Today we look back at some of the key changes and innovations across all aspects of digital in August. Usually a quiet month, we have seen many updates across all areas of digital marketing. We have however managed to limit it down to our top 3, with two from Google which will take the control away from advertisers on how content is served in the search engines. 

Instagram tests ads in the Shop tab 

What is it?: On Tuesday 10th August, Instagram announced that they were testing the use of Ads in the Shop tab. This is currently available to a small number of US retailers, targeting mobile users with either a single image or a carousel of images. 
Why is it important?: As of January 2021 there were 31 million Instagram users in the UK. Up from 24 million 12 months ago. Users are continuing to spend more time on social, with time spent on social media per day also increasing by 7 minutes in the last 12 months to 1 hour 49 minutes per day. Taking advantage of this growing audience continues to be at the forefront of all social platforms, with this new ad format allowing advertisers to prioritise which products they want their Instagram users to discover. 
What action should you take?: It is expected that this advertising opportunity will be rolled out globally in the coming months. We recommend watching out for any changes in targeting that become available within Facebook Ads platform. We will also keep you updated, as we notice any changes. 
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Changes to titles in Google Organic Search 

What is it?: Google confirmed in August that they are making changes to how SEO listings are served on the Search Engine Results page (SERP's). You may now start to see the title of the search result not include the content in your Page Title, populating with other content including the H1 tag of the page that is being listed. 
Why is it important?: For many years Google have often taken extracts of content from the landing page in order to populate the description of listings. This has been in cases where meta descriptions have not been populated in the site, but also where they have been specified in the site HTML code. This issue has frustrated the SEO community, with descriptions being one of the key factors for SEO Clickthrough rate. This new development means that a brand cannot guarantee that any of the content they want to serve in Google search landscape, will appear. 
What action should you take?: Unfortunately there is no way that you can influence what will be served by Google. The latest updates have confirmed that Page Titles are still a ranking factor and will be served 80% of the time by Google, therefore the usage and optimisation of page titles should still be carried out.  

Google announce plans to sunset Expanded Text Ads 

What is it?: On Tuesday 31st August, Google announced it's plan to sunset Expanded Text Ads (also known as ETA's), with Responsive Search Ads (RSA's) the only search ad format available for advertisers to use within Google Ads. This will begin from June 2022. 
Why is it important?: ETA's currently provide advertisers with a modicum of control when setting up ads and enable A/B testing to be carried out. RSA's take more of an automated approach, with Google using an automated approach to select which creative they believe will get the best possible response rate from a particular user. Although these are selected from a list of upto 15 title and 4 descriptions which an advertiser specifies, it is outside of the advertisers control as to which combination serves when.  
What action should you take?: If you haven't started using RSA's already, we would recommend that you commence testing RSA's across some of your ad campaigns a.s.a.p. to get used to the functionality and what works best for your brand. RSA's can run in conjunction with ETA's, therefore allowing you to test and learn with low levels of risk. 

Our final thoughts ... 

The removal of ETA's is another step to Google Ad campaigns becoming fully automated. This raises the question, at want point will Google remove the ablility for advertisers to optimise their own bids? Will Manual CPC bidding be removed and advertisers left with machine learning from Google (or other third party providers) to decide your campaigns fate? Whilst we don't believe that this will happen over the next 12 months, dont be surprised if there is an announcement about sunsetting the ability to set manual bid prices. 
If any of the above has peaked your interest, don't hesitate to get in touch to understand how we can help you. 
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