Inside Digital Marketing: November 2023

Dec 4, 2023


At a Glance...

Google offers more visibility for sale shoppers, while introducing new features to help small businesses. Meta to allow ads saying the 2020 elections were rigged. And the Cookies saga continues with a crackdown by the ICO. 

How Google is helping shoppers this holiday season 

Google transformed the Search environment to simplify the process for shoppers searching for deals on Black Friday and the Christmas period. At a time where brands are fiercely competing in discount value and CPMs are sky rocketing, how will this adaptation affect the brands themselves? 

Google introduced a “Deals Hub” within its shopping search area to present users with a page filled with discounted markdowns of their favourite electronics, apparel and more. This allows users to find the best bargains through side-by-side comparisons. However, it intensifies an already competitive environment by pushing discounted price even further to the forefront of consumer’s decision-making process. This puts extreme pressure on brands to win market share by hosting the best discount sale events.   

Google is also attempting to rival chrome extensions such as Honey. They are introducing a new discount tag icon in the chrome bar, which, when clicked on, will display lists of coupon codes that are being used for the site. Additionally, they’re providing more transparency to shoppers of price fluctuations where they can see if the price is being offered above average. Shoppers can view an item’s 90-day price history to see if the item frequently goes on sale.   

These changes will undoubtedly improve the user experience for shoppers, helping them consistently find the lowest price. But the impact on brands and retailers will be severe, as the increased visibility of discounts and sale price cycles will ultimately result in enhanced competition to lower prices, putting pressure on profit margins. With easily accessible discount codes listed on every site or shoppers waiting to buy products until sale periods, it makes it difficult to sell products at full price without losing their competitive advantage. It’s essentially twisting their arms to consistently sell their products for less in order to compete in the market. This, in turn, can have broader knock-on effects, such as the devaluing of brand image to seem more budget-friendly and less luxury. And finally, it challenges the importance of brand loyalty, with shoppers encouraged to prioritise price over the brands they love. 

Google’s latest tools to help small businesses 

As well as improving the shopping experience for consumers, Google has introduced some innovative tools and enhanced features to empower advertisers and small businesses. Their new ‘Product Studio’ is a free tool, that leverages AI to redefine visual content creation for advertisers. It enables you to enhance your product imagery through prompts including changing the backgrounds, customising the scenery/ product placement and improving image quality. This is great news for advertisers who don’t have access to professional studios or shoots, saving them both time and money.  

The second feature introduced helps support small business profiles, with a range of new attributes that allow businesses to highlight specific characteristics in their Google shopping listing. This includes tags such as ‘small business’, ‘Black-owned’, ‘Veteran-owned’, ‘Woman-owned’ and more. The initiative serves to assist consumers in making more informed choices, whilst empowering smaller enterprises with increased visibility and opportunities to connect with their target audiences.  

Meta allows ads saying 2020 election was rigged 

Ahead of the 2024 US presidential elections, Meta is allowing political advertisers to say past elections were ‘rigged’ or ‘stolen’: a policy that appears to have been introduced quietly in 2022, after the Midterm Primaries. This aligns to moves towards ‘free speech’ across social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube, who have also made changes to their policies ahead of next year.  

Importantly, Meta’s policy does not allow advertisers to question whether an ongoing or future election is legitimate.  

Online messaging for the 2024 presidential election is likely to be fiercely contested and allowing this kind of messaging to run will significantly increase the number of ads. Not only will this increase competition for audience attention in the US in particular, but it’s highly likely to impact costs in the UK too. 

In previous elections, platforms have been very strict in rejecting ads that could be linked to an election in any way (e.g. if the word democracy or government are used). It remains to be seen whether this policy change will impact the number of ads rejected or not in this period, however, we may see greater sensitivity to any ad perceived to be on this topic. Either way, advertisers must keep an eye on rising costs, and sensitivity to political content as we head into 2024. 

Crackdown on Cookies for UK’s most visited websites 

‘By using this website, you agree to our cookies policy.’ 

We’re still seeing EU/UK websites showing this message to this day. And companies not allowing you to reject the cookies if not via a multitude of clicks… Despite this, their digital marketing campaigns are fully active and retargeting users who have also browsed in incognito or have never accepted Cookies.  

So it was just about time that rules that have been existing for years are now being looked into by the ICO, which has given 30 days to the UK’s most visited websites to comply with data protection laws. 

To recap, companies should: 1) tell people cookies are there; 2) explain what the cookies are doing and why; 3) get the person’s consent to store a cookie on their device.  

It’s not a big step, as the non-top UK websites will keep cheating on the rules, but every little helps. Maybe one day there will be an online ‘walk of shame’ platform calling out the big cheaters? 

(If you need to set up your digital marketing tracking to be aligned with your CMP, give us a shout!)

Stay tuned for the next instalment of INside Digital Marketing, as we continue to monitor the digital trends of 2023 and the evolution of Paid Media. Follow us across LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for more.

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