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11 Internet Marketing Strategies That Work

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Internet marketing can seem quite daunting and complicated. There are so many possibilities. But which strategies should you start with?

To help answer that, we’ve dissected internet marketing into its most basic strategies. We’ve also simplified them so you can get started right away.

In this article, we’ll cover 11 internet marketing strategies that work:

  1. Search engine optimization
  2. Content marketing
  3. PPC marketing
  4. Email marketing
  5. Affiliate marketing
  6. Influencer marketing
  7. Video marketing
  8. Social media marketing
  9. Podcasting
  10. Conversion rate optimization
  11. Reputation management

1. Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing a website or webpage to increase the quantity and quality of its traffic from a search engine’s organic results. When your pages rank high on the search engines and maintain their positions, you can get almost free, passive traffic to your website consistently.

Line graph showing amount of monthly organic traffic to Ahrefs

The amount of monthly organic traffic coming to Ahrefs.

How to do it

If you want to rank high on search engines, you have to target topics that your audience is searching for. Finding what these topics are is a process known as keyword research, and the easiest way to begin is to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter one or a few terms relevant to your website or niche (e.g., if you sell coffee equipment, then you may want to enter keywords like coffee, french press, cappuccino, etc)
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
List of keywords with corresponding data such as KD, volume, etcList of keywords with corresponding data such as KD, volume, etc

From here, you’ll want to look through the list and pick out relevant topics you wish to target. Generally speaking, the “ideal” keywords are those with high Traffic Potential (TP) and low Keyword Difficulty (KD).

You can use the filters to quickly narrow down such topics.

Keywords Explorer filtersKeywords Explorer filters

Then you’ll want to create a page that deserves to rank for that keyword. There are a few aspects to this process. But the most important part is to figure out why searchers are looking for that topic. This is known as search intent.

You can do this by looking at what’s currently ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your topic. For example, if we’re targeting the topic “best frying pans,” we’ll see that most of the top-ranking pages are blog posts about the best non-stick frying pans.

Google SERP for "best frying pans"Google SERP for "best frying pans"

If we want to rank for this keyword, we’ll likely have to follow suit.

Once you’ve created and published that page, you’ll have to build links because they’re an important Google ranking factor. There are many ways to get backlinks, so I recommend reading our guide to link building.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you get the technical aspects of your website right. (After all, if Google can’t find and index your pages, it can’t rank them on the SERPs.) The easiest way is to run an audit of your website with Ahrefs’ Site Audit. You can do this for free using Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.

Recommended reading: SEO: The Complete Guide for Beginners 

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers.

How to do it

To get started, fill in the content strategy canvas. Your goal is to answer five simple questions:

  1. Who are you creating content for?
  2. Why are you creating content?
  3. What type of content will you create?
  4. Where will you publish the content?
  5. How will you create the content?
A "content strategy canvas" table where the five questions are answered in detailA "content strategy canvas" table where the five questions are answered in detail

Completing the content strategy canvas should set you on the right path to creating content that will improve your business. However, don’t forget to promote your content too.

Promoting content means not waiting for your target audience to discover your content. Instead, it’s about actively putting the content in front of them. Follow the checklist in this post or this video to get more eyeballs on your content:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoVYweKH4ck&ab_channel=Ahrefs

Recommended reading: Content Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide 

3. Pay-per-click marketing

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is a form of online advertising where advertisers pay a fee each time someone clicks their ad.

Search engine ads are the most common ad format in PPC marketing. Other formats include display ads on websites and social media ads, such as those you see on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

How to do it

You’ll first need to choose a platform you want to advertise on. You should only pay for ads on platforms where your audience exists. For example, if you’re selling enterprise software to C-level executives, you may not want to advertise on TikTok. (Of course, if you have data showing these execs in your industry are on TikTok often, then it makes sense to advertise there.)

After that, you should get familiar with the platform. Explore the ad platform by clicking around or take a course. These platforms typically offer educational resources to help you learn how to run ads (here’s one from Google).

Ads can succeed or fail based on your targeting, so make sure you have data to back up your targeting choices. For example, if you’re running search ads, you’ll need to do keyword research. You’ll need to know what people search for and then how much you’ll be paying for clicks on average.

Matching terms report results for term "espresso machine"Matching terms report results for term "espresso machine"

You should also make sure you’ve set up your tracking properly.

Budget-wise, decide on a daily budget that won’t make a big dent in your overall marketing budget and start with that. Monitor and optimize your campaigns regularly. Once you start getting solid results, you can increase your budget.

Finally, creatives and copy matter too in PPC marketing. Make sure you’re constantly experimenting with different images, videos, headlines, body copies, and more to see what resonates with your audience!

Recommended reading: PPC Marketing: Beginner’s Guide to Pay-Per-Click Ads 

Email marketing is any kind of marketing messaging done through the channel of email.

How to do it

Email marketing doesn’t just involve sending emails. It also includes:

  • Building an email list.
  • Designing, writing, and sending emails to the subscribers on your list.
  • Segmenting the list.
  • Deciding when to send the email.
  • Monitoring the results.
  • Curating the email list.

To begin, you’ll need a list of email addresses to send messages to. The easiest way to build this list is to offer an incentive to website visitors in return for subscribing. For example, e-commerce stores tend to offer discount coupons, such as what Frank Body does:

Text field to fill in personal particulars to get discount coupons from Frank BodyText field to fill in personal particulars to get discount coupons from Frank Body

You’ll also need to decide what kind of emails you want to send to your subscribers. At the basic level, you should have a welcome email with the incentive you promised earlier. In Frank Body’s case, its first email features the 10% discount code.

But what should you send from that point onward? Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut “right” answer. It’ll take a mix of intuition and experimentation to figure out what’s best.

For example, here’s an illustration of a potential email marketing workflow.

Flowchart of example email workflowFlowchart of example email workflow

Even this sample workflow is pretty complex. There are many elements to get right. For us at Ahrefs, we keep things simple—we promise a weekly newsletter, and that’s all we send:

Example of Ahrefs' weekly newsletterExample of Ahrefs' weekly newsletter

Recommended reading: The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing 

Affiliate marketing is where other people promote your products in return for a commission. For example, if your product costs $100, you can pay an affiliate $10 for each sale they generate for you.

How to do it

You’ll first need to create an affiliate program that people can sign up for. This gives them a unique link they can use to promote your product and track the sales they generate.

Then you’ll need to look for people who may want to promote your product.

The easiest way is to look for people who are already promoting competing products.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Enter the domain of a competing product
  3. Go to the Backlinks report
  4. Look for an affiliate footprint in the URL

For example, many of the backlinks to bluehost.com go to URLs with /track/ in them:

List of referring pages List of referring pages

These are most likely affiliate links, so we can find all the websites promoting this product by filtering for backlinks with this footprint (/track/) in the target URL and toggling “One link per domain”:

Backlinks report with "One link per domain" filter appliedBacklinks report with "One link per domain" filter applied

Recommended reading: How to Create a Successful Affiliate Program for Your Business 

Influencers are people who have an active, sizable audience (usually on social media) and the ability to influence their audience to do something.

Influencer marketing is the practice of working with influencers to promote your brand’s messages, products, or services.

How to do it

The easiest way to find influencers is to use existing third-party tools. And there are different tools for the different social media platforms. Here’s a list to look through:

  1. Followerwonk (Twitter)
  2. Influenx (YouTube)
  3. Heepsy (Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch)
  4. inBeat (TikTok, Instagram)
  5. Intellifluence (Reddit, SoundCloud, podcasts, Amazon reviews, iOS and Android reviews, Twitch, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok)
  6. Grin (Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok)
  7. Influence.co (Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, blogs)
  8. HypeAuditor (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Twitch) 

When you’ve gathered a list of influencers, don’t reach out just yet. Since social platforms can be gameable, some of these influencers may have tons of fake followers. A certain percentage of fake followers is inevitable, but you don’t want them to be a significant percentage of those influencers’ following.

A quick way to check is to use a tool like SparkToro’s Fake Followers Audit (Twitter only) or HypeAuditor’s Instagram Audit.

Beyond the quantity of following, you’ll want to make sure the quality of engagement exists too. If an influencer has a lot of followers but barely gets any comments on their posts, it’s a potential red flag.

The absolute number of likes, comments, retweets, etc., doesn’t matter either. Quality does. Look out for genuine comments or conversations. If an influencer posts something and the comments look like these…

List of Instagram comments with the same few emojisList of Instagram comments with the same few emojis

… then that’s a potential red flag.

Once you’ve narrowed down the list to those influencers with the amount of reach and resonance you want and made sure that the influencers’ image and reputation represent your brand well, reach out and ask to collaborate.

Recommended reading: Influencer Marketing: Definition, Examples, and Tactics 

Video marketing is using videos to promote and educate your target audience. It’s also used to increase brand awareness and social engagement, allowing you to reach new and bigger audiences.

How to do it

To begin, you need to know what kind of videos you want to create. There are three main objectives for video marketing: brand awareness, education, or entertainment.

If your goal is to create videos for brand awareness or entertainment, then the good and bad news is there is no template. It all boils down to your creativity.

If your goal is to create educational content, then you can do keyword research to see what kind of topics or questions people are searching for on YouTube.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Switch the tab to YouTube
  3. Enter a relevant keyword or keywords
  4. Go to the Matching terms report
  5. Switch the tab to Questions

Matching terms report results Matching terms report results

Once you’ve picked out the topics you want to target, create a video that’ll rank for them on YouTube. Watch this video to learn how:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY3y0V9UDwM&ab_channel=Ahrefs

Recommended reading: The Simple (But Complete) Guide to Video Marketing 

8. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to market a company’s products or services.

Ahrefs' LinkedIn post of a blog article about homepage SEOAhrefs' LinkedIn post of a blog article about homepage SEO

How to do it

To begin, you’ll want to have a presence on major social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Even if you’re not going to be active on those platforms, having a page or brand account offers legitimacy and also protects your brand account from potential squatters.

Social media is all about content. To build a following and gain engagement, you’ll need to post frequently. Understandably, being active on so many different social media platforms can be difficult if you are resource-stretched.

On a basic level, you should be active on the standard social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

So if you’re already creating content, you can always share those articles, videos, or podcasts on your social media pages. For example, all we do on our Facebook page is share our newly published content:

Ahrefs' Facebook post of a blog article about marketing automationAhrefs' Facebook post of a blog article about marketing automation

Furthermore, you can always repurpose content on social media. In fact, that’s what we do all the time.

For example, this tweet is an image from our article on doing a content audit:

If there’s a platform you want to invest further in, consider creating custom content for it. Watch how other brands and influencers craft their content, and you’ll get an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Experimentation is the name of the game. Following tried-and-tested formats is a good idea, but don’t be afraid to try new things.

That was how Wendy’s did it, with a completely different tone, format, and identity compared to other brands at that time. (If you see brand accounts being funny or sarcastic today, you can credit it to Wendy’s.)

Podcasting is a type of content marketing that focuses on producing audible content. It is great for brand-building and growing an audience.

How to do it

There are two major strategies when it comes to podcasting:

  1. Start your own podcast
  2. Appear on someone else’s podcast

Starting a podcast is an entire topic on its own, so I’ll leave links to resources that you can consume:

At Ahrefs, we do have experience appearing on podcasts. In fact, our chief marketing officer, Tim Soulo, once set a goal to appear on 20 podcasts in a year and succeeded.

To appear on podcasts, you need a list of podcasts to be a guest on. Besides Googling for the top industry podcasts, one way to find them is to look for someone in your niche who’s already appearing on them.

Here’s how:

  1. Find someone notable in your niche who has been appearing on podcasts
  2. Enter their domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  3. Set the mode to Exact URL
  4. Go to the Backlinks report
List of referring pages List of referring pages

Sift through the results for relevant podcasts in your niche. When you have a list, pitch to the shows.

Pitching is pretty straightforward. You either follow a show’s application process…

Excerpt of a podcast show's instructions regarding its application processExcerpt of a podcast show's instructions regarding its application process

… or reach out by email and pitch yourself as a guest. First, find the email address. Then in your pitch, try to cover the three Ws:

  • Who? Explain who you are, who you work for, etc
  • Why? Explain why you’ll be a good podcast guest, i.e., sell yourself
  • What? Explain what you want to talk about

Recommended reading: How to Use Podcasts for Link Building 

10. Conversion rate optimization

A conversion is when a website visitor takes an action you want them to take on your website. So conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of optimizing your website or its pages to improve or encourage more of the actions you want visitors to take.

How to do it

Like SEO, CRO is not one and done. You can always optimize more. So rather than being one-off hacks you apply to your website, CRO is a systematic process informed by data.

As CRO expert Brian Massey puts it, CRO is “about meaningful tests backed by thorough conversion research and executed using a disciplined, step-by-step process.”

It involves understanding user psychology, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design, copywriting, persuasion, running A/B tests, statistics, understanding and analyzing data, and more.

Here’s a simplified example of what CRO may look like. Let’s say we want to improve the conversion rate of the Ahrefs Webmaster Tools page. That is, we want more people who visit the page to sign up for AWT.

Excerpt of AWT's landing pageExcerpt of AWT's landing page

To do that, we may want to systematically A/B test things like:

  • The page design.
  • The headline.
  • The sub-headline.
  • The call-to-action (CTA) button.
  • Social proof (e.g., testimonials, case studies, etc.).

And more.

A note to bear in mind, though: For your A/B tests to be statistically significant (i.e., prove you can attribute any increase or decline to the change you made and that the change is not by chance), you’ll need a significant amount of traffic coming to your website.

So while CRO is important, it’s not something you do right from the get-go. Focus on using the other internet marketing strategies to drive more traffic to your website first before you even consider running split tests.

Recommended reading: Conversion Rate Optimization Guide by CXL

11. Reputation management

Online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of using digital marketing tactics and channels to help shape the public perception of a brand, an organization, or an individual online.

How to do it

Reputation management includes many different activities. For example, it may involve using social media to jump in on conversations and tackle negative or unhappy comments about your company.

By acknowledging the source of unhappiness and listening to the customer, we were able to deflect anger and improve our relationship with him.

But it’s not just about social media. You can do reputation management in search engines too. For example, you may find articles ranking high on Google that speak negatively about your brand or perpetuate a misconception.

If it’s something you can correct, you should try to nip it in the bud.

Here’s how to find such articles:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  2. Search for your brand name and exclude your own site [-site:yourdomain.com]
  3. Set a Page traffic filter to something high (e.g., 1,000+ visits per month)
Excerpt of Content Explorer results Excerpt of Content Explorer results

For example, we found a post by HubSpot about the best digital marketing tools. Even though it is a huge compliment about our toolset (thanks, HubSpot!), it mentions something inaccurate about our data:

Excerpt of HubSpot's article about AhrefsExcerpt of HubSpot's article about Ahrefs

Instead of “150 million keywords” in the U.S, we actually have 4.4 billion keywords. And instead of 150 countries, we have more than 200.

Excerpt of Ahrefs' "big data" page showing key stats about our toolsetExcerpt of Ahrefs' "big data" page showing key stats about our toolset

Plus, the screenshot of our UI it featured is outdated.

We’re proud of our data, and the ones mentioned by HubSpot are way off from our current state. And it may set up wrong or different expectations from users who discover us via this article.

In this case, we can reach out and ask HubSpot or the author to update these metrics.

Recommended reading: A 5-Step Online Reputation Management Guide (That ANYONE Can Follow) 

Final thoughts

This list of internet marketing strategies is by no means exhaustive. But it should have educated you on some of the more popular and timeless ones.

When executed correctly, the strategies work and will continue to work.

Did I miss out on any important internet marketing strategies? Let me know on Twitter.

 

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Google’s AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

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Google's AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

An analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries by Bartosz Góralewicz, founder of Onely, reveals the impact of Google’s AI overviews on search visibility for online retailers.

The study found that 16% of eCommerce queries now return an AI overview in search results, accounting for 13% of total search volume in this sector.

Notably, 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.

“Ranking #1-3 gives you only an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews,” Góralewicz stated.

Shift Toward “Accelerated” Product Experiences

International SEO consultant Aleyda Solis analyzed the disconnect between traditional organic ranking and inclusion in AI overviews.

According to Solis, for product-related queries, Google is prioritizing an “accelerated” approach over summarizing currently ranking pages.

She commented Góralewicz’ findings, stating:

“… rather than providing high level summaries of what’s already ranked organically below, what Google does with e-commerce is “accelerate” the experience by already showcasing what the user would get next.”

Solis explains that for queries where Google previously ranked category pages, reviews, and buying guides, it’s now bypassing this level of results with AI overviews.

Assessing AI Overview Traffic Impact

To help retailers evaluate their exposure, Solis has shared a spreadsheet that analyzes the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.

As Góralewicz notes, this could be an initial rollout, speculating that “Google will expand AI overviews for high-cost queries when enabling ads” based on data showing they are currently excluded for high cost-per-click keywords.

An in-depth report across ecommerce and publishing is expected soon from Góralewicz and Onely, with additional insights into this search trend.

Why SEJ Cares

AI overviews represent a shift in how search visibility is achieved for ecommerce websites.

With most overviews currently pulling product data from non-ranking sources, the traditional connection between organic rankings and search traffic is being disrupted.

Retailers may need to adapt their SEO strategies for this new search environment.

How This Can Benefit You

While unsettling for established brands, AI overviews create new opportunities for retailers to gain visibility without competing for the most commercially valuable keywords.

Ecommerce sites can potentially circumvent traditional ranking barriers by optimizing product data and detail pages for Google’s “accelerated” product displays.

The detailed assessment framework provided by Solis enables merchants to audit their exposure and prioritize optimization needs accordingly.


FAQ

What are the key findings from the analysis of AI overviews & ecommerce queries?

Góralewicz’s analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries found:

  • 16% of ecommerce queries now return an AI overview in the search results.
  • 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.
  • Ranking positions #1-3 only provides an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews.

These insights reveal significant shifts in how ecommerce sites need to approach search visibility.

Why are AI overviews pulling product data from non-ranking sources, and what does this mean for retailers?

Google’s AI overviews prioritize “accelerated” experiences over summarizing currently ranked pages for product-related queries.

This shift focuses on showcasing directly what users seek instead of traditional organic results.

For retailers, this means:

  • A need to optimize product pages beyond traditional SEO practices, catering to the data requirements of AI overviews.
  • Opportunities to gain visibility without necessarily holding top organic rankings.
  • Potential to bypass traditional ranking barriers by focusing on enhanced product data integration.

Retailers must adapt quickly to remain competitive in this evolving search environment.

What practical steps can retailers take to evaluate and improve their search visibility in light of AI overview disruptions?

Retailers can take several practical steps to evaluate and improve their search visibility:

  • Utilize the spreadsheet provided by Aleyda Solis to assess the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.
  • Optimize product and detail pages to align with the data and presentation style preferred by AI overviews.
  • Continuously monitor changes and updates to AI overviews, adapting strategies based on new data and trends.

These steps can help retailers navigate the impact of AI overviews and maintain or improve their search visibility.


Featured Image: Marco Lazzarini/Shutterstock



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Google’s AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

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Google's AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

Google’s rollout of AI-generated overviews in US search results is taking a disastrous turn, with mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, BBC, and CNBC reporting on numerous inaccuracies and bizarre responses.

On social media, users are sharing endless examples of the feature’s nonsensical and sometimes dangerous output.

From recommending non-toxic glue on pizza to suggesting that eating rocks provides nutritional benefits, the blunders would be amusing if they weren’t so alarming.

Mainstream Media Coverage

As reported by The New York Times, Google’s AI overviews struggle with basic facts, claiming that Barack Obama was the first Muslim president of the United States and stating that Andrew Jackson graduated from college in 2005.

These errors undermine trust in Google’s search engine, which more than two billion people rely on for authoritative information worldwide.

Manual Removal & System Refinements

As reported by The Verge, Google is now scrambling to remove the bizarre AI-generated responses and improve its systems manually.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company is taking “swift action” to remove problematic responses and using the examples to refine its AI overview feature.

Google’s Rush To AI Integration

The flawed rollout of AI overviews isn’t an isolated incident for Google.

As CNBC notes in its report, Google made several missteps in a rush to integrate AI into its products.

In February, Google was forced to pause its Gemini chatbot after it generated inaccurate images of historical figures and refused to depict white people in most instances.

Before that, the company’s Bard chatbot faced ridicule for sharing incorrect information about outer space, leading to a $100 billion drop in Google’s market value.

Despite these setbacks, industry experts cited by The New York Times suggest that Google has little choice but to continue advancing AI integration to remain competitive.

However, the challenges of taming large language models, which ingest false information and satirical posts, are now more apparent.

The Debate Over AI In Search

The controversy surrounding AI overviews adds fuel to the debate over the risks and limitations of AI.

While the technology holds potential, these missteps remind everyone that more testing is needed before unleashing it on the public.

The BBC notes that Google’s rivals face similar backlash over their attempts to cram more AI tools into their consumer-facing products.

The UK’s data watchdog is investigating Microsoft after it announced a feature that would take continuous screenshots of users’ online activity.

At the same time, actress Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI for using a voice likened to her own without permission.

What This Means For Websites & SEO Professionals

Mainstream media coverage of Google’s erroneous AI overviews brings the issue of declining search quality to public attention.

As the company works to address inaccuracies, the incident serves as a cautionary tale for the entire industry.

Important takeaway: Prioritize responsible use of AI technology to ensure the benefits outweigh its risks.



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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

A keynote at Google’s Marketing Live event showed a new AI-powered visual search results that feature advertisements that engage users within the context of an AI-Assisted search, blurring the line between AI-generated search results and advertisements.

Google Lens is a truly helpful app but it becomes unconventional where it blurs the line between an assistant helping users and being led to a shopping cart. This new way of engaging potential customers with AI is so far out there that the presenter doesn’t even call it advertising, he doesn’t even use the word.

Visual Search Traffic Opportunity?

Google’s Group Product Manager Sylvanus Bent, begins the presentation with an overview of the next version of Google Lens visual search that will be useful for surfacing information and for help finding where to buy them.

Sylvanus explained how it will be an opportunity for websites to receive traffic from this new way to search.

“…whether you’re snapping a photo with lens or circling to search something on your social feed, visual search unlocks new ways to explore whatever catches your eye, and we recently announced a newly redesigned results page for Visual search.

Soon, instead of just visual matches, you’ll see a wide range of results, from images to video, web links, and facts about the knowledge graph. It gets people the helpful information they need and creates new opportunities for sites to be discovered.”

It’s hard to say whether or not this will bring search traffic to websites and what the quality of that traffic will be. Will they stick around to read an article? Will they engage with a product review?

Visual Search Results

Sylvanus shares a hypothetical example of someone at an airport baggage claim who falls in like with someone else’s bag. He explains that all the person needs to do is snap a photo of the luggage bag and Google Lens will take them directly to shopping options.

He explains:

“No words, no problem. Just open Lens, take a quick picture and immediately you’ll see options to purchase.

And for the first time, shopping ads will appear at the very top of the results on linked searches, where a business can offer what a consumer is looking for.

This will help them easily purchase something that catches their eye.”

These are image-heavy shopping ads at the top of the search results and as annoying as that may be it’s nowhere near the “next level” advertising that is coming to Google’s search ads where Google presents a paid promotion within the context of an AI Assistant.

Interactive Search Shopping

Sylvanus next describes an AI-powered form advertising that happens directly within search. But he doesn’t call it advertising. He doesn’t even use the word advertising. He suggests this new form of AI search experience is more than offer, saying that, “it’s an experience.”

He’s right to not use the word advertisement because what he describes goes far beyond advertising and blurs the boundaries between search and advertising within the context of AI-powered suggestions, paid suggestions.

Sylvanus explains how this new form of shopping experience works:

“And next, imagine a world where every search ad is more than an offer. It’s an experience. It’s a new way for you to engage more directly with your customers. And we’re exploring search ads with AI powered recommendations across different verticals. So I want to show you an example that’s going live soon and you’ll see even more when we get to shopping.”

He uses the example of someone who needs to store their furniture for a few months and who turns to Google to find short term storage. What he describes is a query for local short term storage that turns into a “dynamic ad experience” that leads the searcher into throwing packing supplies into their shopping cart.

He narrated how it works:

“You search for short term storage and you see an ad for extra space storage. Now you can click into a new dynamic ad experience.

You can select and upload photos of the different rooms in your house, showing how much furniture you have, and then extra space storage with help from Google, AI generates a description of all your belongings for you to verify. You get a recommendation for the right size and type of storage unit and even how much packing supplies you need to get the job done. Then you just go to the website to complete the transaction.

And this is taking the definition of a helpful ad to the next level. It does everything but physically pick up your stuff and move it, and that is cool.”

Step 1: Search For Short Term Storage

1716722762 15 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows an advertisement that when clicked takes the user to what looks like an AI-assisted search but is really an interactive advertisement.

Step 2: Upload Photos For “AI Assistance”

1716722762 242 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above image is a screenshot of an advertisement that is presented in the context of AI-assisted search.  Masking an advertisement within a different context is the same principal behind an advertorial where an advertisement is hidden in the form of an article. The phrases “Let AI do the heavy lifting” and “AI-powered recommendations” create the context of AI-search that masks the true context of an advertisement.

Step 3: Images Chosen For Uploading

1716722762 187 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows how a user uploads an image to the AI-powered advertisement within the context of an AI-powered search app.

The Word “App” Masks That This Is An Ad

Screenshot of interactive advertisement for that identifies itself as an app with the words

Above is a screenshot of how a user uploads a photo to the AI-powered interactive advertisement within the context of a visual search engine, using the word “app” to further the illusion that the user is interacting with an app and not an advertisement.

Upload Process Masks The Advertising Context

Screenshot of interactive advertisement that uses the context of an AI Assistant to mask that this is an advertisement

The phrase “Generative AI is experimental” contributes to the illusion that this is an AI-assisted search.

Step 4: Upload Confirmation

1716722762 395 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

In step 4 the “app” advertisement is for confirming that the AI correctly identified the furniture that needs to be put into storage.

Step 5: AI “Recommendations”

1716722762 588 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows “AI recommendations” that look like search results.

The Recommendations Are Ad Units

1716722762 751 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Those recommendations are actually ad units that when clicked takes the user to the “Extra Space Storage” shopping website.

Step 6: Searcher Visits Advertiser Website

1716722762 929 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Blurring The Boundaries

What the Google keynote speaker describes is the integration of paid product suggestions into an AI assisted search. This kind of advertising is so far out there that the Googler doesn’t even call it advertising and rightfully so because what this does is blur the line between AI assisted search and advertising. At what point does a helpful AI search become just a platform for using AI to offer paid suggestions?

Watch The Keynote At The 32 Minute Mark

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

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