to be just the most direct returns. This should be fine — it’s just a floor on the true value (“this activity has generated at least this much value for the brand”) — but the “anchoring” cognitive bias means that it messes with our minds and our clients’ minds. Anchoring is the process whereby we fixate on the first number we hear and subsequently estimate unknowns closer to the anchoring number than we should. Famous experiments have shown that even showing people a totally random number can drag their subsequent estimates up or down.

So even if the true value of our activity was 10x the measured value, we’d be stuck on estimating the true value as very close to the single concrete, exact number we heard along the way.

This tends to result in the measured value being seen as a ceiling on the true value. Other biases like the availability heuristic (which results in us overstating the likelihood of things that are easy to remember) tend to mean that we tend to want to factor in obvious ways that the direct value measurement could be overstating things, and leave to one side all the unmeasured extra value.

The mistake became a really big one because fortunately/unfortunately, the measured return in digital has often been enough to justify at least a reasonable level of the activity. If it hadn’t been (think the vanishingly small number of people who see a billboard and immediately buy a car within the next week when they weren’t otherwise going to do so) we’d have been forced to talk more about the other benefits. But we weren’t. So we lazily talked about the measured value, and about the measurability as a benefit and a differentiator.

The threats of relying on exact measurement

Not only do we leave a whole load of credit (read: cash) on the table, but it also leads to threats to measurability being seen as existential threats to digital marketing activity as a whole. We know that there are growing threats to measuring accurately, including regulatory, technological, and user-behavior shifts:

Now, imagine that the combination of these trends meant that you lost 100% of your analytics and data. Would it mean that your leads stopped? Would you immediately turn your website off? Stop marketing?

I suggest that the answer to all of that is “no.” There’s a ton of value to digital marketing beyond the ability to track specific interactions.

We’re obviously not going to see our measurable insights disappear to zero, but for all the reasons I outlined above, it’s worth thinking about all the ways that our activities add value, how that value manifests, and some ways of proving it exists even if you can’t measure it.

How should we talk about value?

There are two pieces to the brand value puzzle:

  1. Figuring out the value of increasing brand awareness or affinity
  2. Understanding how our digital activities are changing said awareness or affinity

There’s obviously a lot of research into brand valuations generally, and while it’s outside the scope of this piece to think about total brand value, it’s worth noting that some methodologies place as much as 75% of the enterprise value of even some large companies in the value of their brands:

Image source

My colleague Tom Capper has written about a variety of ways to measure changes in brand awareness, which attacks a good chunk of the second challenge. But challenge #1 remains: how do we figure out what it’s worth to carry out some marketing activity that changes brand awareness or affinity?

In a recent post, I discussed different ways of building marketing models and one of the methodologies I described might be useful for this – namely so-called “top-down” modelling which I defined as being about percentages and trends (as opposed to raw numbers and units of production).

The top-down approach

I’ve come up with two possible ways of modelling brand value in a transactional sense:

1. The Sherlock approach

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
-
Sherlock Holmes

The outline would be to take the total new revenue acquired in a period. Subtract from this any elements that can be attributed to specific acquisition channels; whatever remains must be brand. If this is in any way stable or predictable over multiple periods, you can use it as a baseline value from which to apply the methodologies outlined above for measuring changes in brand awareness and affinity.

2. Aggressive attribution

If you run normal first-touch attribution reports, the limitations of measurement (clearing cookies, multiple devices etc) mean that you will show first-touch revenue that seems somewhat implausible (e.g. email; email surely can’t be a first-touch source — how did they get on your email list in the first place?):

Click for a larger version

In this screenshot we see that although first-touch dramatically reduces the influence of direct, for instance, it still accounts for more than 15% of new revenue.

The aggressive attribution model takes total revenue and splits it between the acquisition channels (unbranded search, paid social, referral). A first pass on this would simply split it in the relative proportion to the size of each of those channels, effectively normalizing them, though you could build more sophisticated models.

Note that there is no way of perfectly identifying branded/unbranded organic search since (not provided) and so you’ll have to use a proxy like homepage search vs. non-homepage search.

But fundamentally, the argument here would be that any revenue coming from a “first touch” of:

  • Branded search
  • Direct
  • Organic social
  • Email

…was actually acquired previously via one of the acquisition channels and so we attempt to attribute it to those channels.

Even this under-represents brand value

Both of those methodologies are pretty aggressive — but they might still under-represent brand value. Here are two additional mechanics where brand drives organic search volume in ways I haven’t figured out how to measure yet:

Trusting Amazon to rank

I like reading on the Kindle. If I hear of a book I’d like to read, I’ll often Google the name of the book on its own and trust that Amazon will rank first or second so I can get to the Kindle page to buy it. This is effectively a branded search for Amazon (and if it doesn’t rank, I’ll likely follow up with a [book name amazon] search or head on over to Amazon to search there directly).

But because all I’ve appeared to do is search [book name] on Google and then click through to Amazon, there is nothing to differentiate this from an unbranded search.

Spotting brands you trust in the SERPs

I imagine we all have anecdotal experience of doing this: you do a search and you spot a website you know and trust (or where you have an account) ranking somewhere other than #1 and click on it regardless of position.

One time that I can specifically recall noticing this tendency growing in myself was when I started doing tons more baby-related searches after my first child was born. Up until that point, I had effectively zero brand affinity with anyone in the space, but I quickly grew to rate the content put out by babycentre (babycenter in the US) and I found myself often clicking on their result in position 3 or 4 even when I hadn’t set out to look for them, e.g. in results like this one:

It was fascinating to me to observe this behavior in myself because I had no real interaction with babycentre outside of search, and yet, by consistently ranking well across tons of long-tail queries and providing consistently good content and user experience I came to know and trust them and click on them even when they were outranked. I find this to be a great example because it is entirely self-contained within organic search. They built a brand effect through organic search and reaped the reward in increased organic search.

I have essentially no ideas on how to measure either of these effects. If you have any bright ideas, do let me know in the comments.

Budgets will come under pressure

My belief is that total digital budgets will continue to grow (especially as TV continues to fragment), but I also believe that individual budgets are going to come under scrutiny and pressure making this kind of thinking increasingly important.

We know that there is going to be pressure on referral traffic from Facebook following the recent news feed announcements, but there is also pressure on trust in Google:

While I believe that the opportunity is large and still growing (see, for example, this slide showing Google growing as a referrer of traffic even as CTR has declined in some areas), it’s clear that the narrative is going to lead to more challenging conversations and budgets under increased scrutiny.

Can you justify your SEO investment?

What do you say when your CMO asks what you’re getting for your SEO investment?

What do you say when she asks whether the organic search opportunity is tapped out?

I’ll probably explore the answers to both these questions more in another post, but suffice it to say that I do a lot of thinking about these kinds of questions.

The first is why we have built our split-testing platform to make organic SEO investments measurable, quantifiable and accountable.

The second is why I think it’s super important to remember the big picture while the media is running around with their hair on fire. Media companies saw Facebook overtake Google as a traffic channel (and then are likely seeing that reverse right now), but most of the web has Google as the largest growing source of traffic and value.

The reality (from clickstream data) is that it’s really easy to forget how long the long-tail is and how sparse search features and ads are on the extreme long-tail:

  1. Only 3–4% of all searches result in a click on an ad, for example. Google’s incredible (and still growing) business is based on a small subset of commercial searches
  2. Google’s share of all outbound referral traffic across the web is growing (and Facebook’s is shrinking as they increasingly wall off their garden)

The opportunity is for smart brands to capitalize on a growing opportunity while their competitors sink time and money into a social space that is increasingly all about Facebook, and increasingly pay-to-play.

What do you think? Are you having these hard conversations with leadership? How are you measuring your digital brand’s value?

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Digital Marketing News: Alignment Challenges, Instagram’s ‘Collection’ & Amp for Email

The Top Three Reasons Sales and Marketing Alignment Is Off [Infographic]
Communication, broken processes and disconnected metrics are the top three reasons that sales and marketing alignment is off. Is it an issue of focus, priorities, or something else? MarketingProfs

Instagram Gives Brands New Way to Sell In ‘Collection’ Ads
Instagram launched “collection” ads, which allow users to shop and purchase directly through the Instagram platform. AdAge

Google Announces Amp For Email – Delivering Accelerated Mobile Pages Experiences To Your Inbox
The new spec is available today through the Gmail Developer Preview, with support in Gmail slated for later this year. MarketingLand

Instagram Tests Its Version Of The Retweet But Thru Stories
Instagram has begun testing a new feature that would allow users to share public posts from other profiles to their own followers through the Stories feature. MarketingLand

Nielsen Creates New Metric to Measure the Effectiveness of Product Integrations
Nielsen is launching a new metric that may help marketers and publishers standardize brand mentions across platforms, like TV, short-form video and subscription-video-on-demand services. AdWeek

Google Launches New Look For ‘People Also Search For’ Search Refinements
Go to a search result, click on a listing, and then click back to the search results page on Google to trigger this on Google desktop search. Search Engine Land

Breaking Up With Facebook: Users Confess They’re Spending Less Time
Mark Zuckerberg says recent changes have reduced the amount of time users spend on Facebook by 50 million hours each day, but those changes aren’t the only reasons, according to users. USA Today

How Facebook Is Changing the Way It Reports Organic Reach for Page Posts
A redesign of Page Insights began rolling out this week for iOS and Android, along with a more accurate way for page admins to determine the effectiveness of their organic posts. AdWeek

New Research: Account-Based Marketing Trends: Top Channels, Priorities, and Challenges
New research indicates that the top challenges and priorities for account based marketing are the same – aligning sales and marketing, attributing marketing efforts to revenue and scoring and targeting ideal accounts. MarketingProfs

Snapchat Is Opening Up Its Marketing Platform to All Ad-Tech Players and Agencies
Snapchat is opening up their API to allow companies more access to their ad buying platform, and potentially more data. AdWeek

Google Sets Deadline for HTTPS and Warns Publishers to Upgrade Soon
If you haven’t made the switch on your site from http to https, it’s time to get started. Google has set a deadline of July 2018, after which Chrome will begin warning users explicitly if a site is insecure. Search Engine Journal

Statistics on Personalized Content

On the Lighter Side:
Google Launches 2018 Winter Olympics Features Across Search ResultsSearch Engine Journal
McDonald’s Absurdly Lavish ‘Bling Mac’ Ring Could Be Yours, If You Love It EnoughAdWeek
Over 150 New Emojis to Be Released on iPhone and Android This YearIndependent

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:
Rachel Miller & Lee Odden – Top 100 Social Media and Marketing Influencers – Digital Scouting
Lee Odden -  37 Digital Marketing Conference Speakers Who Will Inspire Your Marketing Programs – Outbrain
Lee Odden – Who Were The Top CMO Influencers Of 2017?  – Forbes
Lee Odden – 16 Digital Rockstars you Need to Follow – neilmchugh

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! In the meantime, quench your digital marketing thirst by checking out TopRank Marketing on YouTube and Twitter!

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Digital Marketing News: The Visual Internet, Influencer Marketing Trends, Sneaky Ads

How to Keep Up With the Rise of the Visual Internet [Infographic]
Online media is increasingly visual — from personal photos to branded motion graphics, gif and videos. How can you keep up with the rising need for visual content? This infographic shares tips to help you stay on top of the trend and keep your viewers engaged. MarketingProfs

10 Million People Used Facebook Live on New Year’s Eve
It probably won’t come as a shock that, for most, the tradition of cozying up around an antennaed TV to watch the ball drop on NYE is behind us. Because in front of us — right in front of our faces — is Facebook Live. Ringing in 2018, Facebook Live topped their activity from the previous year’s NYE festivities, with people sharing 47% more live videos than last year.  Facebook Media

Google’s Rich Results Tool Allows for Testing of Structured Data
Google has a way of defining things (“Conversions” for instance) and now, they’ve defined Rich Results. “Rich Results” has been coined as a phrase to refer to rich snippets, rich cards and other “rich” additions to a website’s content. And Google’s new tool will test for all types of structured data that can be shown as rich results, pulling from sources including JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa. The tool currently works for recipes, jobs, movies and courses, and Google plans to expand to more data types. Search Engine Journal

Top Influencer Marketing Trends & Challenges of 2018
Of the influencer marketers surveyed by Linqia, 76% predict that their top challenge in 2018 will be determining the ROI of their influencer marketing programs. In addition, 52% of those same influencer marketers plan to adopt the trend of running influencer marketing programs that leverage multiple types of influencers, and 44% will use influencer content to improve the performance of other channels. MarketingProfs

What Millennials Are Killing Now, And 24 Other Insights We Can Glean by Analyzing Tweets
6,000 tweets are posted every second, and anybody who’s stayed up past bedtime scrolling through the Twitterverse can attest that, yes, it can all add up to a LOT of noise. But each tweet is also a piece of data. Brandwatch has analyzed billions of those tweets, which they refer to as “live human thought,” and answered some of our most burning questions: Who was the most talked about character in Game of Thrones Season 7? Does Starbucks spell my name wrong on purpose? Brandwatch

2018 Will Be the Year Chatbot Conversations Get Real
AT&T recently revealed plans to roll out a “mobile 5G” network in a dozen markets by the close of 2018. The company indicated that the network would bring 5G service to everything from mobile and VR to car AI and home TV. Not to be left out, Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile are all working towards 5G as well — all with nuanced approaches.  VentureBeat

On Facebook, Viral Reach for Branded-Content Ads Eclipses Standard Ads
New research from Shareablee shows that branded-content ads get twice as many organic or earned impressions as they do paid impressions on Facebook. Organic impressions for the average Facebook ad make up less that 10% of impressions from paid promotion. Creating shareable content that performs well organically — with a little help from paid promotion  is proving to be a winning combination. MarketingLand

One In Ten Publishers Say They’re Not Labeling Native Advertising
Two new studies from the Native Advertising Institute show that about 10% of news and magazine publishers aren’t properly labeling their online native advertising. These publishers largely cited “meeting budget demands” as their reason for doing so, even though 25% say this practice is one of the biggest threats they see to native advertising. MediaPost

Snapchat May Force Users To Watch Three Seconds Of Ads Before Skipping
To help increase their perceived value in the market, Snapchat is considering making their ads skippable only after the first three minutes. Currently, Snapchat users skip ads within the first second of viewing, where the industry standard for a successful ad lies around the two second mark. AdAge

Six Surprising Facts About the Way We Spend Our Time with Media
Believe it or not, in a world where we’re continually surrounded by media, some stats about its use can still surprise us. For example, U.S. adults spend more time listening to on-air radio than they do on social networks. eMarketer

2018 Will Be A Pivotal Year For Facebook’s Video Ambitions
Mark Zuckerberg has recently proclaimed that he sees video as a “megatrend.” True to form, this trend has caused Facebook to act by placing video first across the Facebook group of apps. The platform has upped their investment in video already, but it plans to invest an additional billion dollars in 2018. Digiday

On the Lighter Side:

The Real Story Behind Steak-umm’s Delightfully Weird Twitter Account – AdWeek

Sneaky Ads: In China, the Characters From the Show Appear in the Commercials, Too – Ad Age

TopRank Marketing In The News:

TopRank Marketing Blog – 109 Content Marketing Blogs to Watch in 2018 (Broken Down By Category) – SnapApp

Caitlin Burgess - The Trendiest Marketing Content of 2017 – LinkedIn

Lee Odden – The Most Impactful Tips from the Biggest Marketing Minds of 2017 – LeadMD

Amy Higgins – A Year of Great Content in Review: 19 Best Pieces by Prowly Magazine Contributors in 2017 – Prowly

Lee Odden – Lee Odden to Keynote Pubcon Florida 2018 – PubCon

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! Have something to share in the meantime? Tweet us @toprank or drop me a line @Tiffani_Allen.

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Digital Marketing News: Teens Over Facebook, Blockchain and Big Blue, MoonPie Roasts You

Social Commerce

Social Commerce Takes Hold. A study by PwC reports that 78% of consumers are influenced by social media when shopping online. According to Marketing Week, the “social commerce boom” is being fueled by young mobile consumers. Thirty-three percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say they would purchase items directly on Facebook, 27% on Instagram and 20% on Twitter. For 25- to 34-year-olds, the numbers decrease a bit: 30% on Facebook. For 54- to 65-years-olds, it’s 10%. MediaPost

Top 100 Social Media Trends for 2018. From Influencer Campaigns to Social Media-Friendly Designs to social media inspired dog toys, these are 100 social media trends for next year. Or are they? IRL social media filters? TrendHunter

Snapchat Looking to Publish Content on Third-Party Websites With ‘Stories Everywhere’. The word from Cheddar is that Snap is developing a new program dubbed Stories Everywhere that will allow third-party publishers to embed Snapchat content on their websites. Let’s just hope it’s not too little, too late.  Variety

The Price Of Mobile Ads Will Surge More Than 45% In 2018. Mobile programmatic pricing is about to have its hockey stick moment, set to grow more than 45% by 2019, according to a projection released by programmatic agency Goodway Group. Ad Exchanger

Data Shows Tablets Driving Highest Click-Through Rates. A new report reveals that tablet impressions drove 1.13% click-through rates that were the highest of any device in many categories such as Automotive, Consumer product Goods, Education, Financial, Food & Drink, Government, Home & Garden as well as Retail, Technology, Travel and Utilities. MediaPost

Has Teen Use of Facebook Peaked? According to Forrester Research data, Facebook is the only platform of the 6 major social networks that’s experienced a decline in usage among 12-17 year olds.  MarketingCharts

Blockchain Pumping New Life Into Old-School Companies Like IBM. Demand for blockchain, best known for supporting bitcoin, is growing so much that it will be one of the largest users of capacity next year at about 60 data centers that IBM rents out to other companies around the globe. The market for blockchain-related products and services will reach $ 7.7 billion in 2022, up from $ 242 million last year, according to researcher Markets & Markets.  Bloomberg

Love In The Inbox: Americans Are Tied To Email, Study Finds. Email is not dead! 78% of Americans expect to use email as much or more than they now do in five years, according to Inbox Report 2018. MediaPost

Artificial Intelligence

On the Lighter Side:

MoonPie is brutally roasting people who insult the snack on Twitter – Business Insider

Wendy’s social media team hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ forum on Reddit – LA Times

Jack in the Box Tests Munchie Meals for California Pot Smokers – AdAge

TopRank Marketing In the News:

Lee Odden – 140 of Today’s Top SEO Experts to Follow – Search Engine Journal

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

Be sure to stay tuned until next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary with Tiffani and Josh on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Happy New Year from the Team at TopRank Marketing!


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AMP-lify Your Digital Marketing in 2018

Posted by EricEnge

Should you AMP-lify your site in 2018?

This is a question on the mind of many publishers. To help answer it, this post is going to dive into case studies and examples showing results different companies had with AMP.

If you’re not familiar with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), it’s an open-source project aimed at allowing mobile website content to render nearly instantly. This initiative that has Google as a sponsor, but it is not a program owned by Google, and it’s also supported by Bing, Baidu, Twitter, Pinterest, and many other parties.


Some initial background

Since its inception in 2015, AMP has come a long way. When it first hit the scene, AMP was laser-focused on media sites. The reason those types of publishers wanted to participate in AMP was clear: It would make their mobile sites much faster, AND Google was offering a great deal of incremental exposure in Google Search through the “Top Stories news carousel.”

Basically, you can only get in the Top Stories carousel on a mobile device if your page is implemented in AMP, and that made AMP a big deal for news sites. But if you’re not a news site, what’s in it for you? Simple: providing a better user experience online can lead to more positive website metrics and revenue.

We know that fast-loading websites are better for the user. But what you may not be aware of is how speed can impact the bottom line. Google-sponsored research shows that AMP leads to an average of a 2X increase in time spent on page (details can be seen here). The data also shows e-commerce sites experience an average 20 percent increase in sales conversions compared to non-AMP web pages.

Stepping outside the world of AMP for a moment, data from Amazon, Walmart, and Yahoo show a compelling impact of page load time on metrics like traffic, conversion and sales:

You can see that for Amazon, a mere one-tenth of a second increase in page load time (so one-tenth of a second slower) would drive a $ 1.3 billion drop in sales. So, page speed can have a direct impact on revenue. That should count for something.

What do users say about AMP? 9to5Google.com recently conducted a poll where they asked users: “Are you more inclined to click on an AMP link than a regular one?” The majority of people (51.14 percent) said yes to that question. Here are the detailed results:

This poll suggests that even for non-news sites, there is a very compelling reason to do AMP for SEO. Not because it increases your rankings, per se, but because you may get more click-throughs (more traffic) from the organic search results. Getting more traffic from organic search, after all, is the goal of SEO. In addition, you’re likely to get more time on site and more conversions.


How the actual implementation of AMP impacts your results

Before adopting any new technology, you need understand what you’re getting into.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we performed a research study that included 10 different types of websites that adopted AMP to see what results they had and what challenges they ran into. (Go here to see more details from the study.)

Let’s get right to the results. One site, Thrillist, converted 90 percent of their web pages over a four-week period of time. They saw a 70 percent lift in organic search traffic to their site — 50 percent of that growth came from AMP.

One anonymous participant in the study, another large media publisher, converted 95 percent of their web pages to AMP, and once again the development effort as approximately four weeks long. They saw a 67 percent lift in organic search traffic on one of their sites, and a 30% lift on another site.

So, media sites do well, but we knew that would be the case. What about e-commerce sites? Consider the case of Myntra, a company that is the largest fashion retailer in India. Their implementation took about 11 days of effort.

This implementation covered all of their main landing pages from Google, covering between 85% and 90% of their organic search traffic. For their remaining pages (such as the individual product pages) they implemented a Progressive Web App, which helps those pages perform better as well. They saw a 40% reduction in bounce rate on their pages, as well as a lift in their overall e-commerce results. You can see detailed results here.

Then there is the case of Event Tickets Center. They implemented 99.9% of their pages in AMP, and opted to create an AMP-immersive experience. Page load times on their site dropped from five to six seconds to one second.

They saw improvements in user engagement metrics, with a drop in bounce rate of 10%, an increase in pages per session of 6%, and session duration of 13%. But, the stunning stat is that they report a whopping 100% increase in e-commerce conversions. You can see the full case study here.

But it’s not always the case that AMP adopters will see a huge lift in results. When that’s not the case, there’s likely one culprit: not taking the time to implement AMP thoroughly. A big key to AMP is not to simply use a plugin, set it, and forget it.

To get good results, you’ll need to invest the time to make the AMP version of your pages substantially similar (if not identical) to your normal responsive mobile pages, and with today’s AMP, for the majority of publishers, that is absolutely possible to do. In addition to this being critical to the performance of AMP pages, on November 16, 2017, Google announced that they will exclude pages from the AMP carousel if the content on your AMP page is not substantially similar to that of your mobile responsive page.

This typically means creating brand-new templates for the major landing pages of your site, or if you are using a plugin, using their custom styling options (most of them allow this). If you’re going to take on AMP, it’s imperative that you take the time to get this right.

From our research, you can see in the slide below the results from the 10 sites that adopted AMP. Eight of those sites are colored in green, and those are the sites that saw strong results from their AMP implementation.

Then there are two listed in yellow. Those are the sites that have not yet seen good results. In both of those cases, there were implementation problems. One of the sites (the Lead Gen site above) launched pages with a broken hamburger menu, and a UI that was not up to par with the responsive mobile pages, and their metrics are weak.

We’ve been working with them to fix that and their metrics are steadily improving. The first round of fixes brought the user engagement metrics much closer to that of the mobile responsive pages, but there is still more work to do.

The other site (the retail site in yellow above) launched AMP pages without their normal faceted navigation, and also without a main menu, saw really bad results, and pulled it back down. They’re working on a better AMP implementation now, and hope to relaunch soon.

So, when you think about implementing AMP, you have to go all the way with it and invest the time to do a complete job. That will make it harder, for sure, but that’s OK — you’ll be far better off in the end.


How we did it at Stone Temple (and what we found)

Here at Stone Temple Consulting, we experimented with AMP ourselves, using an AMP plugin versus a hand-coded AMP web page. I’ll share the results of that next.

Experiment No. 1: WordPress AMP plugin

Our site is on WordPress, and there are plugins that make the task of doing AMP easier if you have a WordPress site — however, that doesn’t mean install the plugin, turn it on, and you’re done.

Below you can see a comparison of the standard StoneTemple.com mobile page on the left contrasted with the default StoneTemple.com page that comes out of the AMP plugin that we used on the site called AMP by Automatic.

You’ll see that the look and feel is dramatically different between the two, but to be fair to the plugin, we did what I just said you shouldn’t do. We turned it on, did no customization, and thought we were done.

As a result, there’s no hamburger menu. The logo is gone. It turns out that by default, the link at the top (“Stone Temple”) goes to StoneTemple.com/amp, but there’s no page for that, so it returns a 404 error, and the list of problems goes on. As noted, we had not used the customization options available in the plugin, which can be used to rectify most (if not all) of these problems, and the pages can be customized to look a lot better. As part of an ongoing project, we’re working on that.

It’s a lot faster, yes… but is it a better user experience? Looking at the data, we can see the impact of this broken implementation of AMP. The metrics are not good.

Looking at the middle line highlighted in orange, you’ll see the standard mobile page metrics. On the top line, you’ll see the AMP page metrics — and they’re all worse: higher bounce rate, fewer pages per session, and lower average session time.

Looking back to the image of the two web pages, you can see why. We were offering an inferior user interface because we weren’t giving the user any opportunities to interact. Therefore, we got predictable results.

Experiment No. 2: Hand-coded AMP web page

One of the common myths about AMP is that an AMP page needs to be a stripped-down version of your site to succeed. To explore whether or not that was true, we took the time at Stone Temple Consulting to hand-code a version of one of our article pages for AMP. Here is a look at how that came out:

As you can see from the screenshots above, we created a version of the page that looked nearly identical to the original. We also added a bit of extra functionality with a toggle sidebar feature. With that, we felt we made something that had even better usability than the original page.

The result of these changes? The engagement metrics for the AMP pages on StoneTemple.com went up dramatically. For the record, here are our metrics including the handcrafted AMP pages:

As you can see, the metrics have improved dramatically. We still have more that we can do with the handcrafted page as well, and we believe we can get these metrics to be better than that of the standard mobile responsive page. At this point in time, total effort on the handcrafted page template was about 40 hours.

Note: We do believe that we can get engagement on the AMP by Automatic plugin version to go way up, too. One of the reasons we did the hand-coded version was to get hands-on experience with AMP coding. We’re working on a better custom implementation of the AMP by Automatic pages in parallel.


Bonus challenge: AMP analytics

Aside from the actual implementation of AMP, there is a second major issue to be concerned about if you want to be successful: the tracking. The default tracking in Google Analytics for AMP pages is broken, and you’ll need to patch it.

Just to explain what the issue is, let’s look at the following illustration:

The way AMP works (and one of the things that helps with speeding up your web pages) is that your content is served out of a cache on Google. When a user clicks on the AMP link in the search results, that page lives in Google’s cache (on Google.com). That’s the web page that gets sent to the user.

The problem occurs when a user is viewing your web page on Google’s cache, and then clicks on a link within that page (say, to the home page of your site). This action means they leave the Google.com page and get the next page delivered from your server (in the example above, I’m using the StoneTemple.com server.)

From a web analytics point of view, those are two different websites. The analytics for StoneTemple.com is going to view that person who clicked on the AMP page in the Google cache as a visitor from a third-party website, and not a visitor from search. In other words, the analytics for StoneTemple.com won’t record it as a continuation of the same session; it’ll be tracked as a new session.

You can (and should) set up analytics for your AMP pages (the ones running on Google.com), but those are normally going to run as a separate set of analytics. Nearly every action on your pages in the Google cache will result in the user leaving the Google cache, and that will be seen as leaving the site that the AMP analytics is tracking. The result is that in the analytics for your AMP pages running on Google.com:

  • Your pages per session will be about one
  • Bounce rate will be very high (greater than 90 percent)
  • Session times will be very short

Then, for the AMP analytics on your domain, your number of visitors will not reflect any of the people who arrive on an AMP page first, and will only include those who view a second page on the site (on your main domain). If you try fixing this by adding your AMP analytics visit count to your main site analytics count, you’ll be double counting people that click through from one to the other.

There is a fix for this, and it’s referred to as “session stitching.” This is a really important fix to implement, and Google has provided it by creating an API that allows you to share the client ID information from AMP analytics with your regular website analytics. As a result, the analytics can piece together that it’s a continuation of the same session.

For more, you can see how to implement the fix to remedy both basic and advanced metrics tracking in my article on session stitching here.


Wrapping up

AMP can offer some really powerful benefits — improved site speed, better user experience and more revenue — but only for those publishers that take the time to implement the AMP version of their AMP site thoroughly, and also address the tracking issue in analytics so they can see the true results.

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