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.

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.

AMP is coming to Google Search and Display Ads

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On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, the search engine giant announced a beta test for AMP pages for Search and Display ads during their Marketing Next event. Google stated the beta test would plug Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, into search and display ads. Google’s mobile web already has fast loading pages due to its AMP program, but now Search and Display ads will get AMP-enabled landing pages as well.

So, how does it work? Advertisers who have created landing pages in AMP HTML will be able to designate these pages as their mobile landing pages in AdWords. Once the mobile user clicks on a search ad, the ad will direct them to an AMP landing page. This page will load up to 5 seconds faster than standard display ad builds, resulting in improvements in user performance and conversion results. These AMP-enabled pages will also address advertisers’ view-ability concerns for display ads. Google is already working on building this technology into the Google Display Network, so be on the lookout for AMP ads!

Facebook Launches Another Clone to Snapchat

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The competition for top app continues! Facebook Messenger is the latest Facebook app to mimic the popular photo-disappearing app Snapchat. Snapchat is known for pioneering popular photo-sharing features enjoyed by billions, but that hasn’t stopped Facebook from trying to outshine them. Messenger Day is Facebook Messenger’s latest clone of Snapchat’s popular Stories feature. Messenger Day allows users to add photos and videos where friends can view and reply to them for up to 24 hours before disappearing. The target is to create a more casual means of communication between friends and family with the goal of increasing engagement on Facebook’s main app.

Facebook has a long history of attempts at trying to outdo Snapchat’s Stories feature. In February, the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp revealed a new feature called Status. WhatsApp’s Status feature allows its users to share images, GIFs and videos for up to 24 hours. Last August, Facebook-owned Instagram released a Snapchat-inspired Stories feature as well. Instagram Stories has become a huge success for Facebook with more than 150 million users daily.

It’s safe to say Facebook seems to be on the right track at competing with Snapchat for user growth. Snapchat’s share price even dropped slightly the morning Facebook announced the release of Messenger Day. Facebook’s Messenger Day has already starting rolling out on iOS and Android devices, so be on the lookout for the newest update!

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