Assistant Ads Might Be Google’s Next Experiment

Marketers were taken aback recently when possible evidence that Google is beginning to test ads in Assistant results was posted on social media. Last Wednesday, an Android user, Gennaro Cuofano, posted a screenshot of his Assistant search results to Twitter. The screenshot showed an advertisement at the top of the search results with organic results following it.

After this screenshot caused a frenzy on the internet, Google responded by saying, “we’re always testing new ways to improve the experience on phones, but we don’t have anything specific to announce right now.” Although Google did not confirm whether or not it is currently testing the ads, Assistant advertising has been an obvious next move from Google now that more than one billion devices are equipped with Assistant technology.

If the Twitter post was indeed a test for Assistant ads, the next wave of pay-per-click and search engine optimization strategy tweaks could soon be approaching. From the screenshot, it looks as if the top ad in search results would be the ad that got the highly-visible spot in Assistant results. This means that competition to be first on search results could heighten (thus making bids more expensive) as more and more users turn to voice assistant technology.

At the rate that Assistant searches on mobile devices are growing, it will become increasingly valuable for Google to start this kind of advertising. Because of this, marketers should stay on top of these advancements to be ahead of the game if (or, more likely, when) Assistant ads do go live.

 

New Study Discovers What Consumers Are Buying with Voice Assistant

With smartphones, tablets, and voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echos, voice search has changed the way consumers search for information and purchase products. As this trend becomes stronger with new technology, OnBuy.com conducted a survey that discovered what consumers are currently buying with a voice assistant and how they feel about voice assistants as a whole.

OnBuy.com surveyed 1,203 U.S. consumers to better understand this trend of voice search and voice assistants. According to the survey, 25 percent of consumers said they are most likely to buy everyday household items through voice assistants, followed by apparel and entertainment both with 21 percent. Only 10-20 percent of consumers said they are most likely to buy games, consumer electronics, groceries and travel and under 10 percent mentioned furniture, appliances, prepared meals, and local services.

As for consumers perceptions on voice search, the top reasons the interviewees liked using a voice assistant is because it is hands-free, they can do other things while shopping, and they get faster results and answers. What they do not like is that it is not comfortable shopping by voice, they do not trust a voice assistant with payment information, and that there is no screen to see what they are shopping for on smart speakers.

The voice search and assistant trend has exploded over the past year and shows no sign of slowing. According to RBC Capital Markets, voice shopping on Alexa alone could generate more than $5 billion per year in revenue by 2020, while Juniper Research predicts that global ad spending on voice assistants will reach $19 billion by 2022.

With consumers adopting voice assistant and voice search technology as quick as they have been, it is important for companies to learn more about voice search and implement it in their marketing plans for 2019.

YouTube Jumps on the Stories Bandwagon

Not long after Snapchat launched Stories and changed the way users share content, many other social media giants began to mimic its innovative format. First, we were introduced to Instagram Stories, then WhatsApp and Facebook followed in its footsteps, and now YouTube is jumping on the bandwagon with their own version of Stories.

Currently only available for creators with a following of 10,000 or more, YouTube is changing up the Stories format that we are familiar with by allowing content to be seen for up to seven days instead of the 24-hour period that we are used to on other platforms. Creators can add filters, stickers, and text to their Stories, and subscribers can interact with them by liking, disliking, or commenting on the posts just as they would be able to on a regular video.

Although YouTube Stories were launched with creators in mind, marketers are also given yet another channel to reach consumers. If a brand has 10,000 or more subscribers, using YouTube Stories to feature day-to-day activities, generate excitement in product launches or events, show behind-the-scenes content, and more can allow the brand to capture the attention of consumers who might not have time to watch a full video. Also, since Stories stay at the top of users’ news feeds for up to seven days, brands that have relationships with YouTube influencers can promote products on their Stories in addition to long-form videos at a more frequent rate.

YouTube creators often spend hours upon hours filming and editing videos, but with YouTube Stories, creators as well as brands can connect with subscribers on a more casual basis. Benefiting both creators and marketers, this content format is likely to continue to develop and spread across other social media platforms.

Web Design Trends That Will Dominate 2019

As an ever-changing industry, there is always something new on the horizon when it comes to web design and development. Each year we see a new set of trends that make businesses stand out from their competitors in the digital space, so as we inch closer to the end of the year, here are a few web design trends that will likely dominate 2019.

Mobile-First Design

Building a mobile-friendly website has been stressed for years, however with mobile searches surpassing desktop searches and with that gap widening, it is more crucial now than ever to build for mobile first. Building a simple navigation, clean layout, clear calls to action, etc. as well as creating fast-loading pages will not only put you on the right track towards a mobile-friendly website but will also result in higher ranking now that Google is putting an emphasis on mobile first indexing.

Bold Typography

With the sharpening of device resolutions and access to more typefaces, bold typography has become a trend that is just as important as hero images and other design elements. In the past few years, designers have focused on using fonts that are legible and appealing, but in the new year, we will see more personalized fonts that really establish the personality of a company and generate interest in the website. Handmade typefaces, large block lettering, and sans serif fonts paired with serif fonts are just a few of the typography trends that we will be seeing more of in 2019.

Micro-Interactions

Micro-interactions are single-task interactions that create engaging moments for a user through the use of subtle animation and motion throughout a website. Micro-interactions include short sounds that let you know when an action is complete, changes of color when you roll your mouse over or click on something, swiping effects, and other entertaining forms of animation. These micro-interactions help guide a user through your website, give them instant feedback from an action, and overall make the site more interesting and engaging.

Organic Shapes

Sharp lines and straight layouts are on their way out while organic shapes and asymmetrical design are taking over websites in 2019. Designers are beginning to toss out the traditional triangles and rectangles and are replacing them with free-flowing shapes that elicit more emotion and give a website more character. Adding in hand-drawn, organic shapes are also a way for designers to create an original website that has not been seen before. The bends in the shapes create a sense of movement throughout the page, engaging users to explore the pages further.

It’s (Finally) the End of the Road for Google Plus

Google announced earlier this week that it will be shutting down its social network, Google Plus (Google+). According to Google, Google+ for consumers will be sunsetting over the next 10 months, and will officially close in August 2019, meeting the same fate as other abandoned Google platforms such as Google Reader, Wave, and Buzz. The demise of Google+ is no shock, but what finally made it official was none other than a privacy breach.

What started as a way for Google to compete with Facebook, Google+ is now facing a similar situation to Facebook’s biggest issue to date, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on Google+’s data breach, saying that a bug exposed the personal information of up to 500,000 users to 438 third-party apps. This bug was active from 2015 up until March 2018 when Google discovered the problem and solved it.

Google’s decision to stay quiet about this privacy issue for over six months was likely due to the fact that Facebook was experiencing catastrophic backlash during the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, and Google did not want to join Facebook in the spotlight. Their silence is now raising eyebrows from its consumers who use other Google products such as Gmail, Google Chrome, and YouTube.

Although the privacy breach made for its official demise, Google+ had been facing a long, slow death for years after never really taking off when it launched in June 2011. The idea of Google+ was to create a new way of sharing information by organizing friends into groups and choosing who gets to see what, instead of blasting people with every piece of information someone shares. When it was first launched, Google+ had over 10 million users in just two weeks, but now, according to Google, 90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds long.

Some people believe Google+ failed because it was too late to the social platform market, while others believe its way of sharing information was just not up to par with consumers wanted, but no matter what the case, it is still shocking to see yet another platform born from such a powerful company fail in such a huge way. Although Google+ did not get as much engagement from consumers as expected, Google will be reinventing the platform for businesses to use for internal communication between coworkers.

Tips for Optimizing Your Business’s Website for “Near Me” Searches

The “near me” search phenomenon has significantly increased over the past few years due to the rise of mobile and voice search. This explosive change in search behavior stems from users expecting instant and accurate results on the fly, whether they are looking for restaurants, doctors, shopping, or more in their area. In order to catch these users in a short window of time, here are some tips for optimizing your website for “near me” searches.

  1. Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization has been a necessity for years now, but with the majority of “near me” searches coming from mobile devices, it is even more crucial to have a responsive website. Users who are making “near me” searches are often looking for quick results, so if your website is hard to navigate on a mobile device, users are more likely to leave the site and find a different business in the area with more readily available information. Optimizing your website for mobile users will give your business more opportunity to be recognized by consumers.

  1. Content

As for content, there are a couple of steps you can take to increase the chance of your business showing up in “near me” searches. The simplest step is to make sure your business’s address is located throughout your website, preferably at the bottom of each page. Some business website owners have also added the keyword “near me” in title tags and throughout their pages, while others focus mainly on creating localized content or blogs (“Best Restaurants in (City Name)”, “Top Doctors near (Street Name)”, etc.) or incorporating geo-targeted keywords (boutiques in (Neighborhood Name), law school (City Name)”, etc.) which gives Google a better idea of your business’s exact location.

  1. Business Listings & Reviews

Updating your business listings on Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and more provides users with your most accurate information. Having your business’s current information on listing sites will not only allow for more opportunities to be found by users but will also give Google more opportunity to verify your information and location. Reviews also help enhance the credibility of your business to Google, so having more positive reviews on your listing sites, as well as responses to reviews, will help increase your visibility for “near me” searches.

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