Google has some of the biggest news of the week with the official resignation of Matt Cutts, Webmaster, and the announcement that it took down 1.7 billion ads throughout 2016. AdWords also announced that YouTube will be undergoing some changes to improve the experience for advertisers and users.
LinkedIn gave itself a makeover and provided tips for using the new layout more effectively. Facebook began the introduction of paid ads into Messenger and continued to make updates to Trending, its news feature on popular topics.
Google brings down bad ads and scammers
Google published a blog post this week outlining the ways it fought bad ads and sites last year, which led to it taking down over 1.7 billion ads in total.
Only ads that violated Google’s policies were removed, like ads that promote illegal products, misleading ads or those that promote and profit from bad websites.
Two key methods were introduced to more effectively combat these types of ads, including expanding the current policies in place and ramping up the technology used to find them. Google updated its policies mid last year to include a ban against pay day loans, which are nearly impossible for people to repay and can result in serious financial trouble. Since the update, 5 million ads for payday loans have been taken down.
The technology for finding bad ads has become much more sophisticated, which means it can detect ads that are designed to look like something legitimate, like system warnings. Due to this advancement, 112 million of these kinds of ads were found and removed in 2016, which is five times the amount that was detected in 2015.
For more information about Google’s ad policies check out the AdWords support page.
Matt Cutts has officially left the building
Announced on his personal blog with the US Digital Service, Matt Cutts has decided to hand in his resignation at Google.
Cutts has been on leave from Google since 2014 but had not actually tended his resignation until 31 December last year. He has decided to continue his work at the US Digital Service and will not be returning to Google like many had hoped. He was one of the original Google employees and was invaluable to many Webmasters and SEOs for his advice over the years.
Gary Illyes and John Mueller have been the key points of contact for any Google Webmaster queries, and now that Cutts has officially resigned it is likely they will continue to reprise his role.
LinkedIn launched a new look for its desktop site this week to make their user experience faster and more intuitive.
There are a number of key improvements which they announced via their company blog. Perhaps the most important development is the changes made to the main Feed. The algorithms behind the Feed have been updated to make content even more relevant for each user and will enable people to dig further into a topic they have shown interest in, as well as follow trending stories.
A valuable update for company pages is the changes to the insights section. Users will have more advanced information about the people that are viewing and engaging with content, such as company, job title and location.
Check out the video for a summary of all the changes, or visit the LinkedIn blog.
YouTube ads get an upgrade
Now that 50% of YouTube views are on mobile, Google AdWords is introducing some changes to how ads are viewed and managed across all devices.
A cloud-based measurement solution will be developed in the coming year in order to provide advertisers with more detailed insights into the performance of their ads. The solution will enable advertisers to understand how the ads are received across different devices and where their audience spends most of its time. Advertisers will be given access to information stored within Google user’s accounts, such as demographics and search history.
Google and YouTube are also becoming more connected, user’s preferences are recognised on both sites. This means that if a user blocks an ad from their Google search it will also be blocked from their YouTube viewing. They will also be cutting back on the use of pixels and cookies, focussing instead on cross-screen experience and how to make a more streamlined transition between platforms and devices.
Some updates will be rolled out in a few weeks whereas others are long term projects. For more information on how the updates may affect your AdWords experience, visit the official blog post.
Ads in Facebook Messenger roll out
As of this week, Facebook has started trialling ads on the Messenger platform.
We wrote about Messenger rolling out ads last November but those were designed to open a conversation window with a company, and only appear in the News Feed. These ads have the same look of sponsored ads in Facebook, and take up quite a lot of space on the screen.
The ads will appear below recent conversations, and will not open a conversation with a user unless they initiate the chat or click on an ad.
This is great news for brands who use Facebook to engage with their audience, but users may not be very happy with losing nearly half of their Messenger window to ads.
The testing is currently underway in both Thailand and Australia.
Updates to Trending
This week Facebook announced three updates to its Trending news feature.
The first is that a publisher headline will now appear below each topic. The purpose is to provide a bit more context behind the topic so that people know what they are getting when they click on it. The headline is based on engagement around the article and the publisher.
The second update is an overall improvement to the system. Since the dramas surrounding trending topics operating without human control surfaced, Facebook has been trying to ensure the quality of the news topics that appear in Trending. Now topics will be identified as Trending in regards to the numbers of other articles or publishers discussing the topic, rather than just high engagement on a single article or post.
Lastly, Facebook is removing the personalised element of Trending. Whereas before the topics would be based on individual preferences, the same topics will now appear for all users in the same region.
The updates started rolling out this week and will be available to everyone in the US within a few weeks.