Get up to speed with the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Jan 23 – 27, 2023.

1. Key Takeaways From Microsoft FY23 Q2 Earnings – Microsoft Corp. announced its financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2022, which showed an increase in revenue of 2% to $52.7 billion. 

LinkedIn revenue increased 10% driven by Talent Solutions and has once again seen ‘record levels’ of in-app engagement in the most recent quarter, with the platform reporting 18% growth in total user sessions. Per LinkedIn “We once again saw record engagement among our more than 900 million members. Three members are signing up every second. Over eighty percent of these members are from outside the United States.” 

Hey LinkedIn, how many of these accounts are fake or bot accounts?

 At the same time, LinkedIn has warned, however, that this number will likely decline in 2023 due to a broader slowdown in hiring, particularly in the tech sector, where many of LinkedIn’s job postings stem from. 

Total ad revenue increased 10%. Microsoft also announced its plans to increase its ad revenue from $10 billion annually to $20 billion. And if achieved, it would make Microsoft the sixth-largest digital ad seller worldwide. Remember, Microsoft has a partnership with Netflix partnership and allows advertisers to purchase ads through their demand side platform Xandr. Microsoft will take a reseller fee, and experts predict that the partnership will be a huge revenue driver, easily clearing $10 billion in ad sales or more.

You can read the full earnings statement from Microsoft here.


2. LinkedIn Trying To Boost Newsletter Discovery By Showcasing Which Newsletters The Profile User Has Subscribed – LinkedIn’s looking to make it easier to find relevant newsletters in your niche, by adding a new option that will enable members to view what newsletters another member is subscribed to in the app. Per LinkedIn, “We’ve heard from members that newsletters on LinkedIn are a great way to gather new insights and ideas on professional topics that they care about. We’ve also heard that members are looking for better ways to discover even more newsletters that would be relevant to them. To aid in this discovery, we are making newsletter subscriptions visible to others, including on profiles. Starting February 11th, 2023, you’ll be able to see which newsletters members find value in, the same way you can see your shared interests, pages and groups.

IMO, this is a double-edge sword unless LInkedIn gives me a way to control which subscriptions should be revealed in public vs kept private. On the other hand, creators and influencers can charge $$ to subscribe to a newsletter and promote it for a fee. Though I would not do this but to easy his own.

3. Twitter Launches “Search Keyword Ads” – Twitter has introduced a new ad unit called “Search Keywords Ads”, which allows advertisers to pay for their tweets to appear at the top in search results for specific keywords. Search Keywords Ads are similar to promoted tweets but with the added benefit of appearing in search results. This will allow advertisers to reach a wider audience, as users searching for specific keywords (targeting users actively searching for specific keywords, which provides a more accurate signal of user intent.) will now be exposed to sponsored tweets. Advertisers can find Search Keywords Ads as a new campaign objective within the Twitter Ads interface.

My question: How long before Instagram copies this?

4. Google Optimize Discontinued. Now What? – If you have not heard of Google Optimize before today then I do not blame you. It was a nifty service from Google (formerly called Google Website Optimizer), is an analytics and testing tool created by Google. It allows you to run experiments that are aimed to help online marketers and webmasters to increase visitor conversion rates and overall visitor satisfaction.

And now Google has decided to discontinue this service September 30, 2023. “Google Optimize and Optimize 360 will no longer be available after September 30, 2023. Your experiments and personalizations can continue to run until that date,” Google wrote.

Google added, “We launched Google Optimize over 5 years ago to enable businesses of all sizes to easily test and improve your user experiences. We remain committed to enabling businesses of all sizes to improve your user experiences and are investing in A/B testing in Google Analytics 4.”

I am unhappy about this announcement because Optimize worked seamlessly with GA and it will leave a significant gap in the market for affordable and beginner-friendly A/B testing options. However, I’m hopeful that Google will integrate some of these features into GA-4.

5. Google Ads Now Supports Account-Level Negative Keywords – Creating a list of negative keywords allows you to block your ads from showing for specific irrelevant terms for your brand, making it easier for your ads to reach your desired audience and resulting in more successful conversions. 

To prevent unwanted impressions or clicks from certain search terms across multiple campaigns, advertisers can now create a negative keyword list at the account level and then apply it to relevant campaigns. This will save you the effort of adding the same negative keywords to individual campaigns and make it easier to manage future changes to negative keywords across campaigns. But be forewarned that a limit of 1,000 negative keywords can be excluded for each account. So do not go crazy!!

You can read the full announcement from Google here.

6. US Justice Department Sues Google Again, Wants To Dismantle Its Ad Division – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officially filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on January 24. The DOJ alleges Google has a monopoly on the current digital advertising ecosystem. Eight states so far have joined forces with the DOJ on the lawsuit. They include: Virginia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. Remember that this lawsuit is separate from the first lawsuit from the DOJ back in 2020 against Google. In the 153-page document, the DOJ argues that Google has created an advertising environment that favors its Alphabet-owned products unfairly. Here is what DOJ wrote :

Google, a single company with pervasive conflicts of interest, now controls:(1) the technology used by nearly every major website publisher to offer advertising space for sale; (2) the leading tools used by advertisers to buy that advertising space; and (3) the largest ad exchange that matches publishers with advertisers each time that ad space is sold. 

Google abuses its monopoly power to disadvantage website publishers and advertisers who dare to use competing ad tech products in a search for higher quality, or lower cost, matches. Google uses its dominion over digital advertising technology to funnel more transactions to its own ad tech products where it extracts inflated fees to line its own pockets at the expense of the advertisers and publishers it purportedly serves.

If Google is found guilty in this lawsuit it could have an impact on the broader advertising sector. 

You can read the full lawsuit document here.

7. Two Imp Elements For Google Discover Follow Feed – Google updated it’s Google Discover feed guidelines and wrote that the “most important content for the Follow feature is your feed title element and your per item link elements.” In addition to that, make sure that your feed (aka rss) is up-to-date, like you would for your sitemap.

Remember, that the Google Discover follow feed feature offers relevant content to Chrome Android users and represents an importance source of traffic that is matched to user interests. It is one way to capture a steady stream of traffic apart from Google News and Google Search.

8. Google: Don’t Use Relative Paths In Your rel-canonical – A canonical URL lets you tell search engines that certain similar URLs are actually the same. Because sometimes you have products or content that you can find on multiple URLs — or even multiple websites. Using canonical URLs (HTML link tags with the attribute rel=canonical), you can have these on your site without harming your rankings.

Gary Illyes from from the Google Search Relations team posted another PSA on LinkedIn, this one says “don’t use relative paths in your rel-canonical.” Gary wants you to use the full, absolute URL, when it comes to rel-canonical. This is not new advice, Google said this in 2018 and in 2013.

This is such a common mistake that Google’s John Muller wrote, “One of the problems is that it’s relative to where the content was found. www or non-www? http or https? staging subdomain? staging domain? random other domain that’s hosted by the same company? If you want to pick something specific, it’s good to be specific.

If the terms canonical, relative, or absolute path has made you dizzy then perhaps you should seek the advice or help of an expert.

9. Google: When Fake URLs Are Generated By Your Competitor – Mike Blazer asked John, “Bulk generate non-existing URLs on a competitor’s site that lead to 5XX server errors when opened. Googlebot sees that a substantial number of pages on that domain return 5XX, the server is unable to handle requests. Google reduces the page #crawl frequency for that domain.

John Mueller from Google said that bulk-generating fake URLs of your competitor’s site should not lead to negative SEO and ranking issues for that site. “This is not something I’d worry about,” he added.

P.S: The audio version of the show contains my analysis and opinion on this topic.