The rise of the automation powered agency
According to a recent Forrester report, creative and media agencies are on track to lose 11% of jobs to automation by 2023 and 2032, respectively. The composition of agencies is shifting. Smaller finance departments, less back-office support and a reduction in production and creative jobs—the core of the agency—are all being impacted by automation.
For media agencies, the departments hit hardest are the ones that are more easily automated and include QA, tagging, and reconciliation.
This isn’t all bad news. It suggests that the demand for agencies isn’t going away, but the way agencies are able to offer value to their clients is changing.
Human + machine intelligence = the new creative model
Forrester concludes that the perfect creative team must leverage a combination of human and machine ingenuity, a process they call “intelligent creativity.” The types of tools that enable intelligent creativity rely heavily on AI, intelligent software, and automation to improve an agency’s creativity and productivity.
We reached out to Andrew Hally, CMO at Bynder to get his opinion on how agencies can leverage automation to enhance—rather than replace—agency capabilities. Bynder is a cloud-based digital asset management (DAM) platform that uses AI to help companies organize and streamline creative assets.
DAMs facilitate collaboration among creative, production, and sales teams, so that brands can easily access media, graphics, and documents across distributed teams (something particularly helpful at a time when many companies are operating remotely). However, even though agencies can now automate some of their creative execution, they’re slow to embrace this new technology.
“While there have been major strides in marketing automation over the past decade, it’s still incredibly unbalanced. Downstream campaign execution is now highly automated, but the same investments haven’t been made into the upstream creative work – it’s still mostly manual and bespoke. We’re at a tipping point where the volume of content needed is simply unsustainable via these means,” writes Hally.
“Agencies have benefited from automation in the past, there’s still a fear that applying more automation to marketing processes will replace jobs. But, if you look back through history over the last 100 years, there’s a pattern of automation lowering costs and increasing consumption. And, in some cases, it’s at a rate that actually increases employment.”
Agencies reluctantly embrace automation
In a 2019 survey of digital agencies by Marketing Land, 72% of respondents were neutral when asked how they felt about automation. The challenges that agencies face with automation are similar to what brands are facing—a rapidly changing marketing environment, the super-fast speed of innovation, and the pressing need to find people who are qualified to manage all this new tech.
Finding talent is a big pain point. While 70% of respondents in the survey indicated they were hiring, while fully 50% said they were having difficulty filling positions.
The cost of acquiring and implementing marketing automation tools is another (huge) challenge that agencies face, and a core reason they’re reluctant to climb on board the automation train. Without the talent to manage automated tools, many go unused.
AI-automated tools require constant care and feeding, meaning data and analytics are prioritized (e.g., a data plan is in place and the data that’s fed into these tools is frequently monitored and updated).
In short, implementing an automation strategy is a crucial step that agencies must take before they can truly benefit from this technology. This is a key reason why agency adoption of automation is lukewarm, at best. There are already a dozen balls that agencies must juggle, from client requests to managing existing campaigns, to recruiting talent.
Agencies that prioritize automation now will stand out among their peers, and (ultimately) find that it’s easier to keep up with the growing demands of clients—from need for more targeted and personalized campaigns to the increasing need to produce timely, relevant, and high quality content in abundance.
“This technology is now well-poised to alleviate the ‘content crunch’ that many organizations are facing, giving designers and videographers time back to focus on more high-value activities that powerful brands are made of,” explains Hally.
“It will also change the nature of creative work. The old ‘big idea’ delivered as finished assets doesn’t fit today’s algorithm-driven, personalized digital experience infrastructure. Instead, agencies will deliver ‘kits’ of source files that digital marketing teams can use to generate the hundreds of variations their campaigns need in a far more agile process.”
The agility of automation
The Forrester report emphasizes the importance of intelligent creativity as way that agencies can recover from a loss of business due to the pandemic. When automation is prioritized as a core principal of the agency, it becomes a tool to enhance, rather than replace, agency capabilities.
Brands are already doing this. Bynder has seen their customers achieve tremendous success by combining automation with human ingenuity.
Writes Hally: “One Bynder customer had their in-house agency create social media templates to drive consistency while allowing other parts of the marketing team to localize assets and tweak them as needed. The reusability, agility and improved marketing enables both agency and in-house creative teams to deliver more value.”
Accelerating automation within the agency is the best (and possibly the only) way for agencies to stay relevant as we move into 2021 and beyond. The need for agility, flexibility, and scalability while working with fewer resources demands automation.
This isn’t about abandoning creativity in favor of technology. It’s about embracing both. Agencies who accelerate automation and integrate it with their existing offerings have the best opportunity to thrive.
via ClickZ https://www.clickz.com
November 25, 2020 at 04:06AM
Concerned about the attention economy? Demand more choice
As if times weren’t challenging enough, our society now faces an existential threat entirely unrelated to the ongoing pandemic. We must decide whether device addiction becomes the next national crisis, or if incentives can be more closely aligned with our human values and beliefs. Marketers have a tough choice ahead of them.
Awareness of the forces driving the attention economy is growing. The story goes that business models monetizing attention are so successful that they created the richest and most powerful companies in the world—and a slew of unintended consequences that are only starting to be researched.
An honest view of the challenges
There’s no question industry-wide regulation is needed at the federal level, and quickly. Congress should pass a federal data privacy law that fully funds a functioning enforcement agency with enough bite to be taken seriously.
However, we also have to account for legislation’s natural time delay. Just as physics dictates light will always travel at a faster speed than sound, technological innovation will always happen ahead of any legal protocol to restrict or codify new behavior. Therefore regulation alone, while extremely effective when properly enacted, is not enough to prevent all harms.
While we should continue to encourage people to educate themselves and promote media literacy more broadly so perhaps they can fight such distractions, who should make the investment required to build an effective and comprehensive nationwide curriculum? What potential damages do we risk if we don’t ensure everyone participates?
Unless each segment of our society is knowledgeable about the risks and has the skills to mitigate them, we could deepen the social inequality we are suffering from today.
Most importantly, we should call on advertisers to diversify their media spend. By doing so, however, we should also realize we are asking them to make trade-offs, sacrificing efficiency, performance, and potentially their company’s future by not focusing their advertising where they are confidently getting value back for their spend.
Frankly this is a non-choice. Just look at the retailers, department stores, and chain restaurants who have filed for bankruptcy over the last few months, and you’ll see a list of companies slow to embrace ecommerce and data-driven digital advertising strategies.
This is a matter of survival, and it’s unrealistic to expect brands to act against the interests of their employees, shareholders, and customers.
Only meaningful choice will drive change
Businesses need a real choice to replicate or even improve on results and efficiencies outside of a handful of individual tech platforms. Many marketers would willingly vary their spend and test credible options to prove success if they still could measure and optimize at scale—even better if this capability could be extended across multiple platforms and publishers.
Smart business leaders would be even more incentivized to diversify if, in addition, such alternatives simultaneously enhanced their ability to learn about their customers.
Most advertisers agree that the only real and meaningful remedy to the ad industry’s reputation is to enable better transparency and stronger signals of consumer consent.
If we allow people to actively confirm their own identities by logging in to their preferred sites and apps, we can generate benefits for the consumer, the advertiser, and the publisher all while reducing reliance on tech giants for high-grade performance.
Technically speaking, this means replicating premium platform capabilities through direct authentication can create a diversified, consent-based approach to data-driven advertising on the open internet.
This can be the first step in building a system that allows for spend diversification and gives consumers more direct interactions with the brands and publishers they value. In turn, this move will encourage greater experimentation with dynamic personalization and facilitate consumer control over whether, what, and how much data to exchange for content and services.
Markets are built on relationships, not advertising
Improving advertising performance by activating data across the open internet is a seismic shift just on its own. For example, by frequency capping audiences to optimize the amount of times ads are served to the same group, the largest B2C brands can save tens of millions each year, especially if spend is optimized across the trinity of TV, search, and programmatic digital.
However it’s not advertising, but brand experience that wins and strengthens customer relationships, and is the foundation for consistent revenue growth. Avoiding disenfranchisement by maintaining control over data and using every opportunity to apply that data meaningfully to improve experience is what drives brand loyalty and builds share.
Why is this important? Because whoever has the market share makes the rules—just ask Marc Pritchard and Tim Cook.
The only two questions we should be asking ourselves today is, who do we want making the rules about how to use data and what to collect, and, which path leads to a more balanced system that gives advertisers, consumers, and publishers more authority and a greater share of the revenue generated by the advertising ecosystem?
Capturing the moment
Today, the U.S. claims eight of the top ten largest companies in the world by market capitalization, five representing big tech.
We must consider our cultural similarities as a golden opportunity for rules development now. Operating in an increasingly global economy, there’s no guarantee that the next few trillion-dollar companies will have the same general values.
If we agree the future is data-driven and we still want to influence the rules of how data can and should be used, then forging paths that deliver more meaningful choice and control is the only answer.
Andrea Reichenbach is a marketing evangelist, sometimes content strategist and head of analyst relations at LiveRamp. With experience in the U.S. and Europe, she has held roles at global advertising networks such as Ogilvy, Digitas, J. Walter Thompson, Y&R and Wunderman and has provided brand, digital and CRM expertise to clients such as Microsoft, IBM, Accenture, American Express and BlackRock. Prior to joining LiveRamp, Andrea worked at Acxiom as senior director of marketing strategy. She lives in New York City.
The post Concerned about the attention economy? Demand more choice appeared first on ClickZ.
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November 25, 2020 at 03:59AM
Dissecting Ecommerce Growth: The Key Traffic Drivers
Reveal how the fastest-growing e-commerce brands get an inflow of new traffic and learn to make conversion rate estimates to assess the quality of their new audience.
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November 25, 2020 at 03:30AM
Instagram is Letting Advertisers Create Posts With Users’ Accounts via @MattGSouthern
Instagram is giving advertisers the ability to publish sponsored posts from users’ accounts through an update to branded content ads.
Branded content ads were introduced last year as a way for influencers to identify when their posts are sponsored by a company or brand.
The ads look just like organic posts published from the user’s account, only they have a tag reading: “Paid partnership with [brand name].”
Creating the ads required much coordination between the influencer and the brand. The content had to be published as an organic post first, and then the brand would go through Instagram to promote the post as an ad.
Now, Instagram aims to streamline the process on both sides.
Instagram is launching a new process where advertisers can publish branded content ads without the need for influencers to create an organic post first.
“Now brands have more flexibility with fewer constraints when they want to run Branded Content ads,” Instagram states in an announcement
The new process allows brands to craft an ad with the creator’s own account and even publish it. With the the creator’s approval, of course.
Here’s more about how the new process works, followed by information on additional updates to branded content ads.
Branded Content Ad Creation Process
Instagram’s new process for publishing branded content ads involves three steps.
Step 1: The advertiser sends the user a request for ad creation access.
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Advertisers can send requests for ad creation access by going to Settings > Business > Branded Content > Request Ad Creation Access.
From there the advertiser can type in the person’s name and send off a request.
Step 2: The creator accepts the request for ad creation access.
On the creator’s side the advertiser’s request will show up in the activity tab where all other notifications are found.
After tapping on the notification, the creator will be taken to a screen where they can see see all their approved ad partners and pending request.
Tapping on “Approve” will establish a partnership between the creator and the brand.
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The notice at the top indicates what the creator is approving access to:
When the request is approved the advertiser can immediately begin submitting ads for review.
Step 3: The creator receives notification of a created ad for their approval.
Advertisers will take care of crafting the ad, which they then submit for the creator’s approval.
Tapping “Approve” will publish the ad from the creator’s account. As Instagram notes on the approval screen, the ad is posted from the creator’s account but won’t appear on their main profile page.
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If the creator isn’t satisfied with the ad they always have the option to hit “Decline.” They can also choose to pause the ad after approving it.
Other Updates to Branded Content Ads
In addition to launching a whole new process for publishing branded content ads, Instagram is rolling out these updates:
For more information on how to join Instagram’s branded content program, as either an advertiser or a creator, see details here.
Source: Instagram Business
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November 25, 2020 at 01:03AM
What is Earned Media? 7 Ways to Get It
Earned media is publicity gained organically from promotional efforts, like press coverage, social media mentions, and search engine rankings.
But why is earned media important? And how can you get more of it?
In this post, we’ll explore:
If money changes hands at any point, that’s not earned media. It’s paid media. Examples of this include TV and radio ads, billboards, sponsorships, and online advertising (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.)
If you have complete control over the asset or channel, that’s not earned media either. It’s owned media. Examples include anything published on your website, newsletters, etc.
However, not everything is so clearly defined. When it comes to things like SEO, it becomes a little muddier.
To rank on Google, you need to create content, which is owned media. But you can only influence where Google ranks that content and for what keywords it ranks for. You don’t have full control over it.
For that reason, in our opinion, SEO is earned media.
It’s all about control. You can control both paid and owned, but you can’t control earned media. And since you can’t fully control where you want to rank in Google (you can only influence it), it’s earned media.
Earned media is what every business strives for, and there are two main reasons for that:
1. Earned media is often cheaper over the long-term
In 2019, when Parachute launched its new wool mattress, the company opted for earned media over paid media. It seeded the product with editors and influencers, which resulted in tons of articles and Instagram Stories from people who tested the mattress.
In total, they spent around $20,000 on PR and product gifting. According to Ariel Kaye, Parachute’s founder, they would have had to spend at least $2 million on Facebook Ads to get the same number of impressions as they did from this earned media campaign.
And unlike paid media—where you have to spend more for more impressions over time—earned media is the gift that keeps on giving.
Press articles often link back to the product or company, which improves their SEO. And these articles may also rank in search and send referral traffic over time.
2. Earned media is great for brand building
The “lack of control” with earned media is a pro, not a con.
Since brands can’t control the message, it’s seen as more trustworthy by consumers. Third-party reviewers can offer their unbiased opinion about a product, and people can share their honest thoughts about a company or product on social media.
As finance writer Morgan Housel puts it:
In other words, if real people are singing your praises, and it’s clear that you didn’t pay or incentivize them to do so, that helps your brand stand out in the market. This is especially true for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands.
Think about it. Parachute isn’t the only mattress company selling online today. Purple, Casper, Leesa—the list goes on and on. Most consumers probably can’t tell these companies apart, even if they see their ads.
Earned media is the way to be remarkable in front of potential customers.
Here are some examples of how earned media looks like in the wild.
This is the most traditional form of earned media. Appear in a TV program and reach millions of viewers in their living room.
Ahrefs has yet to appear in a TV show, but authors like Eckhart Tolle have sold millions of books thanks to Oprah’s recommendation.
Last year, Bloomberg featured our data on the most popular Google searches in a Businessweek article. We didn’t pay for this. Our ongoing promotional efforts led the author to find our content, and he decided to include it in an article.
Since we’re based in the relatively small SEO industry, we get regular mentions in niche-focused publications like Search Engine Journal.
Kari recently tweeted how much she loves the Ahrefs blog. We didn’t ask her to do this. We earned her praise by relentlessly publishing and promoting industry-leading content for years on our blog.
Another user also shared how much they loved our blog. But instead of sharing it on their social accounts, they decided to share it with a much bigger audience on Reddit:
We also get plenty of users regularly sharing about their experience with our product on review sites like G2:
If you’re a local business, then review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps are important too.
Rand Fishkin is an influencer in the marketing industry with over 440,000 followers on Twitter. He decided to share one of our articles with his audience. We didn’t ask him to do that.
We earned the share because we published an article with tons of unique insights, all gained from our real-world experience.
Google ranks our content high on their search engine, thus sending traffic our way.
If we compare the estimate in Ahrefs with real-world data fromGoogle Search Console
, we see that Ahrefs slightly underestimates our organic traffic. Our actual Google traffic is closer to 750,000 monthly visits. The reason for this is simple: although we have a vast database of keywords at Ahrefs, no tool knows about every search query. For that reason, websites and webpages will almost always get more traffic than Ahrefs estimates.
Just because you cannot control earned media doesn’t mean that you cannot influence it.
Here are some ways you can get more earned media for your company.
1. Use HARO
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a free service that connects journalists to sources. After you sign up, you’ll receive daily emails from the service with requests from journalists.
Here’s an example of what an email from HARO would look like:
After receiving the email, all you have to do is to check if you meet their requirements and reply. If they use your answer in their post, they’ll usually credit you with a mention and backlink.
As these journalists will likely get plenty of responses from other people, how do you stand out and make sure your answer gets selected? Here are some tips:
2. Pitch to appear on podcasts
If you’re a subject matter expert, HARO isn’t the only way for you to gain earned media. The ubiquity of podcasts means you can also appear as a guest and share your expertise.
This is a strategy we’ve used at Ahrefs.
In 2019, our Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Soulo, set a goal to appear on more than 20 podcasts. He accomplished that in only four months.
How do you find podcast opportunities?
A straightforward way is to identify someone of a similar caliber who’s been on multiple podcasts.
Let’s use Tim as an example.
First, we’d paste his website (ahrefs.com) into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, go to the Backlinks report, and type his name in the “Include” box.
Second, we’d eyeball the list to see the podcasts he has been on.
Recommended reading: 12 lessons I learned from doing 20+ podcast interviews in 4 months
3. Rank for “source” keywords
In her presentation for the 2019 Chiang Mai SEO conference, SEO consultant Stacey MacNaught said this:
What does she mean? Journalists often need to back up their arguments with data. And when they do, they usually mention and link to the source of that data.
For example, take our mention in Bloomberg. It came as a result of us having some unique data that helped the author make his point.
But here’s the thing: you can’t just create any old data, publish it wherever, and expect publicity. If you want to earn coverage from this tactic, you need two things:
There are tons of ways to do the two things above. For example, you could create or curate data about a trending topic, then use a tool like Content Explorer to find relevant journalists and pitch your resource.
That’s the “traditional” route and it works, but another tactic that worked for us is to create content around so-called “source” keywords.
Source keywords are the terms journalists are likely to be searching for when looking for facts and data to reference in their upcoming posts.
To find these keywords, enter a few relevant keywords into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, go to the Phrase match report, and use the “Include” filter to find keywords containing words like statistics, stats, facts, and figures.
Look through the list for a good keyword to target.
For example, if we owned a coffee site, we could potentially target either “coffee nutrition facts” or “coffee statistics.”
From there, create a post by curating a list of up-to-date statistics (owned media). Then, reach out to any sites linking to competing but outdated statistics pages on the same topic to build links to your page (earned media).
We did this in 2020 for the term “SEO statistics.” As a result, our page has earned links from over 350 websites and ranks #2 for its main keyword.
4. Do something newsworthy
Do you want to be in the news? Then be the news.
When done right, PR stunts can help generate tons of earned media mentions on publications and across social media. I’m sure you’ve heard of at least a few of these campaigns, from Red Bull’s stratospheric dive to Dove’s Real Beauty campaign.
It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive either.
For example, KFC cleverly leveraged their Twitter account to get earned media. They secretly followed 11 people and waited for someone observant enough to notice it was a play on their “secret recipe” —five spices (the five Spice Girls) and six herbs (six people named Herb).
The tweet went viral and helped KFC capture a ton of earned media in marketing-focused magazines and major news publishers.
Now, there is no surefire way of creating a PR campaign that will guarantee press.
However, this question from Tim Ferriss might get you started on the right foot: “What if I couldn’t pitch my product directly? What if I had to sell around the product?”
I’d also recommend reading Trust Me, I’m Lying, Ryan Holiday’s book on PR and media.
5. Attend trade shows
In 2016, I was working for a wearable tech startup (now defunct) that was launching a massage jacket. To prepare for the launch, we decided to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to show off our product.
This was an amazing return for a relatively unknown startup based in tiny Singapore.
There is no doubt that trade shows work in getting earned media mentions. After all, journalists and bloggers specifically attend these trade shows to find exciting things to cover.
But of course, don’t assume that you’ll get earned media just because you’re there. You still need to be newsworthy.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of potential products to talk about at a gigantic conference at CES. Journalists have to choose from these options and report on the few they think their audience will most enjoy (or at least find novel).
In our case, our product positioning—the world’s first massage jacket—caught their attention. Not only had it never been done before, but we also had an actual prototype for them to test.
That made it noteworthy, which resulted in our media mentions.
Recommended reading: How to Dominate Any Tradeshow, and Why Even Solo Entrepreneurs Should Try
6. Send your product for reviews
Another way we got earned media was by reaching out to journalists and offering them a jacket to test.
This strategy works even if you’re an established name. For example, Tim Ferriss sent out more than 1,000 advanced copies of the 4‑Hour Body, which resulted in a ton of Amazon reviews and turned the book into a bestseller.
Now, if you’re an established brand, then getting these reviews should be relatively easy. But what if you’re new, like the jacket company I worked for? How do you know which publications you should reach out to?
The easiest way is to figure out who has reviewed or featured products similar to yours, then reach out and offer them your product for testing.
To do this, brainstorm 2–3 competing brands. For example, if you’ve created new email marketing software, your competitors would be companies like MailChimp and AWeber.
Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and enter a query like
You’ll see tons of pages that mention both competitors.
You can then export the list of unlinked domains, reach out, and try to get your brand mentioned alongside your competitors.
Content creation (owned media) is the prerequisite to rank on Google. But as mentioned above, you cannot control where and how high your content ranks. (Unless you pay for it a la Google Ads, which is paid media.)
For that reason, in our book, SEO is a form of “earned media.”
While you cannot dictate your organic ranking position, you can influence where it ranks. This is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and broadly speaking, it involves:
There’s more toSEO
than just keyword research, creating content, and building links. You also need to have a technically sound website (technical SEO
), well-optimized pages (on-page SEO
, and much more). We’re focusing on the three aspects above here because they’re your bread and butter. You’ll get nowhere unless you create content about things people are searching for and build links to that content.
If there is a thread that connects all earned media and its strategies together, it would be word-of-mouth. And the easiest way to boost word-of-mouth is to delight your customers.
The concept is relatively simple:
If you check these boxes, your customers will naturally share your content on social media, leave positive reviews, and tell their audience about you.
Did I miss any useful tips for getting earned media? Ping me on Twitter.
via SEO Blog by Ahrefs https://ahrefs.com/blog
November 24, 2020 at 05:45PM
Twitter is Bringing Back Public Verifications via @MattGSouthern
Twitter is bringing back verifications after shutting down public applications three years ago. The program is relaunching with a few changes made to the process.
Currently the plan is to relaunch applications in early 2021, which allows for time to gather feedback about how the verification program should be handled going forward.
Twitter states in an announcement:
Twitter is giving the public a look at the first draft of its new policy, which identifies six types of accounts that qualify for verification.
Eligible for Verification
The six types of accounts identified as being eligible for verification are:
In addition to belonging to one of the above six categories, the criteria for becoming verified is reasonably simple.
“To receive the blue badge, your account must be notable and active,” Twitter states in the draft of its new policy.
Notability is defined by falling into one of the categories listed above. Being active on Twitter means the account must be:
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Ineligible for Verification
Twitter also clarifies what will make an account ineligible for verification.
An account will not receive a verification badge if it meets any of this criteria:
Loss of Verification Status
Lastly, Twitter reserves the right to revoke an account’s verification badge if it does any of the following:
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The policy notes badge removals will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will not be done automatically.
Twitter’s verification policy is currently being shared for public feedback and is not final. The policies described in this article may change before the final version is published.
The public feedback period will last two weeks from November 24, 2020 to December 8, 2020. Anyone can submit feedback by completing this survey.
People should be able to apply for a Twitter verified badge in early 2021. More information will be shared when it’s available.
For more details, see the full draft of Twitter’s verification policy here.
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November 24, 2020 at 05:40PM
Google’s 7 Tips for Web Stories & Video Series via @martinibuster
Google published a guide with tips to help creators create more compelling Web Stories. The goal of the tips is to encourage publishers with ideas of how to create better Web Stories.
Web Stories Content Format
Web Stories is a form of content meant to be consumed as snackable content for users who are typically on the go or needing to quickly pass the time with light content.
Google promotes Web Stories across various properties including Search, News and Discover. This gives publishers an opportunity to attract more traffic.
Web Stories can be considered as an additional traffic channel. For example, YouTube and podcasting are traffic channels, ways to obtain visitors that goes beyond the traditional blue links in search results.
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As such, Web Stories are an opportunity to tap into and grow a devoted following that returns day after day for more content.
Web Stories Creative Tips
Along with the 7 creative tips, Google also linked to a YouTube series devoted to getting publishers introduced to the Web Stories format and all the creative possibilities.
1. Use Video
2. First-person storytelling.
3. Take Advantage of Your Brand Identify
4. Display Infographics and Dynamic Visuals.
5. Get a Boost from Illustrations
6. Post Quizzes and Polls
7. Build Excitement Through Animations
Google explains that using videos is useful because they are engaging. The Web Stories format requires using a 9:16 aspect ratio that’s in portrait mode.
Here’s are examples of portrait mode videos:
Portrait Mode Web Stories Videos
Google doesn’t explain why the first-person storytelling format is beneficial other than giving the Web Stories a “personal touch.”
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The encouragement to use your brand identity makes sense in the context of having a visually recognizable logo and color scheme that story consumers immediately identify with your brand in a pleasant way. When they watch a new video there’s going to be a sense of familiarity and comfort associated with the visual continuity of your Brand Identity.
Google recommends original illustrations or cartoons for livening up the Web Stories. They say that (sometimes) stock images and videos aren’t enough.
In my experience, stock images can be considered a starting point for your images. If you have an image processing software like Photoshop, one can alter a stock image or combine two more stock images and create a unique image.
That said, good original content can be best.
Storytime – Google Web Stories Video Series
Google’s also published a video series that provides insights on how to make great Web Stories. The helpful video series is called Storytime and the playlist is available here. The videos are short and do not demand much attention or commitment of time.
The topics begin with an introduction, offers examples of high quality web stories and moves on to production tips, how to build a narrative, how to surface your Web Stories content for more traffic and other topics related to the technical aspects of creating attractive Web Stories.
Put in the Effort and Reap the Rewards
Web Stories may sound like a daunting way to bring more traffic. But that slight learning curve can be considered a barrier to entry to the lazy, untalented and the unambitious. Which means there’s more opportunity for those willing to put some time into learning the new format and enjoying the rewards.
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Read Google’s Tips
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November 24, 2020 at 04:30PM
Google tests multiple contextual links in featured snippets
Google this week began testing showing multiple contextual links within a single featured snippet result. In short, a featured snippet would have not just a single link to the publisher that Google used for this content, but would augment that featured snippet to provide links on phrases that Google feels needs more explanation. The catch is, those links would not link to the place Google grabbed the featured snippet from, but from other web sites.
What it looks like. Brodie Clark spotted this in action earlier this week and posted about it on Twitter. I was able to replicate it and here is a high resolution screen shot of this in action:
How it works. When you hover your mouse cursor over the dotted lines in the featured snippet, Google will overlay content from a third-party site. If you click on that dotted line or overlay, Google will take you to that third-party site, not the site Google uses for the featured snippet result.
Here is a video from Brodie Clark of it in action:
Google confirmed this as a test. A Google spokesperson confirmed with Search Engine Land that this is indeed something the company is testing. Google told us this is still a small experiment and the example we showed the company was not triggering the result in an ideal fashion. Google promises to continue to experiment and refine this feature.
Google’s goal is to help searchers understand jargon or technical terms they might not fully understand, by giving them this additional context without having to leave the page. But again, they can leave the page, by clicking on it, if they want to.
The problem. When featured snippets first launched, Google was called out as being a scraper site for stealing content from hard working publishers. Google did adapt the results over time but initially said publishers will deal with it. But truth is, most SEOs I know would prefer to have the featured snippet over a normal snippet, as they tend to drive more traffic that the normal snippets below it. But this depends and you need to test it.
Now, in this case, so you win the featured snippet and you are super excited. But now, Google is overlaying additional links, to sites that the publisher of this featured snippet did not link to in the source, to other parties. Who knows, maybe even a competitor. You wrote this content, Google is adding links on this content to other sites that are not yours. This can, and likely will, result in less clicks to your site.
Yes, this is useful to the searcher but this is your content, not Google’s. Does Google have a right to add additional links on your content that does not go to your site?
Google will keep testing. As I said above, Google said it is a small experiment. This may never really fully launch and if it does launch, it might launch in a different form. So hopefully, if it does launch, Google will do it in a way that not just helps searchers, but also helps the source of the featured snippet – the publisher.
Web stories in desktop search results. The other part here is that this snippet is not from any specific publisher. This is automatically created using Google’s AI system to build web stories. So Google took content from around the web, put together this web story and the company is using it’s own web story as a featured snippet.
The web story leads to a mobile user interface – and Google has confirmed with us isn’t a great experience on desktop and the company look into what the most appropriate improvements might be for this feature.
Why we care. In this form, Google is doing two things that can hurt publishers.
First, Google is taking publisher’s featured snippets and adding links to sites that are not yours – links you did not add.
Second, Google is using their own AI to build these web stories and sourcing them as featured snippets. Google’s AI builds this content based on numerous sources of content on the web, possibly partially from your own site. Are you getting credit?
The final aspect is that the web stories experience is really mobile centric and it feels awkward on desktop.
About The Author
Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He ownsRustyBrick
, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runsSearch Engine Roundtable
, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is namedCartoon Barry
and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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November 24, 2020 at 04:21PM