April 24, 2018: Google launches ‘Shopping Actions’ to compete with Amazon & tests mobile search infinite scroll, P&G ends year-long ad drought on YouTube, what Facebook/Cambridge Analytica means for influencer marketing and how bots are taking over the Twittersphere
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
What To Do When You Get Your Tax Returns…
Go shopping, obvi. Earlier this month, Google launched Shopping Actions, its new e-commerce program built on Google Express that facilitates a streamlined shopping experience through Search or Google Assistant. The update expands on some of Google’s current offerings, providing consumers with voice-activated product search, universal cart across Google properties, shareable lists, instant checkout, 1-click re-ordering, personalized recommendations & more – it’s all about that customer-empowered convenience. So far, companies like Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and Ulta Beauty give the new program a thumbs up.
What it means, IRL: Over the past few years, Google has identified three rising trends in search: local-focused mobile searches, vocal-driven searches, and retail purchases starting and/or ending on Amazon. And, with the number of Amazon-only shoppers on the rise, Shopping Actions represents Google’s play to disrupt the Amazon-first retail market by investing in the future of distributed commerce and voice shopping. However, for Google to gain an advantage, it needs to leverage some of its own differentiators (i.e. ad distro across owned properties, lower seller fees, image search, private label/exclusive products, etc.) – to encourage mass brand & consumer use.
Make it work: The opportunity for marketers in Shopping Actions lies in discoverability – not in paid (for now). If not already on Google Express, marketers need to explore it as an option in a similar way they consider Amazon – first movers will, undoubtedly, have a search advantage. Marketers have the opportunity to repurpose existing influencer- and user-generated content across high-priority SKU listings and, in addition, expand their current ratings and reviews strategy – noting that Google is pulling reviews from multiple sources.
Are SERPs Even Relevant Anymore?
Depends on who’s scrolling. Social experiences continue to impact search – given the emphasis on local-focused mobile searches (see above). In what seems to be the marrying of a social network functionality and search, Google has launched a new way of displaying additional search results on mobile, effectively removing pagination. The new button lets a searcher click on ‘more results’ to dynamically load more results in the search, without having to click the next button and go to page two.
Hey Google, I’ve got questions. By effectively testing feed-based search results on mobile, will users social feed behavior will actually translate to a non-paginated search feed and, if so, will that algorithm change with that users’ preferences towards ‘relevance’? What do those high-ranking search signals become? LMK.
In the meantime, national chains should prioritize localization in key DMAs where relevant, and local businesses should also be investing in a robust SEO & reviews strategy.
“So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance” – YouTube
P&G’s year-long YouTube ad drought has officially ended, but it’s complicated. This week, the CPG giant officially announced plans to let its brands buy spots on YouTube – but with a few standards. P&G plans on advertising on videos only the company has explicitly reviewed and approved, with clips coming from fewer than 10,000 YouTube channels, compared to the previous 3 million channels.
Turns out, marketers do have control over how their content is displayed – so long as you’re will to walk away. Not all brands have the budget of Marc Pritchard, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take take a page from his playbook. Marketers need to know what brand safety looks like in every environment their brand acts in, and what controls they need to have to ensure it. If networks and other providers do not have the right parameters in place, it’s on marketers to have the understanding about what to ask for, based on their own standards.
Bots on Bots on Bots
Meanwhile, according to a new study by Pew Research Center, the majority of links on Twitter are shared by bots. The study examined 1.2 million tweeted links during summer of 2017 and found that 66% of the tweeted links during this time period were shared by bots, or automated accounts that can generate or distribute content without human oversight.
During a time when Facebook is facing heavy scrutiny over user privacy, the spreading of fake news, and bad bot behavior, is a lack of investigation into Twitter yet another sign of its growing irrelevance?
What People Are (Still) Watching…
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Congress. Last week, in an attempt by Zuck & Co. to show a shift in behavior – Facebook implemented restrictions to Facebook and Instagram APIs – APIs that many third-party developers, including those in the influencer marketing industry, had previously relied on to support their platforms. So what does this mean for the influencer industry?
Where the granular level of ad targeting that we once relied on may never be available in the same way, this highlights the potential upside for influencer marketing, and a model for permission-based marketing in general. As long as that data access has been given by the influencer, or user, directly – in this case – influencer marketing platforms that are opt-in only; as well, targeting users who have chosen to follow those influencers directly. Where influencers themselves are still struggling to gain visibility into audience data themselves, without a third party – marketers need to be vigilant with their influencer marketing vendors to understand whether they’ve invested in obtaining data without the influencers’ – or their audiences’ – permission.
Full disclosure: Due to Mavrck’s first-party opt-in approach, we were not impacted by the recent changes to Facebook and Instagram’s API.