Digital Marketing Trends from February 2016: Facebook Reactions, Google AdWords Changes and Instant Articles

February has seen some major changes to some key digital marketing platforms - including Google AdWords and Facebook. Some happened rather suddenly and others had already been predicted so read on if you want to keep up to date with what happened this month in digital.

Google removed right-hand side ads

As part of an overhaul of the layout of our search results, Google have removed their right-hand side adverts. Whilst the new search results look cleaner and simpler for users (which is Google’s main priority), there are both positives and negatives for brands who are using PPC to bring in traffic to their website.

Most obviously, the less ads on a search results page, the more expensive the top positions are likely to be. Previously, if you were appearing on positions 4–6 in AdWords, at least you got some brand visibility and the occasional click. However, that exposure isn’t available anymore and so you have to work harder on your campaigns (and maybe invest a little more) to make sure your ads appear in those key positions. 

Google's Right Hand Side Ads

One positive of this change is that, once the algorithm has churned out the ads for a page, you only have a handful of other ads to compete with for your user’s attention. Before, you had to compete with the top three ads, the right hand side ads and then also the organic results. However, now you only have to compete with the top ads and the organic search results.

If you want to read more about what the change means for marketers and users, Search Engine Watch has a really insightful article on the PPC overhaul.

Key Takeaway: Have you revisited your campaign since the change? Make sure that your campaigns are optimised as well as they can be and that you increase your budget if you have to. 

Facebook releases Canvas for content marketers

Facebook have released a new ad style for marketers who want to promote more engaging content to attract new customers or engage with their existing followers.

It’s called Canvas and the basic premise of the ad is that, once clicked, the user will be taken to a full screen, interactive ad which allows the user to swipe and tilt their phone to move from one ‘slide’ to the other. Each slide may have a different piece of information, fun fact, offer or inspirational quote - whatever your content needs.

Many marketers are already evaluating the potential for this ads to promote home improvement brands where users can swipe their way around a beautiful new kitchen, or for holiday companies where users can swipe their way around a luxurious beach resort. 

To see a Canvas ad in action, take a look at this video.

An added positive is that these Canvas ads cost around the same as a News Feed Ad - albeit you also need to invest in development time of the ad to whoever produces it.

Key Takeaway: Most smaller brands may not have the skill set or investment to properly look into Canvas ads but the main thing to takeaway here is that we are seeing a huge shift in the way we advertise our brands on Facebook. Users don’t want ‘sales-y’ ads, they want immersive and engaging experiences so try and bear this in mind when creating ads and content for your campaigns.

Facebook battles with Google for fast-loading content on mobile devices

If you read Buzzfeed or The Guardian, you might have seen that if you click on one of their articles from Facebook you weren’t taken to their site. You will probably have been taken to a full-screen, stripped back version of the article which loaded very quickly (in comparison to if you had gone to their site).

This is because they (along with other publishers) were a part of Facebook’s Instant Articles. These articles prioritised fast-loading on mobile devices so that users didn’t get annoyed when waiting too long for an article to load. 

Mobile Articles

It looks like Facebook is making these articles available for everybody. Whilst this does sound like a good thing - users aren’t waiting too long to read your content - there’s also the fact that users aren’t being taken to your website.

Google have also released a very similar program - called Accelerated Mobile Pages - which loads articles quickly and efficiently within the search results themselves.

Key Takeaway: This new development from two of the biggest marketing platforms suggests that in the future, we may have to accept that our content won’t be exclusively on our own website. Users may also rarely leave Facebook once there and so we may have to have less of a focus on measuring ‘traffic from social’ when monitoring our analytics. 

Facebook launches Reactions

One of the most noticeable changes to Facebook this month has been the introduction of reactions. Now users can do a lot more than ‘like’ a status, they can also leave one of the following reactions: ‘love’, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’ and ‘angry’. As emojis have grown and become more widely used, this makes perfect sense. 

Facebook Reactions

But what about marketers?

When we post a status on Facebook, we can see how our customers react by how many likes we get. But now we get a much better idea on sentiment. Do they like it or love it? Are they angry with this? Did they find it funny?

Want to discuss any of these features?

If you want to have a chat about any of these features and how you can take advantage of them as a brand, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout on Twitter at @Statement or send us a message.

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