Marketing Minutes & Trends – January 2021

Everything you need to know about January 2021 marketing insights to make you a better, smarter marketer.

With over 90% of the search engine market share, Google is undoubtedly the powerhouse of the digital marketing and search landscapes. Chances are: you’ve had to adjust your 2020 and 2021 marketing strategies due to almost a whole year of coronavirus-related changes. Because of this shift in buying and spending behavior, consumers are now spending more time and money on digital platforms more than ever before, making it the perfect time to brush up on updates to the Google My Business and Apple iOS changes to be sure to reach your full advertising potential during these virtual times.

Google Ads Offers New Smart Bidding Exclusions

Many Google Ads managers use Google Smart Bidding on their search, display, or shopping campaigns in an attempt to keep costs down and clicks and conversions up, while maintaining a competitive ad position. Smart Bidding is a subset of automated bid strategies that use machine learning to optimize for conversions or whatever your campaign objective is set to in your campaign settings. To date, automatic bidding has been looked at by most as a “DIY” business strategy, used by someone who may not be as well versed in optimizations and who may not have the time to constantly monitor bids. Most seasoned campaign managers will either use a bid management tool, bidding scripts, or even just manual monitoring to keep their bids competitive. 

To ensure accurate data to set the correct bids, Google has introduced new data exclusions to Smart Bidding. With these new exclusions, we are now moving closer to bridging the gap between manual and automatic bidding. In the past, most of Google’s automation has been a black box, leaving campaign managers completely in the dark, mainly due to the secrecy of their algorithm and user privacy. Smart Bidding uses auction-time bidding to calculate how much to bid on a particular user. If the user is showing signals matching that of past converters, it will bid more aggressively to help ensure a conversion. 

With the new exclusions option, you now can remove specific days from your bid strategy that may not have had usable conversion data. This could be caused by a number of reasons, such as conversions not firing correctly or if tags were accidentally removed from the site. Being able to remove this data will help better fine-tune the bidding algorithm by only using accurate data to make its bidding decisions. Until now, if you had a bad week or month of conversion tracking problems, you’d have to either accept the inaccuracies that the algorithm would now be using as bidding intel, or you could switch to manual bidding temporarily while you build up new conversion data for smart bidding to base its bid decisions.

Sarah Kaiser, Digital Marketing Specialist at GRO, says this change was necessary for accurate data, “Since Google’s machine learning is using all of your campaigns’ conversion data, any time the conversions aren’t being tracked, can throw off the machine learning. Being able to exclude a date range from the data set when there are known issues is a great addition to Smart Bidding.”

New Performance Reporting for Google My Business

If you own or manage a business, you should have a Google My Business profile to manage your business listing. Once a verified user, you’ll have access to Google Insights which provides data to understand how customers interact with your listing. This month, Google announced rolling out new performance reports in the My Business Insights section. Logged in to your Google My Business profile, “Insights” will take you to profile performance, where you’ll now be able to view your business interactions including calls and messages, as well as total number of searches that triggered your listing, and the top search words.

Another change made to the reporting is expanding the date range of data so users can now see data going back six months, instead of the three months of data that was previously available.

With the addition of this data, previously reported metrics have disappeared with this update. Google’s new report no longer includes websites visited or directions initiated, and also does not display the number of photo views and the quality of photos metrics.

Abby Beene, Account Manager at GRO, says the previous photo metrics were useful for business owners. “For us, when we set up a client’s business in Google My Business, adding their best photos is an important part. Not being able to view the photo metrics and quality of photos we’re uploading puts us in the dark no longer knowing if the photos we choose are optimal for the best display.”

We’re hopeful that Google will plan to resurface these metrics that were taken away once the new changes have been in place a little longer. To aid the learning curve, Google has created a new help document to help marketers navigate the changes. If you have questions or need assistance with the updates, try checking out the Help Document found here.

Apple iOs Update

Perhaps one of the biggest shifts we’ll see in social advertising this quarter, Facebook Ads and Apple iOS 14 have announced big changes coming in early 2021. You may have already seen the Apple iOS update notification popping up on most Ads Managers right now, making us brace for impact.

Starting in early 2021, Apple will begin pushing out a notification to Facebook and Instagram App users allowing them to opt out of data tracking “across Apps and Websites owned by other companies,” meaning Apps will need to ask iOS users for their permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies, but does not apply to Apple’s own internal tracking.

This will be a challenge, but we always find a creative way to reach our audience. Buried in the iOS (Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising) is a feature that defaults to having personalized ads turned on. In this setting, it states, “Turning off personalized ads will limit Apple’s ability to deliver relevant ads to you but will not reduce the number of ads you receive.” Basically, anything native to the iPhone will still collect data to best serve you ads, but if turned off, the ads won’t necessarily be relevant to you.

We’re looking forward to learning from this update and navigating how we can adjust and evolve with the change. Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs where we will be updating you on our findings of the impact we are seeing from this change, and any new tactics we have found that work well to combat it. Follow us on social media to stay in the know about the latest marketing news and updates!