Interview with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC

30-second summary:

  • The worldwide web is a clear reflection of all the shifts 2020 has brought and as businesses and marketers crunch majority of their budgets and pivot strategies.
  • In light of the current scenario businesses, digital marketers, and content creators continue to face some key problems around digital ad revenue, ad blocking, and more.
  • We caught up with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC, an innovative search engine that reinvents user experience and technology.
  • PUBLC is a new search engine built by everyone, for everyone, that aspires to create an equally distributed web economy using blockchain token economics.
  • Read on to discover insights on how PUBLC serves a more equally distributed web economy using blockchain and token economics, generating a new and native revenue stream for online publishers.

The worldwide web is a clear reflection of all the shifts 2020 has brought and as businesses and marketers crunch majority of their budgets and pivot strategies, these remain some key problems of today’s digital space:

  • Digital ad revenue has taken a hit due to ad blockers.
  • Online publishers struggle to find a native revenue model as an alternative to ad-based models, which only grows bigger now with the COVID-19 impact on the advertising industry. Digital ad revenue is declining, as use of adblockers is increasing
  • Google and Facebook duopoly dominate over 60% of global ad revenue.

We caught up with Lior Davidovitch, the founder of PUBLC, a search engine that aims to reward the entire web ecosystem by creating an innovative, more equally distributed web economy using blockchain and token economics, generating a new and native revenue stream for online publishers.

Q1. Can you tell us about your background and journey towards becoming the founder of PUBLC?

I was always one of those kids that constantly thought of different business ideas and tried to invent things. The original idea for PUBLC started over 15 years ago when I was frustrated with the existing search engines. I always thought that people know best and there should be a way to add the human element to search for a better-organized web. Back then I had mocked up a few presentations and a family friend even connected me to a VC, but I was so young and had no idea what I was doing. Later in university, I wasn’t keen on academia and dropped out to start my journey as a start-up entrepreneur. In the beginning, I was just playing around with different ideas, and eventually, I saw that I’m always going back to the same original idea of creating a new search engine. I started completely from scratch, learning everything in the process, making mistakes, learning again, and building PUBLC layer by layer.

Q2. What was the biggest challenge you faced while setting up PUBLC? How did you solve it?

Just saying that you want to create a new search engine is a huge challenge by itself, doing it the way PUBLC does, creating a new search engine that completely reinvents the user experience and technology with a token-based business model is an even bigger challenge! If you add new and complicated technologies like blockchain and AI to the mix, the challenge becomes even bigger. Plus, the fact that you’re doing it as a small self-funded startup makes it almost impossible! But eventually, we did it step by step, layer by layer and built this platform that’s backed with AI and a blockchain financial infrastructure.

Q3. Can you give us a brief insight into PUBLC and your token economy?

PUBLC is a new type of search engine built by everyone, for everyone, that aspires to create an equally distributed web economy using blockchain token economics. You can think of PUBLC as a mix between Google and Wikipedia, where we combine human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI) enabling users to categorize the content and “teach” PUBLC how to better organize the web, creating a new search experience, while also rewarding the users for participating in the process.

With regards to the token economics, on the one hand, our token, PUBLX, is granted by PUBLC as a reward to its community that contributes to PUBLC. On the other hand, the tokens are used as the only form of payment for PUBLC’s business services used by advertisers on the platform. This balance between supply and demand is what establishes the token value.

Token earners, be it publishers, brands, influencers, or content categorizers, can either use their token rewards to pay for any of our business services or exchange them on cryptocurrency exchanges, where the tokens can be bought by advertisers. So, we encourage everyone to checkout PUBLC and discover how they could earn PUBLX tokens.

Q5. How can businesses use PUBLC? Any tips on how they can get started with PUBLC?

PUBLC was built with all the different actors of the web ecosystem in mind, as we believe PUBLC is a platform that is meant to serve everyone and reward them for the value they create. Businesses as online publishers, brands, and celebrities benefit from PUBLC as it gives them exposure to new audiences, drives traffic to their websites, and earns them revenue for every time a user clicks on their content and views it. Businesses can get started on PUBLC by submitting their website, categorizing their content, and curating their pages. Our job is to support all those people and help them better achieve their goals, so feel free to reach out to us, we would love to hear from you!

Q6. Would video content be sourced from platforms like YouTube?

Yes! PUBLC curates and displays video content that users upload on YouTube and other such sites. You’ll be surprised to know that we even reward sites like YouTube as they also provide value to the ecosystem for hosting all that content.

Q7. What are your future plans for PUBLC? Will you venture into the digital advertising aspect as well? If yes, we’re assuming it will be in-ecosystem currency of PUBLX tokens?

Besides inventing a new user experience and technology we also had to invent a new revenue model connected to our token economy – and that’s crucial to the success of the platform – having those PUBLX tokens that are given to everyone for their contribution have real-life value. In order to do that we built a new set of business services such as, promoted content, brand awareness, ecommerce, and more, which offer advertisers a new way to enhance their brand awareness or conversions in a native and organic way within the platform without compromising PUBLC’s user experience for the users. 

Our business services work differently than the way it’s done on traditional search engines, and it rethinks this traditional advertising model of just promoting ads over search queries. The usual method is good but it could be different. We put more focus on content and the user experience because when you get ads, whether it’s on Google, Facebook, or any other platform – as a user that harms your experience. We aim to deliver our business services in a very native and organic way that doesn’t harm the user experience. For example, PUBLC offers promoted content that is real, in the form of videos, articles, and other multimedia. These could be campaigns that not only provide advertisers with the worth of their money but also engage and add value for the users. Furthermore, we incorporate PUBLC’s community in the approval of ads, having them take part in flagging spam and fraud, and helping shape PUBLC revenue model.

Q8. Do you use citations? How does the web validate your resources?

We’re focused more on the human element of search. People add domains and content URLs which are then approved by our community, and only then are indexed and crawled, making our sources more credible. There are many parameters that our algorithm evaluates in order to rank content, to give you a better idea I’ll share the three main key elements:

  1. Relevancy: How the content is relevant to the search query or the topic that is searched
  2. Popularity: How many PUBLC users saw and clicked on the content
  3. Content age: How old is it, when was it published

Users are the first gatekeepers of which content gets indexed on the PUBLC search engine. 

Q9. How does PUBLC’s search engine combine human intelligence and AI? Is it curated by people? How do you counter aspects of “subjectivity” and “bias”?

As I’ve mentioned before, I strongly believe that people know best. They would know best about what topic(s) the is content related to or which search queries best describe the content. This is unlike how typical search engines work by mainly analyzing the text of the content. Having users add and categorize content on PUBLC works on a micro-scale for that specific content. However, when you add machine learning and AI to that you can adapt on a much larger scale, learn better about content categorization and indexing in a more precise, user-friendly, and genuine manner. Our search engine intends to broaden users’ horizons by reaching new content that they didn’t even know existed.

Yes, giving too much power to people could bring bias. But I’d like to refer to PUBLC on the lines of Wikipedia where you have a large group of people editing a specific piece of content that could be very controversial, and they still find a way to do it. On PUBLC we have an entire system of a reputation for users and publishers so they’re always building their own reputation simultaneously. 

For example, a user could build their reputation on the PUBLC platform for any niche, let’s assume, blockchain. Now if this user claims something about blockchain, the system considers their subject matter expertise and deems their claim right for crawling, categorizing, and indexing. 

We have everything validated by the users of the community. I think users very quickly know spam when they see it, so they wouldn’t approve spam-like content with the risk of lowering their reputation. We built this set of rules to incentivize people to do good and if they don’t play by the rules, they’re just going to lose.

Q10. Could you give us a small brief on how you’re dealing with privacy? Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about in terms of data privacy?

Privacy is one of PUBLC’s core, crucial elements. In fact, that’s the big problem with the web that we also saw fit to address. Platforms like Facebook and the others make their business out of the users’ data, and in a way compromises their privacy. That’s why there’s a huge loss of trust for users. One of our ambitions and aims is to use blockchain to enable users to have the best, most personal user experience while having 100% privacy. We are now building this element, and plan to have all of our users’ personal data stored on the blockchain and accessed only by them ensuring them with complete control over their data that’s also kept anonymous.

Users would have their own PUBLC IDs but there would be no way that I, the platform, or any of us could access that information. If a user personally chooses to share their information with advertisers and publishers to help them understand the user profile or engagement with their content – that too would be completely anonymized. 

Since it’s still the users’ data giving value to a business they would also be rewarded for it. This way we help users earn some of the revenue made through that data. But again, it would be completely anonymized data ensuring that businesses can’t trace a user to their real-life entity. That’s one of the great potentials that blockchain gives is the bandwidth to build platforms that are more focused on the privacy elements.

Q11. What are your predictions for search and SEO in 2020?

As I’m sure you can already guess, I believe search and SEO will be more focused on the human element, and that we will continue to see improvements in understanding the user’s intent. I think we will also see SEO become more accessible to the creators, and more straightforward, without harming the creativity and user experience of the content. Doing so by making tools to create the best optimization and content categorization. One of the biggest problems I see today is that creative content creators are forced to focus their efforts on SEO rather than on creating better content. I hope that with PUBLC, creators could focus on creating creative content while having the tools to actively influence their content’s SEO, without having the two contradict one another. For me, the prediction would be – better user experience, better content, and hopefully a better web.

Daily Search Forum Recap: July 3, 2020

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

  • Video: Bing Webmaster Guidelines & Ranking Factors, Google Shopping is Free & Search Console Insights
    I pre-recorded this one, not using my normal camera, hope it came out okay and hope I am back to the normal routine next week. In any event, I published the monthly Google webmaster recap, you can catch up there. Bing updated its Bing Webmaster Guidelines, there is a bunch of new things there including rel sponsored and ugc…
  • Google Tests Local Panel Ads Again, But With No Opt Out
    Over the past few days Tim Capper has been noticing ads back in the local knowledge panels again. I personally was unable to replicate, but now I can here and there. Greg Sterling confirmed with Google that this is a new “pilot program” they are running again.
  • Google Maps Tests Local Listing Carousel In Footer
    Andy Simpson spotted this interesting Google Maps interface test. It shows a local listing or local pack carousel in the footer section on the Google Maps view. I don’t believe I’ve seen this before, but it is kind of nice.
  • Google Search Console Video Structured Data Reporting Tweak
    Google announced on Twitter that it made a change to how Google Search Console reports on your video structured data. Specifically, Google wrote “if you use video structured data, our reporting is now aligned with the docs and…
  • Google Testing People Also Search For & Top Trends On Right Panel
    Stephen Watts is in a Google test where Google is testing placing the people also search for and top trends feature on the right hand panel. Normally this is in the main search results on the left but here Google is testing it on the right.
  • Google NYC Pride Logo Sign Up
    Every year, at most of the Google offices around the world, Google replaced the signage on the outside of their buildings with a rainbow color version of the sign. This is done for Pride Month and this year, with COVID, it is no different. At least at the Google NYC office and some other offices.

Other Great Search Forum Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Search Features

Create TikTok ads that convert by embracing the platform’s storytelling style

Like most social media platforms, TikTok pays its bills by selling ads to brands that want to reach its hundreds of millions of users. The most popular type of ad on TikTok is the “In-Feed Ad,” which mirrors Snapchat ads or Instagram/Facebook story ads. These in-feed ads run in between organic content on the “For You” page, TikTok’s individualized home page.

For marketers embarking on their TikTok journey, in-feed ads are a great place to start since you can test and learn with a small budget. This type of ad is also TikTok’s main tool for performance marketers because it allows for direct click-outs to landing pages and the app store.

There are several ways to purchase in-feed ads, including TikTok’s self-service ad platform and through reservation with their sales team. Pricing on TikTok is generally much better than other platforms, but prices are rising steadily as brands flood to TikTok. It’s worth noting that while TikTok’s targeting capabilities lag behind other platforms, the company is building them out rapidly.

To get the best results from your in-feed ads on TikTok, consider these guidelines:

Don’t reuse ads from other platforms: This is a common mistake brands make: repurposing top-performing Instagram story or Snapchat ad creative as their TikTok ads. Those platforms have a totally different visual aesthetic and storytelling norms, so that content sticks out on TikTok. It feels out of place, or worse, screams “AD!” No surprise that repurposed ad creative tends to perform poorly. The best creative for a TikTok ad looks and feels like any native piece of TikTok content.

Keep creative in line with TikTok style: The polished and elegant creative that performs well on Instagram or YouTube will feel very out of place on TikTok. Instead, follow the same best practices for creating TikTok-native videos for Brand Channels. Great ads abide by popular TikTok storytelling styles, take advantage of popular trends and include relevant music and sounds. And, yes you do need to purchase a license to the music in your ad.

Consider influencers to develop your ads: Hiring popular TikTok influencers is one strategy marketers are utilizing to give ad content a more native feel. Successful TikTok influencers can help finesse your ad in a way that feels organic to the platform, and ultimately more engaging. Influencers can also add a helpful perspective on what TikTok-centric trends would integrate best with your campaign objective. TikTok’s ad platform is integrated with their Creator Marketplace, which can be a good start for identifying influencers to collaborate with.  


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Evan Horowitz is CEO and co-founder of Movers+Shakers. He founded the creative studio in order to spread joy. The firm is breaking engagement records with unexpected digital activations and creating deep emotional connections between brands and consumers. After setting the record for most viral TikTok campaign in history, Movers+Shakers became “the go-to agency for brands making moves on TikTok” (Refinery29). They’re creating fast-growing brand channels, influencer and ad campaigns, and of course more viral challenges. Evan is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs, and a holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS Engineering from Stanford.

Bill Caco and cast delight in digital comedy series on middle age

It was written and directed by Bill Caco, who also stars and soars in the role of Connor. F#cking 40 marks Caco’s episodic series directing debut. This digital series follows four childhood buddies (Connor, Glenn, Noah, and Jugs) as they face life’s greatest challenge: turning 40 years old. Jeff Pride, Justin J. Johnson, and Josh Robert Thompson deliver memorable acting performances in this series alongside Bill Caco. Carrie Schroeder is vivacious in her portrayal of Shelly. These four friends are still young at heart and they explore being lost and confused as they approach this landmark birthday in Los Angeles, California, which can easily be perceived as the new 30. It tackles many issues that are relevant in our time such as unhappy marriages, exhaustion from parenting, having a mediocre career, as well as how difficult it is to understand millennials. Brittany Falardeau is the voice of reason in this series as Ella, the bar owner, who is always there for these gentlemen in a time of need. F#cking 40 was nominated for five 2020 Indie Series Awards, which included nods for “Best Comedy Series,” “Best Writing — Comedy,” “Best Ensemble — Comedy, “Best Supporting Actress — Comedy” for Carrie Schroeder, and for “Best Lead Actor — Comedy” for Bill Caco. The digital episodes in the series may be seen by clicking here. Hopefully, there will be a second season. The Verdict As the world is going through trying times in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest, F#cking 40 is a great escape. It is a witty, relatable, and entertaining digital series, and it certainly deserves more than just a passing glance F#cking 40 earns four out of five stars. To learn more about the digital comedy series F#cking 40, check out its official website and its Facebook page.

How A/B and multivariate testing can skyrocket your social media conversions

30-second summary:

  • Less than a quarter of marketers are satisfied with the conversion rates they achieve today.
  • A/B and multivariate testing help to put your website’s variables to work, with various text boxes, images, and call-to-actions capable of being tested among different audiences simultaneously.
  • Where A/B testing can perform trials of two ideologies, multivariate testing can display a wide range of varied elements to show users exponents are preferred by audiences.
  • Multivariate testing can help to optimize web pages based on the traffic arriving from different social networks.

Regardless of whether you’re aiming to foster more leads, email signups or purchases, there are few more effective ways to create more custom than through rigorous testing. 

Given the array of tools at the disposal of marketers, just 22% claim that they’re satisfied with the conversion rates that they amass. 

Fortunately, A/B testing and multivariate testing can seamlessly combine to fully optimize the process of turning your social media traffic into conversions. 

To understand the power of A/B and multivariate testing, it’s important to remember the array of variables that comprise your website. Text boxes, images, videos, call-to-actions and various multimedia plugins all combine to bring audiences an experience that aims to result in a conversion. Testing helps marketers to discover the exact combination of elements that are best placed to encourage visitors to act on the interest that encouraged them to navigate towards your site in the first place. The same practice can apply to just about any marketing approach. From social campaigns to PPC advertising. 

For example, have you arranged the images on your website in an effective manner? Or will visitors feel overwhelmed by the overflow of visuals? It’s virtually impossible to anticipate which layout will be the most effective in keeping visitors on your pages for longer – but actively testing different setups can offer up tangible insights into how prospective customers interact with the various elements that comprise your pages. 

It’s also possible that different layouts can lead to different effects. If your website’s tone is more informal, you might find that you’ll build more engagement with audiences, but could ultimately lack the sales you were aiming for. Whereas more formal imagery could create more purchasing intent but less of engaging customer experience. 

Different businesses will require different levels of website performance, and rigorous multivariate testing helps marketers to see what online features offer varied results for users. 

Adopting A/B and multivariate testing tools can help you to generate more leads, a higher volume of subscriptions, and ultimately attract more sales. But let’s take a closer look at how both A/B and multivariate testing can directly boost your social media conversions:

Learning your A/Bs

A/B testing often referred to as split testing, actively compares two versions of a web page, email or other facets of a business in a way that can actively measure their respective performance. 

This can be done by rendering one version to be observed by one group and another to a different cross-section of users. 

To help illustrate the key concept behind A/B testing, think of yourself as a website owner, and imagine that you have two landing page layouts that you can’t decide on. 

Through tools like Unbounce and Optimizely, A/B testing allows you to test one page by showcasing it to one group while sending another to a different group and studying the results. It’s possible to study the performance of each landing page by consulting metrics pertaining to traffic, conversions or purchase intent. 

Generally, these metrics will show one landing page to perform better than its competitor and you’ll gain a clear idea of which layout would be most effective online. 

Tapping into multivariate testing

Multivariate testing structure

Source: Leadpages

While multivariate testing can certainly complement A/B testing, these two practices are not fundamentally the same. 

Where A/B testing helps both website owners and marketers to see which design is more popular within different control groups, multivariate testing allows users to test various campaign elements all at the same time. 

This means that various different combinations of images, multimedia, text, call-to-actions can all be displayed for different users. While some may be greeted with a large image and a sign-up prompt, others may see an introductory video when they arrive on the same website, for instance. 

Given the wide range of element-based combinations that your campaign could feature, multivariate testing is regarded as one of the most efficient ways to gain insights into the impact that your marketing campaign could have once it’s correctly optimized. 

Finteza can be a handy tool when it comes to analyzing the performance of A/B tests, enabling you to see which page performs better from a sales funnel point of view.  

Graph on A/B and multivariate testing

Advances in marketing technology have catapulted the capabilities of multivariate testing tools into the limelight. With the right software, it’s possible to conduct tests in real-time with the same audience – providing a true sample to draw results from. This means that various combinations of elements can be sent to audiences at different times, with analytical software on hand to interpret the results and figure out which blend of elements operate most efficiently.

The value of A/B testing on social media 

A/B and multivariate testing example

Source: MeetEdgar

One of the most effective uses of A/B testing can be found on social media. Campaigns can be optimized for various audiences by sending different messages to different control groups. Where 50% of the control group is shown message A, the other 50% is shown message B. The winning version is determined by which received the highest volume of clicks or impressions. The most effective option is then broadcast to all audiences from there on in. 

Social A/B testing helps to enlighten marketers as to which message is most engaging to audiences, and what type of content creates more meaningful engagements. This form of testing can also help to provide insights into what time of day a message will be most likely to hit home and which call-to-actions are best positioned to generate conversions. 

A/B testing is best summarized by WIRED writer Brian Christian, who explains that A/B helps to generate high-quality focus-groups that can test new ideas in real-time, without any prior conditioning. “Without being told, a fraction of users are diverted to a slightly different version of a given web page and their behavior compared against the mass of users on the standard site. If the new version proves superior—gaining more clicks, longer visits, more purchases—it will displace the original,” Christian surmised. 

The marketing landscape is ever-changing, and very few marketers can seriously claim to have the vision and anticipation required to stay ahead of trends. With this in mind, A/B testing in real-time is essential to gain insights into your target audiences.  

While it can seem like a complex approach to conversion optimization, there are plenty of advanced tools that can aid A/B testing methods. Notably tools like Evergage can help to optimize headlines for linked articles on different social media platforms. Content is an essential part of the process of generating new leads, but A/B testing helps marketers to figure out how best to deliver content on different platforms – leading to greater levels of traffic and subsequent conversions.

Multivariate optimization

While A/B testing can work wonders in helping marketers to decide between two different campaign ideas using quantifiable metrics, multivariate testing can deliver more comprehensive and exponential insights. 

Of course, social media is a rigid place for the testing of different messages and campaigns, but multivariate testing tools have the power to deliver fully customized website experiences for traffic arriving from various social sources. This can be a particularly effective way of catering to the different demographics of social networks – from the relative maturity of the microblogging platform, Twitter, to the more vivacious and vibrant youthfulness of Snapchat and TikTok. 

A/B and multivariate testing stat

Source: Online Sales Guide Tips

Given the vast array of elements that can be altered during multivariate testing, it’s important to turn to a tool that can make the whole process of tweaking landing pages and content as simple as possible. 

VWO is an effective platform in undertaking not only multivariate tests but also A/B and split URL testing. With the help of visual editors, marketers and website owners alike can change elements on the pages they wish to test and deploy different landing pages for visitors arriving from different places across the web. Furthermore, the tool helps users to study metrics based on how long a visitor spends on pages, how far they scroll, their exit intent and a host of other custom triggers

The marketing landscape is ever-developing due to the arrival of more intricate and engaging technology. While A/B testing has existed in the world of marketing for some time, multivariate approaches can bring unprecedented levels of optimization and insight into the performance of different ideas and concepts. 

For better or worse, the world is in love with social media. But different platforms have evolved to be favored by different user bases. Advanced tools and testing methods can now provide brands with the agility to take on competitors on different social fronts by crafting heavily tested, personalized experiences depending on where their traffic is coming from. The World Wide Web is developing into an increasingly competitive place – advanced testing helps to give conscientious marketers a fighting chance.

Peter Jobes is the Content Marketing Manager at Solvid, a digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO, paid advertising, and website designing.

Search Buzz Video Recap: Bing Webmaster Guidelines & Ranking Factors, Google Shopping is Free & Search Console Insights

I pre-recorded this one, not using my normal camera, hope it came out okay and hope I am back to the normal routine next week. In any event, I published the monthly Google webmaster recap, you can catch up there. Bing updated its Bing Webmaster Guidelines, there is a bunch of new things there including rel sponsored and ugc support and Bing listed out its ranking factors; things that Google does not use, Bing says they do use. Google’s June 23rd update may have given a nice boost to federal and governmental web sites. Google Shopping is now free on Google Web Search, not just Google Shopping. GoogleBot is now able add products on your e-commerce site to your shopping cart – pretty crazy. Google is testing Google Search Console Insights, where it shows you more Google Analytics imported data directly in Search Console. Google updated its how Google search works help document. Google may still have some issues some implementations of Disqus comments. Google said using stock photography does not hurt your web search rankings; but it won’t help you rank in image search. Google said the CLS page metic is measured through the entire lifecycle of the page. Google Search Console tweaked its reporting for video structured data. Google replaced the sponsored label in search with the ad able. Google said it is fixing the garage door spam issues in Google Maps very soon. Google Maps is testing a local listing carousel on the footer of the page. Google local panels is testing displaying a story view for your images. Google is testing local panel ads that you cannot opt out of again. Oh and if you want to help sponsor those vlogs, go to patreon.com/barryschwartz. That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

Make sure to subscribe to our video feed or subscribe directly on iTunes to be notified of these updates and download the video in the background. Here is the YouTube version of the feed:


For the original iTunes version, click here.

Search Topics of Discussion:

Please do subscribe on YouTube or subscribe via iTunes or on your favorite RSS reader. Don’t forget to comment below with the right answer and good luck!

Facebook Algorithm to Favor Original Reporting & This Week’s Digital Marketing News [PODCAST] via @shepzirnheld

This week, Jess Budde, Greg Finn, and Christine “Shep” Zirnheld cover all the digital marketing headlines before you log off for the holiday weekend.

Facebook will prioritize original reporting 

Facebook announced that they are updating their algorithm for news articles to prioritize original reporting.

If many articles related to a certain topic link back to one article as a source, Facebook would identify that article as the original report.

The social media giant also announced that, in an effort to promote transparent authorship, they will prioritize articles that list a reporter in the byline over articles that do not.

Organic Google Shopping listings can now appear in main search results

Google began showing organic shopping listings in the shopping tab of Google.com earlier this year and is now featuring organic listings in its main search results as well.

These free listings will appear in the knowledge panel, which will be powered by product feeds in Google’s merchant center, not structured data from sites.

This change sets the product listings in the knowledge panel apart from other product information found in the SERPs. This new feature will be fully rolled out by the end of the year.

Bing gives details on how they rank content

Bing released new webmaster guidelines that outline the parameters they use to rank content in the search results in order of importance.

The third item on the list, after relevance and quality and credibility, is user engagement.

This parameter looks at clickthrough rates, bounce rates, and how the user interacted with the web page after they clicked through from the search results.

Google changes desktop ad labeling for shopping ads

Instead of a “Sponsored” ad label, users will soon see the “Ads” label that is already used to specify which shopping results are ads on mobile.

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CONTINUE READING BELOW

More brands sign on to boycott Facebook Ads

Prominent brands like Coca-Cola, Ford, and Levi’s are joining the July boycott of Facebook Ads as part of the “Stop hate for profit” campaign.

Keith Aldrich delivers a spicy take of the week regarding Google Ads’ bid estimates.  Somehow, getting 4 more top impressions for an additional $800 CPC just doesn’t seem to add up.

ICYMI, the CCPA is now officially in full effect.

If you need a refresher on how this will affect your ads, David Hermann has a helpful Twitter thread to break it down.

Then, we answer your burning digital marketing questions during our lightning round:

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CONTINUE READING BELOW

  • Who is running ads on local business profiles?
  • What is the difference between “Google Search Keywords” and “In-Market Keywords” in Google’s custom intent audiences?
  • When did voice search start to decline?
  • Where can job hunters look for support on social media?
  • Why retailers may see an abandoned cart influx from shoppers named John Smith.
  • How you can see Google Analytics data in Search Console reporting.

Head over to the Marketing O’Clock site to subscribe and find links to all of this weeks’ articles.

Thank you to our sponsors!

  • Ahrefs – An all-in-one SEO toolset that gives you the tools you need to rank your website in Google and get tons of search traffic.
  • Opteo – Helps Google Ads managers automate time-consuming manual tasks so they can spend more time on high-level strategy and creative work.

Featured Image Credit: Cypress North

Ad fraud prevention firm CHEQ enters PPC market

Dashboard of CHEQ PPC
The CHEQ PPC dashboard. Image: CHEQ.

CHEQ, a cybersecurity firm focused on ad fraud prevention, is expanding its ad verification solutions beyond impression-based programmatic advertising. It has launched a solution designed for paid search and paid search advertising channels called CHEQ PPC.

With the majority of digital ad spend going to paid search and social platforms, CHEQ says it has seen significant growth in click fraud with nearly one in five clicks proving non-human and/or fraudulent, according to a recent study commissioned by the firm.

CHEQ CEO Guy Tytunovich, a cyber-security veteran who started the company with a team of former defense intelligence engineering colleagues roughly four years ago, says Google, Facebook and other PPC platforms do a good job in fighting fraud, “and yet, there’s still an issue there … because there’s an inherent problem with solving [it] when you’re the biggest sitting duck on the internet.”

Citing the cyber-security truism of attacker advantage, he said, “There’s still X% of fraud that they could never eradicate.”

How it works. CHEQ PPC is designed to add a preemptive layer of protection against invalid clicks and fraudulent traffic on Google Ads, Facebook Ads and other cost-per-click-oriented platforms.

CHEQ PPC monitors the traffic that comes into advertisers’ sites or apps from their PPC campaigns and uses “thousands and thousands of honey pots” behind the scenes to identify anomalies in behavior. It is designed to block benign and malicious scrapers and web-crawlers, botnets, click farms, out-of geo clicks as well as suspicious human-driven behavior like competitor clicks and affiliate fraud.

It can connect to just about any network — Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Quora, etc.

The primary focus is on pre-emptive prevention, said Tytunovich, “where Google or Facebook or any other platform doesn’t even need to reimburse the advertiser because we’re basically excluding those fraudulent users from every being targeted.” Reimbursements, therefore, are “typically minuscule because the vast majority [of invalid traffic] is blocked preemptively,” he said.

There are two pricing models. One for small businesses, priced on click volume, and another for mid-market and enterprise companies based on levels of media spend.

Monitoring and analytics. To understand what the level and impact of bots and invalid traffic is CHEQ allows a small, but statistically viable amount of bot traffic through for monitoring purposes. On the CHEQ PPC dashboard (see above), advertisers can see that activity on a campaign level, and even keyword level for search campaigns, in various levels of granularity. There are also heat maps to show how the bots with mouse or scrolling capabilities behaved on the page or in the app. “Essentially what we’re showing is the volume of invalid users that would have come to the page without blocking,” Tytunovich explained.

Why we care. Ad fraud is not going away. CHEQ joins a number of other companies such as ClickCease, Clixtell, ClickGuard, TrafficGuard and PPC Protect in this arena. The company says it sees room in the PPC market for its cybersecurity-rooted, proactive approach to blocking fraudulent activity in the first place.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

How spam reports are used at Google

Spam reports play a significant role: they help us understand where our automated spam detection systems may be missing coverage. Most of the time, it’s much more impactful for us to fix an underlying issue with our automated detection systems than it is to take manual action on a single URL or site.

In theory, if our automated systems were perfect, we would catch all spam and not need reporting systems at all. The reality is that while our spam detection systems work well, there’s always room for improvement, and spam reporting is a crucial resource to help us with that. Spam reports in aggregate form help us analyze trends and patterns in spammy content to improve our algorithms.

Overall, one of the best approaches to keeping spam out of Search is to rely on high quality content created by the web community and our ability to surface it through ranking. You can learn more about our approach to improving Search and generating great results at our How Search Works site. Content owners and creators can also learn how to create high-quality content to be successful in Search through our Google Webmasters resources. Our spam detection systems work with our regular ranking systems, and spam reports help us continue to improve both so we very much appreciate them.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know on Twitter.

Posted by Gary

Russia seeks 6 years jail for journalist in ‘terror case’

Russian prosecutors on Friday demanded that a journalist be sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly justifying terrorism in a case that has drawn outrage from supporters and rights groups.

Svetlana Prokopyeva, who is based in the northwestern city of Pskov and works for RFE/RL’s Russian Service as a freelance contributor, was charged with publicly justifying terrorism after she wrote a commentary about a bombing attack in 2018.

In November 2018, a 17-year-old anarchist blew himself up in the lobby of a Federal Security Service (FSB) building in Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, injuring three service members.

In the opinion piece, published by the Pskov affiliate of the Echo of Moscow radio station, Prokopyeva, 40, linked the teenager’s suicide bombing to the political climate under President Vladimir Putin.

Half a year after her commentary was published gun-toting police commandos broke into her apartment and seized her computer and savings during a search, she said.

Prokopyeva was also placed on Russia’s official list of “terrorists and extremists”.

The journalist has denied the charges, calling them punishment for her work.

Speaking from the court, Prokopyeva said Friday that the prosecution demanded that she be sentenced to six years in prison and banned from working as a journalist for four years.

“This is revenge for harsh — and apparently — spot-on criticism,” she told AFP.

During her last statement, Prokopyeva said she was not afraid of criticising the state.

“State power that has ended up in the hands of cynical and cruel people becomes the most serious threat to people’s security,” she said.

Without freedom of speech a crackdown on dissenting voices could get even worse, she added.

“Repression is unfolding gradually,” she said. “It’s impossible to predict when limits on freedoms and persecution of dissent will turn into concentration camps and executions.”

On Monday, the court is expected to announce its verdict in the hugely controversial trial.

– ‘Dangerous precedent’ –

Prokopyeva’s employer said she did the opposite of what prosecutors allege.

“Svetlana’s commentary was an effort to explain a tragedy,” RFE/RL acting president Daisy Sindelar said in a statement.

“The portrayal of her words as ‘promoting terrorism’ is a deliberate and politically motivated distortion aimed at silencing her critical voice, and recalls the worst show trials of one of Russia’s darkest periods.”

Reporters Without Borders urged Russia to throw out the case.

“Svetlana Prokopyeva just did her job,” said Jeanne Cavelier, head of the watchdog’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“That would be a dangerous precedent for all the Russian journalists.”

In June, Human Rights Watch said that with Russian acquittal rates below 1 percent, “there is a real risk that the court could convict Prokopyeva”.

Journalist and activist Ilya Azar urged supporters to protest against “this insane case” by staging pickets near the Moscow headquarters of the FSB security service later Friday.

Over the past few years authorities have unleashed a crackdown on critics including journalists who are increasingly squeezed by curbs on press freedoms.

This week Putin, who has been in power for two decades, oversaw a controversial nationwide vote which allows him to extend his grip on power until 2036.