Internet Marketing News September Recap

As we say goodbye to summer, let’s recap the top Internet marketing news from September. Last month brought plenty of redesigns of logos, apps, and websites, as well as new apps, ad formats, and partnerships that help shape digital marketing. Let’s dive in!

Google

  • Google has switched all searches over to encrypted searches utilizing HTTPS. While Google claims this to be focused on user security, it brings (Not Provided) to nearly 100%. Marketers will not be able to utilize Google Analytics for keyword level metrics but rather have base recommendations on webmaster tools or third party software.
  • Google Trends adds charts and 30 days of historical hot searches. The trending charts can be sorted by highest current search volume as well as largest difference within a category. The 30 days of hot searches allow marketers to select a specific day and see an archive of the list of hottest searches of that day.
  • AdWords debuts offline conversion tracking where advertisers can import offline conversions derived from paid search right into AdWords. When users click on an ad, they are automatically given a unique click ID that identifies them specifically. Once the user completes a sale, it can be imported into AdWords as that ID number. Then online and offline conversions are placed side by side so marketers can optimize their campaigns appropriately.
  • AdWords debuted Ready Image Ads and Ready Ad Gallery which can empower advertisers to create HTML5 compatible display ads without design experience. Advertisers add the URL and the ads are built automatically based on images from your site. These can then be further customized by changing the text, font, color, headline, image, and display URL.
  • In the latest software update to Google Glass, Google gives glass users universal search. This will allow users to see news articles, videos, and images, along with regular text results as they would on a desktop or mobile search.
  • Google officially launched an App Launcher navigation button next to the search bar, which allows users to easily toggle to different Google apps like Maps, Play, and YouTube. In addition, Google made a small tweak to their logo making it flatter. Below is the new logo.

 New Google Logo

  • Google announced the next version of its Android 4.4 operating system will be called KitKat. They also released the below comical video announcing its new features. I can’t imagine which company they are poking fun at…

  • Google updated their Android search app to feature more Google Now features. Google Play lists the following as new features: related website for current location, real-time sports and flight updates, ability to set reminders from Google searches for album & book releases, TV shows, car rental reservations from Gmail, event tickets, improved public transit card, additional Smart-TV cards for news & music currently on TV, the ability to tell family & friends when you’ve left work, and to choose calendars and edit reminders
  • While celebrating its 15th Birthday, Google announced “Hummingbird” the biggest change to their algorithm in recent history. Hummingbird is positioned to be an entirely different engine, launched a month ago, focused on conversational search queries. Search Engine Journal’s Danny Sullivan put together an easy to understand FAQ on Hummingbird.
  • Google also updated its Knowledge graph to feature comparison charts and filters. Comparison charts allow users to see knowledge graph cards side by side while filters allow users to self-select themes when Google’s Image carousel is returned
  • Google began to roll out a “more unified design” version of its smartphone and tablet version of its SERP where results are grouped into info cards optimized for touch. Below are screenshots of how it looks on iPad and iPhone.

 unified iPad SERP

 unified iphone SERP

Bing

  • Bing also saw redesigns this month, the largest being a new logo and SERP layout. Both will be rolling out slowly and provide Bing a more modern feel. Bing went back to the two column approach merging snapshots and social sidebar together. The Bing App also got an upgrade which features a new homepage menu and Facebook and twitter sharing options. The homepage offers quick access to Maps, Image Search, Trends and Weather.
  • Bing News and Video also received facelifts this month. Bing video serves content from YouTube, Vimeo, Hulo, Dailymotion, Vevo, MTV, CBS, and MSN and now features search filters, pop-out hover previews, and improved video overlays. Bing News now has a redesigned trending topic navigation, trending now section, and a responsive design for access across all devices. Trending now includes topics from Facebook and Twitter.
  • Bing is testing deep links within the search box results, as well as, a secondary level on search results. The first allows users to refine their search when still searching from page zero. The latter provides another level of links. Below are image examples from Search Engine land.

 Bing Search Box Results

 Bing In Depth site links

  • Bing and Local Corporation’s Krillion announced a deal which would allow Bing to display local in-stock product data in search results. Bing says the data will help users uncover which brands and categories are in store, while not affecting the way Bing ranks results.
  • Bing Ads released their new API, version 9 which features: the ability for bulk uploads and download, support for AdWords enhanced campaign data, addition of GetBudgetLandscape method to the Optimizer service, ability to report on ad group in ad extension report and individual campaigns in budget reports, and more.
  • As announced back in June, Apple’s Siri dropped the use of Google in favor of Bing and Twitter.  Siri is still limited when it comes to conversational search and shows web results in the Siri app, not Safari. This limits the amount of Ads Bing can serve for Siri enabled searches.
  • Microsoft acquired Nokia’s hardware business for a total of around $7.2 billion right after Labor Day Weekend. This should help Microsoft create the hardware needed to better compete in the mobile space.

Yahoo!

  • After all of the logo hype in August, Yahoo released their new logo. Below is the video announcement

  • Yahoo rolled out a new user experience for the popular Yahoo! Answers. The site is now optimized for mobile, and allows users to incorporate images and videos making it much more social. Other features include infinite scrolling, activity notifications, personalized homepages, and activity streams. It’s starting to sound like a social network doesn’t it?
  • Yahoo has also redesigned “My Yahoo,” Yahoo’s personalized portal similar to iGoogle that shows email, calendar, stocks, sports, weather, and web content a user is interested in. My Yahoo allows for dragging and dropping columns, modules and theme options to perfectly personalize it.
  • Yahoo launched a video-viewing iOS app dubbed Yahoo Screen.  The new app is a portal for Yahoo’s video partners like ABC News and Martha Stewart as well as newly announced Viacom, which will include clips from Comedy Central. The app currently does not feature advertising but will roll them out eventually saying the company is “looking at the most engaging ad formats for Yahoo and our users overtime.”
  • Yahoo Maps also received a redesign. While the data still heavily relies on Nokia and Bing, the new Yahoo maps features pedestrian and public transportation routing, real-time traffic, Arial images, integration with Flickr, and an overall more consistent feel with the other Yahoo properties.

Facebook

  • Facebook’s Instagram announced it has over 150 million monthly active users, with 60%+ residing outside of the US. Instagram hit 100 million back in February. Vine, Instagram’s biggest competitor announced in April it had 40 million registered users, far less than Instagram. Instagram also released a new iOS7 app that was specifically designed around the new operating system.
  • In hopes to demonstrate Facebook’s capability to be a hub for real-time conversations, similarly to what Twitter is becoming, Facebook launched two APIs. These APIs help publishers track and incorporate conversations taking place on the social network, the first showing all public posts tied to a specific word, the other breaks down the conversation by demographics.
  • As been highly rumored, Facebook tests mobile Auto-Play news feed videos which play similarly to how Instagram’s videos play when a user hovers over them. The roll out begins with individuals, musicians, and bands and will roll out to advertisers once the user experience is figured out.
  • Building from its announcement back in June to attempt to streamline and simplify ads, Facebook rolled out bigger and uniform image and canvas sizes for all ad formats. Below are the changes to the Page like and page post link ads.

 Facebook Page Like Ads

 Facebook Post Link Ads

Twitter

  • Twitter announces plan for an IPO with, of course, a tweet saying “We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.” Twitter is the next major online technology company to file for an IPO after Facebook.
  • Twitter added CBS to its Amplify partnership, the largest to date.  The Amplify program allows broadcasters to share additional video content with viewers on the second screen. Twitter now has deals with A&E, Discovery, MLB.com, Time, and now CBS. Fox just announced a similar partnership with Fox Sports.
  • At the end of September, Nielsen launched Twitter TV Ratings which allows television networks and advertisers industry-standard metrics for this second screen viewing.
  • Twitter also announced an exclusive feature to its verified user base. It will allow these users to filter Twitter mentions to help identify which conversations are the most important to them.
  • Topsy has full indexed 425 billion tweets, which means users can search through every tweet since Twitter’s inception. This is great news as the ability to search through older tweets has been difficult since the Google and Twitter partnership ended in 2011.

Google+

  • Google+ enhances the authorship program with a partnership with WordPress and Typepad where bloggers can sign into their respective platforms using their Google+ account. This will automatically tie the authorship to their account without having to go through the previously defined steps.
  • Google+ also followed Facebook & Twitter in allowing users to embed posts on any site. Below is an example using the Catalyst Google+ Page.


YouTube

  • YouTube announced it would add an offline viewing option to its mobile application in November. While they didn’t specify on the technology that would empower  offline viewing, Google said the feature would allow users to “add videos to their device to watch for a short period of time when an internet connection is unavailable.”
  • YouTube is updating its comments section to be custom per user utilizing Google+. A “Top comments” section is already being rolled out but users will now see comments grouped by “popular personalities,” engaged discussions,” and by people you already are connected with via YouTube or Google+. YouTube now allows video owners to delete comments that contain certain words in hopes to help clean up the section.
  • YouTube has announced the launch of royalty-free Audio Library. This allows video creators to pair their videos with their choice from 150 available tracks.

Pinterest

  • Pinterest has been experimenting with promoting pins which would be the company’s first step into advertising. Pinterest promises these new ads will be tasteful, transparent, relevant, and will adapt based on feedback.
  • Another first for Pinterest, the company hired employees abroad adding a country manager in France and the UK to help grow Pinterest in Europe.

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn is rolling out sponsored job postings directly on the user’s feed in addition to the “Jobs You May Be Interested In” section on the right rail. This puts job ads alongside organic updates like news and updates on both desktop and mobile.

Foursquare

  • Foursquare updated its search capabilities to allow users to search for individual menu items when looking for a restaurant. Foursquare is able to do this via their partnership with SinglePlatform, where restraints can update menus instantly on the mobile app, website, and even Facebook.
  • Foursquare is increasing the size of its “Superuser Program” with a new automated test launching soon. Superusers are able to edit business listings and are currently approved manually by the Foursquare support team.

Yelp

  • Yelp updates its iOS app to include a new photo viewer, placement of bookmarked business, improvements to review highlights, and new search filters to help users find the specific type of business they are looking for. Now Yelp offers 15 search filters, below is a screen shot of the app that shows some of the new filters.

Yelp Search Filters

What’s New at Catalyst?

Have any questions about any of the above stories or think we missed something? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, be sure to check back in early November for our October monthly recap!

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