After a prolonged period of testing, Google Ads has officially launched the new Insights page to all advertisers. 

As the company announced, starting April 14th, 2021, “the Insights page is available to all advertisers globally.”

The Insights tool allows for advertisers to easily track and explore emerging trends in your industry to create more effective ads. 

The latest announcement gives an example of how a brand could use the tool:

“Let’s say you’re a pet store looking to reach more customers. With the Insights page, you can see rising demand for ‘dog subscription boxes’ and ‘dog toys’. You can then act on these trends by creating campaigns to reach new pet owners, or even explore selling dog care packages.”

“The Insights page surfaces trends tailored to your business, so you can see if you’re keeping up with demand for trending products or services,” continued the statement.

How Google Ads Insights Works

The new tool pulls data from your account’s performance history and campaign settings, before combining them with search trends across Google to automatically show you relevant trends and insights. 

Currently, the Insights tool only provides one type of data, showing search trends to help you better understand the most recent patterns in search behavior and identify relevant trends in your market. 

However, Google Ads says it will be rolling out more types of insights in the future. 

For more information about the new page, Google Ads has published a help document to get you started tracking the latest trends in your industry. 

For years, two names have ruled the online ad game – Google and Facebook. Currently, that is still true, though a new analysis suggests Amazon is steadily expanding its ad business to be a sizable challenger to the Big Two.

Research firm eMarketer’s latest annual digital ad report shows that Amazon’s share of digital ad revenue broke two digits in 2020, earning 10.3% of U.S. online ad revenue. That’s a significant jump from 7.8% in 2019.

In actual dollars, the online retail giant’s ad revenue reached $15.73 billion, an increase of more than 50% from the previous year.

Should Facebook and Google Be Worried?

Amazon still has some ways to go before it’s ad platform is the size of Google or Facebook’s – both of which receive more than 20% of U.S. digital ad spend.

Still, eMarketer predicts the company will continue to increase its share of online ad revenue over the next few years until it is on par with the other two giants.

For Facebook, this might not be a big concern since much of Amazon’s advertising is driven by Amazon Prime video advertising and product ads. In their current form, both platform’s ads largely serve different purposes.

Google, on the other hand, might be getting a little nervous. Over the past few years, the search engine has been investing heavily into its online shopping services, as well as expanding YouTube’s advertising platform.

What Does This Mean For Brands?

Though this might have significant implications for the future of online advertising, nothing has really changed for the majority of brands who might use these platforms for their ads. 

However, it does serve as a reminder that there are more than just the Big Two online ad platforms. Many of the others out there may be a better fit, provide less competition, and allow you to reach your potential customers at a more ideal time. This is why it is important to know what each has to offer and invest your ad budget into the platform (or platforms) which make the most sense for you.

It can be easy to forget that online marketing can have a much wider effect than just “online”. These days, it is also one of the most powerful tools businesses have to drive in-person and other types of offline sales.

The key is knowing how to optimize specifically for local searches to help those nearby find you and your products or services at the most effective times.

To help smaller businesses do this, Google recently published a small guide with 4 tips and ideas for driving offline sales using your online ads and marketing.

Creating In-Person Sales With Online Marketing

Establish Your Digital Storefront

The first step to using your brand to drive local sales is establishing your Google My Business profile. This allows you to appear in the prime search results placements for relevant localized searches. 

As Google says:

“Stand out when people search for your business, products or services. Getting your business on Google is the essential first step towards driving and measuring visits to your stores.”

2) Measure Your Offline Impact

These days, the search engine’s analytics tools can measure a lot more than online traffic and conversions. Using metrics like Store Visits and Local Actions, you can see exactly how effective your online ads and marketing are in the real world.

“Getting the full picture of how your ads drive impact across channels is important to refine campaigns, make budgeting decisions, and inform your overall business strategy.”

3) Optimize For Online AND Offline

Use ads and optimization to highlight what you have online and what you have to offer at your brick and mortar locations. Not only can you use Google Shopping to showcase your products in search results, you can specifically promote your in-store inventory using Local Inventory ads.

The guide suggests:

“Make the most of your marketing investment and grow revenue for your stores, whether customers ultimately purchase online or in-store.”

4) Showcase Your Locations

Use local campaigns to highlight your local stores and send online searchers straight to your door. 

“Machine learning makes it easier and more efficient to promote your physical business locations at scale across Google properties. It can help you reach customers throughout their purchase journey and optimize for those who are most likely to visit your business.”

For more about how you can use Google and online marketing to drive both online and offline sales read the full Google Ads Help guide here.

If you are an online retailer, you are no doubt familiar with Google’s wide array of special features built for online shopping. You are also probably aware of how confusing it can be to get included in these unique search results.

To help clarify this process and make it easier to get your products highlighted in Google’s search results, the search engine recently revealed some technical tips and tricks for e-commerce sites. 

Why It Takes Extra Work To Get In Google Shopping Results

The first question most business owners or site managers might have when they start trying to get their products included in Google Shopping results is “why do I have to do all this extra work?”

Google’s whole thing is analyzing sites and automatically delivering that information in its search results, right? Why can’t they just pull your product info when your pages get indexed?

The simple answer is that Google knows online retail changes very quickly and shoppers get very frustrated with out of date or inaccurate information. If this became a frequent problem, users would likely stop paying attention to Google’s product-related search results. 

While the search engine regularly re-indexes updated webpages, it can’t guarantee pages will be indexed fast enough to ensure information is up-to-date for searchers. 

Additionally, there are some features which online retailers tend to provide to help shoppers which can make things a little confusing for search engines to understand. 

For example, Google says it still struggles with accurately telling the difference between these types of information:

  • Original Price vs. Discounted Price
  • Related Products vs. The Main Product Being Sold
  • Taxes or Shipping Costs vs. The Actual Product Price

This is why the search engine asks online retailers to help provide this information for Google Shopping results.

Now, let’s get into the advice from Google Developer Advocate Alan Kent and how you can get your products into Google product showcases.

Two Ways To Give Google Your Product Data

In the latest Lightning Talks video, Kent discusses two different ways site managers can get their product information to Google. 

The first method is by using structured data. This is essentially using special coding embedded into pages to provide Google with additional information typically not provided through regular site code or markup. 

This is generally seen as the advanced approach because it requires significant knowledge of coding and the latest structured data techniques. 

The other method covered by Kent is by directly providing product data through Google Merchant Center, which can be done with:

  • A feed of all product data manually submitted to the search engine.
  • An API developed to update products individually as changes are made on your site. 

For more information, check out the guide provided by Google.

Conclusion

While providing product data to search engines is essential for appearing in these specific product-centric search results, the company emphasizes that these practices don’t replace traditional SEO.

“Remember that SEO still matters for organic search. Make your product details, such as images and descriptions, appealing to your customers.”

If you want to watch the full explanation from Kent, it is available below:

Throughout 2020, approximately 65% of searches made on Google were “zero-click searches”, meaning that the search never resulted in an actual website visit.

Zero-click searches have been steadily on the rise, reaching 50% in June 2019 according to a study published by online marketing expert Rand Fishkin and SimilarWeb.

The steep rise in these types of searches between January and December 2020 is particularly surprising because it was widely believed zero-click searches were largely driven by mobile users looking for quick-answers. Throughout 2020, however, most of us were less mobile than ever due to Covid restrictions, social distancing, and quarantines.

The findings of this latest report don’t entirely disprove this theory, though. Mobile devices still saw the majority of zero-click Google searches. On desktop, less than half (46.5%) were zero-click searches, while more than three-fourths (77.2%) of searches from mobile devices did not result in a website visit.

Study Limitations

Fishkin acknowledges that his reports do come with a small caveat. Each analysis used different data sources and included different searching methods, which may explain some of the variance. Additionally, the newer study – which included data from over 5.1 trillion Google searches – had access to a significantly larger data pool compared to the approximately one billion searches used in the 2019 study.

“Nonetheless, it seems probable that if the previous panel were still available, it would show a similar trend of increasing click cannibalization by Google,” Fishkin said in his analysis.

What This Means For Businesses

The most obvious takeaway from these findings is that people are increasingly finding the information they are looking for directly on the search results pages, rather than needing to visit a web-page for more in-depth information.

It also means that attempts to regulate Google are largely failing.

Many have criticized and even pursued legal action (with varying levels of success) against the search engine for abusing their access to information on websites by showing that information in “knowledge panels” on search results.

The argument is that Google is stealing copyrighted information and republishing it on their own site. Additionally, this practice could potentially create less reason for searchers to click on ads, meaning Google is contributing to falling click-through rates and making more money off of it.

Ultimately, Google is showing no signs of slowing down on its use of knowledge panels and direct answers within search results. To adjust to the rise of zero-click searches, brands should put more energy into optimizing their content to appear in knowledge panels (increasing your brand awareness) and diversify their web presence with social media activity to directly reach customers.

Google is making its Hotel Booking Links program available to all hotels and travel companies for free, as the company announced this week. 

What Are Free Hotel Booking Links?

The new program, which was previously only available through the Hotel Ads system, essentially creates an entirely new organic list of hotels and travel agencies with available bookings below the existing paid results in relevant searches. 

As the company said in the announcement:

“We’re improving this experience by making it free for hotels and travel companies around the world to appear in hotel booking links, beginning this week on google.com/travel. With full access to a wider range of hotel prices, users will have a more comprehensive set of options as they research their trip and ultimately decide where to book.”

Additionally, the search engine says it will continue to expand the free marketing opportunities within the Google Travel platform in the future:

“Over time, we’ll continue building this open platform, so that all partners will have even more opportunities to highlight their information and help people book a flight, find a place to stay, or explore a new destination.”

What’s The Difference Between Free And Paid Hotel Booking Links?

The main distinction between the new program and the paid Hotel Booking Links program is obviously that paid links are essentially ads. They are bought through the Google Ads system.

However, this clear difference also influences how Google selects which hotels appear in the listings. 

Paid Hotel Booking Links are ranked based on the traditional Google Ads ranking system, which considers several details including how much the advertiser is paying, how relevant the ad is, and the quality of the page you are sending users to. 

The new free booking links, however, will be ranked using a system more similar to Google’s search algorithm.

As the announcement explains:

“Hotel ads are paid links, ranked according to Google’s ad auction, whereas free booking links are unpaid links, ranked according to their utility to users”

Where To Sign Up

If you’d like your hotel or travel company to appear in these new listings, all you have to do is click here to sign up.

Snapchat has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and now the company claims its content reaches over 70% of 13 to 24-year-olds across the countries making up more than half of all digital ad spend. 

This reveal came as part of Snapchat’s first-ever investor day, this week.

Snapchat Details User Growth In Surprising Demographics

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Snapchat unveiled several key statistics to shareholders.

Broadly, the company says the “Snapchat Generation” includes up to 40% of consumers around the world.

Despite the perception that the social network’s users are overwhelmingly young, Snapchat also says approximately 80% of its audience is over the age of 18. Based on this level of growth with new audiences, the company believes it will see 50% annual growth in revenue every year for the foreseeable future.

Although most of the information provided focused on big-picture statistics like revenue and audience growth, the shareholder presentation did disclose a few more specific details about how users are interacting with the app. Specifically, they said that Snapchat users open the app 30 times a day on average, every day

Additionally, the company shared that users who try AR filters to try on products are 2.4 times more likely to convert, implying an interest in further investing in this area.

The Future of Snapchat Advertising

One of the main ways Snapchat aims to meet its goal of 50% YoY revenue growth is by continuing to expand its advertising platform.

In its current state, Snapchat’s revenue largely comes from the standard vertical video ads which appear between Stories. However, increasing the number of these ads could drive away users.

Instead of increasing the number of vertical video ads, Snapchat says it plans to find new areas of the app which can be monetized, including placing ads in the Snap Map and Spotlight sections.

With over 35 million businesses already present on the Snap Map, Snap Inc.’s chief business officer, Jeremi Gorman, believes they will see massive interest when rolling out ads in this area of the app.

Driven by the existing success of AR filters, Snapchat also plans to incorporate new augmented reality features and AR-based ad options.

Perhaps most importantly for smaller brands who can’t work directly with Snapchat for the more customized ad options (such as AR or custom filters), the company also says it will be investing in more comprehensive and easier to use tools to buy and run ads through its self-service ad platform.

This means smaller brands will potentially be able to get their hands on some of the more effective and exciting ad options which have only been available to a select few brands on the platform in the past.


Overall, the presentation from the company gives a very optimistic view for the future. With its user-base beginning to age into adulthood, Snapchat is positioned to directly connect brands with some of the most active and engaged users on any social platform out there.

Google is warning brands that Web Stories which don’t follow through on their promised content may but cut from appearing in Google Search and Google Discover.

In an announcement, the company explained that users have expressed disinterest in Web Stories which “tease” content but require users to click through to get the full experience. As such, brands using this style of Web Story run the risk of having their content demoted.

What Are Google Web Stories?

Google’s take on the popular Story format first appeared back in 2018, going by the name of AMP Stories. 

These quick, visual posts or ads function almost identically to Facebook or Instagram Stories, but appear within the Google mobile app when exploring the Discover tab or searching for websites.

One thing that makes Google’s version of these posts unique, however, is that Web Stories can easily be shared to any platform, including competing social networks.

What This Change Means For You

In the announcement, Google’s Paul Bakaus explains that “a one- or two-page teaser for your blog post doesn’t tell a satisfying story to a reader, so Google will do its very best to not show these to users.”

With this in mind, Google is planning to stop showing “teaser” based Web Stories across its platform. 

If you are concerned your Web Stories may be affected, Google recommends following a few Do’s and Don’ts:

Dos:

  • A shopping inspiration list that highlights products and links out to places where you can buy them.
  • A short version of a recipe with complete ingredients listed that leaves more detailed instructions behind a click.

Don’ts:

  • A one-page story that mentions a recipe in the headline, but is just a bunch of photos that redirect to the website.
  • A list highlighting beautiful cities in Europe, but just listing a city and a photo and pointing to the blog link for any actual information.

It is worth noting that the above example image Google shows of a recipe web story actually clearly falls into the “Don’t” category here. This highlights how unclear the actual implementation of this new policy is currently.

People are Tired of Clickbait

As Bakaus notes, users expect complete content from Stories, not a lure leading to a comprehensive blog post.

“Unfortunately, from what users are telling us, this isn’t what they want. Instead, web stories are best when they tell a full story and aren’t used to “tease” other content.

“Readers don’t like to feel forced to click through to a connected blog post to finish reading.”

How This Affects Monetization

One of the biggest reasons many brands used “teaser” Web Stories was to help drive traffic to their own monetized content. This new policy could potentially disrupt this strategy entirely. 

Despite this, Google urges you to “think about the users consuming [Web Stories] and how Google showcases them.”

At the same time, the company notes that “you can directly monetize Web Stories with in-between-page ads.”

Bakaus does admit this may not be as effective or lucrative, though the company hopes to improve this situation in the future:

“A well-optimized blog post might still make you more money today, but ad networks are working on building out and expanding their Web Story integrations, so you should see both CPMs and fill rates improve over time.”

You can hear Paul’s full explanation of the policy and the best practices for creating Web Stories in his Google Web Creators video below:

For the longest time, the conventional wisdom has held that Facebook is where people spend the majority of their screen time while using apps. According to a new report from App Annie, however, that has shifted over the past year.

For the first time ever, TikTok has taken the lead as the social app with the longest time spent per user.

Year-over-year, TikTok has leapt 325% in time spent, officially knocking Facebook out of the top spot.

Notably, this does not necessarily mean people are spending less time on Facebook. In fact, nearly every app in every market included in the report has seen increases in the time spent on their platform – likely due to the Coronavirus and social distancing measures.

Still, TikTok’s growth over the past year far outpaced any other platform, allowing it to take the lead compared to any other social app.

With this in mind, it is not a surprise to see that TikTok also took the top spot as the #1 breakout app of 2020 based on monthly active user growth.

Another key finding is that TikTok has risen to the #2 non-gaming apps when it comes to consumer spending. In addition to the traditional advertising services TikTok offers, it brings in additional revenue with purchasable digital goods. Surprisingly, this appears to have been a hit with users, contributing to a swell of revenue.

While this may be one of the most important takeaways from the report for brands trying to keep up with shifting audiences, the report also includes a few other interesting findings:

Mobile Adoption Leaps Forward

Based on App Annie’s data, mobile adoption has leapt forward by 2-3 years over the past year. Nearly every metric related to mobile use spiked.

This includes a 7% year-over-year increase in mobile app downloads, an 8%, which translates to 218 billion app downloads. 

This year also marks the first time Americans have spent more time on their mobile devices than they have spent watching TV. People spent 8% more time on their mobile devices compared to TVs (4 hours a day on mobile vs 3.7 hours watching TV).

People Watch 4x More YouTube Than Netflix

Based on app usage, YouTube is the unquestioned leader in video streaming. The app received more than 4x the time spent on the app per user compared to any other platform. Even Netflix was miles behind Google’s video platform.

Every month, the average user watches 23 hours of content on YouTube, compared to just 5.7 hours of Netflix shows or movies. This makes it clear that YouTube is the platform to focus on if you want to get video content in front of your target audience, whether it takes the form of advertisements or regular content.

YouTube announced a pretty big change to how it manages ads for longer videos across the platform. Effective immediately, the video streaming platform is turning post-roll ads on by default for all monetized videos that run over 10 minutes long.

This means any video over that length will automatically include these ads, unless you explicitly opt-out. 

The news came as part of the first news update of 2021 from YouTube’s Creator Insider channel. 

In the video, a YouTube representative tells creators:

“For monetizing creators, any videos over 10 minutes in length will automatically have post-roll ads turned on by default.”

What Are Post-Roll Ads?

When it comes to online videos and video advertising, there are essentially three different types of ads: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. 

Pre-roll ads run before your video ever starts. Mid-roll ads interrupt your content, similar to TV commercials appearing in the middle of your favorite show. Post-roll ads run after your video has completed. 

The obvious benefit to post-roll ads is that they are the least intrusive to the viewing experience. The viewer loses nothing by moving on to a different video.

Importantly, for any type of ad to be shown on your videos, you must have applied for and been accepted to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). 

How This Might Affect You

With this change, all types of ads are now turned on by default. That means viewers will be shown ads before, during, and after your video.

Even if it is a 20-minute long video or longer, that can add up to be a whole lot of advertising for online audiences. 

This can cause burnout or frustration, potentially pushing viewers away from your channel over time. 

On their own, there is nothing inherently wrong with including post-roll ads on your videos. They may even become the preferred ad placement for many content creators. 

However, this change makes it more important than ever to strategically manage where ads will appear on your videos and take more active control of your advertising settings. 

If you’d like to find out more about post-roll ads or YouTube’s new ad policy, check out the Creator Insider video below: