Snapchat is back, new PMAX AI features, what killed Google Search, and more…

May 3, 2024

Hello, My Digital Darlings,

This week, we’re strutting through a saga of strategic shifts. From TikTok's defiance in the face of sale rumors to Google's latest AI-driven enhancements, the digital domain is abuzz with actions and reactions that could reshape our campaigns. Snap on your tech tiaras, and let’s dive into the dizzying details.

TikTok will NOT be sold

In last week’s email I posited that there was no way ByteDance would sell TikTok, and once again I was right. "ByteDance doesn't have any plans to sell TikTok," the company posted on Toutiao, another social media platform it owns. They called the ban “unconstitutional” and CEO Shou Zi Chew said they “are confident and will keep fighting for your rights in the courts.” Ooooo, drama! Stay tuned for updates as TikTok and the US government battle it out. For now, TikTok still looks like the next frontier for eCommerce. TikTok Shop had over 500,000 US sellers at the end of 2023 - a stat that more than doubled from Q3 to Q4. This unprecedented growth just reiterates the fact that no matter how unsure TikTok’s future seems, right now, you better be selling on TikTok shop!! In other social news…

Snapchat shares surged thanks to better ad targeting

Snapchat has had trouble competing with the likes of Meta and TikTok for social ad dollars. But they’ve been working hard over the past year to improve ad targeting and the user experience of interacting with ads. These improvements plus a growing user base make Snap a better place to serve ads than ever before, so don’t discount it. If your ads are successful on TikTok and Reels, try testing Snapchat’s new targeting, too. Pssst - you can manage ads for all three publishers with Marin. Now let's talk about what’s going down at Google…

Google added 6 new AI features to PMAX campaigns

Updates include a new customer acquisition goal that’s supposed to help you - you guessed it - acquire new customers. It has two different modes you can choose from; new customer value mode, which bids higher on new customers than existing ones, and new customer only mode, which only bids on new customers. If you value new customers more than returning ones, try out this new goal for PMAX campaigns.

Google also added a customer retention goal designed to do the opposite - help reduce churn and increase loyalty. So if retention is more your thing, test out this goal. Or, try both on two different campaigns! To quote Google, “The retention goal works effectively alongside the New Customer Acquisition (NCA) goal to create a well-rounded customer lifecycle strategy.” Both new PMAX goals are currently in beta, so they may not work perfectly just yet… keep that in mind when testing.

Another new update is detailed demographics which provide data on age and gender groups. You can find these details under audience insights. These demographics are also available as audience types you can use for targeting.

Other newbies include Budget Pacing Insights, which offer real-time spend tracking and show current and project spend and conversions; account level IP exclusions, which enable you to filter out irrelevant traffic; and Final URL Expansion, which tests different landing pages so you can learn which drives the best CVR for your ads. Get all the details on these new features here. Speaking of AI for search ads…

Microsoft Copilot is now available to everybody

This AI assistant lives right in the Microsoft ads platform. You can use it to generate ad copy and create image assets. Simply enter your final URL and Copilot will generate asset recommendations. You can also ask the chatbot about performance. For example, you could ask it to summarize performance for a given campaign over the past month, and the bot would give you a quick writeup of impressions, clicks, cost, etc. How helpful! This is the type of AI that I fully support. Now, time for some more SEM updates…

Google Ads will auto-pause low volume keywords starting in June

Ads with no impressions over the past 13 months will be paused automatically. If you unpause them after the fact and they still don’t get any impressions over the following 3 months, Google will pause them again. Remember that Google has been auto-pausing low volume ad groups since March, following the same rule that zero impressions over the last 13 months warrants a pause. Pretty bossy of them! But honestly, I think this is helpful and I appreciate them automating some tedious account maintenance tasks for us. In SEO news…

The Google March core update finished on April 19th, apparently

But they didn’t tell us until Friday. Rude! They’re claiming the update reduced low-quality search results by 45%, so let’s hope that’s true. Some sites feel they have been unfairly negatively impacted by the core update. If that’s you, you can fill out this form to provide feedback to Google. Google also updated their guide for debugging drops in Google Search traffic which is definitely worth a read if your site has been negatively impacted. Lastly, if your site has lost traffic and you’re unsure how to start remedying it, check out Search Engine Land’s 6 things you should do after a Google core update rollout completes. Now, let’s close things out with a good old fashioned callout post…

Was this responsible for killing Google Search?

Woof, this article is crazy. In 2019, Search revenue was down at Google, and the execs were panicking. Search query growth was “significantly behind forecast” and revenue was dragging. This caused Google’s Search and Ad teams to get a little too close, all for the sake of growing revenue. They realized that they could “increase queries quite easily in the short term in user negative ways,” like turning off spell check and rolling back ranking improvements. Then, a Google core update rolled back a bunch of changes, increasing traffic to sites that had been historically repressed. That’s just the beginning of a long story that I absolutely cannot sum it all up here, but this post is full of piping hot tea and is a fascinating - albeit a bit scary - read for anyone who works with Google Ads or SEO.

And on that cynical note, our dance through this week’s digital drama comes to a close. In the whirlwind world of digital marketing, staying informed is your silver bullet. Until next week, may your tea be hot, your ROAS be hotter, and your mind focused on your goals.

You know you love me.

Maddie Marinsider

Marin Software
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