This week, Facebook teased a number of new features it is working on to help brands better connect with their customers and drive more leads across its platforms. 

The upcoming and newly released features highlighted by the company include everything from expanding its existing ad formats to creating entirely new ways to do business online. 

Let’s explore everything showcased in the company’s recent blog post below:

Click-to-Message Ads Come To More Chat Apps

For some time now, Facebook has offered an ad format designed to encourage viewers to take action through its many chat services, like Messenger or WhatsApp. 

Now, the company is updating this ad format to make it possible to reach brands on a wider range of messaging platforms, including those not owned by Facebook. 

While Facebook hasn’t provided an actual list of the messaging apps which will be included in the updated click-to-message ads, the blog post suggests it will include all major messaging apps used by consumers today. 

Start WhatsApp Chats on Instagram

Aside from dropping into someone’s DMs, Instagram has been obviously lacking the robust messaging options included on most Facebook social networks. Now, with integration through WhatsApp, that is changing. 

Now, brands on Instagram can add a click-to-chat button on their profile which will instantly launch a WhatsApp chat conversation when clicked. 

Even better, the company says it is working on ads that will also allow users to immediately start a WhatsApp chat from an advertisement on Instagram. 

Request Quotes on Messenger

Select advertisers are testing an upcoming feature that will allow brands to invite customers to request a quote within Messenger.

With the feature, brands can create a customized request form using 4-5 specific questions to ask potential customers before sending a message. 

Once completed, consumers can request a quote by completing a short questionnaire on Messenger.

Instagram Lead Generation

Though the company is keeping largely mum on the details, it also teased plans to launch free and paid tools for helping small businesses drive qualified leads on Instagram. 

“Advertisers use lead generation ads to connect with customers and connect leads in a more personal way, while reducing costs — like Seoul Spa, a Vietnamese beauty clinic, did with their Messenger campaign, lowering their cost per lead by 72%.”

To see more of the upcoming features Facebook is currently testing, check out the full Facebook for Business blog post here.

Microsoft Advertising announced this week that it will soon start including broad match ad targeting for campaigns using phrase matching. 

The change will occur “mid-May” and is aimed to “simplify keywords and improve your relevancy when reaching customers,” according to the announcement. 

Notably, this means the ad service is keeping in line with Google Ads, who made a similar change in February. 

“So… What Does This Mean For My Ads?”

Essentially, this update means that your ads which are being matched with queries for phrases matching your targeted keyword will also be shown for searches related to the meaning of your keyword. 

For example, Microsoft Advertising says the new system would match a search for “winter vacation in Miami” to the targeted keyword “Miami vacation.”
The company also says it will respect the word order of your keyword “when it’s important – for example, it won’t match ‘milk chocolate’ to the keyword ‘chocolate milk.”

Broad Match Modified Keywords To No Longer Be Offered

With this adjustment, Microsoft Advertising says it will be removing the option to create new broad match modified keywords beginning in August of this year. Existing broad match modified keywords will be treated the same as phrase match keywords. 

With this in mind, there is no need to change over your existing campaigns or keywords.

Planning For This Change

While there is no action for you to take immediately, there are a few things to keep in mind as the update rolls out. 

With the more broad matching included in phrase match campaigns, it will be important to monitor what searches are connecting with your keywords. This more broad approach could lead to potentially irrelevant queries showing your ads. 

On the upside, this change means it should be easier for advertisers to manage their campaigns, especially if they are advertising on both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising.

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.

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.

YouTube has introduced a major change to how it handles advertising which has many content creators, users, and advertisers outraged.

Breaking with its tradition of sharing ad revenue with the channels they are shown on, YouTube is beginning to show ads on channels which have not opted into monetization. 

This means that the channel creator did not approve the inclusion of ads and – perhaps most importantly – they will not receive any revenue from the placement of ads within their videos. 

Until now, video creators had to join the YouTube Partner Program and enable monetization in order for ads to be shown on videos across their channel.

This helped strike a balance where those who wanted could create their videos planning for the inclusion of ads while others could rely on sponsorships to generate revenue or simply not monetize their videos. 

All of this was introduced via a change to YouTube’s Terms of Service with very little communication to users and content creators. 

Right To Monetize

YouTube added a new section to its Terms of Services recently titled Right to Monetize which introduces the ability to advertise on any and all videos. 

In order to use YouTube, all users must agree to the Terms of Service, making it mandatory for uploading videos or even viewing and  engaging with videos. 

A brief selection of the new section largely lays out the changes taking place:

“You grant to YouTube the right to monetize your Content on the Service (and such monetization may include displaying ads on or within Content or charging users a fee for access). This Agreement does not entitle you to any payments.”

Although YouTube says it is starting slowly by rolling out ads to a small number of channels which have not joined the Partner Program, it will be hard to track how true this actually is. The company has chosen not to notify channels when ads begin appearing on their videos, so it is hard to gauge how widely the change has been implemented. 

While YouTube says channels which are not part of the Partner Program can apply for the program if they wish to receive revenue, it is also true that not everyone is eligible for the YouTube Partner Program. 

YouTube Partner Program Requirements

To be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program, channels have to meet a number of conditions. The biggest hurdles for most channels are the requirements stating you must have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months and more than 1,000 subscribers. Adult-oriented topics may also run into issues with content guidelines.

How This Affects Advertisers

The most obvious group affected by this change are small video creators who do not meet the requirements for the YouTube Partner Program but will have ads placed on their videos nonetheless or have opted to not include ads within their videos. 

However, the new ad policies may also have an effect on advertisers. If viewers receive a double-dose of advertising through an in-video sponsorship and mid-roll ad, they may be less likely to engage with either advertisement. 

Additionally, smaller channels may cover more niche topics or themes making it harder to properly target ads to that audience. 

Lastly, the revised rules on advertising may have an unintended consequence of driving more users to YouTube’s ad-free premium service, YouTube Red. This means that although YouTube would keep getting revenue, ads may actually have smaller reach than ever and drive less sales. 

As expected, the new rules have not been warmly received. Countless creators both big and small have uploaded videos decrying the new Terms of Service agreement, with some going as far as to announce they will be changing platforms or altogether boycotting YouTube.

For now it appears YouTube is sticking with the policy change, though there is always the possibility for the platform to amend or revise its agreement if negative response is widespread enough. 

Twitter is rolling out a new form of carousel ads which let you showcase between 2-6 images or videos in a single ad. 

According to the social network, the ads are particularly suited to helping businesses reach their advertising goal with a more immersive and interactive format which includes:

  • An edge-to-edge design
  • Third party measurement reporting
  • Accessibility support
  • New reporting features (such as swipes within the Carousel and breakdowns to measure individual Carousel card performance)

The ads have an edge on most other Twitter advertising formats because they allow you to approach an ad from a variety of different directions. You could highlight a variety of features and benefits of a single product, highlight a small collection of products, or tell a story about your brand. 

Why You Should Try Carousel Ads

Carousel ads have already proven to be a powerful tool on a number of other platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads. 

According to a Nielsen study cited by Twitter, using 3 or more assets in an ad format increases awareness by up to 20% and purchase intent by 7%.

Based on Twitter’s early testing of the ad format, that will continue to be true here. The company says carousel ads saw an average 15% increase in click-through rates compared to traditional single asset ad formats. 

Carousel ads for apps saw an even bigger boost, with an average 24% increase in installs.

Twitter Carousel Ads Best Practices

To help you get started, Twitter provided a set of recommendations and best practices for making the most out of carousel ads:

  • Use all of the available components: Including visuals, headlines, descriptions, and calls-to-action.
  • Tell a story: Craft a visual narrative with a beginning, middle, and end to keep viewers engaged.
  • Consider the audience: Show different product images to re-targeted customers than you would show to new, prospective customers.
  • Highlight the product and its benefits: The product should be visible and there should be clear, simple communication of benefit to the consumer.

Available Now To Everyone

The new ad format is available to all advertisers and marks a renewed effort by Twitter to create a more effective and enticing advertising platform:

“This investment in performance advertising also includes expanding the capabilities of our ad formats to enable advertisers with more options to show and tell their brand story, while providing a more intuitive, engaging experience for people on Twitter.”

Facebook announced a wave of new features this week for online advertisers and retailers heading into the holiday season. 

At the same time it revealed new product tags, new ways to target ads, and an experimental way to share online discounts, the social media giant also announced it was launching promotional tools and support for Black-owned businesses.

Let’s explore the array of new features for brands on Facebook and Instagram:

Product Tags For Instagram Ads

After more than a year of testing, Instagram is officially launching the ability to tag products in ads. Even better, the company has streamlined the process.Originally, advertisers had to make an organic post, tag your products, then promote that post. Now, you can create ads with product tags directly within the Ads Manager. 

When seen, product tags appear as white dots which can expand to reveal a range of details including the name of the product,and its price. 

Shopping Engagement Custom Audiences

Facebook announced a new type of audience targeting aimed at helping brands “reach people who’ve already shown interest in their product or brand by doing things like saving a product, viewing a shop, or initiating a purchase.”

Shopping Lookalike Audiences

Another new way to target audiences was announced, which allows you to reach shoppers with similar interests as your existing customers on Facebook and Instagram. 

Shopping Ad Discounts

Facebook is testing a new way to promote your sales and discounts directly in the Promotions tab within the Commerce Manager.

For example, you can highlight a discount on a specific set of products by grouping them together in product sets. 

At the moment, Facebook only allows you to run a few types of discounts – price reductions, minimum purchase requirement, and discounts using an offer code. 

#BuyBlack Friday

While the Covid pandemic has affected just about every business in America, black-owned businesses have been hit particularly hard. According to Facebook, more than 40% of black-owned businesses in America.

This is why Facebook is launching a new event every Friday through November 27. Every week, Facebook will be promoting #BuyBlackFriday across all its platforms, including publishing a gift guide and business directory of black-owned businesses. 

With many shoppers wary of facing crowded shopping malls and stores, most experts believe online shopping will shatter previous records this winter. Facebook is doing everything it can to make itself one of the premier choices for marketing, advertising, and ultimately selling your products.

Instagram is making it easier for small businesses to get the most out of Instagram Shops with a new mini-site full of resources, guides, and set-up tools. 

Instagram Shops is a free way for businesses to set up an online store and complete sales on one of the most popular social networks.

While Shops require third-party e-commerce parties to handle payment, they make it possible for people to complete the entire purchase without ever needing to leave the Instagram app – making the entire process seamless. 

Since Instagram Shops only launched in May, many businesses may not even know Instagram Shops exist or how to get in on the action for themselves. So, Instagram took the step of putting as many resources in one place as possible to help get started. 

‘The Season For Shops’

The new mini-site is called ‘The Season for Shops’ and caters to brands trying out Instagram Shops for the first time. 

The most important features include:

Setting Up Shop

First and foremost, this guide provides step-by-step instructions for setting up your storefront, including signing up for and connecting accounts across platforms.

Help Guides

Once you’ve got your shop set up, these guides will help you take the next step to make your products easy to browse and purchase. 

Tagging Products

Tagging products in your feed posts, stories, and streams allows people to immediately browse and buy your products as soon as they see them. This is key for making it convenient to go from scrolling through your feed to clicking buy.

To help you get started tagging your products effectively, The Season for Shops site has two guides available:

  • Start Tagging: A 19-page guide with detailed information on the variety of product tag types.
  • Tag With Purpose: A simple guide to the do’s and don’ts of tagging.

Collections

Another important way to make your products easy to browse is by grouping related products into Collections. 

This allows users to browse through your products like any category on your store website. It can also gather related themes like “beach outfits” or “rainy day apparel”.

Find out how to make the most of collections with an 8-page guide outlining all the details and tricks you can use. 

Shopping Ads

Want to take your shop to the next level? By investing a bit of money for shopping ads, you can share your products with a wider audience and increase the chance of finding new customers. 

This can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it, with simple “boosts” which amplify the number of people who see your store or targeted ads which specifically connect with those most likely to purchase. 

As such, Instagram released three guides explaining everything from the basics to more advanced shopping ad strategies:

  • Holiday Shopping Ads Strategy: A simple motivational guide with ideas for advertising in the upcoming holiday season.
  • Set Up Shopping Ads: A 9-page “get started” guide with information explaining what shopping ads are, how to set them up, and how to monitor your results.
  • Custom Shopping Audiences: This 7-page guide details how to target your ads to specific audiences of ideal buyers. 

To check out all the guides for yourself, explore the ‘Season for Shops’ mini-site here.

Google Ads is reducing the amount of information it provides advertisers according to recent alerts many account managers have seen in the past week.

The company says it will soon stop giving advertisers data about search queries triggered when there is not “significant” data.

As the alert says:

“We are updating the search terms report to only include terms that were searched by a significant number of users. As a result you may see fewer terms in your report going forward.”

Why Google is Doing This

According to a statement to Search Engine Land, the search engine made this decision to protect user privacy.

“In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for. We’re continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions.”

What This Means For Advertisers

On one hand, the opinion could be made that Google is streamlining its reports and preventing advertisers from being able to identify users or personal information based on individual queries.

For example, it is not unheard of for advertisers to see search terms made a single time or driving a single click in ad reports. That is likely to go away in the coming days, removing outliers and better protecting users.

On the other hand, many advertisers have expressed frustration over the lack of transparency. The decision to remove this information entirely means advertisers know less about where their money is going.

Additionally, Google hasn’t been entirely clear on what “significant” means, making many wary of what this shift will look like. If it just removes queries with single impressions, then advertisers are likely to accept it and move on. Still, there are countless low-volume queries with no risk to privacy which could be removed if Google decides to use a higher threshold.