Google & Meta Updates

Updates Week of 04/03/2024

Disney announces Google partnership as it expands ad platform

By Nicola Agius

Disney Advertising is teaming up with Google and The Trade Desk to expand its Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange (DRAX).

The partnerships mean that users of Google’s Display & Video 360 and The Trade Desk can directly access streaming inventory on both Hulu and Disney Plus through DRAX.

Why we care. A wider range of marketers, national, regional and local, will now have easier access to ad inventory across Hulu and Disney Plus.

Why now? As businesses move their advertising budgets away from traditional TV to digital video platforms, TV networks are feeling the impact. However, streaming services like Disney Plus and Hulu are gaining traction among advertisers because of their large and engaged viewership. These platforms also provide advanced targeting, interactive features, and real-time analytics, making them competitive choices for marketers aiming to reach their target audiences efficiently.

What Disney is saying. Jamie Power, senior VP, addressable sales at Disney Advertising, said in a statement:

  • “Disney’s goal is to empower advertisers to transact with the freedom and flexibility that best suits their business needs.”
  • “Owning our own technology stack allows us to build a direct path between our premium inventory and the leading  media buying platforms in the industry, simplifying the way ads are bought and sold on Disney, while delivering greater effectiveness for our clients.”

What Google is saying. Stephen Yap, managing director Americas for Google Marketing Platform, said:

  • “For over a decade, Google and Disney have collaborated on industry-leading ad innovations that drive results for customers.”
  • “We are excited to expand on this  relationship to bring Display & Video 360 demand to DRAX, providing our advertisers with a new way to directly purchase Disney’s high-quality CTV inventory and reach their audience with privacy-forward solutions.”
Google suspended 12.7 million ad accounts and blocked 5.5 billion ads in 2023

By Nicola Agius

Google’s 2023 Ads Safety Report revealed that it blocked or removed 12.7 million advertiser accounts last year – nearly double the previous 12 months.

Additionally, the search engine blocked or removed 5.5 billion ads for violating its policies – slightly up from the prior year.

Why we care. Cracking down on fraudulent accounts is critical for brand safety and also helps to ensure a safer space for consumers so that they can confidently make online transactions. However, there’s also a potential risk associated with AI, as it may mistakenly suspend genuine advertisers and ads.

The report findings. In the 2023 Google Ads Safety Report, Google found:

  • Google blocked or removed 206.5 million advertisements for violating our misrepresentation policy, which includes many scam tactics.
  • Google blocked or removed 273.4 million advertisements for violating our financial services policy.
  • Google blocked or removed over 1 billion advertisements for violating its policy against abusing the ad network, which includes promoting malware.
  • Google blocked or restricted ads from serving on more than 2.1 billion publisher pages.
  • Google took broader site-level enforcement action on more than 395,000 publisher sites, up markedly from 2022.

Updates. Google claimed that scams and fraud across all platforms were on the rise in 2023. To counter these threats, it deployed 31 updates to its Ads and Publisher policies, such as:

  • Updating its suitability controls to make it simpler and quicker for advertisers to exclude topics that they wish to avoid across YouTube and Display inventory.
  • Updating its misrepresentation policy to better enable Google to rapidly suspend the accounts of bad actors.
  • Launching its Limited Ads Serving policy, which is designed to protect users by limiting the reach of advertisers with whom Google is less familiar.
  • Launching the Ads Transparency Center – where users can easily search and find ads from verified advertisers across various platforms such as Search, YouTube, and Display.

AI. In the report, Google highlighted how AI is playing a crucial role in its efforts to combat bad actors. By using AI, Google claims it can identify and suspend fraudulent accounts before they even get onto its platforms, or remove them as soon as they’re detected.

Moving forward. Google did not share exact details on what future updates we can expect we move further into 2024, however, the search engine confirmed it would continue to investment in policy, detection and enforcement.

Appeals. If you disagree with Google’s decisions and do not believe your ad violated its policies, you can appeal any enforcement action. Google will review your appeal, and if it determines that it made an incorrect decision, it will use these instances to enhance its systems.

What Google is saying. Duncan Lennox, VP & GM of Ads Privacy and Safety, said in a statement:

  • “Our goal is to catch bad ads and suspend fraudulent accounts before they make it onto our platforms or remove them immediately once detected. AI is improving our enforcement on all fronts.”
  • “To put the impact of AI on this work into perspective: last year more than 90% of our publisher page level enforcement started with the use of machine learning models, including our latest LLMs.”
Meta announces major audience targeting and insights update

By Nicola Agius

Meta launched new audience insight and targeting options within its Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns.

These new capabilities allow you to generate reporting breakdowns of your audience and target individuals interested in your products or services who haven’t yet made a purchase.

Why we care. Understanding your audience better enables more effective campaign optimization, while precise targeting capabilities help reach high-value consumers. Both aspects can lead to increased conversions and overall campaign success.

Enhanced audience insights. Meta has introduced a new feature called the “engaged customers audience segment”

With the Engaged Customers Audience Segment, you can define your engaged customers using custom audiences, which provides reporting breakdowns specifically for this audience.

Report breakdown. Meta now offers a new segment to analyze results in Ads Manager. Just go to the Breakdown menu and choose “Demographics by Audience Segments.” From there, you’ll see separate rows for New Customers, Existing Customers, and Engaged Customers.

Enhanced targeting. In Ad Account Settings within Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns, you can specify your engaged customers using a custom audience.

Engaged customers are “people who are aware of your business or interacted with your products or services, but have not made a purchase,” according to Meta.

With enhanced targeting, you can make a custom audience or multiple custom audiences for engaged customers, but you’ll likely need to leave out paying customers when setting them up.

Exploring Meridian, Google’s new open-source marketing mix model

By Benjamin Wenner 

Meridian, Google’s new open-source Marketing Mix Model (MMM), has entered the rapidly evolving market for advanced marketing analytics and forecasting tools. 

This article explores Meridian’s key features, capabilities and limitations, comparing it with Meta’s MMM called Robyn.

It delves into how Meridian leverages advanced techniques like hierarchical geo-level modeling, Bayesian methods and scenario analysis to offer actionable insights for cross-channel budget optimization and marketing strategy development.

Understanding marketing mix models

The marketing mix model empowers marketers to analyze how various marketing strategies influence sales and forecast future results.

In essence, MMMs split the drivers of sales into factors (e.g., price, product attributes, distribution, promotional actions) and external issues (e.g., economic state or competitive moves).

By analyzing historical data, these models assign numerical values to each component of the marketing mix in relation to total sales, requiring statistical methods to assess individual marketing activities and external factors.

Consequently, this knowledge allows marketers to optimize strategies, allocate budgets more wisely and forecast how a change in one element will affect future sales. 

MMMs employ regression analysis or similar statistical techniques on large quantities of data related to sales and marketing to identify patterns and causality relationships, among others.

This enables companies to make data-driven decisions, optimizing resource allocation across key activities like product pricing and improving brand loyalty through enhanced consumer understanding.

In navigating a complex market, the precision and insights marketing mix models provide are essential for strategic planning.

How does Meridian fit into the MMM landscape and what does it offer? 

Meridian is an open-source MMM that aims to support teams in developing models that provide deeper insights into marketing outcomes and decision-making. It strongly emphasizes privacy, advanced measurement and accessibility for marketers. 

Meridian brings forth innovations that offer more precise and actionable insights, according to Google. It includes features like calibration with incrementality experiments, incorporation of reach and frequency and specialized guidance on measuring search across all media channels. 

What makes Meridian stand out is its transparency, allowing users to customize the code and parameters to meet their specific requirements. This makes it a highly effective tool for enhancing measurement strategies. 

Additionally, it provides actionable data inputs and modeling guidance for optimizing cross-channel budgets. It also offers comprehensive educational resources and support for implementation.

As companies increasingly recognize the value of MMMs in achieving revenue goals, Meridian provides a solution that combines innovation, transparency and practicality.

Based on the press release, it seems Meridian does not differ from other MMM tools. Reputable MMM tools prioritize privacy, employ Bayesian methods and offer a wide selection of control variables and customizable settings.

The documentation reveals that Google’s Meridian employs a more advanced approach than other solutions.

While Google’s documentation is extensive, it’s essential not to underestimate the complexity of implementing and handling data. Technical and analytical support for modeling work is highly recommended.

Implementing MMMs can be challenging even without prior experience, as it requires selecting the right data, training the model and adjusting various parameters.

Updates Week of 3/20/2024

What we’re seeing a week into the Google March 2024 core and spam updates

By Barry Schwartz 

We are now just about a week into the Google March 2024 core and spam updates, and boy, has it been busy. In that time, we have seen search ranking volatility, some related to the algorithmic updates and some related to Google issuing manual actions to implement updated spam policies.

Not done yet. It is important to stress that these updates are far from over. Google said the core update will take about a month to roll out fully and there will be several systems updated during that time. The spam update will take about two weeks to roll out as well. We are only a week into the update, so expect more ranking changes in the search results over the next few weeks.

Timeline of changes. Here is a brief timeline of the changes we saw over the past week:

  • March 5th – Google announced the Google March 2024 core and spam updates.
  • March 6th and 7th – Google issued many manual actions regarding spam policy violations, and many sites saw that they were delisted from Google Search.
  • March 8th and 9th – We may have seen the first signs of the core and/or spam update impacting site rankings algorithmically.
  • March 10th and 11th—Google seemed to calm a bit, but at the same time, a number (not many) of reports showed that some sites that were hit by both the algorithmic changes and manual actions saw some reversals (at least temporarily).

Overlapping updates and confusion. With so many changes happening simultaneously in Google Search, it is hard to keep track of what is impacting what. We have a core update, a spam update, manual actions and also the Core Web Vitals change today. The impact of overlapping changes is likely to confuse SEOs and site owners.

In fact, Google is deviating from its stated goal of limiting overlapping updates. In 2021, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan said they try not to overlap update. He repeated that in 2022 saying, “We’ve worked very hard to keep updates separated from each other, or as little overlap as possible, to help creators understand more.”

He reiterated that with this past update, adding, “We do generally try to avoid this, but we had both the core update and the spam update ready, and ultimately, we’re going to push updates we think will improve the quality of search results. Manual actions aren’t an update. New spam policies aren’t an algorithmic update. So those aren’t “updates” that “overlap” with the core and spam updates.”

Examples. I posted a number of examples of these changes on the Search Engine Roundtable, but here is a quick post on X of some charts:

Why we care. Watching these updates roll out on a day-to-day basis may be fun for me, since I write about it. But for SEOs and site owners, it can be very stressful. It probably makes sense to wait for these various updates to complete and see where the dust settles.

Until then, you can continue to take Google’s advice and improve your site’s content quality and user experience. That is never a bad thing to focus on at any time.

Stay tuned for the status of all these Google search algorithm update rollouts.

Optimizing Google Ads without Keywords


Keywords were once the core targeting mechanism in Google Search campaigns. Keywords informed searchers’ needs and advertisers’ ads and landing pages. But the importance of keywords dwindled in the last decade for various reasons, including:

  • Less-precise match types.
  • Intent-focused smart bidding.
  • Keyword-less campaign types.

Keywords remain critical (and necessary) for standard Search campaigns. Yet other entities increasingly determine account success. Keyword queries alone don’t reveal searchers’ intent.

Here’s how to future-proof Google Ads accounts beyond keywords.

Less-precise Match Types

The problem:

Exact and phrase-match campaigns used to show only ads with the precise keywords. For example, bidding on the exact match of “baseball gloves” would only trigger ads when searchers typed that identical query. Phrase match bids would show only ads with the exact words in the same order.

Over time, Google introduced relaxed variants for similar queries, such as:

  • Singular and plural (“baseball” glove),
  • Misspellings (“baseeball” gloves),
  • Close variants (“catcher” gloves).

Broad match keywords combined with smart bidding are now common. Google says it considers users’ recent searches, the landing page content, and other keywords in an ad group. Thus a broad match ad for “low-carb diet plan” can show for:

  • “carb-free foods,”
  • “low-carb diets,”
  • “mediterranean diet books,”
  • “how to cut carbs for beginners,”
  • “carb-free meals.”

The solution:

Consider keywords as themes, a starting point. For example, a phrase match bid on “baseball gloves” could trigger searches for “baseball gloves under $100.” Yet an advertiser whose gloves cost more than $100 could opt not to assign negative keywords, as Google may know searchers’ preferences and show ads accordingly. Perhaps a searcher has queried with and without price and demonstrated (to Google) her preference for gloves costing more than $100. This leads to the next point.

Intent-focused Smart Bidding

The problem:

Manual bidding gives advertisers the most control. An example is setting a maximum amount per keyword. Furthermore, advertisers can place modifiers, such as increasing mobile bids by 20%. But those manual tactics are now outdated given the shift to intent and away from words alone.

The solution:

Google’s smart bidding uses artificial intelligence to optimize conversions or revenue. Google’s AI tracks hundreds of signals to show the right ad to the right user and adds device or location modifiers automatically. An advertiser with most sales between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. could see its bids automatically increase during this time.

The actual keyword is less important. A query for “research baseball gloves” —  normally information-focused — could show an ad selling baseball gloves if the searcher’s previous queries were shopping-related.

Keyword-less Campaign Types

The problem:

The rise of close variants and smart bidding can seemingly mask advertisers’ keyword gaps. Yet Google claims billions of searches daily, with 15% new queries. It’s impossible to bid on every existing or future keyword, even for huge accounts.

The solution:

Shopping, Dynamic Search Ads, and Performance Max campaigns show ads on Google Search results. None use keywords, focusing instead on other factors. Shopping and Dynamic Search campaigns show ads based on advertisers’ product-feed attributes and site content. Even Performance Max, with ads on Google’s Display Network and on Search, relies on advertiser-provided signals.

In short, search intent — not keywords — increasingly determines which ads appear.

Meta announces major updates to Advantage+ and Shopping Ads

By Nicola Agius      

Meta announced a string of updates to its Advantage+ and Shopping Ads, designed to help brands improve engagement, drive conversions and deliver more personalized ads.

The platform claims that the updates will help give consumers “the confidence to make a purchase after seeing an ad.”

Advantage+ creative optimizations. This feature can now automatically optimize video ads to fit Reels or the mobile Facebook and Instagram apps with a 9:16 aspect ratio. Advantage+ creative optimizations also enable advertisers to generate multiple ad variations dynamically, tailoring them to each individual’s preferences for maximum effectiveness.

 Advantage+ catalog ads update. Advertisers can now include branded videos or customer demonstrations instead of just static images. Additionally, all global advertisers can now provide more engaging product information to shoppers through dynamic and personalized videos, as shown in the image below:

Hero images in catalog ads. Advertisers can now upload a hero image to the center of their Advantage+ catalog ads. Meta will then use AI to dynamically show people the best products from their catalog to drive performance, as shown in the image below:

More eCommerce ad options. Meta is expanding access to its Magento and Salesforce Commerce Cloud integrations for more advertisers to utilize Shops ads. This includes combining Advantage+ shopping campaigns with Shops ads. Additionally, Meta is introducing Shops ads to Partnership ads, enabling businesses to run collaborative campaigns with creators, brands, or other businesses.

Reminder ads. Advertisers can now incorporate external links to new products or sales in their Reminder ads, enhancing the potential to convert interest into purchases. Additionally, this summer, Meta will introduce additional methods for advertisers to notify users when an event begins and before it concludes. Furthermore, Meta plans to extend Reminder ads to Reels, providing advertisers with more interactive ways to connect with customers.

Promo codes. Meta is globally introducing alphanumeric promo codes to allow more advertisers to showcase their promotions and assist users in discovering and applying relevant, valid promo codes through Facebook and Instagram ads. According to Meta, advertisers who have previously utilized this feature experienced a median reduction of 9.1% in cost per purchase in their campaigns and a median increase of 10.1% in conversions.

Ads with product tags expansion. Starting in March, Meta will introduce ads with product tags to the Facebook Feed (currently available only on Instagram). Then, in April, Meta will globally launch ads with product tags for all businesses, regardless of whether they have a Shop.

Collaborative ads update. Meta is improving its Collaborative ads feature by offering advertisers more insights into performance. Additionally, Meta is testing the ability for advertisers to use Collaborative ads in conjunction with Advantage+ shopping campaigns.

Coming soon. This spring, Meta will launch Advantage+ Catalog ads with comprehensive reporting capabilities. This managed service solution aims to help retail media networks prove the effectiveness of ads on Meta platforms in driving sales both online and in-store.

Why we care. Staying current with the latest advertising features and capabilities from Meta can significantly impact your success. These updates have the potential to expand your reach, enhance conversions, and provide valuable insights to optimize your ads more effectively.

What Meta is saying. Meta said in a statement:

  • “Shoppers want to make faster purchase decisions without the need for outside help or guidance.”
  • “[That’s why] we’re introducing new AI-powered tools that provide more information and personalization to people at the moment of discovery to give them the confidence to make a purchase after seeing an ad.”

Optimizing your Performance Max campaigns with Google Ads, GA4 data

By Janet Driscoll Miller

Performance Max ads have been touted as an efficient way to manage Google Ads across multiple Google-owned channels, making campaign management simpler for PPC advertisers.

It combines all of Google Ads’ channel options together in one campaign and uses Google’s AI (Gemini) to optimize budgets and ad serving across all channels based on performance. 

On the surface, I’ve seen great results from our clients’ Performance Max campaigns, but it’s certainly left me wondering which channels performed best.

Imagine the learnings you could glean from the rapid testing and data collection of AI applied to your Google Ads!

It could easily help you tweak and improve channel-specific campaigns and even utilize learnings from Google Ads across other ad platforms.

Exploring Performance Max data

Delving down into Performance Max data is easier said than done. Google is careful in providing only certain insights into the campaigns.

For example, within Google Ads (and when pulling the data from Google Ads via the API), advertisers can’t parse out performance data, such as conversions or cost per conversion, by channel. And why not?

I believe Google is using Performance Max for two main goals. 

First, Google will likely realize that certain ad channels, such as Google Discover, act more as a branding interaction than a bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) interaction.

With marketers mostly being measured by performance, such as clicks and conversions, I suspect advertisers weren’t biting on these ad formats.

Performance Max allows Google a conduit to force advertisers to use channels they may not have originally chosen under the guise of overall optimized performance.

However, marketers benefit from AI-optimized ad-serving, but at a cost. We can’t remove the channels from Performance Max, which is affecting overall conversion performance.

So if Google Discover is negatively affecting performance, will Google stop showing your Performance Max ads there, or will they continue to show the ad on Google Discover to boost that ad channel’s usage at the expense of optimal click and conversion performance for your campaign? 

Unfortunately, advertisers aren’t able to adjust Performance Max channels and have relatively no visibility into ad channel performance.

And therein lies the conundrum with Performance Max. Love it for the budget optimization or hate it for the lack of performance control. 

If you, too, have a love/hate relationship with Performance Max, let me share some ways you can bend Performance Max to your marketing will through data from both Google Ads and GA4, even despite its data limitations.

As Menachem Ani shares in his 2022 article, focus your effort on guiding the AI machine.

Create broader campaigns and learn from them

When we first started testing Performance Max for a fine wine retailer we work with, at the advice of other Performance Max experts, we created very specific wine variety campaigns, such as champagne, merlot, white zinfandel, etc. However, we didn’t find this necessarily successful. 

While some wine varieties performed well, less popular varieties struggled. Even after garnering high CTR, they often didn’t result in conversion and revenue.

We shifted strategies and decided to go a bit broader. With this strategy, we determined which varieties performed strongly through revenue data. Those that performed well earned their own breakout Performance Max campaign.

When testing Performance Max, consider starting with a broader category and then learning from your data to narrow it down.

You can glean this information from GA4 using an Explorations report (or pull the data via the GA4 API) and review item sales by campaign.

This will tell you the specific categories performing well through Performance Max and could likely support their specific Performance Max campaign.

Updates Week of 3/09/2024

Google Updates Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines

Google updates Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines with details and examples to identify untrustworthy websites.

By Matt Southern

  • Google has updated its "Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines" with details about determining website trustworthiness.

  • The updated guidelines include new characteristics of untrustworthy pages and illustrative examples to help quality raters make informed assessments.

  • Quality raters don't directly influence search rankings. They provide feedback that shapes future updates.

Google has updated its “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines,” a comprehensive 170-page document that serves as a framework for quality raters to assess websites effectively.

The update on follows the search engine’s latest Core and Spam updates.

Insights Into Trustworthiness

The updated guidelines provide valuable insights into how Google determines the trustworthiness of webpages and websites.

While the quality raters don’t directly influence search rankings, the document explains what Google considers essential for a high-quality website.

Latest Changes

According to the changelog on page 170 of the document, Google has “updated characteristics of untrustworthy pages and added illustrative examples.”

This marks the first update to the guidelines since November 2023, highlighting the significance of the changes made.

Untrustworthy Webpages & Websites

The new information is on page 35, Section 4.5, titled “Untrustworthy Webpages or Websites.”

Google has expanded the list of characteristics that quality raters should look for when assessing the trustworthiness of a webpage or website.

The document now states that a page should be considered untrustworthy if it contains “multiple or significant factual inaccuracies on an informational page which would cause users to lose trust in the webpage as a reliable source of information.”

The Importance Of Trustworthy Content

The Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines updates are notable as the internet continues to grow and evolve rapidly.

With the increasing prevalence of misinformation, it’s more important than ever for search engines to prioritize trustworthy and accurate content.

Implications For Website Owners & SEO Professionals

As Google continues to refine its algorithms and guidelines, website owners and SEO professionals should take note of these changes and strive to create high-quality, trustworthy content that meets the search engine’s standards.

Doing so can improve their chances of ranking well in search results and provide users with the reliable information they seek.

In Summary

The updated Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines serve as a valuable resource for anyone looking to understand Google’s expectations for website quality. As the search landscape evolves, staying informed about these guidelines and adapting accordingly will be essential for continued success.

Google issues search ranking penalties through manual actions

Check your properties within Google Search Console for manual actions to see if you were impacted.

By Barry Schwartz  

The day after Google released its new search spam policies, including the March 2024 spam and core updates, Google began penalizing websites that the search company felt violated those spam policies.

The result of these search penalties was that some sites were completely or partially de-listed from Google’s search results, and all or part of their search traffic was wiped out.

These sites also received a notice of these penalties in the manual actions section within Google Search Console.

Manual actions. Google explains that “Google issues a manual action against a site when a human reviewer at Google has determined that pages on the site are not compliant with Google’s spam policies. Most manual actions address attempts to manipulate our search index. Most issues reported here will result in pages or sites being ranked lower or omitted from search results without any visual indication to the user.”

Examples. Google has issued a number of pure spam manual actions. Those pure spam actions are “pages on this site appear to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping content from other websites, and/or repeated or egregious violations of Google’s spam policies for web search,” according to the violation notices.

Some are also reporting getting manual actions for “misleading content.” Google says in that violation, “Your site appears to violate our misleading content policy and misleads users into engaging with it by promising details which are not reflected in the content.”

I posted dozens of examples of these complaints on the Search Engine Roundtable.

Manual actions vs algorithmic updates. It is important to note that manual actions are done by humans at Google. Humans review your site and determines the site is in violation of a spam policy. Google may automated some of the processes around finding these violations but they are considered “manual” by Google.

Algorithm updates, like the March 2024 core update or spam update would not get notified of a ranking decline through Google Search Console’s manual action viewer. Algorithmic updates are automated and Google does not notify the site owner when a site is negatively (or positively) impacted by an algorithm update. Of course, a site can both be impacted by a manual action and an algorithm update.

How to fix your site after a manual action. If you get a manual action, that means you can take steps to fix the violation and remove the manual action. Here are the steps you can take according to Google:

  1. Expand the manual action description panel on the report for more information.
  2. See which pages are affected.
  3. See the type and short description of the issue, and follow the “Learn more” link to see detailed information and steps to fix the issue. (You can find the detailed information for each action below on this page).
  4. Fix the issue on all affected pages. Fixing the issue on just some pages will not earn you a partial return to search results. If you have multiple manual actions on your site, read about and fix all of them.
  5. Be sure that Google can reach your pages; affected pages should not require a login, be behind a paywall, or be blocked by robots.txt or a noindex directive. You can test accessibility by using the URL Inspection tool.
  6. When all issues listed in the report are fixed in all pages, select Request Review in this report. In your reconsideration request, describe your fixes. A good request does three things:
    • Explains the exact quality issue on your site.
    • Describes the steps you’ve taken to fix the issue.
    • Documents the outcome of your efforts.
  7. Reconsideration reviews can take some time (see below). You will be informed of progress by email. You will get a review confirmation message when you send your request, to inform you that the review is in progress; don’t resubmit your request before you get a final decision on your outstanding request.

How long does it take. Google says “most reconsideration reviews can take several days or weeks, although in some cases, such as link-related reconsideration requests, it may take longer than usual to review your request.” 

Google added that you will be informed by email when we receive your request, so you’ll know it is active. You will also receive an email when the review is complete.

Why we care. We recommend you check your site’s manual action viewer to see if you have any manual actions. If so, you might notice a huge drop in traffic and even notice your site was delisted from Google Search.

If you were hit, you need to decide what actions to take to recover and then go through the reconsideration request process.

Keep in mind, the core and spam updates are different from manual actions and those will take 2-4 weeks to roll out fully.

No link between social media engagement and content readership, study finds

By Nicola Agius

There is no clear connection between social media engagement and page views for news publishers, according to a new study.

Additionally, less than 1% of readers to news articles come from social media, according to research conducted by Memo.

Why we care. Using social media to increase your coverage doesn’t seem to bring as much benefit as before for news publishers. It’s also important to know that just because people engage on social media doesn’t necessarily mean they’re genuinely engaging with the news.

The study. In 2022, Memo conducted research comparing social engagement and article readership. Given the dynamic changes in the social landscape, Memo decided to revisit this study in 2024. The company analyzed 26,000 news articles published between January 20 and February 20, covering a wide range of topics and industries.

The results. Memo investigated the correlation coefficient between social engagement (total reactions, comments, and shares) and readership (unique visitors to news articles). To provide context, a perfect positive correlation is represented by 1, while 0 indicates no correlation. Across the various industries, Memo found that the correlation mostly ranged around or below 0.1. As explained by Memo”

  • “Across all the articles and topics we analyzed, we found no clear connection between social engagement and actual readers of the news.”

Exceptions. Among the categories studied, only three showed a tendency toward a low-end moderate correlation: Politics, Sports & Athletics, and Crises (for example, incidents like mass shootings and major brand crises).

What Memo is saying. Memo said in a statement:

  • “The social media landscape is shifting. Platforms are adjusting algorithms to de-prioritize news in an effort to combat the spread of misinformation.”
  • “While social media used to be seen as the pulse of consumer interest, comms teams today know that it’s not the end-all-be-all.”
New Site Level Approvals For AdSense for Search (AFS) Sites

By Barry Scwartz

Google is getting serious with where their ads show since all the bad PR and now Google AdSense is requiring new site-level approval process for AdSense for Search (AFS) sites. This started on March 4, 2024, but Google didn't announce it until yesterday afternoon.

Google wrote, "Starting March 4, 2024, before you can show ads via AdSense for Search (AFS) on a new site, you'll need to add your site to the Sites page in your AdSense account."

This applies for each new site that you add to your AdSense for Search program. Google said each new site "will go through a verification process that checks that you own the domain or have the ability to modify its content. The process will also review your site for compliance with the AdSense Program policies and Google Publisher policies. After checks are completed, your site will be marked as "Ready" and you can start showing AFS ads."

Google will launch this in different stages and timelines:

  • Any existing sites you are currently monetizing with AFS should automatically appear on the Sites page in your AdSense account. You have until August 30, 2024, to submit your sites for approval. Ads will continue to serve during this interim period.

  • If you haven't submitted your sites for review before August 30, 2024, Google will cease to serve AFS ads until your site is successfully approved.

Updates Week of 3/01/2024

Google Ads will automatically start pausing ad groups with low activity.   

By Nicola Aguis

Google Ads will automatically start pausing ad groups with low activity.

From March 11, ads groups created at least 13 months ago and have not had impressions in the past 13 months will be paused to improve budget efficiency for advertisers.

The rollout is expected to take just over seven weeks, with completion for all production Google Ads accounts by April 30.

Unpausing ad groups. If this change affects your ads, you can turn them back on if needed. However, Google advises reviewing your ad groups first and only unpausing ones you expect to get impressions in the coming weeks. If unpaused ad groups don’t get any impressions in the following three months, Google will automatically pause them again.

Editing. Google confirmed that you will still be able to update your ad groups and make changes while they are in a paused state in case you want to unpause them.

Why we care. Navah Hopkins, Evangelist at Optmyzr, explained this move would improve budget efficiency and campaign quality for advertisers. She said on LinkedIn:

  • “I am over the moon with this update! For years I have been begging brands to pause what’s not working so budget efficiency can win the day. This is absolutely a net positive.”
  • “Google sets budgets at the campaign level. If you have too many ad groups (looking at you accounts with 10+), odds are your budget won’t be able to support all of them.”
  • “Ad groups with no impressions drag down the overall quality of the campaign. If you have too many keywords and ad groups doing nothing, that averages in bad data. Zero impressions is not the same as low search volume and it is confirmed low search volume keywords are not going to hurt you. However if you have an otherwise “worthy” keyword/ad group that’s just not getting any action, it’s going to average in bad data.”
  • “Pausing is not the same as removing. You can always get it back. Also, that the timeline is 13 months confirms this is looking at established accounts and factoring in seasonality.”
Google Messages rolling out new contact Details page

By Abner Li  

As we previously spotted, Google Messages is beginning to roll out a new in-app contacts page with a touch of Material You.

Update 2/28/24: Over the past two weeks, this new Google Messages contact page has become more widely available for beta users. Once available on your device, a prompt explains how you “Tap for photos, videos & links shared in this conversation.”

Besides hitting the contact photo/name in the app bar, you can also access it from a conversation’s overflow menu > Details. This has not yet launched for stable users.        

Original 12/12/23: Previously, tapping the photo + name at the top of a conversation would open a full Google Contacts entry. This now opens an in-app page generated by Google Messages. 

You get a centered profile picture, name, and number at the top. This is followed by circular shortcuts to place a phone or Meet call, open Google Contacts, and search. 

The card for “Images” is straightforward and can take you to a full grid view, but be sure to play around with the animated Material 3 carousel. To our knowledge, Messages is the first Google app to implement this new component.

Instead of your 10 most recent images in the carousel being the same size, “items expand and shrink as they’re scrolled” with their shapes changing from rounded rectangles to squares and vertical pills. You can also see “Videos, links, & more” and “Starred” messages from here.

Then there’s “Videos, links & more” and “Starred.”

Next is a card with a shortcut to Notifications, “Only send SMS & MMS messages” toggle, and “Block & report” spam. Google will note End-to-end encryption status with the ability to “Verify encryption.” The final “people” section is useful in group conversations.

Google Messages’ new contacts page is not yet widely rolled out, but is beginning to appear for beta users. Meanwhile, Profiles have yet to see wide availability.

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Meta’s layoffs continue to impact advertisers as the company replaces account team members with AI

 By Krystal Scanlon  

Getting urgent emails from CMOs is just part of the daily grind for agency execs, but one note recently caught the attention of an agency exec more than usual.

The client was irate because their entire Meta account team had been overhauled and downsized without their say. They felt they should’ve been consulted, given their significant ad spend, which the agency exec declined to share. Once the CMO had cooled off, they confided in the agency exec that they had never even worked directly with their previous account manager at Meta. 

The agency exec’s response was straight to the point: they said that talking to a live human at Meta wasn’t necessary for every issue — just something that would be nice to have.

“They felt like they deserved that [Meta] team because of how much they spend with Meta, but had to admit they didn’t actually need it,” said the agency exec, who preferred to remain anonymous to protect their client relationship.

It’s safe to say that those 20,000 job losses at Meta last year definitely shook things up at that CMO’s marketing team, a brand that the agency exec declined to name. As the agency exec explained: “The client was really upset by the change — even though the [Meta] team wasn’t being fully automated [but downsized].”

But there’s a number of marketers who share similar frustrations with Meta; that they aren’t getting the premium service they believe they’re paying for. Meta continues to dominate the other social platforms and take the lion’s share of their dollars. Despite that, ad execs continue to encounter bugs on the platform, while teams and services are gradually being stripped away and replaced with AI and chatbots. Marketers have resigned themselves to the fact that until another platform outperforms Meta, they have to put up and shut up.

“I’d be lying if I said everyone who was on our [Meta] account team had an impact on our business,” confessed one senior marketer at a CPG business.

So, when this marketer was notified their account team would be more automated, any frustrations gradually gave way to quiet resignation.

“Our account was loaded with people who we weren’t sure what they did or didn’t respond to requests,” continued the marketer. “Now, we have a handful of execs on the account, and a chat service to get the rest of the support.”

When it really boiled down to it, sure, these ad execs were happy when Meta offered full teams at their disposal, but most of them probably weren’t indispensable. It’s a sobering realization to consider how arguably bloated these teams once were.

Pre-cuts, account teams could balloon to five to 10 people across local, regional, and global marketing divisions for the same advertiser. Now, according to execs interviewed for this article, those teams have slimmed down to just two or three people at most. Even for those marketers fortunate enough to dodge downsizing, like those at ad agencies, the pressure on Meta to do more with less is tangible. They’re well aware that their Meta account execs are being stretched thin, taking on additional responsibilities from account management to ad operations.

“At Meta we have had a lot of this happen,” said Elijah Schneider, CEO of Modifly. “Both reps being replaced and the data team. Biggest one we have seen is within their lift studies. They [Meta] automated these versus being managed by them.”

Two other ad execs backed this up. They all said it was rare these days for Meta to do anything but automate the process irrespective of the size of the advertiser’s coffers. That’s par for the course nowadays given Meta clearly wants to automate as much advertising across its ecosystem as possible — just look at the rise of Advantage Plus — the product enables advertisers to automate much of their campaign process, saving time and effort. But by doing this, advertisers are effectively handing over control to Meta, and they have restricted access to analytics and derived insights.

How AI can affect measurement

But, it’s also a sore point for those marketers who feel they’re losing control over measurement. Relying solely on AI removes the need for holistic measurement, shifting trust to algorithms. It’s a reality advertisers on Advantage Plus know all too well.

“They literally said [via email] we don’t offer that as a managed service anymore, but here’s essentially a Meta learning platform with links and from that you can download our software,” Schneider said. 

And it got worse. 

“The thing that sucks is we communicated this [product] to our clients, because we have done this in the past with them,” Schneider explained. ”We’d say, ‘OK, to solve that problem, this is what we would do’. But despite talking to our reps once a week, no one communicated that they didn’t offer this anymore. So I’m having to go back to my clients to say ‘hey, sorry’ and explain to them that Meta has just cut the service.”

That point about communication — or the lack thereof — is a salient one. Ad execs have consistently raised it as an issue, from not having sufficient help in place to assist marketers in adapting to these changes to not even effectively communicating them. It’s left advertisers feeling that the way Meta has handled these cuts has been, to say the least, insensitive.

Here’s an example, courtesy of an agency exec from earlier: “One U.S. brand, which spends low nine figures on Meta, has seen their rep change seven or eight times in the last year and a half alone. Every rep email and advice is about awareness and engagement ads.”

Changes like this and the resulting challenges for advertisers are indicative of a platform continuously striving to optimize itself to maximize ad revenue opportunities at any given moment.

“We haven’t seen any sort of material change in how our clients get treated, and the level of support they get” said Kevin Goodwin, vp of performance marketing at New Engen. “What we do see is that those people are helping us more with the big, strategic areas, and hand us off to general support for tactical needs.”

How AI has exacerbated Meta’s support issues

For years, Meta’s account teams have been in constant flux, repeatedly restructured, sometimes as often as twice a year or quarterly, to keep pace with the company’s push for greater ad revenue. Gone are the days when these teams simply handled customer support tasks like troubleshooting system bugs or campaign issues. Now, discussions center on strategic ways for advertisers to optimize their investments on Facebook and Instagram. Automation has been steadily taking on more responsibility, and its role is set to expand further as Meta seeks to strike a balance between costs, profits and investor satisfaction to maintain a strong stock price.

“I think a lot of people looked at what we [Meta] were doing [laying off staff and replacing them with AI and systems] as if it might have been some kind of short-term thing, which that’s never really our focus,” Zuckerberg continued on the recent earnings call. “The part about making the company leaner, I think, is the more important part to take forward, because obviously, we’re in a place now where the business is performing well.”

Having hordes of dedicated account teams are no longer conducive to that balance. It probably never was, to be fair, but it’s an issue that no doubt became more acute once Meta got a renewed taste for operational efficiencies, especially given how its ads business is wired. The growth of it is predicated on the longer tail of smaller and regional advertisers, not the fortune 500s. To be able to service those smaller clients and not the largest advertisers, Meta has to turn to automation and AI to make its ads business more profitable — irrespective of how marketers feel about the service they get in return. 

“This is something where you first take insertion orders for large advertisers and you don’t have any self-serve model,” said Jeremy Goldman, senior director of marketing of commerce, and tech briefings at Insider Intelligence. “Then you have a self serve model because you open that up too and then you try to move more and more things into that self serve model you improve upon it. Nobody’s goal is to have bad customer service, but you want to make it more efficient.”

On this note, it becomes clearer why some marketers have felt the impact of these changes more than others. The main differentiator? Usually, it boils down to the amount of money spent. Those who have seen their account teams shrink are often the ones who have reported reduced or missed spending commitments with Meta over the last year or so. That’s not to say that these issues won’t ruffle more marketers sooner or later. Remember, Meta’s long-term goal is to automate as much of its ads business as possible. This is just the latest step in the long, winding road toward it.

Last year was dubbed by Zuckerberg, as the “year of efficiency” as the company reduced its overall headcount by 22% to 67,317, per the recent earnings report.

“Everyone is saying it was the year of efficiency, but it’s the year of right sizing,” said Schneider. “If a business only needs 40 people and you have 70, but nothing has changed in your business, it’s just the growth slowed down because of macro factors, you need to right size it otherwise it’s not healthy. When you look at a company of their [Meta’s] size, 90% of the revenue is automated.”

As Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg put it on the company’s recent earnings call: “Last year [2023], not only did we achieve our efficiency goals, but we returned to strong revenue growth, saw strong engagement across our apps, shipped a number of exciting new products… and of course established a world-class AI effort that is going to be the foundation for many of our future products… Now moving forward, a major goal will be building the most popular and most advanced AI products and services.” Meta advertising revenue reached $40.11 billion in Q4 2023, according to the company’s most recent earnings report.

Meta declined to comment on this story.

Google Ads Support Chat Reps May Be Using Google Translate

By Barry Schwartz

Did you know that some Google Ads support representatives you are chatting with may be using Google Translate? They may be automatically translating your questions from English or whatever language and then responding with Google Translate from their language to yours.

This happened to Thomas Eccel, who actually was a Google Ads support rep back in the day, but now is a Google Ads consultant. He wrote on LinkedIn, "Google Translate now integrated in Google Ads Support." "In this case the agent might have written in Portuguese and the outcome for me was in English," he added.

Here is his screenshot:

I am not sure I like this because, as you know, things get lost in translation. Especially technical things like Google Ads support.

Thomas wrote, "This might benefit Google if they have shortage of available agents per market / language and can now use any agent to provide any language. I started my Google Ads career back in the Google Ads Support as an agent."

He posted:

  • An agent has to ask you if you have further questions
  • Only if he provides you with the solution he/she can put your case on status "Solution offered" and this counts as his/her target.
  • Normally an agent needs to "Solution offer" 15 cases per day.

Have you seen Google Ads reps using Google Translate to help you?

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Updates Week of 2/19/2024

Over 170 million fake reviews were removed from Maps and Search thanks to Google's new algorithm. Google launched a lawsuit against a scammer last year


In brief: Google receives around 20 million business-related contributions to Maps and Search every day, including hours, ratings, photos, reviews, videos and more. Unfortunately, fake reviews are rife on its services. But the tech giant launched a new machine learning algorithm last year that detects these fakes faster than ever. It led to 170 million false reviews being removed in 2023.

Dan Pritchett, Principal Software Engineer at Google Maps, writes that reviews undergo rigorous scrutiny by Google's moderation systems before they're published. The systems also monitor content for suspicious activity over time, which is where the new machine learning algorithm launched last year comes in.

Pritchett explains that the algorithm detects questionable review patterns even faster by examining longer-term signals on a daily basis. Some examples of suspicious activity include a reviewer leaving the same review on multiple businesses, or if business receives a sudden spike in 1-star (review bombing) or 5-star reviews.

The algorithm is also designed to combat the problem of scammers who contact businesses claiming they can improve their reviews and online presence for a fee. Once the patterns are identified, such as the categories of business that are being targeted, the algorithms are refined to protect these businesses from the scammers. Google says it caught over five million fake review attempts related to one particular scam in just a few weeks.

Google has the figures to back up its boasts. Over 170 million reviews were removed for violating company policies last year, a massive 45% more than in 2022. It also identified and removed 12 million fake business profiles. Furthermore, 14 million policy-violating videos were removed in 2023, twice as many as the year before, and business owners were protected from over 2 million attempts by scammers trying to claim Business Profiles that did not belong to them.

Google doesn't take people trying to manipulate its system lightly. It filed a lawsuit against a scammer last year who posted more than 350 fraudulent Business Profiles and tried to bolster them with more than 14,000 fake reviews. The person then attempted to sell information about consumers who had interacted with the fake profiles.

Meta Apologizes after ad error causes campaigns to overspend by “thousands” Full refunds aren't guaranteed for affected advertisers, but you can take steps to improve your chances.

By Nicola Agius      

Meta issued an apology to advertisers following an Ads Delivery outage that resulted in campaigns overspending by “thousands.”

The tech giant confirmed that services are now restored and expressed regret for any inconvenience caused to advertisers.

Refunds, anticipated to take between four and eight weeks, are now awaited by affected parties.

Why do we care. If you were affected by the Ads Delivery outage, applying for a refund is necessary, but it’s important to note that payment is not guaranteed. To enhance the likelihood of receiving a full refund, there are specific steps you can take.

Refund application. Barry Hott, Growth and Performance Marketing Consultant, urged advertisers to report the issue to their Meta reps and/or support to “increase the likelihood of a refund for you and for everyone.”

Hott then shared a guide to show advertisers how to raise a complaint. He recommended filing a report with Meta support and sending this exact message:

  • “My campaigns overspent their budgets and seemed to ignore their cost caps yesterday due to a confirmed widespread Meta ad delivery outage, causing campaigns to spend more than expected and did so extremely inefficiently, causing me to lose money.”
  • Here, you will need to select “claim refund for ad spend.”
  • You then need to choose your ad account and select “other ad account issue” 
  • You’ll then be able to write another message – for this step, Hott recommended simply pasting the same blurb from earlier along with the below screenshot of the Meta Status Page:

Next, start uploading screenshots showing your performance issues. Include all account IDs if you have multiple accounts. Answer support questions politely, considering their potential unfamiliarity with Meta ads and the outage. Hott concluded:

  • “Hopefully you’ll get to a point where they ask for the amount you are requesting for a refund. If you have estimates of what you think was lost, share that amount, but don’t be greedy, use a realistic estimate based on recent past performance.”
  • “This is our best chance at getting the refunds we deserve. I hope you found this helpful! Please repost or share this with your peers, and if you don’t already follow me or @MetaBizStatus (the automated account I set up that reports Meta outages), please do!”

Fallout. Several advertisers claimed to have lost thousands as a result of the Meta Ads Delivery outage.

One marketers wrote on X: “Woke up to a ~$80 credit from $6k down the drain. But my ticket is still unresolved and they emailed me at 5 am asking me to be patient as they are working it out.”

Another advertisers commented on X: “It blew thousands in minutes!”

Google announces Misrepresentation policy update. Failure to comply with the updated policy could result in the suspension of your Google Ads account.

By Nicola Agius      

Google announces Misrepresentation Policy Update.  Failure to comply with the updated policy could result in the suspension of your Google Ads Account.

Google Ads is updating the unacceptable business practices portion of its Misrepresentation policy.

From March, this section will include:

  • “Enticing users to part with money or information by impersonating or falsely implying affiliation with or endorsement by a public figure, brand, or organization.”

Enforcement. Google will begin enforcing this policy in March for advertisers outside of France. For advertisers in France, Google will begin enforcing this policy in April.

Violation penalty. If Google finds you in violation of this policy, it will suspend your Google Ads accounts without prior warning. Additionally, you will not be allowed to advertise with Google again.

Why do we care. If any of your ads violate this policy, it is crucial to take corrective action immediately before Google begins enforcing these new rules. Failure to do so may result in the suspension of your account, and a permanent ban on advertising with Google.

What Google is saying. Google said in a statement:

  • “We take violations of this policy very seriously and consider them egregious.”
  • “Please review this policy to determine whether or not any of your ads fall in scope of the policy, and if so, remove those ads before the relevant enforcement date.”

Setting up consent mode & ensuring GA4 is receiving consent signals should now be a little bit easier and faster.


Google Analytics 4 has a new consent setting section that is now available to all users globally. 

The platform added this feature in preparation for the enforcement of Google’s EU User Consent Policy (EU UCP), which will require advertisers to send it verifiable consent signals if they want to serve personalized ads in the UK and European Economic Area (EEA).

Google cautioned that neglecting to adhere to this policy could adversely affect ad campaign performance, impacting both reach and return on investment

Why we care. The new consent mode setting section will make it easier and quicker for users to confirm that their consent mode v2 is properly passing consent signals to their web streams.

What Google is saying. A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land:

  • “This new page aims to make it easier for Google Analytics advertisers to understand how to set up consent mode and whether or not Google Analytics has recently received consent signals with their analytics data.”

  • “It also provides links to our most helpful guides and CMP partner page, if they are interested in using a CMP to get them setup.”

Who’s affected by EU UCP? Google’s EU User Consent Policy applies only to end users located in the EEA or the UK.

EEA explained. The EEA is made up of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Why now? With regulatory changes and events like third-party cookie deprecation planned for later this year, advertisers need to implement solutions like consent mode to ensure their audience and measurement solutions like GA4 continue to work effectively without disruption.

What is a certified CMP? A Google-certified CMP is a platform approved by Google to assist businesses in managing user consent for online advertising and data collection, adhering to the IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) v2. Check if your CMP is certified by viewing Google’s full list of certified CMPs here.

Get your consent in order. Consent Mode, a tool in GA4, enables businesses to honor users’ consent preferences from cookie banners or widgets. This allows Google Analytics to dynamically adjust its behavior. For instance, if users decline consent, Consent Mode helps clear up uncertainties in the consumer journey, providing a full performance overview.

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