Google Flirts with Local Search Monetization

Google Flirts with Local Search Monetization

How would you feel about competitors’ ads running in your local listings? Late last month, agencies specializing in local search marketing noticed just that: paid ads in their clients’ carefully maintained local business profiles on Google.

Search Engine Land reports that the ads are part of ‘Local Campaigns,’ which, according to Google, make it “easy to promote your stores across Google’s largest properties including the Google Search Network, Maps, YouTube, and the Google Display Network.”

The ads aren’t common (yet) but their presence may make it more difficult for businesses to stand out via organic local search marketing strategies. This will sound familiar to anyone with experience in the SEO industry: as Google’s paid search business has grown, it has become more and more difficult for websites to maintain organic visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Google has increased not only the number of paid text ads that appear toward the top of each page, but also claimed more real estate for itself in the form of featured snippets, local pack results, Google Shopping displays, and more.

The ads’ appearance is a reminder that businesses do not own their local search presence, as Search Engine Land points out: “It’s Google’s property, just as Facebook owns and controls local Facebook Pages. This is something that businesses should be sober about. However, Google must also be mindful of too-aggressive monetization of local.”

As a Google Premier Partner local search marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media can help you identify opportunities to reach new customers via local search. However, as more businesses begin to prioritize this important digital marketing stream, expect Google to ramp up competition for local search real estate. Paid search ads in competitors’ local business profiles may be the first in a long line of monetization experiments from Google in coming years.


Image credit: KMR Photography/Flickr

Will Facebook’s Clear History Option Affect Your Business?

Will Facebook’s Clear History Option Affect Your Business?

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other controversies, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming privacy feature called “Clear History.” The announcement caught the attention of social media marketing experts.

“In your web browser, you have a simple way to clear your cookies and history,” Zuckerberg wrote in a 2018 Facebook post. “The idea is a lot of sites need cookies to work, but you should still be able to flush your history whenever you want. We’re building a version of this for Facebook too. It will be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook – what you’ve clicked on, websites you’ve visited, and so on.”

The feature would allow users to see and clear any information about them that has been shared with Facebook by third-party apps and websites.

In August, roughly 18 months after Zuckerberg’s announcement, the feature finally rolled out in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain, with other countries to follow. The question for social media marketing businesses is: how will this affect my clients?

The new privacy controls could impact the effectiveness of Facebook’s targeting options. However, the scope of the impact will depend on how aggressively Facebook promotes the feature and how many users adopt it.

“The big question is how many people will use the tool,” said eMarketer principal analyst Nicole Perrin in a recent article. “Uptake of these types of capabilities tends to be low – but with Facebook’s data-sharing practices regularly making headlines for well over a year, more people might check this out. Still, I doubt it will put much of a crimp in most of Facebook’s targeting options.”

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with years of experience in search, display, and social media marketing, GrowthEngine Media is hopeful that Facebook’s new privacy controls will improve user protection without hampering important targeting capabilities. For more information about how the upcoming changes could affect your Facebook campaigns, feel free to reach out today.


Image credit: Anthony Quintano/Wikimedia Commons

Can TikTok Change the Digital World?

Can TikTok Change the Digital World?

The digital world is always changing, and digital marketing agencies have a responsibility to change with it. Take TikTok, for example. Originally known as Douyin in China and launched to international audiences under its current moniker in September 2017, TikTok enjoyed rapid worldwide growth during the second half of last year. In Q1 2019, the short-form video-sharing platform was the third-most downloaded app in the world behind only Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

TikTok’s popularity is such that participants at last months’ VidCon in Anaheim, California, considered it a tangible threat to YouTube.

“YouTube has been a home for video creators for more than a decade,” explained eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “But it’s starting to see real competition from TikTok as well as other social platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. All of them want a piece of the massive audience for creator content that YouTube has built.”

Yet according to a February 2019 survey by Spout Social, just 4 per cent of US digital marketing pros had developed any type of TikTok strategy. This is due in part to the platform’s lack of formal ad business – TikTok streams and videos are ad-free – but is also emblematic of advertisers’ sluggish response to new media. TikTok is already experimenting with subtle ad units and trailblazing businesses are beginning to partner with influencers. Companies that embrace TikTok today will have unfettered access to a massive young audience once its ad platform becomes more robust.

This is not to say that TikTok is right for your business. But it should serve as a reminder that small risks on new media can yield outsize rewards.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media makes it our business to be well-informed about the latest trends in digital media consumption. We believe that businesses who stay ahead of the curve have an inside track on their competitors.

It’s Time to Develop an Online Review Strategy

It’s Time to Develop an Online Review Strategy

Online reviews have become critical to digital marketing success. When a customer is torn between two service providers, the one with the most positive reviews is likely to win out. That means your business needs a strategy for soliciting and responding to online reviews – both positive and negative. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

  1. Claim your pages on Google My Business, Facebook Business, and Yelp. Digital marketing is no longer a one-platform industry! Maintaining a presence on each of these important review platforms will make it easy for customers to find your business, leave reviews, and learn more about your services.
  2. Reach out to satisfied customers. Not every customer will instinctively share their experience with your business on Yelp, so you may want to develop a modest review outreach strategy. Follow-up emails, automated thank you pages, and discount offers are all good approaches, as long as they are not intrusive or manipulative.
  3. Always respond! Customers are more likely to leave reviews for responsive businesses. This is especially true for businesses that leave satisfactory responses to negative reviews. That means adopting a ‘customer is always right’ stance and offering meaningful, courteous answers to complaints. Turning a negative review into a returning customer is the ultimate example of great customer service.
  4. Consider paid strategies. If your business is struggling to attract positive online reviews, you may want to consider a paid review platform. In some cases, that can mean offering customers compensation for reviews, but more often it entails licensing a platform that automates review solicitation.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media can help you attract meaningful, sincere reviews that highlight your business’s customer service and encourage new customers to reach out for more information.

Microsoft Advertising was the Big Winner in Q2 2019

Microsoft Advertising was the Big Winner in Q2 2019

Merkle’s Q2 2019 Digital Marketing Report delivered an unusual piece of news last week: a rival search engine advertising business took a bite out of Google Ads dominant market share.

Total United States search advertising spend was up 14 per cent year-over-year (YOY, although growth continues to slow. However, it was the relative success of Microsoft Advertising that that caught Search Engine Land’s attention.

“Desktop spend on Microsoft Advertising had its strongest quarter in more than three years in the second quarter of 2019,” the digital marketing publication reported.

“Microsoft Advertising’s gain came in large part from its deal with Verizon Media to handle all search ad inventory across its properties, including Yahoo.”

Microsoft’s gain last quarter was unquestionably Google’s loss. Google had been serving Verizon’s Yahoo shopping ads since 2016 before Microsoft took over the business this year.

“Yahoo dropping Google’s ads in favour of Bing Product Ads at the end of Q1 appears to have had a meaningful impact,” the Merkle report read.

Overall, spending on Microsoft Advertising was up 8 per cent over combined Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini spend YOY, driven in large part by a 54 per cent YOY increase in shopping ad spend. Google Shopping also saw a 38 per cent YOY spending leap, although that lagged behind the 41 per cent boost it enjoyed in Q1.

Microsoft’s success in Q2 2019 doesn’t in any way threaten Google’s digital advertising supremacy. Google remains the world’s most popular search engine and largest advertising business. Digital advertising isn’t a monolithic industry, however. Savvy marketers use Microsoft Advertising, Facebook Ads, and other Google alternatives to reach the widest possible audience.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media is equipped to guide your digital marketing strategy across multiple platforms.