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The Latest on Google Maps, Video Ads & Social Media Stories

Daylen Farkas

Weekly Marketing Update for Feb. 11, 2020

Want to know what’s going on in the world of digital marketing? Scorpion publishes weekly updates to keep you in the know about the latest online developments that could impact your business. Here are the updates for this week:

1. Google Maps gets a makeover and new features for engaging with local businesses

To celebrate Google Maps’ 15 years of existence, Google has rolled out a fresh, new look for the platform, as well as a slew of new features for users.

These features not only make it easier for users to get to where they want to go, but they also provide a whole new world of potential data-gathering opportunities for how people find and interact with businesses. You may have already noticed some of the changes!

Let’s start with the new layout: on mobile devices, the bottom of Google Maps will have five tabs—three of which could change how potential customers find businesses. The three game-changing tabs include the following:

  • Explore: This tab combines ratings, reviews, and other information to recommend nearby locations or businesses based on the user’s search.

The Explore tab in the Google Maps mobile app showing nearby businesses

  • Contribute: This tab allows hundreds of millions of people to contribute their local knowledge to Google Maps, whether that’s related to reviews, missing locations, photos, etc.

The Contribute tab in the Google Maps mobile app where users can make edits, write reviews, add photos, etc.

Updates: This tab has a rolling feed of trending spots from local experts and publications, and it gives users the ability to chat directly with businesses to get their questions answered.

The Updates tab in the Google Maps mobile app showing news about nearby businesses

Additionally, we can expect further development of Google’s augmented reality (AR) platform, Live View—which is available as a feature within Google Maps on certain devices. Google’s Live View uses a smartphone’s camera and sensors to show the user their surroundings and direct them in which way to walk and how far to go to reach a nearby business.

What does the Google Maps makeover mean for businesses?

As Google rolls out more features that help customers find, evaluate, and engage with local businesses, there are now more opportunities for you to attract new customers! However, there’s also more opportunity for your competitors, so make sure you’re doing whatever you can to keep your business visible online (including through your Google My Business dashboard) and stand out as a top choice for your service or product.

2. YouTube ad revenue for Q4 2019 totaled $4.7 billion, up 31% from Q4 2018.

Alphabet Inc. (the parent company of Google) has finally released its earnings report from last quarter, and for the first time ever, it includes revenue from YouTube advertising.

YouTube ad revenue for Q4 2019 totaled $4.7 billion, up 31% from Q4 2018.

While these numbers may seem low compared to how much revenue Alphabet pulled in for search ($27.2 billion for Q4), they do show potential for the growth of advertising on YouTube—especially given the recent stream of updates to the platform (such as sitelink extensions for TrueView ads). Based on some of the takeaways shared by Search Engine Land, we can expect Google (or Alphabet) to push YouTube advertising adoption even more in the future.

It should be noted, however, that while YouTube’s growth in ad revenue is impressive, the release of the Q4 report has elicited a mixed bag in terms of responses, mostly due to a perceived decline in overall growth for Google. And while Google’s positioning as the top dog in online advertising is unlikely to change anytime soon, competition from other tech juggernauts and the latest anti-trust inquiries from the Justice Department into whether or not Google’s ad tools are anti-competitive could put some speed bumps in what has historically been steady growth.

What does YouTube’s revenue growth mean for businesses?

It means if you’re not currently investing in video advertising on YouTube, it’s time to consider it, as the video-sharing platform is seeing substantial growth (meaning more of your competitors are either on the platform or headed that way).

3. Google cracks down on “disruptive” video advertising with certain ads not showing on Chrome

Speaking about YouTube and video ads, Google also just dropped the hammer on certain ads on and around videos that have been considered to be disruptive. According to a new set of Better Ads Standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads, the following types of ads will not be shown on Chrome for videos that are less than 8 minutes long:

  • Long, non-skippable pre-roll ads or groups of ads longer than 31 seconds that appear before a video and that cannot be skipped within the first 5 seconds
  • Mid-roll ads of any duration that appear in the middle of a video, interrupting the user’s experience
  • Image or text ads that appear on top of a playing video and are in the middle one-third of the video player window, or that cover more than 20% of the video content

There could also be other ulterior motives for this announcement. The Verge postulated another reason for the move: “While Google’s blog post points out that YouTube will also need to comply with these standards, we’re thinking YouTube may already be fully compliant.” Advertisers might be more incentivized to advertise on the platform given that YouTube ads fall within the guidelines.

We can expect these changes to roll in on August 5th, 2020.

What does Google’s new advertising criteria mean for businesses?

The world of video advertising is moving quickly, and if you’re not up to speed on the latest changes and trends within the industry, your business could become less visible online. Make sure you’re aware of the latest best practices for creating video ads that will attract maximum exposure.

4. Study looks at how Facebook & Instagram stories speak to different audiences

Wondering how you should set up your marketing campaigns differently on Facebook vs. Instagram? A study in Search Engine Journal breaks down not just the demographics of the users on these two social media sites, but also the reasoning behind why people use Facebook and Instagram, and what this might mean for how story ads perform on each platform.

Two data insights were especially interesting in the article. Here are the top reasons people use Instagram:

bar graph showing the reasons people use instagram

And here are the top reasons people use Facebook:

bar graph showing the reasons people use facebook

Notice that the percentage of people who use the platform to follow brands and companies is TWICE as high on Instagram than on Facebook.

This could be an indicator that there is more ad engagement and therefore better ad performance on Instagram.

Susan Wenograd, the author of the Search Engine Journal article, does try to put the results of her findings in context:
“No, it doesn’t mean Facebook Story Ads will never work. What it means is that user needs and expectations are different. It isn’t just about age groups and where they hang out, it’s also about meeting them at the intersection of [where] their interest and engagement tendencies are...
“Just as we will see Instagram’s user base likely trickle into older demographics over time, expect the adoption curve to work the same way on new types of ad units and experiences.”

The full article is worth a read for anyone who is actively marketing or thinking about marketing on Facebook and Instagram.

What does this social media stories data mean for businesses?

You can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach with social media marketing. It’s important to think about who your target audience is, and how you can play to the strengths of each social media platform to reach and engage that audience.

Want more helpful marketing insights that you can use to grow your business? Stay tuned on our blog for our Weekly Marketing Updates!

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