Monthly Industry Roundup: February 2016

Digital Marketing Roundup

Location3 Media News: February was a big month in digital marketing with Google’s decision to eliminate right-rail ads dominating our focus as well as the rest of the industry’s. We took an extensive look at how that change could affect PPC, local listings and organic search.


We also spent a couple of days in San Antonio for the 56th annual International Franchise Association Convention. It was our ninth straight year of involvement with the annual convention as a dedicated IFA Supplier Forum Member.  As always, it was a great time and opportunity to discuss the future of franchise marketing.


Google Ends Right-Rail Ads

Perhaps the biggest news from February, if not the last year as it relates to PPC, Google has removed text ads from showing up on the right side of the search results, aligning the desktop and mobile experience while also asserting a change for the better in regards to relevancy and user experience. This change certainly will make an impact on engine metrics and KPIs, and some advertisers will be impacted more than others. As you can imagine, there have been echoes from all corners of the industry about the change. Here is Location3’s take, in addition to some other usual suspects:

Google Gets Tougher on Bots

In a systems update, Google has rolled out a change that automatically filters out bot traffic from top violators. Although click fraud has been mostly removed across the ad networks, the feature illustrates Google’s commitment to platform quality.


Fewer People Buying Tablets


Over the last year, there has been a 14% decline in sales. Many think it is because most users don’t have the budgets for a personal computer, smartphone and tablet. Detachables however are still seeing good sales numbers, as those who do not have the budget for a desktop or laptop computer are looking to these devices to serve as a more cost efficient replacement.


comScore Purchases Rentrak

comScore has purchased Rentrak (a TV measurement company which measures viewership numbers through data provided by cable and satellite providers set top boxes). This will put comScore in line to compete more directly with Nielsen, and will allow them to develop reporting that combines both online and offline viewership/engagement with a brand. comScore can track all devices connected to the household’s IP, while Rentrak provides the connection to offline viewing behaviors getting much closer to being able to provide a full attribution picture.

TV Ads Can Affect Search Behaviors

While this article focuses on auto commercials and an auto search engine, the amount of lift that was seen from running a TV spot was significant. While these numbers could beinflated because it was the Super Bowl that commands a large attentive audience, there could be similar effects for spots during primetime programs and other special events. Just maybe not to this scale.


Facebook Now Offering Live Video Streaming


You (the streamer) will be able to see who is watching and for how long, as well as a live stream of comments. This puts them competing head to head with Twitter’s Periscope and other live streaming services.


J. Crew Nails Native Content


We are often asked how we measure the effectiveness of content. Site metrics provide valuable insights, but I accidentally discovered a new bar: having no idea that what you’re reading and sharing is content marketing.

As a content strategist, it’s pretty hard to fool me with even the most well-masked native content, but recently J. Crew got me good. I received my daily 5 articles from (highly recommend as an excellent source of curated content) and clicked through to an article on wearing a uniform as an adult. I read all of “Alice Gregory on Finding a Uniform,” enjoying her quality writing and original thoughts on the upside of wearing the same thing every day. It wasn’t until I went back to share with two fashion industry friends that I realized it was a J. Crew blog and Alice’s uniform just so happened to include the “J. Crew matchstick jean in classic rinse.” I had been had! But what a great measuring tape for content production: if I read this without any brand context, would it be valuable, useful, interesting or entertaining? If the answer is no, it’s time to request a round of revision.


Google’s Cover and Profile Photos

Google My Business just received a critical feature it has been missing for months; the ability to upload cover and profile images directly from the GMB interface and GMB API. Previously this action had to be completed manually, which made it challenging to scale. While we test out this new feature, we will maintain the photo uploading technology we first developed to make bulk uploading possible – just in case Google has some bugs.

Google Ends Right-Side Ads: Local Listing Perspective


Google’s latest SERP update has reduced the overall real estate available to brands and advertisers. With the right-rail ads being removed and overall ad inventory being reduced from as many as 11 to seven, all other search results now have increased in SERP share, including local listings and organic results.


Google Analytics Announcing Autotrack for analytics.js

As the web becomes more complex, it is becoming a bigger challenge for the default one-size-fits-all JavaScript snippet from Google Analytics to track all the relevant user interactions.

Many companies rely on IT to create customized solutions to capture certain interactions. This not only increases IT cost, but also increases complexity in collecting data from customized interactions.

To solve this problem, Google announced its Autotrack solution for analytics.js on February 18.  Autotrack for analytics.js is a new solution that attempts to leverage as many Google Analytics features as possible while requiring minimal manual implementation.

It gives developers a foundation for tracking data relevant to today’s modern web and offers many built-in functions as plugins, making tasks, such as outbound link and form tracking automatic.

If you’re using the default Google Analytics tracking snippet today, you should take advantage of many features from Autotrack right away. If you have made many customizations to your snippet, please check out the documentation on Autotrack here to gain a better understanding of how the source code works and use it accordingly for your tracking needs.


Google Rep Adds Ambiguity to Panda Rollout

In a Google+ hangout, Google rep John Mueller had some interesting comments regarding the Panda rollout. As we understand it, Panda is continuously rolled out with updates being constant and realized in real-time. Mueller adds that, “So from what I am aware of, the Panda algorithm is rolling more or less continuously, in the sense that one update rolls out and the next update gets prepared and starts rolling out as well.” There appears to be a contradiction when Mueller says the next update is prepared. Maybe it was simply a matter of confusing semantics? At the least, it’s something to take notice of as we try to understand the Google machine.

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