Episode 182 contains the important Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Oct 9-13, 2023.

1. Google’s Demand Gen Ads: The AI-Powered Video Ads  – If you’re using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram for advertising, you’ll want to know about Google’s latest ad product: Demand Gen campaigns. Google Ads is a platform that allows you to place advertisements on Google’s search engine and other platforms. Demand Gen is Google’s newest effort to compete with traditional social media sites for your advertising dollars.

What sets Demand Gen apart? It uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create highly targeted video and image ads, specifically designed for platforms like YouTube. These ads can be up to 15 seconds long, ideal for YouTube placements, and can also feature image carousels tailored for mobile users. The tool uses Google’s powerful AI to identify “lookalike audiences” that share characteristics with your existing customers, allowing for more targeted advertising.

Why is this important for you? Consumer habits are changing. People are now splitting their time between traditional social media platforms and video sites like YouTube. Google’s Demand Gen aims to help you capitalize on this shift by offering visually compelling ads tailored to specific audiences. Early adopters have already seen promising results; for example, Argentine fintech startup Naranja X reported 3x higher click-through rates at 61% lower costs compared to its paid social campaigns.

2. Google Ads Policy Update: What You Need to Know About Offering Rewards 🎁 –  If you’re using Google Ads to incentivize customer engagement, there’s a significant policy change you should be aware of. Starting October 31, 2023, Google Ads will update its policies to allow indirect or non-monetary items to be offered as rewards. However, direct monetary items will still remain disallowed as rewards.

Here’s what the change means in simple terms:

  • The reward must be redeemable and usable only within your platform, website, or app.
  • The reward must be non-transferable.
  • If the reward is a discount or voucher for a physical item, it must not exceed 25% of the item’s total value.

This update is crucial for businesses that use rewards to attract and retain customers. It gives you more flexibility in what you can offer as rewards, such as discounts, loyalty points, or even game character skins. However, these rewards must be confined to your own platform and cannot be converted into cash or transferred to third parties.

Why is this important? This policy change allows you to be more creative and flexible in your advertising campaigns. It could be a game-changer in how you engage with your audience and could potentially lead to higher customer retention rates.

3. Google’s Cookie 🍪 Crumble: How Chrome’s Upcoming Changes Will Impact Your Business – If you’re using Google Chrome to manage your online advertising, you need to be aware of a significant change coming your way. Google Chrome is a widely-used web browser, and it’s about to alter how it handles third-party cookies. These cookies are small pieces of data that track user behavior across websites, helping businesses like yours target ads more effectively.

Starting in early 2024, Google will disable third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users as an initial step. By mid-2024, this will extend to all Chrome users. This move aims to enhance user privacy but will also force a shift in how digital advertising operates. The change could impact your ability to collect data and serve relevant ads to your audience.

Why is Google making this change? The tech giant aims to improve user privacy and security while still providing tools for businesses to sustain themselves. Google plans to introduce new “Privacy Sandbox APIs” to replace the functionality lost by the removal of third-party cookies. These will cover use cases like identity verification, advertising, and fraud detection.

What does this mean for you? If you rely on third-party cookies for advertising, it’s time to prepare for this change. You’ll need to adopt new methods for serving ads and possibly face a shift in the digital advertising landscape that could benefit larger platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

The upcoming changes present an opportunity to reassess your advertising strategies. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by these shifts and need expert guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you navigate these changes seamlessly.

4. Take Control 🎛️ of Your Customer Data with Google’s New Tool – If you’re using Google Ads for your business, there’s a new tool you should know about: Google Ads Data Manager. Google Ads is a platform that allows you to advertise your products or services on Google’s search engine and other affiliated sites. The tool aims to simplify the management of first-party customer data, which is the data you collect directly from your customers. This is crucial because first-party data is generally more reliable and valuable than third-party data, which is collected from external sources like browser cookies.

Google Ads Data Manager offers a unified platform where data analysts and marketers can collaborate. It streamlines the process of setting up new data integrations and activating customer datasets for measurement and targeting. The tool eliminates the need for coding, reducing duplicated work between analysts and engineers. It even promises future integration with major platforms like Salesforce and Lytics, where many businesses build audience profiles and analytics repositories.

Why is this important for your business? As privacy concerns grow and third-party cookies become less reliable, focusing on first-party data becomes increasingly essential. Google’s new tool aims to make this transition easier by providing a unified interface for managing your customer data. It’s set for a full launch in 2024, starting with core features like conversion measurement and customer list activation within Google Ads.

5. Google Ads Glitches Could Be Draining Your Budget! Know What’s Happening 🚨 – If you’re using Google Ads to promote your business, you need to be aware of recent issues that could be affecting your advertising budget. Google Ads is a platform that allows you to place advertisements on Google’s search engine and other affiliated websites. It’s a crucial tool for driving traffic and sales, but recent glitches could be causing you unnecessary financial strain.

On October 11, 2023, Google confirmed a significant issue affecting a large number of Google Ads users. The problem lies in the serving of ads and the spending controls for campaigns. In simpler terms, the platform is not functioning as it should, which could lead to your ads being displayed incorrectly or your budget being spent faster than you intended. Google has been actively investigating the issue but has yet to provide a concrete resolution time.

This isn’t a one-off event. Google Ads has experienced multiple outages and issues throughout the year, affecting various aspects like responsiveness and billing. These glitches have led to numerous complaints in Google Ads forums, indicating that the problem is widespread.

After almost three days, Google finally announced that the issue was resolved on October 13, 2023. However, the damage for many could have already been done by then. As a business owner, it’s essential to keep an eye on your Google Ads campaigns, especially during such turbulent times. Make sure to check your ad performance and budget spending regularly to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

6. Google’s 🤖 AI-Powered Images: What It Means for Your Business – Google is testing new AI-powered features that can generate both images and written content based on your search queries. Imagine typing “draw a picture of a capybara wearing a chef’s hat and cooking breakfast,” and Google actually generates that image for you. This feature aims to help users visualize concepts more easily during the search process. It’s currently available to a limited test group in the U.S., but it’s a glimpse into the future of how we might interact with search engines.

Another fascinating feature is AI-powered writing inspiration. For example, if you search for “garage conversion projects,” Google could generate a draft email that you could send to a contractor for a quote. This feature is designed to assist in longer research sessions by providing AI-assisted writing ideas. Like the image generation feature, this is also in the testing phase.

Why should you care? These advancements could significantly streamline your business operations, from conceptualizing ideas to drafting content. However, Google is also implementing safeguards to prevent misuse and maintain user privacy, which is crucial for business integrity.

7. Google’s RGSP: The Auction 💰🔨 System That Could Change Your Ad Game – If you’re using Google Ads to promote your business, you need to understand RGSP—Randomized Generalized Second-Price auctions. Google Ads is a platform where businesses bid to place their ads on Google’s search engine. The highest bidder doesn’t always win; instead, Google uses a complex metric called “Ad Rank” to determine the winner. This system takes into account not just the bid amount, but also the long-term value (LTV) of the campaign, ad quality, and relevance.

RGSP is a practice that adds another layer to this process. It picks the winner at random from the top bidders, as long as their LTVs are close enough. The winner then pays the price of the next-highest bid plus one cent. While Google argues that this system provides a better user experience, critics, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), claim it makes ad auctions unfair and benefits Google financially.

Why is this important for you? If you’re not aware of how RGSP works, you might end up spending more on your Google Ads without understanding why you’re not getting the desired results. The system is complex and can be confusing, especially since Google hasn’t specified how advertisers can improve their campaign’s LTV. Your only option to avoid the randomness of RGSP might be to significantly increase your bid amount, which could inflate your advertising costs.

If you’re finding it challenging to navigate the complexities of Google’s ad auction system and need expert guidance, we’re here to help. Feel free to reach out to us for tailored advice on how to optimize your ad campaigns.

8. Meta’s New Ad Features for Facebook Reels: Get Ready for the Holidays! – As the holiday season approaches, Meta (formerly Facebook) is rolling out new advertising features for Facebook Reels, aiming to help businesses like yours tap into its rapidly growing user base. Facebook Reels is a short-form video feature on Facebook, similar to Instagram Reels or TikTok, where users can create and explore engaging video content.

One of the key updates is the introduction of Collections Ads for Facebook Reels. These ads allow you to showcase a series of products within a single ad, making it easier for potential customers to browse and shop. Meta has also introduced Multi-Destination Reels Carousel Ads, which enable you to direct viewers to multiple product pages based on the images shown in the ad.

Another noteworthy feature is the new “swipe left” functionality, designed to make it easier for viewers to learn more about the products featured in an ad. This could be a game-changer for brands looking to provide more information and engage viewers effectively.

In addition to these, Meta is offering new automation solutions, including auto-generated templates for Reels promotions. These templates will help optimize your creative content, ensuring it performs well in the Reels format. Meta is also enhancing its music selection tool, allowing advertisers to automatically apply free music to their ads.

Why is this important? With people spending more time on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it’s crucial to adapt your advertising strategy to where your audience is most active. These new features offer a more interactive and engaging way to connect with potential customers, especially during the busy holiday season.

9. Maximize Your 🎄 Holiday Ad Reach with Microsoft’s New Marketing Guide – The holiday season is a crucial time for businesses, and Microsoft Advertising has released a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of it. Microsoft Advertising is a platform that allows you to place ads across Microsoft’s network, including Bing. Their new guide, “Your Festive Season Marketing Playbook,” is designed to help you understand and adapt to changing customer behaviors and trends during the holiday shopping period.

The guide emphasizes the importance of early planning and budgeting. Data shows that brands see a significant increase in website traffic and purchases during September and October in the U.S., Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). These months account for 44% of ad clicks and 40% of conversions, often at a 5% lower cost-per-click (CPC).

Another key takeaway is the impact of October clicks. On average, 67% of purchases in November and 50% in December can be traced back to consumer clicks in October. Microsoft suggests using remarketing, in-market audiences, and automated bidding strategies to capture this segment of deal-seekers.

Lastly, the guide highlights the rising trend of deal-seeking among consumers, especially in the U.S. More than two-thirds of shoppers spend considerable time searching for coupons and deals. Diversified ad strategies are also recommended, as 28% of holiday ad clicks come from mobile devices.

Why is this important for you? The holiday season is a prime opportunity for boosting sales and customer engagement. Microsoft’s guide offers actionable tips based on the most recent trends, helping you to plan more effective ad campaigns.

10. WordPress 6.3.2 Update Fixes 8 Security 🛡️ Flaws—Is Your Site Safe? – If your website is powered by WordPress, it’s crucial to be aware of the latest security update, WordPress 6.3.2. WordPress is a popular platform for building and managing websites, and keeping it secure is vital for your business’s online presence.

The new update addresses eight different vulnerabilities, including one that could potentially lead to a full site takeover. These vulnerabilities range from “Cross-Site Scripting” (a type of security risk that allows hackers to inject malicious code into your website) to “Cache Poisoning Denial of Service” (a flaw that could make your site unavailable to users). The update aims to patch these security holes and make your website safer.

Why should you care? A compromised website can severely damage your business reputation and result in financial loss. The vulnerabilities are rated as medium severity, but they can have severe implications if not addressed. WordPress strongly advises users to update to the latest version to benefit from these security patches.

The update also delivers 41 bug fixes, enhancing the overall performance and reliability of your WordPress site. If you’re not tech-savvy and the idea of updating and managing your website security feels overwhelming, we’re here to help. Our team can guide you through these changes to ensure your website remains secure and functional.

So, don’t delay. Make sure your WordPress site is updated to version 6.3.2 as soon as possible. Your website’s security is not something to be taken lightly.