We know it can be hard to keep up with ever-changing digital marketing news and trends. But no need to stress – we’ve got you covered!
Check out our roundup of the latest news and trends in the world of digital marketing for September 2019. (This is the second installment in our monthly digital marketing trends series, so be sure to check back every month for the latest updates.)
SEO, Organic Search & Google News
Popular Products Carousel
What Is It: Google is rolling out new SERP features that allow products in Google Merchant Center and Manufacturer Center to be displayed in organic search results. The products are shown in a carousel for searches related to those products.
What It Means for Marketers: If you are already using Google Merchant Center or Manufacturer Center for advertising, your products that had previously only appeared in ads may start to show up organically. This will give your products additional reach through Google without additional spend.
How You Should Respond: If you aren’t using Google Merchant Center or Manufacturer Center and you sell products, now might be the time to look into them. Even if you don’t plan to run shopping ads for those products, you’ll gain organic reach for free. As these changes continue to roll out globally, you will then be able to benefit from the increased organic exposure.
Competitor Ads on Local Business Profiles
What Is It: Google is testing running ads for competitors within local business profiles in search results. This new ad placement would become part of their Local Campaign ad placements, and businesses cannot pay to have competitor ads removed from their profile.
What It Means for Marketers: Ads for your competition could begin to appear below your business information in Google searches. But, if you are running Local Campaign ads, your information may appear also appear below competitors’. Google optimizes these placements, so you do not have a choice in where your ads will appear.
How You Should Respond: There is nothing you can do now to remove competitor ads if they appear or to request their placement on a competitor’s profile. The only thing to do is to pay attention to your data and search results to see how this impacts you as it begins to roll out. You may want to consider running a local campaign ad yourself to reach a competitor’s audience.
Social Media News
Facebook hiding likes
What Is It: Facebook and Instagram are testing hiding the total number of likes from posts within the newsfeed. Admins of business pages will still see the total engagement numbers when looking at Insights. However, page followers will either see names of friends who have liked the post or no information at all about engagement.
They are doing this to help prevent users from comparing the amount of likes and engagement their posts get with their peers. It encourages users, especially younger users more prone to making those comparisons, to focus on what is being posted rather than how much attention the post has gotten.
What It Means for Marketers: Facebook regularly tests new features like this on the platform. Until it officially rolls out globally, we won’t know the impact that this has on users’ behavior on the platform. We also will not know how this impacts the ranking algorithm.
This could be a positive change for marketers, as it encourages users to focus on their content rather than how others are reacting to it. We do not yet know if it will influence the total number of likes that marketers can expect their content to receive on the platform, as it has not rolled out globally.
How You Should Respond: As with many social media changes, marketers will not know the true impact of this change until it is made official. Facebook may even decide to eventually cancel the change altogether.
Keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram to see if it rolls out to your account. Once fully released, review your page insights to see how it impacts your engagement.
New E-Commerce Advertising Tools
What Is It: Facebook and Instagram are testing several new advertising features that will impact e-commerce organizations running ads on the platforms.
Facebook is testing a new in-app checkout process, allowing users to purchase products seen in an ad without ever leaving Facebook. Other social media platforms, notably Pinterest, had rolled this out previously and seen increased purchases from users.
Instagram is considering allowing marketers to create shopping posts as ads in Ad Manager. Shopping posts are images posted to Instagram in which the products in the image are clickable and linked to a catalog of products. Users can click on a product in an image and go straight to a page in which they could make a purchase. Previously, shopping posts were only organic, though they could be boosted within the Instagram app.
What It Means for Marketers: If you are a B2C e-commerce organization, either of these ad formats could be valuable in increasing purchases from Facebook/Instagram ads. Both ad formats will make it easier for users to make a purchase once they learn about the product through the ad.
How You Should Respond: These features have not rolled out globally yet. Keep an eye on social media news as well as your own advertising accounts to see when the new options become available. Once available, test them out to see if they help increase conversions from your audience.
LinkedIn Algorithm Updates
What Is It: LinkedIn is updating its algorithm to focus more on conversations with direct connections, such as co-workers. It will also show more conversations regarding topics that users engage with on a more regular basis.
This update is in line with algorithm updates made by other social media platforms, particularly Facebook and Instagram, in the past year. Most social platforms are now prioritizing content in the feed from people who it thinks the user is more likely to engage with offline.
What It Means for Marketers: It isn’t clear yet if this algorithm change will impact the performance of business page content. Organic engagement across social media has been dropping for years, partially due to similar algorithm updates on other platforms that prioritize the content of individuals over businesses. It is too soon to tell how much this will impact LinkedIn engagement for businesses.
How You Should Respond: Continue to keep a close watch on your engagement on LinkedIn. If you begin to see drops, experiment with posting at different times as well as different types of content and messaging.
Businesses that can encourage users to start conversations in the comments of their posts may be positively impacted by this algorithm change. When users comment on a post, LinkedIn’s algorithm is more likely to show that post to their friends. Include questions in your posts to encourage these conversations.
Augmented Reality on Youtube
What Is It: YouTube has launched a new augmented reality feature that allows users to “try on” products while they watch videos about those products from YouTube influencers. The feature is only available on YouTube’s mobile app and leverages the user’s phone camera to bring them into the experience.
YouTube is starting this partnership with MAC Cosmetics. Users watching videos from YouTube beauty influencers will see a button appear on the screen that says “Try It On.” The screen will then split, with the original video playing on the top and the virtual lipstick try on feature on the bottom.
Users can switch between different shades of lipstick to see how each color looks on their face. They will also be able to click off to the site to purchase the lipstick if they would like.
What It Means for Marketers: Augmented reality has found its way into different areas of digital marketing during the past few years, so it isn’t surprising that YouTube is jumping on the trend. As augmented reality becomes more popular and accessible to brands of all sizes, it is a good idea for marketers to consider how they could utilize it. Augmented reality can be a very powerful and engaging tool to motivate users to convert.
How You Should Respond: Right now, this feature is only available to very large brands that partner with YouTube through FameBit, its branded content division. So, we’ll just need to wait and see when and how it is rolled out to a larger audience.
Chrome Lazy Loading
What Is It: The latest version of Google Chrome will allow for lazy loading through a “loading” attribute. This allows developers to wait to load certain site resources until the user scrolls close to them. This had been done previously through third-party tools; however, it is expected that other browsers will follow in Google Chrome’s footsteps in the future, making this a more common feature.
Brower-level lazy loading has been found to improve website performance. Website resources such as photos and iframes take up a great amount of bandwidth. Lazy loading allows for the site to load initially without these items, then load them later once the user can interact with them.
What It Means for Marketers: Site speed has continued to play an important role in SEO strategy, as Google looks to site speed when determining search engine rankings.
For sites heavy in images or other slow-loading resources, implementing lazy loading could help speed up page load times.
How You Should Respond: Work with a developer (or do it yourself if you have the coding skills) to look for opportunities to implement the new Chrome loading attribute with your website.