Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from the world of search marketing and beyond.
This week, we look at why Google has brought emoji back to the SERP after initially banishing them in 2015, and whether marketers should be taking advantage. And in advertising news, YouTube has announced the impending demise of its least popular ad format, Google is officially rolling out a new look for its ad labels, and Bing has introduced a product listing carousel to its US search results.
Google brings emoji back to the SERPs
Google has officially revealed that emoji will once again appear in search results, reversing a decision taken in 2015 to remove them from the SERP.
Search Engine Roundtable initially broke the story, speculating as to whether this could be another Google bug, to which Google responded that from now on it will be featuring emoji “where relevant, useful and fun. You’ll see them crop up across various snippets moving forward.”
In a piece for Search Engine Watch this week, Clark Boyd looked at why Google might have changed its stance, the rising significance of emoji in digital life, and whether marketers should take advantage of the change.
YouTube is getting rid of 30-second unskippable pre-roll ads
Video lovers everywhere rejoice! …Sort of. Google has announced that it will finally be doing away with that most unpopular of ad formats, the 30-second unskippable pre-roll ad – but not until 2018.
Un-skippable 30 second ads on YouTube is the worst part about living in the future.
— Mikey McBryan (@MikeyMcBryan) February 24, 2017
According to Google, the goal is to improve ad experience for users. “As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers,” a Google spokesperson told Campaign.
But this decision by Google may not be entirely altruistic. Over on our sister site ClickZ, Al Roberts looked at the possible motivations for this move, as well as what Google might push in place of the 30-second ad format.
Google rolls out a new look for ad labels in search
Google is no stranger to experimenting with the look of its search results, and those of us who keep a weather eye on the search industry have got used to changes randomly appearing and disappearing as Google tests out new ideas.
Some of these never officially get rolled out, but Google has now confirmed that a recently-spotted change to the look of its ‘Ad’ labels is being implemented worldwide.
— Jamie Dąbrowiecki (@jdabXO) February 22, 2017
A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land on Wednesday that,
“After experimenting with a new search ad label with a green outline, we’ve decided to roll it out. The new ad label is more legible and continues to make our results page easier to read for our users with clear indication of our ad labeling.”
In the past, numerous studies have confirmed that the majority of users are still unable to distinguish paid ads from organic search results, so this change could be part of Google’s ongoing efforts to make the difference clearer. It will be interesting to see whether it succeeds.
Bing is aiming to be the “Dyson of search”
In spite of a slowly-increasing share of the search market, Bing is no Google. Google is the search engine most of us imagine when we think of searching, and it’s made its way into our language as a verb, “to Google”.
The same was true of the vacuum cleaner company Hoover in the early and mid-20th century, to the point where its name became synonymous with vacuum cleaners and vacuuming in the UK, Ireland and Australia. However, Hoover is no longer the dominant brand of vacuum cleaner and has lost significant ground to competitors such as British company Dyson.
At an event run by ClickZ and Marin Software on Wednesday, the ClickZ Digital Advertising Breakfast, Microsoft Product Marketing Manager James Murray explained how Bing aspires to be the “Dyson of search”, and dominate the market by being innovative and new.
— Bex Sentance (@rainbowbex) February 22, 2017
He also laid out some upcoming improvements to the Bing ad offering, including a “get a ride” button that would allow users to get transport directly to a location or business they just searched for; and talked about the company’s plans for voice search with Cortana.
— Marin Software (@MarinSoftware) February 22, 2017
— Bex Sentance (@rainbowbex) February 22, 2017
Bing introduces product carousel to search results
And speaking of improvements to Bing Ads, Bing has recently introduced a carousel for its product ads in US search results, as reported by the SEM Post on Tuesday.
The new carousel, which appears at the top of search results for product keywords like “laptops”, shows eight product listings, although currently only the first five seem to have a picture.
Carousels are all the rage at the moment as Google began displaying its Shopping Ads in a carousel format back in October 2016. More recently, it has started displaying AMP recipe carousels in the results for mobile search, as well as review carousels for local review sites.