2018 Digital Marketing Update

January 4, 2018

The digital marketing world is constantly evolving and as digital marketing employees and enthusiasts, it is important to always stay on top of the digital marketing world. Take a look at 5 major changes to the digital marketing landscape which will affect how you do business in 2018.

Google Adwords is testing images on search ads


Google is in an interesting position for their search ads, they are by a large margin the largest search engine in the world and according to Alexa.com, Google is the most popular site in the world. Google has always ensured that search ads do not take away from their organic search experience to allow for an enhanced user experience. Google has now begun testing images in their sitelink extension.

 

Image source 

For those who don’t know the site link extension allows you to have your ad link to different pages of your website. This is great if you are a company offering multiple products or services. Or if you just want to draw the viewer’s attention to different areas of your website. Based on the above demo I believe Google has done a good job bringing a visual element to their search ads.

Websites with images get more views, Facebook posts with images receive better engagements, and people commit to reading blog posts with images for longer durations. There is no secret that the addition of engaging visuals creates new opportunities for PPC advertisers. The current issue that Google needs to be aware of is that this can hurt the organic experience on Google. The user will now be more naturally be drawn to a paid ad and thus fewer people will reach the organic listings. SEO marketers will need to be aware of this new potential threat to their industry.

This is still just in a test phase for Google an I am confident that they will be hesitant in launching this update until they are sure it will not take away from the organic Google experience.

 

2) Google will now allow meta description length to be 320 characters long.

As always Google looks to improve not just there AdWords experience but their organic user experience as well. This is a change SEO enthusiasts will love. While not directly affecting SERP rankings the meta description is one of the most powerful tools to get people to actually engage with on your Google listing.

While writing a meta description it is important to remember two key details. The first is to stuff high-quality keywords into the meta description without sounding forced. Google will automatically highlight searched words in a meta description helping to draw a users eye. Having more search terms in the description increases the odds of this happening. Be careful though as it is more important for a meta description to maintain a good readability.

The second is to add a call to action, with 160 characters it was hard to fit good engaging CTA’s. Often times we were forced to use short generic CTA’s like “Learn more” but now with double the character there will be a lot more room for creative CTA’s

In addition to being able to make your own description longer, Google will now pull well-written meta descriptions that answer a search query as a featured snippet. Search snippets are highlighted by Google and are almost a sure thing to increase organic views.

An example a meta description that Google is using as a featured snippet.

 

3. Facebook is testing removing the “News Feed” in favor of an “Explore Feed”

 

As you may expect Facebook is rolling out a number of exciting new updates that will support marketing endeavors such as a new click to WhatsApp messaging button Ads and a new open beta Facebook AR platform which is great for growing brands.

Image source

Not all Facebook upcoming changes are being received positively. Facebook is toying with the idea of replacing the news feed with their explore feed.

The explore feed can be checked out now, The feed offers great potential for organic growth as Facebook users will automatically see content that is similar to their interests. Brands and companies will be able to reach a whole new audience completely free.

While that sounds nice the explore feed creates a whole new world of issues, perhaps the biggest issue is this feeds goal is to find new content. Updates from friends and from companies you already follow will have a lower chance of showing up on your feed. This is potentially detrimental to Facebook pages that have a strong follower base. While previously an engaging piece of content could easily reach a majority of your page’s followers now fans of your page will need to take an additional step to see your content and will not see it naturally in their news feed.

It is also not yet clear how advertisements will work on the explore feed. While the explore feed offers opportunities for growth I have found it to be mostly meme’s relating to content I have loosely related interest in. As an additional outlet the Explore feed is fine, even a great addition to Facebook but once it takes over for the news feed as the front page of Facebook it can hurt marketing efforts of social media managers and advertisers.

4. Augmented Reality is growing on multiple platforms.

AR or Augmented reality has blown up over the last couple years ever since the release of Pokemon Go. As mentioned Facebook is already playing with new AR functionality for developers and other social media outlets such as Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube will surely be enhancing their AR features as well. The tech industry is already paving the way for AR with for example Google Pixel 2 already boasting a great AR camera which you can use to have virtual interactions with Stranger Things Characters.

The toy industry has already developed the AR trend with some of the hottest Christmas toys based on delivering an enhanced user experience to a traditional remote control toy. This Video from Techcrunch shows off how Star Wars is using AR to enhance their holiday toys, worth a watch for sure!

 

While the big social media’s are still rolling out their AR experiences companies have been finding ways to bring AR to enhance their marketing and user experiences. The Toronto Maple Leafs for example recently added AR experiences to their app which can be used to watch videos, enter contests and receive discounts when prompted to use the AR features.

5. The rise of AI is here

Google Home Mini on display at their product launch with District 28

Whether it’s the Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Apple HomePod I am sure you know someone who has recently purchased or been gifted a home replacement tool. These home assistant are used entirely with voice and Google’s inexpensive $40 price point for the Home Mini made the home assistant even more readily available.

The time of mobile first design may be coming to an end as the AI intelligence of Google’s assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri continues to not only improve but to become available on more devices as well.

At Google’s product launch near the end of 2017, they made one thing clear, the Google Assistant will be on as many products as they can get it. Almost all of their, major announcements featured AI in one way or another.

Any web developers out there should definitely get ahead of the curve and start reading up on how AI first design works, for some material to get started check out Ai-first.design.

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