Digital Industry Updates

As of September 2023, Embryo has kept a log of key industry updates within the digital marketing landscape, covering Google and social media changes to algorithms and platforms that affect SEO, PPC, as well as social platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

2 April 2024

Meta: New Advantage+ Creative Add Catalogue Items Feature

Meta is constantly looking for new features to add to their Advantage+ technology. The newest addition applies to their Advantage+ creative where marketers now have the option to add catalogue items to their images and videos when creating an ad. 

This essentially looks like a different style of instant experience. The format of your ad will either look like a collection or a carousel depending on how this will be served to the end user. 

meta catalogue ad screenshot

Image Source:

For the collection format, the creative asset chosen will be the main image and then underneath will be all of the product cards in your chosen catalogue set. Remember the images for the product cards are scraped from your website so if you don’t like the primary image then you’ll need to update these.

Now you don’t have to opt into this feature. When you’re creating your ad, the Avantage+ Creative window will pop up and from there you will be able to select the option to turn off all optimisations. You don’t have to keep them all off either – you can test the different features to see how they affect your performance and then make the judgement on which features to keep for your ads.

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26 March 2024

Instagram Updates Hashtag Search To Simplify Discovery

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, recently announced a big update changing the way hashtags can be used for discovery. In his own words, the update is as follows:


“We’re simplifying the hashtag and search experiences on Instagram to make it easier to see everything in one place. Now, when you tap on a hashtag, you’ll see the search results for that hashtag. You will still be able to follow/unfollow or report specific hashtags.


Hope this makes it easier to find accounts and posts that are relevant to your search.”


instagram phone screenshot showing follow button on hastags

Image Source: @mosseri on Instagram


The update has already been rolled out and users can connect to broader search results related to a hashtag. Now, when users tap the hashtag, instead of seeing the “Top Posts” feed they’ll have the option to see the full search results for the hashtag–like they would see in Explore.


But what does this mean for marketers? Ensure you’re using the most appropriate keywords and hashtags in both your posts and profile to maximise visibility in the Accounts display. Though profiles in hashtag searches might not always include the hashtags in every post, a lot of the time they’ve included the word in the caption, description or profile name.


By introducing this option, Instagram is hoping to improve discovery and not focus on just highlighting top content. It’s not a huge change, but it’s definitely a logical one.

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21 March 2024

GA4 “Key Event” Update Initially Perplexes Advertisers

Google announced a push for “greater consistency” with Google Ads, with an impending GA4 update that replaces ‘conversions’ with ‘key events’.

Most advertisers and GA4 users are used to using the same terminology as Google Ads (“conversion”), making the insistence from Kamal Janardhan, Google’s Senior Director of Product Management, that this is an “improved, more unified experience” a bit confusing.

How this will impact advertisers predominantly using GA4 goal tracking remains to be seen, but in the meantime, this could be a key step in differentiating Analytics and Ad platforms more definitively for the industry: Google Ads is a platform for performance and optimisation (conversion), whereas Analytics is arguably for reporting and measuring user behaviour (key events).

A minor difference, but an important one to keep in mind.

Read more on Google's blog announcement
13 March 2024

Google Adds Social Media Posts to Business Listings

It has been announced that after adding social media profile icon links to Google My Business listings, Google will be introducing a new social media posts section within business listings in Search!

Google Business profiles will now have a subsection for social media updates that will be automatically populated with the latest social posts once the accounts are linked up. You can link up your Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn and TikTok accounts.

screenshot of social media updates in google my business

Image Source: Search Engine Journal

Although most accounts will need to connect up the social profiles with the GMB, Google has said that they may automatically link social accounts in some cases.

This is a really interesting update as it adds more importance to the need for up-to-date social media accounts. If a business has poor social media, it’ll look bad pulling through in the SERP. If a business doesn’t link up its social media or any channels, it’ll look poor vs. competitors who do.

Let’s keep an eye on how the integration of social media and search progresses as this update rolls out!

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12 March 2024

Top of Funnel Meta Campaigns Now Forced to use Audience Expansion – March 2024

Meta has started rolling out a new update that means that link clicks and landing page views campaigns will now automatically include audience expansion, with the advertiser being unable to turn this off.


advantage detailed targeting expansion


Audience expansion is where your campaign will occasionally go beyond your specified detailed targeting (interests, age, gender etc.) if it believes it will drive better performance in doing so. This can be a fantastic tool when driving purchases, but falls down when looking at top of funnel campaigns.

If your ad is going after those most likely to click, outside of your set audience parameters, there could potentially be a lot of poor quality traffic coming through your ads. It might drive low cost clicks but they might be less likely to take an action after a click, may not fit your audience profile (think B2B businesses with specific industries) etc. The algorithm will go after the lowest cost action. 

This is quite a big change and will need to be factored into discussions around paid social as a tool for driving high quality website traffic.

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12 March 2024

Microsoft Ads Introduces Insights Navigator – March 2024

Microsoft announced the launch of Insights Navigator, a new tool designed to streamline access to data and performance insights.

This AI-powered tool provides users with quick access to category and query insights, offering valuable information on user search patterns across the Microsoft ad network as well as behavioural trends.

Additionally, automatic data reports can be delivered directly to your inbox within minutes, allowing you to stay updated on relevant trends that may impact your account’s performance (positively or negatively).

With Insights Navigator, you can make swift, data-driven strategy adjustments that align with current consumer behaviour and trends, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of your campaigns.

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12 March 2024

Interaction to Next Paint (INP) Replaces First Input Delay (FID) as a Core Web Vital

On 12th March 2024, Google officially replaced First Input Delay (FID) with Interaction to Next Paint (INP) as a Core Web Vital metric and will be used moving forward to assess the Page Experience on your website.

The key difference between FID and INP is that INP measures interactions beyond the user’s first input. This gives us a much more accurate representation of User Experience, as we’re now able to measure how quickly a user can navigate from page to page.

This won’t be a groundbreaking update that will shake up rankings significantly – but if you’re not scoring “Good” across your Core Web Vital metrics, we’d recommend that you consider it as part of your strategy.

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5 March 2024

March 2024 Core Update and New Spam Policies

On 5th March 2024, Google began rolling out their March 2024 Core Update along with new policies regarding spam.

Unlike other Core updates, this came with a lot of detail from Google on what the update will be targeting.

Overall, the update is designed to improve the quality of Search by showing less content that feels like it was made to attract clicks, rather than demonstrating a sincere interest in your users’ needs.

google spam policies from the update in march 2024.

The Spam Policy updates aim to better handle the practises that can negatively impact the quality of Google’s search results.

A full write-up from Google Search Central’s blog can be found below.

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5 March 2024

Microsoft Ads Launches Performance Max Globally – March 2024

Microsoft has been gradually launching their answer to Google’s “Performance Max” (named, funnily enough “Microsoft Ads Performance Max”), and now Microsoft have announced that this premier campaign type is now available to users globally as of today.

Similarly to Google’s own offering, Microsoft Ads Performance Max aims to target users across Bing’s own “messy middle”, and give advertisers a simple workflow for getting e-commerce campaigns off the ground.

blog 37493 image02

This has been a long time coming from Microsoft, following Google’s path after a couple of years, but brings a whole new way to approach microsoft ads and reaching new traffic.

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3 March 2024

Consent Mode v2 & Enhanced Conversions Presents both a Risk & Opportunity

This month, advertisers across the UK & Europe will begin navigating the minefield that the mandatory Consent Mode v2 update presents.

In a bid to strengthen compliance with data privacy laws, Consent Mode v2 requires advertisers to be more strict on their cookie policies, giving users a heightened ability to disregard cookies.

This poses a massive risk to all advertisers regardless of their preferred ad network, but Google Ads especially relies on cookie data in order to bid and optimise profitably.

The good news is that this will motivate users to migrate fully to gtag tracking – a long-standing best practice for goal tracking, and a method that Google continuously recommends for accuracy and optimisation. The other opportunity for advertisers is utilising Enhanced Conversions – an advanced user-tracking datalayer that improves Google Ads attribution and reveals “true” insight into how important assisted conversions are.

This update will undoubtedly cause a headache for advertisers as they implement and troubleshoot Consent Mode v2, but a strong focus on gtag and Enhanced Conversions will help mitigate the impacts on tracked revenue.

Read more on Google's Support hub
22 February 2024

Gemini AI Model Integration into Performance Max – February 2024

In November, Google introduced generated AI asset functionality into Performance Max, and it looks like even more complex asset generation tools are rolling out soon – globally!

Gemini (previously known as “Bard”), will be integrated into text assets, to give advertisers more capability to properly build out their headlines and descriptions.

Google are also upgrading its image asset generation models to Imagen2, allowing advertisers to scale their creatives even further. Image editing via Imagen2 is currently only being rolled out within the US, but is expected to roll out globally within the next few months.

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21 February 2024

Pinterest to Collaborate with Google – February 2024

Last year Pinterest chose Amazon as their first third-party ad partner. This year, looking to continue driving the platform’s revenue, they’ve just announced that Google Ads will become their second third-party ad collaboration

What does this mean? PPC marketers will be able to serve ads on Pinterest through Google’s Ads Manager, however what this will look like is unclear. We know that if a pinner clicks on one of these ads they will be directed straight to the advertiser’s website to complete the desired action.

It seems that brands won’t have to worry about directly competing against themselves through their PPC and paid social advertising as the partnership with Google looks to help Pinterest monetise in markets they are currently not able to do so. This isn’t rolled out to everyone and from the people that have been able to use this feature they have seen positive results.

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21 January 2024

LinkedIn Scraps Lookalike Audiences – January 2024

LinkedIn will discontinue lookalike audiences on February 29, marking a shift in its advertising approach. This decision aims to streamline offerings and prioritise more impactful advertising solutions. While the reasons for this move remain undisclosed, it suggests a focus on refining ad products and enhancing user experiences.

Advertisers must adapt strategies accordingly, exploring alternative targeting options like interest-based or account targeting. Leveraging first-party data becomes crucial. LinkedIn’s decision reflects the evolving nature of digital advertising, requiring advertisers to stay agile and responsive to platform changes.

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18 January 2024

Consent Mode V2 – The New Requirements for Personalised Ads Across Europe – January 2024

Google will be enforcing new requirements for Google Ads throughout Europe in March, and advertisers will be required to adopt consent mode V2 to continue to show personalised or remarketing ads.

This fast rollout and deadline is due to the large legislative push regarding user consent & privacy across search engine networks.

Advertisers will need to urgently prioritise their consent & google tag manager scope, otherwise risk losing critical advertising capabilities including accurate tracking, reporting – and vitally – leveraging the strength of automated bidding, which relies on plentiful and accurate user data.

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14 December 2023

Google Readies Itself To Phase Out Third-Party Cookies Across Chrome – December 2023

Google has begun its plans to restrict third-party cookies by default, rolling out on January 1st to 1% of Chrome users globally.

This is the start to retire third-party cookies entirely in the latter half of 2024 as part of their Privacy Sandbox initiative to safeguard online privacy and limit cross-site data tracking.

1percent blog header

Advertisers will need to ensure they have up-to-date solutions in order to continue to accurately track and not miss out on any points throughout the customer journey.

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12 December 2023

YouTube Shorts Are Now Available in Video Reach Campaigns – December 2023

As consumers engage more with YouTube Shorts on their mobiles and begin watching more online content via their TV’s – YouTube has become a prime landscape for brands to connect with their target audience.

Video Reach campaigns now offers reaching users by scaling video creative to in-feed and YouTube shorts in Google Ads.

This new development will allow advertisers to uplift their brand awareness across high-engagement networks.

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6 December 2023

Google Introduces Gemini: Its Largest & Most Capable AI Model Yet – December 2023

Abandoning the “Bard” moniker, Google announced its ‘largest and most capable’ AI model – known as “Gemini”.

On the face of it, Gemini’s main purpose is to significantly enhance the way developers and enterprise customers build and scale with AI. But reading behind the lines, this is the next step in the “AI arms race”, as Google looks to retain its status as the defacto “everything” engine – a status it has enjoyed since beating out other search engines such as Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves and Dogpile (anyone else feel old?)

This model will be used within Google Products globally, including Google Ads, Search, Shopping & More throughout the coming months. While it is currently only being tested in the US, we expect this to be a fully functional part of the Google Search experience by the end of 2024. Advertisers will soon be able to use Gemini to create AI generated ad copy and sitelinks to improve the quality of their ads.

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1 December 2023

Google Merchant Center Next To Support Supplemental Feeds & Rules – December 2023

Advertisers using Google Merchant Center Next (GMCN) can look to breathe a sigh of relief as Google announces GMCN will be supporting supplemental feeds & rules early next year.

The simplified version of Google Merchant Center (GMC) unveiled in May lacked many tools its predecessor had available, leading advertisers to revert back to ‘classic mode’ in order to restore functionality that is integral to optimising Google ad shopping performance.

Important to note: Once reverted back to classic, access to GMCN is unavailable until the classic GMC is retired next year.

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21 November 2023

Meta unveils five new lead generation ad tools for Facebook and Instagram – November 2023

Meta’s unveiling of five new lead-generation ad tools provides advertisers with powerful tools to drive business growth and foster meaningful connections with their target audience.

WhatsApp Lead Gen: Meta is expanding the lead opportunity to users via WhatsApp chats with businesses. This feature assists marketers in nurturing high-quality leads through messaging. Going forward, certain advertisers will have the opportunity to incorporate a Q&A flow directly within Ads Manager.

Instant form ad format. Allows users to explore and engage with multiple businesses simultaneously. For instance, upon registering for a bridal hair trial, users can effortlessly share their contact details with other businesses, such as a nail salon. This feature enhances convenience for users while expanding opportunities for small businesses to attract interested customers.

Calling leads on Facebook. Meta is currently experimenting with a new functionality on Facebook that enables businesses to directly contact leads, offering reassurance and showcasing their business details. Additionally, Meta is in the testing phase of Advantage+ for Lead Generation, a feature that enables full automation of lead generation campaigns through Meta Advantage. This empowers advertisers to employ AI across various campaigns which will help to improve performance. 

Hubspot. To assist businesses in efficiently generating high-quality leads, Meta is introducing HubSpot as a new CRM integration partner, providing a simple click-through setup which will help to streamline the process further.

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8 November 2023

Google Reviews Update – November 2023

Starting on the 8th November 2023, and finishing on the 7th December 2023, this will be the last time that Google confirms an update to the reviews algorithm.

What is now likely to be a realtime system, due to the ever-increasing deluge of fake reviews across sites thanks to services such as ChatGPT, all publishers of sites with reviews should keep their eyes open for increased levels of seemingly natural reviews.

It is going to be tough for publishers to know if Google’s review algorithm is rewarding or punishing them. The only way to be entirely safe is to give enough internal resource time to ensuring that any added reviews are as genuine as possible.

There is almost certainly going to be many sites that have been using fake reviews with ranking headaches over the next few weeks.

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