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Images Are Going To Infiltrate Google Search – And Other Hot Takes For 2020 [Video]

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Do you ever want to compare notes on the PPC media industry with people outside of your company? Do you ever want to hear what other paid media experts are concerned about, excited for, or planning to test?

Our team is constantly talking about what’s next, so we thought, “hey, why don’t we share their conversations with the world?”

In this video, Hanapin’s Mary Hartman and Dan Rocklin discuss what they’re excited for in 2020, their resolutions, and their hot takes on overrated strategies.

Transcription

Mary

Hey everybody! Today on the PPC hero vlog we’re going to be talking about New Year things: what we’re excited about in 2020, our New Year’s resolutions, and overrated strategies or hot takes that we have. Just as an introduction, my name is Mary Hartman. I’ve been here at Hanapin  Marketing for three years and I’ve been in the industry for about eight years now. I’m here with Dan and I can have him introduce himself as well.

Dan

Hi everybody! I am a Senior Account Manager here at Hanapin Marketing and I’ve been with Hanapin for about two and a half years now.

Mary

Awesome. Yeah, let’s just plunge right into it.

First, let’s talk about what we’re excited about in 2020.

On my part, I’m really excited about new Google Ads reports and Google has been rolling out these reports, kind of quietly, to better guide the machine. In 2019, automation seemed to be the thing that everybody was talking about.

Google has new reports to let you know about your portfolio strategy.  It lets you know the top signals going into your bids and what could be affecting those negatively or positively. Seasonality adjustments is another new thing in the shared library for your bid strategies. And then the RSA combination report. With responsive search ads, advertisers have been really hungry for more information about what combinations of ad copy Google is serving.

So Google is actually delivering a little, little sliver of sunlight for us, to let us know the combination reports. That’s another thing that if you were testing RSA’s right now definitely take a look. I’m really hopeful for the future that Google can just keep rolling out more and more reports to help us be able to pull at least a few levers and open up that black box and let us know what’s going into these new automated strategies and tools that they have for us.

What are you excited about in 2020?

Dan

Well beyond what you just said, I definitely am excited to have a peek behind the curtain a little bit with some of these reports that Google is rolling out. And in addition to these reports that tell us about past performance they are also moving towards giving us more insights when it comes to predicting future performance.

So I’m just going to talk briefly about a couple of new tools in the Google ads platform that let advertisers do that a little bit better. One is the performance planner. The premise of which is pretty exciting I think.

Google’s announcement of the tool said that in beta they had seen advertisers drive up to 43 percent more conversions using it which is a huge number. And basically the way it works is that advertisers can model different levels of spend and Target CPA bidding for various campaigns and Google will provide estimates of how the campaigns would perform at those levels. So according to Google’s description in the future, again, it takes into account past performance as well as performance in similar advertisers accounts and campaigns, in addition to billions of search queries. So they hopefully can better predict how the campaign will perform with future search demand. And another exciting premise or part of this new feature is that it should at least to some degree be able to take into account seasonality as well. So for clients that are highly affected by seasonality, hopefully, this will give a little bit more precise estimate of performance moving forward.

The second tool that is pretty similar to this is the reach planner which is a lot like the performance planner but specific to YouTube. Similarly, it will allow advertisers to better predict the reach of their YouTube campaigns at various levels of spend and what’s really exciting about this tool I think is just that it’s compatible with a wide range of different ad types and for pretty much any audience that you can Target on YouTube.

You can use the reach planner to model out how your campaign will perform at various spend levels and bits. So those are definitely two features that I’ll be excited to try out, and speaking of new things on the horizon Mary:

Do you want to talk a little bit about your PPC-specific, 2020 New Year’s resolutions?

Mary

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that reach planner will be great. I feel like everybody is talking about YouTube ads recently. So I’m excited for that. But on my part, setting up Google ads the campaign-level conversions and action sets. It’s really on my to-do list for the year. A lot of new clients I have don’t have them set up and basically it’s just another great way of helping to guide the machine.  My kind of niche here at Hanapin is mostly with B2B clients and lead gen so we have our campaign segmentation already designed to push specific offers over really, really long funnels. So using campaign level conversions and the action sets and just actually going into settings and letting Google know, “Hey, this is the conversion that really matters the most to us.”

Whether it’s someone at the bottom of the funnel looking for a demo or if they’re further, you know up at the top of the funnel and they get a content offer or something like that, just being able to pull that lever and be able to just to test that out and give Google that information, that’s a big sort of goal for me for my accounts in the new year.

Dan

I think that is definitely going to be a big thing for 2020. It’s something that I experimented with a little bit towards the latter part of 2019 to see, for lead gen campaigns that weren’t getting a lot of hard conversions coming in to help guide the machine, we tested including secondary conversion metrics in their targeting as well.

So even if they weren’t producing signups, were they producing quality website sessions? And by targeting that conversion, the question we wanted to figure out is if we could ultimately produce more value for the client there.

Mary

For sure. Yeah, I think another resolution I have is making use of, on the social side, Facebook attribution and Facebook analytics. Getting things set up correctly can sometimes be a real pain, especially on the Facebook analytics side with event sets and things like that. So getting those set up is really a big push for us and especially using the ads attribution. Facebook attribution is still pretty new as a tool but it’s going to be incredibly powerful to be able to better understand how Facebook ads are actually affecting those endpoint conversions. So measurement, measurement, measurement is really, like, what is in my head for social for the New Year, too.

Dan

I was just going to say I have a couple of same-genre New Year’s resolutions that are, speaking to taking advantage of newer features, newer ad types, newer audience targeting strategies, one of which that I really am eager to test out is the effectiveness of responsive display ads versus traditional display ads.

So I think a lot of advertisers at this point are pretty familiar with responsive search ads and comparing those to expanded text ads. Personally, I want to see how responsive display ads can compare against traditionally designed display ads. You know on the one hand we might hypothesize that performance would be better because they can reach more placements and are self-optimizing to find the best working combinations, but on the other hand, professionally designed creative tends to look better and be more engaging just in the normal human eye.

Dan

And so I really don’t know beforehand which one would work better in any case which is why I think it is something worth testing out. And the other kind of machine learning strategy I want to test out more of is the use of similar audiences versus audiences that advertisers can determine in advance, like in-market audiences or affinity audiences or demographic audiences, right? So we might think we have a really good idea of the type of audience that converts well and that idea might even be backed by a lot of data, but I wonder if when we feed a similar audience into a campaign, if when we’re just telling an algorithm to find us more people who look like that, if that can perform even better than those audiences that we determined beforehand.

Mary do you have experience or have you tried either those things in the past?

Mary

Similar audiences,  generally I’ve stayed away from, but I think that any advertiser that’s using a custom audience – and more and more advertisers are just using way higher quality custom audiences like their current customers or you know, people that are engaging with an app or things like that – if you have people like a list it’s really solid and really high quality not just like a huge remarketing list I think that’s definitely an audience that you should really get into testing. Yeah, just if you have those audiences that are so high-quality for Google to take off from.

Mary

So as our last topic today, we’ll be covering overrated strategies or hot takes.

So my hot take for 2020 is: copy and calls to action – they really still matter, but I feel a lot of advertisers are still in this mode of testing text all the time on search. We’ve seen at the very tail end of 2020 that images are starting to really become more important in search. We had the images extensions that came out for search in December  – very quietly released by Google. So that is an exciting aspect. And then the gallery ads for search too is in the closed beta currently but so many of my clients are chomping at the bit to have that beautiful image at the top of the search engine result page for mobile, especially for mobile users.

So those are a couple of closed betas that I’m very jealous of, but but I think any advertiser who’s familiar with search can:

  1.  Hone in their skills of testing images by experimenting on social
  2. Getting really, really good at doing A/B testing
  3. Having an understanding of what works and image testing on social

because I really think that the future of search, especially on mobile, is going to be image testing hardcore.

That’s definitely my hot take. You see it in the SEO world too. An SEO image,  like infoboxes, is becoming big and I think images are just going to get hotter and hotter on the SERP for sure.

Dan

Yeah, I think that’s a great callout –  that advertisers should already be testing images on social, right, and not only when they do so they can hone their skills in doing that, but those learnings are going to apply if and when image testing becomes more popular and more necessary on search, you know. If you know, what images work best on social, that’s a great place to start with the first images that you’re testing in your search campaigns as well.

Mary

Yeah, for sure. What’s your hot take for 2020?

Dan

My spicy hot take is that I don’t think broad match keywords are dead. I think that for a lot of advertisers, in most cases, it makes all the sense in the world to be very, very specific and targeted with your keywords. And for the most part, just utilize exact match and/or broad match modified and/or phrase match keywords.

Where I think broad match targeting can be very effective though, is when you combine it with audience targeting, right? So if you’re not opening up your campaign to the whole wide world you’re saying, okay, let’s restrict this campaign to an audience that I know converts well and I really want to visit the landing page for a wide variety of searches that they may be doing.

Then I think that testing those broader keywords makes all the sense in the world and you know, not only could you find that those campaigns themselves are very effective, but it can also be a great place to mine for additional keywords to increase the reach of your other campaigns as well.

Mary

For sure. Yeah, I totally agree with that. Even modified broad match is sometimes not enough to get enough volume sometimes and just having that bravery to use an audience has a safety net. We already have seen really good results, especially in the B2B side, for that kind of targeting where we kind of crack open the keyword targeting and just layer an audience on top to keep, kind of the testing safe. So yeah. Thanks, Dan for participating and chatting with me about 2020 and the New Year.

It’s a really exciting time.

And thanks to everyone for listening to us today. If you’re looking for more in-depth discussions like this one we’re actually having the PPC Hero Summit which is on February 12th. It’s coming right up. So, it’s like a whole day practically of experts, not just from Hanapin, but from across the industry.

So we have people from the Microsoft advertising side. We have Larry Kim chatting about things and chats… chatting about chat!  So feel free to sign up take a look in this video description or on the page where you found this video and sign up for that (Or click here). It’s completely free: the PPC Hero Summit on February 12th. Otherwise, thanks so much everyone for tuning in!

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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5 Tips to Boost Your Holiday Search Strategy

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Student writing on computer

With the global economic downturn, inflation, ongoing supply chain challenges, and uncertainty due to the Ukraine war, this year’s holiday shopping season promises to be very challenging. Will people be in the mood to spend despite the gloom? Or will they rein in their enthusiasm and save for the year ahead?

With these issues in mind, here are five considerations to support your search engine optimization strategy this holiday shopping season:

1. Start early.

Rising prices are likely to mean shoppers will start researching their holiday spending earlier than ever to nab the best bargains. Therefore, retailers must roll out their holiday product and category pages — and launch any promotions — sooner to ensure their pages get crawled and indexed by search engines in good time.

Some e-commerce stores manage to get their pages ranking early by updating and reusing the same section of the website for holiday content and promotions, rotating between content for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine gifts, Fourth of July sales, etc. This approach can help you retain the momentum, links and authority you build up with Google and get your holiday pages visible and ranking quickly.

2. Make research an even bigger priority.

With all the uncertainty this year, it’s vital to use SEO research to identify the trending seasonal keywords and search phrases in your retail vertical — and then optimize content accordingly.

With tools such as Google Trends you can extract helpful insights based on the types of searches people are making. For example, with many fashion retailers now charging for product returns, will prioritizing keywords such as “free returns” get more search traction? And with money being tighter, will consumers stick with brands they trust rather than anything new — meaning brand searches might be higher?

3. Make greater use of Google Shopping.

To get the most out of their holiday spending, consumers are more likely to turn to online marketplaces such as Google Shopping as they make it easier to compare products, features and prices, as well as to identify the best deals both online and in nearby stores.

Therefore, take a combined approach which includes listing in Google Shopping and at the same time optimizing product detail pages on your e-commerce site to ensure they’re unique and provide more value than competitors’ pages. Be precise with product names on Google Shopping (e.g., do the names contain the words people are searching for?); ensure you provide all the must-have information Google requires; and set a price that’s not too far from the competition. 

4. Give other search sources the attention they deserve.

Earlier this year Google itself acknowledged that consumers — especially younger consumers — are starting to use TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites for search. In fact, research suggests 11 percent of product searches now start on TikTok and 15 percent on Instagram. Younger consumers in particular are more engaged by visual content, which may explain why they’re embracing visually focused social sites for search. So, as part of your search strategy, create and share content on popular social media sites that your target customers visit.

Similarly, with people starting their shopping searches on marketplaces such as Amazon.com, optimizing any listings you have on the site should be part of your strategy. And thankfully, the better optimized your product detail pages are for Amazon (with unique, useful content), the better they will rank on Google as well!

5. Hold paid budget for late opportunities.

The greater uncertainty and volatility this holiday season mean you must keep a close eye on shopper behavior and be ready to embrace opportunities that emerge later on. Getting high organic rankings for late promotions is always more challenging, so hold some paid search budget back to help drive traffic to those pages — via Google Ads, for example. Important keywords to include in late season search ad campaigns include “delivery before Christmas” and “same-day-delivery.” For locally targeted search ads, consider “pick up any time before Christmas.”

The prospect of a tough, unpredictable holiday shopping season means search teams must roll out seasonal SEO plans early, closely track shoppers’ behavior, and be ready to adapt as things change.

Marcus Pentzek is chief SEO consultant at Searchmetrics, the global provider of search data, software and consulting solutions.

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Google Home App Gets an Overhaul, Rolling Out Soon

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Google Home app

Google refreshes its Home app with a slew of new features after launching a new Nest gear. This makes it faster and easier to pair smart devices with Matter, adds customization and personalization options, an enhanced Nest camera experience, and better intercommunication between devices.

This revamped Home app utilizes Google’s Matter smart home standard – launching later this year – especially the Fast Pair functionality. On an Android phone, it will instantly recognize a Matter device and allow you to easily set it up, bypassing the current procedure that is often slow and difficult. Google is also updating its Nest speakers, displays, and routers – to control Matter devices better.

Google Home App New Features

  • Spaces: This feature allows you to control multiple devices in different rooms. Google has listed a few things by room: kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc., although it’s pretty limited right now. Spaces let you organize devices how you see fit. For instance, you can set up a baby monitor in one room and set a different room’s camera to focus on an area the baby often plays. With Spaces, you can categorize these two devices into one Space category called ‘Baby.’

Google Home app Spaces

  • Favorites: This one is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to make certain gears as a favorite that you frequently use. Doing so will bring those devices into the limelight within the Google Home app for easier access. 

Google Home app

  • Media: Google adds a new media widget at the bottom of your Home feed. This will automatically determine what media is playing in your home and provide you with the appropriate controls as and when needed. There will be song controls if you listen to music on your speakers. There will be television remote controls if you’re watching TV. 

Google probably won’t roll out this Home app makeover anytime soon. But you can try it for yourself in the coming week by enrolling in the public preview, available in select areas.

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