Data-driven attribution to become the default in Google Ads; Tuesday’s daily brief
And, should robots.txt support a feature for no indexation? Take the survey.
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Good morning, Marketers, your reputation precedes you.
What does the web have to say about your business? What’s your online reputation look like these days? Platforms like Google have been making efforts to increase transparency so that users have all the information they need to stay safe, but also to protect themselves from increased regulatory scrutiny.
On the PPC side, we’re seeing this play out in Google’s “About this advertiser” initiative (more on that below). On the organic side, the search engine launched the “About this result” box in February and, over the summer, expanded it to include why it ranked a specific search result.
Although users probably aren’t inspecting these details before every click from the SERP, all the information is available to them, which means that it’s easier for them to find out more about your brand. If you’re in a highly competitive space, and/or if your reputation isn’t stellar, the information could cost you conversions. And, with consumer preference and regulatory trends the way they are, platforms will most likely be releasing more of these features to take some of the heat off. If that’s scary for you, perhaps it’s time to audit your online reputation and business practices to make the necessary changes before it’s too late.
Google Ads announces machine learning-based data-driven attribution models in new privacy landscape
“In a move away from last-click, data-driven attribution [DDA] will soon be the default attribution model for all new Google Ads conversion actions,” tweeted Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin on Monday morning. As Google works toward a more privacy-focused search experience for users, it’s also adjusting the available attribution models for advertisers.
DDA works by looking at all the touchpoints, like clicks and video engagements, on your Search (including Shopping), YouTube and Display ads in Google Ads to compare the paths of customers who converted with ones who didn’t. The model then identifies patterns among those interactions that lead to conversations. Over the coming months, Google Ads will be migrating existing conversion actions to DDA for many advertisers over the coming months, Marvin said.
Why we care. Attribution has long been an issue for marketers. This conundrum is especially salient as FLoC threatens to take away even more data from search advertisers — leaving them cobbling together data on their own. Google Ad’s machine learning attribution model seems to be Google’s solution to this lack of data. “Privacy-centric, DDA trains on real conversion paths & uses machine learning to measure and model conversion credits across touchpoints, even when cookies are missing,” added Marvin.
Additionally, DDA was previously only available to accounts with enough conversions in their recent history. Now, all accounts can run it and it’s replacing last-click as the default.
Many advertisers have claimed that the lack of data and reliance on machine learning makes their jobs harder (how can we optimize when we don’t know exactly what is causing success or failure?). This is another case where they will have to just trust the information that Google Ads is giving them without seeing the inside of the process. However, if done well, it could help many advertisers better understand which campaigns and ads are contributing to overall success throughout the funnel.
Should robots.txt support a feature for no indexation? Take the survey
Have you ever blocked a page from being crawled, yet still wanted it indexed? Eric Enge, SEO veteran and general manager at Perficient Digital, says that he’s never encountered such a situation in his 20+ years in the industry.
A few professionals have taken this idea to Google’s John Mueller, asking whether the company has considered making it so that robots.txt files don’t just block crawling, but also indexation: “That would be a significant change in expectations (and yes, we do think about these things regardless). Do you have some examples where this would cause a visible improvement in search?” Mueller responded. “I’d like to avoid adding more directives. I’m still not aware of common issues caused by this documented functionality … SEOs worry about indexing, but usually these URLs only rank for site:-queries (or if there isn’t other, better content on the site), so it feels artificial?”
What do YOU think? Would it be helpful to have a feature in Robots.txt that allowed you to specify the pages you don’t want to have indexed? Take our quick three-question poll and let us know what you think.
SMX Next Super Early Bird rates end this Saturday
With October right around the corner, marketers should be building out their roadmap for 2022. At SMX Next, happening November 9–10, we hope to help you overcome the search marketing challenges you’re currently facing as well as prepare you for what’s next.
On the SEO side, there’ll be sessions covering Python SEO, auditing your Core Web Vitals and ranking in Discover, News and Web Stories, to name a few. PPC practitioners that attend can learn about incrementality testing, advanced modeling for better forecasting as well as how to develop an RSA strategy as ETAs go by the wayside.
As a former content marketer, I’m particularly excited about our session on the future of content creation, in which we’ll learn how to generate hundreds of new content ideas using data analysis. And, as a member of the search industry, I consider it an honor to present to you career development sessions on effective mentorship programs and what to look for when hiring SEOs.
There are way more sessions that you’ll be able to view live or on-demand, and if you register before 11:59 p.m. ET this Saturday, October 2, you’ll be able to take all those learnings back to your company and with you for the rest of your career, at the lowest possible rate. I hope to see you there!
‘About this advertiser’ initiative now includes Advertisers Pages for Google Ads
Last year, Google launched an identity verification program for advertisers, and with that came the “About the advertiser” disclosure. Last week, the company expanded on this transparency measure by adding advertiser pages that enable users to see the ads a specific verified advertiser has run over the past 30 days. This expansion will be rolling out on YouTube and Google Search in the coming months.
Why we care. The advertiser page gives PPC experts the opportunity to show the integrity of their advertising to users but also leaves a trail of previous advertisements. This will hopefully help keep advertisers in compliance with Google’s ad policies and encourage them to think about how their ad history affects any current ads. It seems like there might be an opportunity for competitors to report ad violations (how would consumers know what violates Google’s ads policies?), but that seems like a super niche use case for this feature.
An attribute for Latino-owned businesses, and jokes that aren’t really jokes
The Latino-owned GMB attribute may be on the way. Google My Business profile managers may already be familiar with the women-led, Asian-owned or veteran-led profile attributes (to name just a few), and it looks like the platform will be adding a Latino-owned attribute soon. Tip of the hat to Colan Nielsen for bringing this to our attention.
The metaverse is an environment created by marketers…for marketers? “Marketers often go into new experiences with brand myopia, over-inflating how much people actually want to engage with their brands,” said Marketoonist creator Tom Fishburne. But, as my colleague Chris Wood so concisely put it, “Brands should experiment with new platforms when a sufficient number of their customers are there.”
John’s got jokes. I do believe John Mueller is satirizing Internet 4.0 and dunking on spammy email outreach tactics all in the same tweet.