OpenAI’s flirty new chatbot, Google AI-ifying the SERP, search ad costs rising, and more…

May 17, 2024

Hello, My Digital Darlings,

Are you ready for summer? I personally need to be on a beach sipping something sweet ASAP. As the AI wave continues to roll in, Google is diving deeper than ever. I just hope we can keep our heads above water… 

This week, we're unpacking Google's shiny new tools—from AI overviews that might outsmart ChatGPT to vacation itineraries crafted at the click of a button. Whether you’re a techie, a traveler, or just nostalgic for the days of simple SERPs, Google’s got something in store for you. Let’s get into it.

Google is AI-ifying everything

Google announced a long list of changes they’re making to put AI at the forefront of their search engine. Topping the list is AI Overviews, which appear at the top of the SERP and provide a similar answer to what you might see from ChatGPT or Google Gemini. They’re rolling it out this week, so you may have already seen AI overviews in your SERP. You won’t see them for all queries as they’re meant to answer complex questions for which AI thinks it can add more value beyond just search results.

Other AI-powered updates include a new feature in Google Lens which enables those with Google phones to search the web with a video. That’s cool and all, but as an iPhone user, I finally know how all the Green Bubblers have felt for all these years–left out. Next is a new Google Gemini feature that can build an entire vacation itinerary for you. Now that’s a feature I’ll be using!!

The Verge said it best; these updates are “nothing short of a full-stack AI-ification of search. Google is using its Gemini AI to figure out what you’re asking about, whether you’re typing, speaking, taking a picture, or shooting a video.” And we can expect even more AI-powered changes in the SERP soon. But if you’re nostalgic for the good old days…

Google added a “web” filter to search that shows only text-based links

This basically turns your SERP into early 2000s Google. Just good old-fashioned links. No images, no videos, no pesky AI summaries. This is cute! Google’s giving the people something they actually want for once. You can find the filter alongside all the other filters under the search bar, but you may need to click ‘more’ to see it. So if you’re nostalgic for simpler times, try out that filter next time you’re searching. In paid search news…

You can now choose ad formats for Demand Gen campaigns

Now that everyone who’s anyone is running a PMAX campaign, Google has shifted to pushing Demand Gen campaigns (which are actually nothing new - just Discovery campaigns rebranded). They recently added creative controls for video assets, so now you can customize your creative to each unique video ad format. There are three formats available: in-stream, in-feed, and shorts. Check out Google’s step-by-step instructions for setting your ad format preferences here. In other Google news…

Google will limit actions for suspended accounts

Starting in June, suspended Google Ads accounts will not be able to make any changes to their campaigns. Users will still be able to access their account but will only be able to edit billing options, account settings, appeals, security settings, and download reports. Of course, it’s never been good to let your account get suspended, but the stakes are even higher now, so be careful and make sure you pay the piper on time! And in one more bit of paid search news…

Oof… Search ad costs are rising and CVRs are decreasing

According to LocalIQ, the average conversion rate on a search ad is 6.96%, down from 7.04% last year. And the average CPL increased a whopping 25% YoY. Yikes! LocalIQ says these increases are due to “increased competition and intensified monetization of the Google SERPs.” With Alphabet reporting record-high profits this year, one has to wonder what “pricing knobs or tunings” Google might be pulling behind the scenes to pull more money out of advertisers. Google has once again left me wondering, “Is that legal?” If you’re looking to spend your ad dollars somewhere else, maybe it’s time to consider other platforms. Speaking of which…

Users are spending more than ever on e-commerce

A report from Adobe revealed that consumer spending online is up 7% year-over-year. As expected, electronics and apparel are the industries dominating online shopping. But there’s also been a surge in online grocery shopping, so if you sell groceries, maybe try advertising on Instacart. 

Shoppers are opting for cheaper stuff, thanks to inflation. So if you’re a budget retailer, good news for you! And if you’re not, maybe consider running more sales. That said, the report also found that Buy Now Pay Later use is growing, so if you sell expensive stuff, just make sure you offer Afterpay. Lastly, let's dish about some dystopian AI news…

Chat GPT’s newest model is a bit of a flirt

Thanks to recent updates, the chatbot is now capable of witty banter and can pick up on emotional cues. It can also have natural voice conversations. You can watch a demo here if you’re curious. It definitely still talks like a robot, but… it’s evolving. The upbeat female voice even giggles and seems to get embarrassed when it messes up. And when one of the hosts mentioned how useful and amazing the chatbot is, it responded with, “Oh stop it, you’re making me blush.” Ummm, does she want to get drinks later? Well, not she… it… see? This is the problem. I’m already using human pronouns to describe it! And I can totally imagine lonely guys falling in love with this humanoid robot girl. It’s giving Her.

On that unsettling note, I’ll wrap this up, but I’ll be back next week with more tea, so stay tuned. Until then, keep slaying the marking game with style and strategy.

Maddie Marinsider

Marin Software
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