What a year!
We all know staying ahead of the digital trends is the key to success, but did you jump on them all and are there any that you missed?
Join us as we pick out our 2023 highlights, month by month – all things social trends, tech updates, and most importantly, a marketing rewind into our favourite monthly moments!
New Year, new marketing goals. January is usually the month when brands go all out and try to keep that Christmas chaos going. So, what did we see this year, and who did it best?
Well, short-form videos are the way to go!
The year opened with an unexpected twist under the video giant ‘YouTube’. The monetisation of YouTube Shorts. After its initial worldwide release in 2021, we were all left with one question. How do you make money on YouTube shorts? For the first time ever, they finally allowed the monetisation of short videos. The introduction of the YouTube shorts partner programme allowed you to establish brand partnerships and use affiliate links within content - hundreds of brands took to the platform to try and turn it into the next ‘TikTok’. Yes, we know you’re fed up with hearing it… TikTok, TikTok, TikTok. But the truth is, audiences today love passive, easy content – and it makes creators money. They don’t want to have to sit and listen to a long drag of an advert. A short and easily consumable 15-second advert is exactly what they engage in, and that is exactly what TikTok provides. So, effectively YouTube Shorts now gives creators money based on their engagement, much the same as all social networks today.
So, YouTube did exactly that by jumping on the bandwagon and allowing creators to make money to drive traffic to this platform. But was it successful? Or was it too little too late?
With the rise of the different AI software in recent years, marketers and SEO specialists have been concerned about what it could mean for ranking positions and visibility.
But thankfully, a 2023 Google rewind shows us that the almighty search engine Google, took to their Q+A platform in February to confirm that their age-old rule still applies - Google advises publishers to produce helpful, people-focused content that demonstrates expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). So, same rules apply whether it is produced by humans or machines, meet these criteria and you will fly up the ranks.
Want our advice on this? The best E-E-A-T content is produced by people. Ensure that your content tells a story and that you would want to read. Nobody likes a robot.
Google Ads Cost boom
The end of the first quarter brings stats and finances – and fear.
Videnglobe stated that in 2023, Google Ads costs were predicted to increase by 20%-30% compared to a 5%-19% rise in 2022.
So, Google Ads were costing you more – what were conversions like in March? The short answer for a lot of businesses was poor – the rise of email automation was pushing conversion rates for a lot of Google ads down.
However, there were some industries, such as travel and real estate, that were unaffected by these inflated prices and deflated click-throughs.
So, for the people who did it right, even if their industry was suffering, their conversions were soaring! It is all down to effective optimisation!
It is safe to say that 2023 was certainly not short for any advancements in AI especially when it came to ecommerce!
Shopify Magic was released in April 2023 to make writing product descriptions a breeze. The tool uses advanced algorithms to analyse your products and generate descriptions that they say are not only accurate but also engaging and persuasive.
However, like with all these things, there is still a catch. The keywords you input to generate a description are the keywords you will rank for. Therefore, utilising intensive keyword research tools is still vital for the successful implementation of this tool, so does it save much time after all?
Instagram algorithm insights
Straight from the Instagram chief himself, Adam Mosseri took to the Instagram blog in May to provide better insight on all things ranking, updates, feed, and specific features. If used properly, it was effectively a ‘how to’ guide for businesses to better capitalise on the opportunities Instagram provides.
Adam broke it down into how IG rank the main feed, stories, explore, and reels. This was based on their niche criteria, and what users are looking for in each section. This could have been huge for business success this year, with 50% of users saying seeing an ad makes them more interested in a brand. Therefore, if you understood where your customer personas were within the app, you knew where best to position your ads for higher ROI!
So, if you managed to use Adam’s Instagram algorithm updates to your advantage – go you!
Goodbye Universal Analytics, hello GA4?
For all of us data analysts out there, this marked a huge date in the diary for many months. June was the last month where all our familiar tools and session-based data could be reviewed before Google Analytics 4 took over.
Although it is sad, the end of this era opened avenues upon avenues of new possibilities. The enhanced insight allowed people like us to really crack down on the who’s, what’s, and where’s of client websites and campaigns. Not only that but applying this data and using it to inform decision-making and strategy yielded excellent results! However, I think we can speak on behalf of many, we are still ironing out a few areas of the platform and getting used to its new ways of working. Nevertheless, thank you GA4!
The infamous rebrand.
Out with the old and in with the new seemed to be a bit of a running theme through 2023. Our little blue bird, who was the face of Twitter for 17 years disappeared overnight, and was replaced with a sleek new ‘X’, perfectly representing the new name… X.
Was the change purely cosmetic, and what was the point?
Well, the new branding may seem the most prominent aspect of this social shift however, if we rewind to Elon Musk's intentions, he says there is much more to it. He wanted to elevate the social platform and bridge the gap between social interaction and the array of financial services. In other words, he wants businesses to use X (formerly known as Twitter) as a prominent platform for advertising and sharing industry news bites.
It’s a strategic shift that aims to redefine how we interact, transact, and engage with the digital realm. Pretty cool, huh?
The SEO rundown.
In the fast-paced industry of digital marketing, everything is continuously adapting and changing. Like in August not only was there a core update, but John Mueller (on behalf of Google's Search Central) also took to YouTube to explain why a well-optimised website is not the only aspect that determines high rankings. It established the large misunderstanding that it’s not only your website itself that must follow E-E-A-T criteria, but everywhere you appear online.
John covers everything in one video and within it, he essentially encapsulates the idea that in addition to creating high-value content, you should keep in mind that on-page SEO itself is just a small part of your marketing efforts. Other areas such as site promotion, podcast appearances, conference speaking engagements, networking, content creation (e.g. YouTube videos), and advertising, can play a crucial role in SEO success.
Limited ad serving.
‘Limited ad serving’ was introduced this September. It is essentially a feature that places a grace period on new advertisers. It aimed to enhance ad clarity and build trust with users before your adverts are streamed out to the masses. After all, Google always says that your trust as a domain is key.
Let's have a quick breakdown of what this meant to businesses though and who was affected.
Advertisers with a history of policy compliance and transparency will be prioritised. So, if you are an ‘experienced’ domain who has acted in line with Google’s best practices, chances are, you were unaffected – or even promoted higher as a result.
Advertisers without this proven track record may have had their ad impressions limited initially to help reduce the chances of users encountering misleading or confusing ads.
While this policy didn’t, and still won’t block or remove ads, it does apply limitations in some cases. For example, when Google has just not quite scoped you out yet.
All in all, this feature was excellent for assuring better trust from consumers, albeit initially it did cause a lot of turbulence for new and inexperienced businesses.
In November, Google updated its policy to revive a fairer playing field, whilst sustaining a strong level of protection against untrustworthy companies. So, if you are an avid Google Ads user, always keep an eye out for future changes.
One of the most prominent tools for visual content creators of today – Canva. After its initial appearance on the scene many years ago, Canva has continuously kept up with trends and innovated its software to fulfil the needs of digital marketers and users alike.
And so, introducing ‘Magic Studio’.
After partnering with many AI apps and specialists, this studio holds a plethora of automated tools, that can adapt and change your photos, videos, and animations for you. Whilst the technology is still new, and therefore does not work perfectly every single time, it certainly shows Canva heading in the right direction and is a huge advancement in the text-to-image AI landscape.
Watch this space for advancements and how to integrate Magic Studio into your next creative campaign.
The Google Core Update...
We have left this out of our 2023 rewind in marketing so far because let’s face it, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind year of updates, hasn’t it? So, we thought it best to summarise them. Marking a moment in history, 2023 saw the most Google Core algorithm updates in one year… ever!
The November Core update was the longest duration of this year, spanning 25 days from the 2nd of November to the 28th of November. It was also unexpected, given that its rollout began less than 2 weeks after the October core update finished – another unheard occurrence.
This makes it clear that Google is definitely not slowing down on its ranking criteria. Keeping your website well-maintained, optimised, and up to Google’s standards has never been more important. We can imagine that with 2024 just around the corner, it is only going to get tougher and tougher to appear in that #1 position on those SERPs.
For a full history of Google updates this year, take a look at the Google search status dashboard.
Finishing the year with a bang!
Nothing is more exciting for a group of marketers than the lead-up to Christmas. Finding our favourite Christmas adverts of the year will never get old!
This year, we chose Disney’s ‘A Wish for the holidays’ campaign.
Not only do we love it for allowing us to reignite our inner child, have a little sing-along, and get fully in the festive feels – its core message is extremely important to us. Partnering with make-a-wish, a UK-based charity, holds a special place in our hearts here at Red Ant Solutions. As an experienced charity digital marketing agency, there is nothing more that fills us with pride than working with our Charity clients and helping make a difference.
And, that’s a wrap!
So, our year in review comes to an end. With a plethora of crazy tech advancements in AI, algorithm updates, and changes across the digital landscape, 2023 has been a blast. 2024, we are ready for you!
But the question is, did you struggle to keep up this year, or feel that your business is falling behind? Look no further, you are in the right place. Our team of specialists can help keep your marketing campaigns alive in 2024!
Contact us today to get your year off to a great start.
By Lara Howie on By Lara Howie on 18 December 2023