It’s been another big week at Google This Week with the US Congress investigation and rumours around Google using clicks and user data in search. Google is, as always, testing out a bunch of new features in Search and they’re adding a lot of new support for audio ads. With privacy concerns on the rise, Google have also added a lot of privacy protection features to Google Analytics.
ICYMI, here’s what happened at Google This Week.
- US Congress Investigation Suggests Google May Use Clicks and User Data in Search
- Google Adds Ad Disclosure Schema
- Google Tests “Also in the News” Box
- Categorised Sections in Google Search Results
- Google Partners with Zapier to Automatically Update Customer Match Lists
- Google Adds Call Button to Local Panel
- More Data Collection Control in Google Analytics
- Maximize Conversions Bidding in App Campaigns
- New Ads Solutions for Gaming Businesses
- Google Asks Searchers How Fast a Site Loaded
- Google Updated Search Console API Infrastructure
- Google Adds Lead Forms to YouTube and Discovery Campaigns
- Google Ad Manager Expands Support for Audio Ads
- New Audio Capabilities in Google Display & Video 360
US Congress Investigation Suggests Google May Use Clicks and User Data in Search
Rand Fishkin went through the US Congress documents from the hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google” that was held last week. Fishkin believes according to this document Google uses “user signals, like clicks” in Google Search.
SEOs are gonna LOVE this one:
– Yes, Google uses “user signals, like clicks.”
– Yes, Google has a measure of “domain” authority.
– Yes, they machine-learn against human rating data
All those denials all those years, but here it is, all laid out in the internal docs. /4 pic.twitter.com/1ayo8mAGK7
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) July 30, 2020
The line referenced is “Continued investment in user signals, like clicks. Our search users create the first level of network effect of search quality and we are investing in this heavily.” It does not specifically state that Google uses this as a “direct” ranking signal in Search. Pedro Dias, an ex-googler commented saying “Google never said they don’t look at clicks, or use them. They said they don’t use them *directly for ranking*.”
If only folks would do a better job at interpretation than tinfoil hattery and confirmation bias. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Google never said they don’t look at clicks, or use them. They said they don’t use them *directly for ranking*
I don’t see anywhere inferring use of a domain authtority https://t.co/grmY8AEycv
— Pedro Dias (@pedrodias) July 31, 2020
Google Adds Ad Disclosure Schema
As privacy takes centre stage at Google this week, Google has announced updates to how it plans to inform users about ads, including a new type of schema. Google is testing a new Ads Transparency Spotlight tool that relies on an Ad Disclosure schema to inform users about the ads they see. The tool is available as a Chrome extension or on Edge.
So far, the tool will only show information about ads purchased through Google Ads that include the schema. The aim is to let users see “detailed information about all the ads they see on the web”, so far the tool simply lists the number of ads detected and the platforms used to buy them – currently just Google. The idea is to add information about why an ad was served and include other controls in the tool but it will only work if advertisers adopt the schema.
Google Tests “Also in the News” Box
Last week we reported that Google was testing a “for context” section within Top Stories. Now, Google is testing “also in the news” carousel boxes under the Top Stories section in Search. The box has stories from days ago, rather than breaking news.
Categorised Sections in Google Search Results
Google is once again testing category sections in its search results. Google has tested this multiple times before, even as early as 2007.
— Shameem Adhikarath (@shemiadhikarath) August 2, 2020
Google Partners with Zapier to Automatically Update Customer Match Lists
Google is collaborating with Zapier to make it easier to update Customer Match lists. You don’t need to manually upload, sort or remove contacts, instead, it will automatically upload contact details from your CRM, marketing automation or eCommerce tool to Google Ads. In addition, it also automates importing, formatting, and updating customer information from your offline conversions.
Google Adds Call Button to Local Panel
Google has added a call button to the local panel on desktop search results. There is already a call button on mobile, but now you can click to call from desktop as well.
More Data Collection Control in Google Analytics
It’s all about privacy at Google This Week. Google has announced new settings in Google Analytics that give marketers more control over the data they collect. You can now disable personalisation and delete data.
Google has updated the control options to:
- Disable advertising features (app + web)
- Disable advertising personalisation (app + web)
- Allow for/ Disable ads personalisation for any property
- Use the Google Analytics for Firebase iOS SDK to verify app installation
There are also 6 new data settings for the account:
- Accept data processing terms related to GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
- Anonymise IP addresses
- Disable some or all data collection
- Set the data retention period
- Select what data you share with your support team and Google
- Review your Google signals settings (related to remarketing, demographics, etc.)
There are also two more data management categories. Ads personalization and data removal. Marketers can choose to disable ads personalization or control it by location and settings that control it by consent. You can also request to have data deleted and request data at the individual user level to be deleted.
Maximize Conversions Bidding in App Campaigns
Starting this week, you can now use Maximize conversions bidding through App campaigns for installs and drive as many installs as possible. You’ll also get a better understanding of benchmarks for your bids. After a few weeks of running, you’ll land on an effective CPI based on your budget and installs. Then you can choose to go from Maximize conversions to tCPI bidding.
New Ads Solutions for Gaming Businesses
Next month, App campaigns for engagement will rollout to Google Play and support audiences from Google Analytics for Firebase. Google is also updating its audience management features to make it easier to connect with the right player segments.
Open Bidding will soon be available as a beta to all AdMob developers. Open Bidding puts networks in a fair real-time auction to compete so you’ll always get the highest paying network, meaning you’ll receive the highest revenue available for every impression. You won’t have to manually set CPMs and it’ll reduce the number of SDKs your team needs to integrate and manage.
Google Asks Searchers How Fast a Site Loaded
Google is now asking some searchers how fast a site loaded after visiting the site and then going back to the search results. The question appears below the snippet and first asks to “Give feedback on the result above?” Afterward, asking “How fast did this site load?”
Obviously Google already knows the answer to the question but might want to know how fast users felt the loading was any way to compare.
Google Updated Search Console API Infrastructure
The new API is backward compatible and there are no changes in scope or functionality, however, you should be aware that there have been some changes to the Cloud Platform dashboard and there are API key restriction changes and Discovery document changes.
In the Google Cloud Platform dashboard, you should see a drop in the old API usage report and an increase in the new one. Also, if you previously set API key restrictions you may need to update them now. And if the software service you’re using or built is querying the API using a third-party API library or the Webmasters Discovery Document you’ll need to update it before the end of the year.
Google Adds Lead Forms to YouTube and Discovery Campaigns
Google has added lead forms to YouTube and Discovery campaigns. There are more contact fields, questions by vertical and new ways to automate customer data imports into Google Ads. Lead for ad extensions will be available in Display campaigns later this year.
Now you can collect more location data, business contact info and you can add questions based on verticals. For example, under Real estate, you might add “What price range are you looking for?” Google also said they’ll be making offline conversion imports easier “by just using the information people already give you in your lead form”.
Google Ad Manager Expands Support for Audio Ads
Google Ad Manager is expanding support for audio ads with Dynamic Ad Insertion, programmatic monetisation and new audio forecasting capabilities. The new audio features currently in beta, mean partners can manage all of their inventory in one place to deliver the best ad format. For example, if a user is interacting with a music streaming app, Ad Manager can show a video ad, whereas if the music is just playing in the background, an audio-only ad can be served instead.
There are also new programmatic monetisation capabilities, with publishers able to unlock advertiser demand for their audio inventory from Authorized Buyers, like Display & Video 360 and in the future Google Ads. Google is also launching new audio forecasting capabilities to give you insight into audio inventory availability and how audio ads are performing.
New Audio Capabilities in Display & Video 360
Marketers can now create audio ads at scale with Google’s new audio ad creation tool, Audio Mixer. You can upload multiple tracks, including music, sound effects and voice. The tool also enables brands to add the companion display creative that will be shown alongside audio tracks.
Soon audio will also have its own section in Marketplace.
Thank You for Reading
Have you noticed any changes from Google this week?
Check back in next Friday for the latest from Google This Week.