Google is giving users more significant power than ever to control what ads they see. As announced at the annual I/O Summit conference (and reported by Greg Finn), this will be done by launching a new and improved My Ad Center feature that aims to make ads more transparent and relevant for consumers.

In the new My Ad Center, users will be able to find information about who paid for a specific ad and why they were targeted to see it. Additionally, users will be able to select which brands or topics they would like to receive ads for and specify the level of personalization they are comfortable with from ads.

At the time of the announcement, the My Ad Center feature is limited to only Google Search, YouTube, and Google Discover. This means users are still largely unable to dictate what type of ads they might see in other areas of Google or through the Google Display Network, though there are rumors that similar tools are coming to manage ads being shown via the display network.

Select Your Favorite Topics and Brands

Probably the most significant new introduction in the Google My Ad Center is the ability to dictate what topics or brands you are most interested in seeing ads about. 

Of course, users may still see ads or topics not listed in this tool if Google believes it is relevant to them. Still, this gives you significant influence by directly telling the search engine what you want to see.

More Transparent Advertising

Beyond controlling the ads you see, My Ad Center also aims to give you more information about the ads being shown by expanding the previously introduced “about this ad” section. 

Here, you will find details about who paid for an ad (using Advertiser Identity Verification) and information about why Google included you in the targeting for this ad.

Ad Personalization Settings

Personalization has become increasingly common in ads over the last few years, with advertisers using details like age, relationship status, education level, and more to create, personalize, and target ads.

Now, users can opt out of this by limiting any or all details used to personalize ads.

In this section, you can also limit or allow sensitive ad topics such as gambling, alcohol, or weight loss to be shown to you.

Lastly, My Ad Center gives users control over what data sources are used to personalize ads and where (for example, allowing personalized Google Search results or YouTube recommendations). 


The new My Ad Center feature is expected to launch soon, though an exact date is unavailable.

Google is offering a new solution for e-commerce brands interested in improving their site’s search capabilities. 

With the release of Retail Search, Google Cloud is making it possible for online retailers to provide Google-quality search results on their own websites. This means it will be faster and easier for customers to find the products they are looking for on your site, making them more likely to complete thor transaction instead of abandoning your site. 

How Poor Search Experiences Hurt Online Retailers

According to a 2021 survey from The Harris Poll and Google Cloud, at least 94% of American consumers have abandoned a shopping session because of poor quality or irrelevant search results and 76% of shoppers said that an unsuccessful search led to a lost sale for a retail website. 

Based on this, the report estimates retailers lose $300 billion each year solely because of this phenomenon known as search abandonment. 

Understanding Intent To Deliver Better Search Results

The biggest hurdle to delivering successful search results has always been understanding search intent. 

Most basic search engines struggle to identify user intent and deliver the most relevant search results quickly. Google’s systems, however, are constantly being updated with the specific goal of better understanding user intent and delivering the best results quickly.

With Retail Search, retailers can now deliver that same quality search experience on their own site. 

Customizable For Your Needs

Retail Search is fully customizable to suit the needs of almost any e-commerce site. 

As the announcement says:

“Our site search solution builds upon decades of Google’s experience and innovation in search indexing, retrieval, and ranking. Retailers can make product discovery even easier for shoppers, while optimizing for their business goals with advanced capabilities.”

These capabilities include:

  • Advanced query understanding that produces better results from even the broadest queries, including non-product searches. 
  • Semantic search to effectively match product attributes with website content for fast, relevant product discovery. 
  • Optimized results that leverage user interaction and ranking models to meet specific business goals.
  • State-of-the-art security and privacy practices that ensure retailer data is isolated with strong access controls and is only used to deliver relevant search results on their own properties.

For more information, read the full announcement here or visit Google’s Discovery Solutions for Retail.

Twitter is signaling its plans to let brands establish dedicated shops on the platform through a limited test.

The company revealed it is introducing dedicated shopping pages including up to 50 products to a handful of brands as an experiment ahead of plans to roll out the feature to more retailers later this year. 

The feature allows a brand or business to add a simple “View shop” button to its profile page, which will link to a Twitter-hosted e-commerce page. When clicked, the button will then take users to your actual online store or website, where the transaction can be completed. 

As Twitter described the new feature in its blog post announcement:

“People are already talking about products on Twitter. We want Twitter Shops to be the home for merchants on Twitter where they can intentionally curate a catalog of products for their Twitter audience and build upon the product discussions already happening on our service by giving shoppers a point of action where a conversation can become a purchase.”

Only Available to a Select Few

As Twitter Shops are currently considered a beta test, the feature is only available to a small number of brands in the U.S. Specifically, the announcement only mentioned five brands that have utilized the feature so far – Verizon, Arden Cover, the Latinx In Power podcast, Gay Pride Apparel, and All I Do Is Cook.

Additionally, only iPhone users are currently able to view or interact with the shops, though the company plans to roll the feature out to other devices in the future.

Social Stores Are Becoming The Norm

The new feature underscores the increasingly blurry line between social media and online shopping. Several other platforms, including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram have rolled out their own shopping tools to brands on their platform, though the most obvious comparison is Pinterest’s current shopping system where users can discover brands and shop their products on the platform before finalizing their purchase through retailer’s own sites.

For more, read Twitter’s full announcement here.

The coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented changes to practically every market around the world. While existing businesses struggled with new safety requirements, the number of new business openings slowed significantly.

As we come to the end of the second year of living with the COVID pandemic, though, it appears new business openings are close to reaching pre-pandemic levels, according to Yelp’s COVID-19 Second Anniversary Report

Specifically, new business openings in the second year of the pandemic were just 1% below rates from the year before the pandemic (2019). Over the year, at least 521,926 new businesses were established – up 14% from the first year of the pandemic. 

How New Variants Affected New Business Openings

While new business openings are on the rise overall, this is not happening without setbacks. The Delta and Omicron variants caused dips in openings, especially in the largest cities across the US. In many cities, these hurdles slowed growth enough to cause an overall decrease in openings.

Despite this, other cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Detroit helped offset these losses. 

New Expectations For Businesses

While openings are returning to pre-pandemic rates, Yelp emphasized that the coronavirus pandemic is still strongly influencing consumer behavior. For example, interest in outdoor seating continued to rise by 292% in the second year of the pandemic. 

Similarly, consumer interest continues to be heightened for outdoor activities, including scooter rentals, outdoor movies, and the newly trendy pickleball.

The Big Picture

Businesses continue to stand strong in the face of the COVID pandemic, despite new challenges like labor shortages and supply bottlenecks. Being adaptable has long been a key trait of successful businesses, especially after the onset of the COVID pandemic.

After suffering a massive drop in stock values earlier this week, Facebook is planning to pivot more towards being a short-form video platform. 

The shift in focus was announced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a company-wide virtual meeting with Facebook employees shortly after the stock crash, which was triggered by a devastating quarterly earnings report from the platform’s parent company – Meta Platforms. 

In its latest earnings report, Meta disclosed that it had lost money throughout the quarter as well as seeing the first-ever decline in daily active users. By the end of the quarter, the company says more than half a million users had stopped using the platform on a daily basis. 

All of this then caused investors to panic, leading to the company’s stock price dropping by over 200 billion dollars in a single day – the largest single-day stock drop in history.

Why Is Facebook Losing Users and Money?

As Zuckerberg laid out to employees, he sees three major contributing factors to the unflattering quarterly earnings report. These are a recent wave of investments from Meta to establish Metaverse, difficulties with advertising after the of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature and Android’s take on this information sharing feature, and TikTok.

The first issue is easy to believe. After the company’s hugely publicized rebrand to Meta, it has been spending a lot of money to establish its Metaverse platform – which has yet to pay off. Given the mixed-to-negative reception the Metaverse has received, it is also possible investors are nervous about the potential for eventual revenue from the platform.

Facebook is also seeing a notable loss in money from advertising, largely because the largest mobile operating systems have both implemented new features which give users more information and control over how their information is being used. 

On one hand, this is a benefit for users because they can now easily opt-out of being tracked online. On the other, it makes it much more difficult – and even potentially impossible in some cases – to target relevant ads for users. This leads to less interest in ads from users, which translates to less engagement, and thus less revenue, 

What About TikTok?

After surviving challenges from Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, Facebook may have finally met a competitor it can’t afford to ignore.

Mark Zuckerberg told employees that part of the company’s poor quarterly performance was an “unprecedented level of competition” from TikTok.

As such, Zuckerberg plans to directly focus on promoting its short-video-related content and features across both Instagram and Facebook.

As he told meeting attendees:

“People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly. And this is why our focus on Reels is so important over the long term.”

While both of Meta’s social networks have increasingly prioritized video in recent years, this underscores a renewed emphasis on video content – especially short, easy-to-share clips like those found on TikTok. As such, brands hoping to reach their audiences on these platforms should be prepared to similarly focus on creating video content that connects with their potential customers.

Google Business Profiles (formerly called Google My Business) has added a new waiting period for new profile managers or owners when they have been added to an account.

If you try to edit your business listing during this period, users will get an error message alerting them that their access is temporarily suspended.

This new information was discovered in the recently updated help guide for adding or removing profile managers or owners,

A single person – typically the business owner or an executive responsible for a brand’s online presence – can “claim” their Google Business Profiles listing to become the primary user without experiencing the delay. 

However, if you then add an employee or marketing agency to manage your listing, they will be required to wait 7 days before they will be granted full access to the account. 

As the new help document explains:

When a new owner or manager is added to an existing Business Profile, they must wait for 7 days before they can manage all the features of the profile. During this 7 day period, the new owner or manager gets an error if they try any of the following:

  • Delete or undelete a profile.
  • Remove other owners or managers from a profile.
  • Transfer primary ownership of a profile to themselves or a third user.
  • An existing owner or manager tries to transfer primary ownership of the profile to a new owner or manager still in their first 7 days.

If the new owner or manager deletes their account within the first 7 days, they’re removed from the profile. If they undelete their account, they must be added to the profile again.

Most likely, this temporary delay has been added as a means to prevent hackers or other bad actors from attempting to illicitly access Google Business Profiles accounts.

With new data showing that LinkedIn’s virtual events are experiencing a massive surge in participation lately, the company announced it is testing a new feature for audio-only live events. 

In the recent announcement, LinkedIn revealed that attendance for virtual events on the platform is up more than 230% year-over-year. At the same time, the platform says it also saw 150% more events created year-over-year.

Obviously, a major contributor to the popularity of these events is the ongoing Covid pandemic, which has seen in-person events limited or entirely canceled over the past year and a half.

As this continues to be a problem around the world, the company believes expanding its services to include audio-only events will draw even more users to LinkedIn live events.

As the announcement says:

“This month, we’re taking a big step forward and building on the success of LinkedIn Live broadcasts by launching an entirely new interactive events experience that allows our members to more actively participate in the conversation.

Being an active part of the conversation at an event can help you make new connections, bolster your professional brand and inspire peers. In our new experience, you can participate in the live conversation by raising your hand and joining the speakers, “on stage” to help direct and add to the discussion.”

Since audio-only live events are still in the testing phase, LinkedIn says only a small group of users will be able to host these events when they first roll out. However, anyone will be able to sign up, listen, and participate in these events.

Once the company is satisfied with testing the service over the next few months, the company says it plans to expand the ability to host events to more users, though an exact date when to expect this was not available.

Best Buy is taking a page from the playbooks of Google and Amazon, announcing this week that it has launched its own service to sell online ads on search results across the web.

Best Buy Ads, the new in-house media company, will sell traditional search ads and sponsored product listings across Best Buy’s online marketplace, as well as offsite and in-store.

The service will focus largely on consumer electronics and related products, staying in line with the products already offered by the company.

While the announcement may seem odd, it is clear that e-commerce is becoming a major part of today’s retail market, and advertising is a major component of that. 

Best Buy is also not the only company to take a similar step. In October 2021, Lowe’s announced it was opening its own advertising company – not the mention that Amazon drives huge amounts of revenue through its ad platform. 

As for what makes this platform unique, Best Buy is highly emphasizing its direct connection to customers through their long-established brand:

“We interact with our customers three billion times a year — in our stores, in their homes, and online. These relationships last longer and run deeper than most. Knowing our customers on this level means we can help other brands cut through the clutter with advertising that won’t waste our customers’ time.”

The announcement continues:

“We have spent the past few years building a business that can analyze the data from our customer relationships and recommend relevant ways to connect with customers based on cutting-edge data science and analytics.”

For more information about Best Buy Ads, read the complete announcement here.

After years of criticism around Facebook ad targeting, Meta says it will be restricting the ability to target individuals based on sensitive information, such as their health conditions, religion, or political beliefs.

Specifically, Facebook will be removing targeting options for four distinct categories of audience data:

  • Health causes (targeting interests such as “Chemotherapy” or “World Diabetes Day”)
  • Sexual Orientation (including targeting interests such as “same-sex marriage”)
  • Religious practices or groups 
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and popular political individuals

Starting January 19, 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to target new ads using this highly specific audience information. However, existing campaigns will continue delivering to their targeting audiences using this data through March.

For existing campaigns, you will be able to edit campaign-level information (such as your budget or campaign name) without affecting targeting details until March 17.

If a campaign is paused, though, it will be updated using the new targeting restrictions when resumed.

The vast majority of advertisers should be unaffected by the new ad targeting policies. If you provide medical services or are using ads to promote political efforts, however, you will likely need to review your existing audience targeting and begin planning for a new approach to reach your target audience.

Step aside Google, there’s a new top domain around the world according to the annual rankings of most popular domains globally from Cloudflare. For 2021, TikTok is the top site based on internet traffic.

The full list of the most popular domains in 2021 is:

  1. TikTok.com
  2. Google.com
  3. Facebook.com
  4. Microsoft.com
  5. Apple.com
  6. Amazon.com
  7. Netflix.com
  8. YouTube.com
  9. Twitter.com
  10. WhatsApp.com

This is a big jump from 2020, when the newly popular social network ranked in just 7th place overall, while Google (which includes the variety of services under the Google umbrella, such as Maps and News) seemed safely in the top position. 

Cloudflare’s Year in Review report details TikTok’s rise to dominance over the course of the year:

“It was on February 17, 2021, that TikTok got the top spot for a day. Back in March, TikTok got a few more days and also in May, but it was after August 10, 2021, that TikTok took the lead on most days. There were some days when Google was #1, but October and November were mostly TikTok’s days, including on Thanksgiving (November 25) and Black Friday (November 26).”

What Does This Mean?

To be clear, this is only based on traffic. This does not necessarily mean that TikTok is now the biggest social media platform around the world, let alone the site with the most users.

When looking at the number of distinct users on each platform, most estimates still place the upstart platform behind both Facebook and Instagram – let alone Google.

It is quite clear, though, that TikTok is quickly growing into a force to be reckoned with online. If it isn’t already on your map for your marketing plans in 2022, perhaps this report will cause you to reconsider.

Read the full Cloudflare Year in Review report, which includes stats on the top social networks, e-commerce sites, and streaming sites from the past year, here.