Episode 189 contains the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Nov 27-Dec 1, 2023.

1. Google Ads Controversy: Ad Placements on Questionable Websites – A recent study by Adalytics has sparked a debate over the ethical and transparency issues surrounding Google’s Search Partner Network (GSP). The report found that Google search ads appeared on websites that violate Google’s publisher policies, raising significant concerns for advertisers about where their ads are being displayed.

Key Points from the Study:

  • Violation of Publisher Policies: The study discovered Google search ads on websites that don’t adhere to Google’s publisher policies. These policies prohibit ads from being served alongside illegal content, hate speech, misinformation, and more. Yet, ads were found on far-leaning political websites and other questionable domains.
  • Google Search Partner Network: The GSP is a collection of search-related websites and apps where Google ads can appear. The network, established in 2003, aims to expand Google’s ad reach beyond its search engine. However, the lack of transparency about the websites included in this network is a major concern.
  • Compromising Ad Placements: Advertisers reported finding their ads on websites they had previously blocked. This raises questions about the effectiveness of Google Ads’ excluded placements setting and the overall control advertisers have over their ad placements.
  • Ethical and Transparency Issues: The report highlights the need for greater transparency and trust in Google’s ad network. The lack of clarity about the GSP’s members and the discovery of ads on sanctioned websites in countries like Iran and Russia pose ethical dilemmas for advertisers.

What Can Advertisers Do?

  • Opt-Out of GSP: Advertisers can manually opt out of the GSP for each search campaign to avoid their ads appearing on these networks.
  • Review Content Suitability Settings: Adjusting these settings, especially on YouTube or display campaigns, can help control where ads are shown.
  • Check Display Campaign Placements: Reviewing where ads are shown in display campaigns can provide insights into potentially questionable or poor-performing websites.
  • Use Advanced Settings for Additional Exclusions: Advertisers can exclude sensitive content types, themes, keywords, websites, apps, YouTube channels, or videos to gain more control over ad placements.

This report underscores the importance for business owners of being vigilant about where their ads are displayed. It’s crucial to regularly review and adjust ad settings to ensure that your brand’s values align with the platforms where your ads are shown. As digital marketing continues to evolve, ethical considerations and transparency in ad placements remain key concerns for advertisers.

2. Google Updates Policy for for Consumer Finance Ads – Google has updated its personalized ads policy in February 2024, and introduced new limitations on personalized advertising related to consumer financial products and services. This policy change is particularly important for businesses in the consumer finance sector, including those offering credit cards, loans, banking services, and debt management products.

Understanding the Policy Update:

  • Scope of the Update: The updated policy will prohibit targeting audiences based on sensitive interest categories like gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code in the United States and Canada for consumer finance in personalized ads.
  • Effective Date: The policy enforcement will begin on February 28, 2024, and is expected to ramp up to full enforcement over approximately six weeks.
  • Warning Before Suspension: Violations of this policy will not lead to immediate account suspension without prior warning. A warning will be issued at least seven days before any suspension of an account.

Implications for Business Owners:

  • Review Advertising Strategies: Businesses in the consumer finance sector need to review their advertising strategies on Google to ensure compliance with the new policy. This includes revising targeting methods and ad content.
  • Prepare for Changes: With the policy taking effect in February 2024, businesses have time to adjust their campaigns and avoid potential disruptions.
  • Understand the Impact: The policy change underscores the importance of ethical advertising practices, especially in sensitive sectors like consumer finance. It’s crucial for businesses to understand how these changes affect their digital marketing efforts.

3. Google’s November 2023 Core Update Rollout Complete – Google has finalized its November 2023 Core Update, marking the fourth major algorithm update of the year. This update, which began on November 2, 2023, concluded on November 28, 2023, after 26 days. It followed closely on the heels of the October 2023 Core Update, which itself had significant impacts on search rankings.

The November Core Update was notable for the breadth of its impact, affecting a wide range of sites and causing considerable ranking volatility. Many SEOs reported substantial changes in site rankings from the outset of the update.

Adding to the complexity, the November 2023 Reviews Update, which began on November 8, overlapped with the Core Update. This meant that websites experienced the effects of two significant updates simultaneously, although the impacts of each were distinct.

Understanding Google’s algorithm updates is crucial for businesses, as these updates can impact how your site performs in search results. Any change in rankings from a core update, positive or negative, can impact your organic traffic, conversions, and revenue. Knowing when Google makes these updates enables site owners to know if traffic fluctuations resulted from a change to the site or something Google changed with its ranking algorithm.

4. Google Search Expands Organization Markup: Enhancing Business Visibility – Google has recently updated its organization markup in Google Search, now supporting additional fields such as name, address, contact information, and various business identifiers. This expansion is a significant development for business owners, as it allows for more comprehensive representation of their organizations in Google’s search results.

What’s New in the Update:

  • Expanded Fields: The updated organization structured data now includes fields for name, alternate name, legal name, description, sameAs, address, phone numbers, email, number of employees, founding date, DUNS, NAICS, tax ID, and other ID numbers. This is in addition to the previously supported logo and URL structured data fields.
  • Enhanced Visibility: These new fields can be used in Google Search knowledge panels and other visual elements, such as attribution. This means that when someone searches for your business, Google can display a rich snippet with detailed information about your organization, making it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
  • Updated Reporting: Google Search Console reports have been updated to support validation of these new fields. The rich results testing tool has also been updated, allowing you to test your organization’s structured data and confirm its validity instantly.

Google’s expansion of the organization markup in search results is a valuable opportunity for business owners to improve their online visibility and provide users with more detailed information about their organizations. By effectively utilizing these new structured data fields, businesses can enhance their search presence, improve user experience, and potentially increase customer engagement.

5. Google Adds Support for Discussion Forums and Profile Pages – Google has announced the introduction of structured data for profile pages and discussion forums, a significant update for Google Search. This new markup, along with corresponding reports in Search Console, is designed to improve the accuracy and completeness of search results, particularly for content from social media platforms, forums, and online communities.

Key Features of the Update:

  • Profile Page Markup: This is intended for sites where creators (individuals or organizations) share firsthand perspectives. It helps Google Search better identify information about the creator, such as their name, social handle, profile photo, follower count, and the popularity of their content. This markup is utilized in Google Search features like ‘Perspectives’ and ‘Discussions and Forums.’
  • Discussion Forum Posting Markup: Aimed at forum-style sites where people share firsthand perspectives, this markup helps Google Search better identify forum sites and online discussions. Forums with this markup are considered for content appearance in ‘Perspectives’ and ‘Discussions and Forums’ features.
  • QA Markup vs. Forum Markup: For sites already using QA markup for question-and-answer themed user forums, Google has updated the QA structured data documentation to align with the new discussion forum guidelines. Sites should use the markup that best suits their content structure.
  • Search Console Reports: To monitor discussion threads and profile page markup issues, Google is launching rich result reports in Search Console. These reports will show errors, warnings, and valid items related to marked-up pages. Additionally, the rich results test tool supports both features to help test and validate markup.

For business owners, especially those with a strong online community presence or who engage in forum-style content, this update is crucial. Implementing the new structured data will enhance your content’s visibility and accuracy in Google Search, potentially driving more traffic to your site. It’s an opportunity to ensure that Google accurately represents your brand and content in search results.

6. TikTok Creative Cards : Will It Boost Content Engagement? – TikTok has launched a new feature called Creative Cards, designed to help small businesses and content creators enhance engagement, relevance, and relatability in their posts. This so-called innovative tool offers data-backed prompts, providing tips on crafting content that resonates more effectively with the TikTok audience.

Key Features of TikTok Creative Cards:

  • Diverse Categories: The cards are divided into five categories: Community, Edutainment, Creator Tools, Trends, and Storytelling. Each category offers unique insights tailored to different aspects of content creation.
  • Community Insights: These insights assist creators in engaging their audience actively, building customer loyalty through integrating customer testimonials and content based on user comments.
  • Edutainment Tips: This category includes creative ways to showcase products, share lessons, and introduce offers, blending education with entertainment.
  • Creator Tools: From storytelling techniques to incorporating music and captions, these cards explore various ways to boost views and enhance likability.
  • Trends and Storytelling: The cards help creators brainstorm ideas for participating in trending memes and hashtags and offer different approaches to telling their business’s journey and challenges.

Why It Matters for Business Owners:

  • Valuable for New and Experienced Creators: Creative Cards are particularly valuable for brands new to TikTok or those seeking inspiration, especially during the crucial holiday season.
  • Enhanced Content Strategy: With more than 100 digital cards for ideas, businesses can refine their content strategy to better engage with the TikTok audience.
  • Access and Usage: To use this feature, content creators need to register for access. Once granted, they can scroll through the digital cards for ideas, breaking down their content creation needs by category.

7. Meta Releases Q5 Strategy Guide For Post-Holiday Marketing – Meta’s recently released a Q5 marketing guide that offers a strategic approach to maximizing post-holiday marketing budgets. This period, known as Q5, spans from late December to mid-January and is often overlooked by marketers. However, according to Meta’s guide, this period presents a unique opportunity for businesses to capitalize on continued consumer shopping behavior.

Key Insights from Meta’s Q5 Marketing Guide:

Extended Shopping Season: A YouGov survey commissioned by Meta found that 41% of holiday shoppers continue their shopping past the holidays into January. This indicates a sustained consumer interest in purchasing even after the main holiday season.

Lower Media Costs: Global data from January 2023 shows that CPM (Cost Per Mille) rates were on average 15% lower than their levels on October 1st. This suggests that advertising during Q5 can be more cost-effective compared to the peak holiday season.

Five Best Practices for Q5 Marketing: The guide outlines crucial strategies for marketers:

  • Minimize campaign changes to maintain stability.
  • Leverage automation and AI for improved ad performance.
  • Diversify creatives to appeal to a broader audience.
  • Use data to grow the lifetime value of customers.
  • Always validate results through consistent measurement.