Weekly Buzz: Google Empowers Small Businesses with New Features

It’s Friday, and you know what time it is — let’s see what had the world of digital marketing buzzing this week!

On the agenda:

Google introduces new tools to empower small businesses and switches up its AdSense payment structure, Meta unveils new capabilities and insights for Reels creators, and how TikTok could become the next biggest e-commerce platform.

Google empowers small businesses with new features for enhanced online presence 

Google is introducing new Shopping features aimed at helping merchants enhance their online presence and attract more customers. These updates primarily target U.S.-based retailers using Merchant Center or Business Profile.

“Small Business” Attribute

Google now allows U.S. merchants to label themselves as “small businesses.” This designation helps shoppers identify mom-and-pop-style stores more efficiently. When shoppers use Google Maps, businesses with this attribute will be clearly labelled as small businesses, and their products in Google Search will feature a “small business” tag. The attribute may be applied automatically to some listings based on web traffic, store locations, and product offerings. Merchants can control this attribute through their settings.

Knowledge Panel Expansion 

The knowledge panel in Google Search is being expanded to provide additional shopping details about retailers, including reviews, shipping and return policies, customer service details, and promoted deals. The expansion aims to give shoppers a more comprehensive view of a business when they search for it.

Product Studio

Google is introducing Product Studio, an AI-powered tool that allows Shopping merchants to make visual adjustments to product images. With features like background removal, resolution enhancement, and text-to-image prompts for creating new backgrounds, merchants can enhance their product listings without needing an elaborate studio setup.

These updates are rolling out this month for merchants in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, and Brazil. While the “small business” attribute is available to US-based retailers, other features like the expanded knowledge panel and Product Studio will benefit merchants in multiple countries.

It’s noteworthy that Google relies on businesses to self-identify as “small businesses,” and only authorized individuals can enable this setting. However, there’s no mention of safeguards to prevent label misuse.

Overall, these new features aim to empower retailers to showcase their businesses more effectively and provide shoppers with a richer experience when searching for products online.

Google overhauls AdSense payment structure: Publishers shift to impression-based payments 

Google is shaking things up with an update to its AdSense payment structure. Instead of the usual flat-fee share arrangement for AdSense revenue, they’re switching to paying publishers by impression. While this change could impact how website ad revenue is shared, Google assures us that most websites won’t see much of a difference. However, the exact impact will be determined once the change is implemented.

Here’s the breakdown from Google’s perspective: They’ve been upfront about the fee they charge for their service, typically allowing publishers to keep 68% of the revenue. Now, they’re splitting the AdSense revenue share into separate rates for the buy-side and sell-side. For displaying ads with AdSense for content, publishers will receive 80% of the revenue after the advertiser platform takes its fee, whether it’s Google’s buy-side or third-party platforms.

In essence, Google is tweaking the fee structure to maintain a similar revenue share for most websites. However, the actual amount can vary depending on the specifics of the ad campaign.

This change is more about improving Google’s tracking and display systems. In some cases, it may also result in Google getting a larger share of ad revenue, which, given Google’s scale, could be substantial. But Google assures regular advertisers that the impact will likely be minimal.

Another significant change is that AdSense will transition from paying publishers per click to paying per impression. This shift is expected to generate more revenue for Google and could lead to adjustments in how publishers deliver ads. Advertisers may need to rethink their strategies since they’ll be paying for impressions rather than specific actions users take.

Google emphasizes that these updates won’t affect the type or quantity of ads publishers can display on their websites. They anticipate that the payment impacts will be minor, if any.

These updates will take effect early next year, so we’ll soon see how they play out in practice.

Get the update directly from Google here.

Meta unveils new tools and rewards for creators to optimize Reels content performance

Meta is rolling out a set of enticing new tools and upgrades to assist creators in gaining deeper insights into their content’s performance and optimizing their approach. As Meta aims to attract more creators, especially for Reels content, these updates promise increased reach and exposure as a reward for posting.

One significant addition is the introduction of A/B testing for Reels creators. Now, creators can experiment with different versions of their Reels, trying out various captions and thumbnail images. The system then evaluates which version engages the audience the most within 30 minutes, and the winner gets shown to a broader audience.

Additionally, creators can now create Reels from their existing video clips. This allows for more flexibility in content creation, especially considering that Reels are becoming increasingly popular, with 200 billion daily views across Facebook and Instagram.

Meta is also launching an “Achievements hub” within the Professional Dashboard, showcasing creators’ accomplishments in one place. Achievements are Meta’s way of encouraging specific behaviours and post types, offering rewards and badges in-stream. One noteworthy incentive is the potential for increased visibility in the feed or having the “Rising Creator” label featured on profiles for creators who complete all Progression levels. This reward will likely motivate creators to complete various challenges for more significant content exposure.

Content management is getting easier with Meta’s new feature, allowing creators to manage all their posts, Reels, and videos conveniently in one place. This simplifies viewing individual posts, hiding them, or moving them to the trash while providing content performance insights.

Meta is also enhancing its data reporting by introducing new Reels metrics and updates to existing ones. Creators can now access more detailed information about Reels-specific Reach, distribution scores, retention graphs, and replays.

While these updates are designed to empower creators and boost their success with Reels, there is concern about the potential impact of increased reach within the Meta ecosystem, possibly affecting the role of the News Feed algorithm in curating content based on individual interests. The extent of this impact will depend on how widely creators and brands adopt these new features.

Check out the full update from Meta here.

TikTok’s e-commerce evolution: Shifting user spending habits spark new possibilities

TikTok has been exploring its potential as an e-commerce platform, and recent trends suggest there might be a path to success. While in-stream commerce elements have yet to fully take off on TikTok, new reports show users are increasingly spending on virtual gifts for content creators. In Q3 alone, TikTok users sent over $250 million in digital gifts to live-streamers. This trend could pave the way for TikTok to generate more income from in-app sales.

Creators like Pinkydoll and the rise of NPC streamers have sparked interest in this practice, where viewers can donate virtual gifts to trigger reactions from streamers. The key is to get users comfortable with spending within the app, which could extend to purchasing products through in-stream Shops.

TikTok has been testing the e-commerce waters with initiatives like the “Trendy Beat” e-commerce store activation in the U.K. It’s also exploring partnerships with retailers to streamline in-stream sales processes and provide users with a better shopping experience.

While Western audiences have been cautious about integrated shopping within social apps, the potential for one-click buying and simplified transactions could be enticing. TikTok may even venture into food delivery and services, capitalizing on the latest deals to keep users engaged and spending within the app.

In summary, TikTok’s e-commerce plans are far from written off, and they are expected to remain a significant focus for the platform in the coming year.

Friday Fun

Who would’ve thought Walmart would be the one to give us the Mean Girls reunion we all needed?

Line drawn peony from Spodek & Co Digital marketing site