What We Learned in September 2017: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute

While the main tech headlines have revolved around new hardware, with all the major players showing off their new products to the press and public, there has been plenty of updates all around the digital marketing and tech landscapes. Google is making changes to appease both publisher and the EU Commission, and Instagram is becoming an advertising juggernaut...

Industry news

Google responds to EU competition commission woes

Google has responded to the EU Commission’s June ruling that it has breached EU antitrust rules by giving an illegal advantage to its comparison shopping engine (CSE). Google’s new plan involves allowing competing CSEs to bid in an auction to have their listings appear alongside Google Shopping’s in the “one-box” at the top of the search results. Google Shopping will also have to bid, and will be run as a separate entity in Europe in an apparent attempt at a level playing field. We are sceptical that the playing field will truly be all that level - it’s not clear what operating costs the new Google Shopping unit will have to bear - and this also feels like a step up in complexity for individual retailers who will now need to manage competitive listings on multiple platforms. We anticipate that it will be hard for retailers to get visibility into why an individual listing on a given CSE does or does not appear in the Google one-box.

Read the full story (Search Engine Land)

First Click Free is dead

Google has recently announced that it will abandon its ‘First Click Free’ policy, whereby users are allowed to read three free articles a day on otherwise paywalled publications, or the website in question wouldn’t appear prominently in search results. Publishers have hailed the change as a victory, but many (including Distilled CEO Will Critchlow) question whether the replacement is any better.

Read the full story (The Guardian)

Apple drops Bing in favour of Google for Siri web search

Apple has announced a switch to Google as its provider of web searches from within Siri (on iOS) and Spotlight (on mac). Google already powers web searches within Safari and pays Apple a lot (an estimated $3 billion in 2017) in so-called “Traffic Acquisition Costs” (TAC) for the privilege. It’s not yet clear whether more money will be changing hands as part of the updated deal, particularly as the integration will reportedly be API-only and show only organic results, with no ads. Is it possible Apple is even paying Google (or at least reducing the TAC Google pays for the Safari integration)?

Read the full story (Tech Crunch)

Google updates AdWords to tackle Apple ITP problem

Apple has recently signalled its intention to roll out ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) as part of a Safari update, which is aimed at limiting the cross-browsing data that third-party trackers can capture. This poses a headache for Google AdWords. In short, Google’s solution involves a new analytics cookie that will be used to capture conversion data in a way that confirms to ITP.

Read the full story (Search Engine Land)

The super-aggregators

Facebook’s handling of news aggregation has become a highly sensitive and politicised topic over the last 12 months. It has been criticised for censoring too much, not censoring enough and having no real solution to the fake news problem. Ben Thompson of Stratechery argues that Facebook (and others) have become super aggregators, and breaks down potential ways to effectively regulate these massively-powerful companies.

Read the full story (Stratechery)

Apple and Amazon lead new hardware launches

It’s the season for the tech giants to launch their new wares, and Amazon feels like the brand with the most innovative and interesting products being released. The e-commerce company has been in the hardware business for some years now, but its new round of Echo hardware (including the Echo 2, Echo Spot, Echo Plus and more) shows it is still experimenting to see what resonates and drives widescale adoption. And the Apple event didn’t exactly slip under the radar either...

Read the full story (QZ)

Instagram hits huge 2-million monthly advertisers mark

In September, two million businesses bought ads on Instagram. This figure is double the amount bought in March and four times the amount bought in September 2016. Facebook regularly gets five million monthly ad buyers. The purchase and subsequent integration of Instagram by Facebook has, of course, accelerated the growth of advertising with a large overlap of advertisers promoting their products and services on both social platforms.

Read the full story (Marketing Land)

Ahrefs crawlers now executing JavaScript

Ahrefs has announced it will now crawl links found in JavaScript. According to the company, it “will only execute JavaScript if a page has more than 15 referring domains pointing at it”. This currently works out to be about 30 million of the ~6 billion pages it crawls every day and results in the discovery of an additional 250 million links in JS.

Read the full story (Ahrefs)

Google searchers using location modifiers less and less

Google has personalised search based on location for a number of years, and has consistently gotten better at it. However, there has been a question mark around the overall understanding and adoption of implicit aspects by searchers. Recent data would suggest that people are finally getting used to the idea. For example searches including the phrase “near me” is declining, while comparable searches without the location modifier have grown by 150% this year alone.

Read the full story (Think with Google)

Distilled news

SearchLove London 2017 is now just 11 days away. For any last-minute decision making, we’ve compiled the 8 biggest reasons to join us at this year’s conference. You can pick up your tickets here. Senior Designer Leonie Wharton has compiled the most interesting creative work we’ve produced this year, while Principal Consultant Ben Estes had updated his very popular technical audit checklist.

Over on the Moz blog, Robin Lord has written an epic post on how he built a chat bot from scratch (and how you can too), and Zee Hoffman Jones has been laying down the checklist for competitive analyses (protip: Zee will cover this in even more detail at SearchLove London).

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