Q2 2021 Online Marketing and Ecommerce Round-Up

Where is e-commerce headed in Q2 as businesses reopen and people return to business as usual? Read on to see what updates are happening across Google Ads, Google Shopping, Microsoft, and Amazon for digital retailers and advertisers.

YouTube To Start Showing Ads on Non-Monetized Videos

Last year, Google updated their Terms of Service — and included a section about YouTube’s “right to monetize”. Starting in November 2020 in the US, YouTube could add advertisements before non-monetized videos. 

Previously, YouTube channels would have to be YouTube partners and then their videos. Now, starting June 1st, this change applies to all countries. 


What does this mean for advertisers? Here’s our marketing manager, Christina DiSomma’s, thoughts. 

Christina DiSomma

“YouTube is asserting the right to show ads even on channels that are not part of the YouTube Partner Program. YouTube also won’t be sharing revenue from these ads with the content creators.

This change may ultimately wind up driving a lot of creators from the platform. For example, businesses may not want to run the risk of having competitors’ video ads appear on their content—especially if there isn’t even a small revenue advantage.”

Google Ads Updates Q2 2021

There were many changes and updates across Google Ads this quarter. Here’s an overview of some key changes: 

1. Auto Apply Ad Suggestions

In April, Google announced a new opt-in feature that will automatically apply ad suggestions. If you opt-in, Google will automatically adjust your ads based on signals only available to its algorithm. Here’s what one of our analysts, Chris Kendall, has to say about the update.

Chris Kendall

“While this feature may save you some time, I would be wary of using it without observation. These are just recommendations; the proposed changes may not align with your business goals. 

If you decide to use this feature, make sure to keep a close eye on your account. Fortunately, this program is opt-in only, so it will not start without your consent.”

2. Google Dynamic Exclusions Lists

Also released in April, Dynamic Exclusion Lists give advertisers more control over where their ads appear. Simply upload a list of excluded webpages or domains and your ads will no longer show for those placements. 

3. User Experience Will Be a Ranking Factor

At the end of May, Google announced upcoming changes to how webpages will be ranked. Core Web Vitals will begin to impact rankings in 2021. This rollout will gradually begin in mid-June: here’s the full timeline of the rollout.

4. Image Extensions on Search Ads 

While image extensions were introduced last summer, they are now globally available. You can either choose which images show, or dynamically pull images from your website to fill the image slot for your Search Ads. Search Ads with images can also appear in YouTube search results if you’re opted-in to search partners.

5. Monthly Spend Limits

Advertisers can now set monthly spend limits at the account level starting June 1st. This update should make it easier to keep bids competitive. If you have a larger account, it might take you longer to set both daily budgets and monthly spend limits—so make sure you set aside time for planning.

Google Shopping Updates Q2 2021

There’s also a lot happening on Google Shopping! 

1. Merchant Center Updates 

At the beginning of the quarter, Google announced updates to Merchant Center specifications. Some immediate changes include: 

  • Checkout price enforcement 
  • Region-specific shipping times
  • Back-ordered and preordered products
  • “Big”, “Tall” and “Plus” size attributes 

Check out the announcement for a full list of changes. 


2. Google Partnered with Shopify 

In May, Google partnered with Shopify. This partnership will let Shopify users show their products in search results, images results, Google Maps, and on YouTube. This partnership could bring more Shopify users to sell on Google Shopping as the platforms become more integrated. 

3. Augmented Reality, Identity Tags, and Loyalty Programs 

Also in May, Google held a Google Marketing Livestream where they announced a bunch of new features for Google Shopping. A few highlights include identity tags for shopping ads such as black-owned businesses, augmented reality for trying on make-up, and loyalty program integration. 


4. Free and Fast Delivery 

Finally, in June, Google added the tags “free and fast delivery” to Google Shopping. To have the “free” annotation appear on your ads, you must provide free shipping. For the “fast” annotation, you must be able to deliver items within 3 days (which includes transit and handling time). 

Here’s what Sarah French, a senior analyst at Omnitail, has to say about Google Shopping’s updates:

As ecommerce continues to grow, Google continues to roll out new integrations for retailers. Most significantly including connecting Google merchant center to discovery ads and YouTube Video action campaigns. 

This opens up inventory for product feeds throughout Google’s advertising placements.”

Microsoft Updates Q2 2021

Following in Google’s footsteps, Microsoft rolled out some similar updates. 

1. Auto Applied Ad Suggestions 

Google released auto-applied ad suggestions – so Microsoft did tooThis feature is currently in beta and will be opt-in. 

2. Changes to Phrase Match 

In February, Google announced changes to phrase match keywords. Now, in May, Microsoft will be treating phrase match keywords the same way. 

Check out our blog to learn how these changes may impact you on Google or Bing: 2021 Updates to Google Phrase Match Keywords. 

3. Comparison Shopping  

Bing also released another feature similar to Google Shopping: comparison shopping. While similar, Bing’s comparison shopping page has some different features. By clicking into the details section on a product page, shoppers will see comparison shopping options including: 

  • Aggregated ratings
  • Expert reviews 
  • Product specifications
  • Historic prices across sellers 

Here’s what our SEM Strategist Cody Franko has to say about the update: 

Cody Franko

Be on the lookout for Bing’s new and improved shopping interface. While the platform is known for implementing changes in response to Google, Bing is taking the initiative here to differentiate its shopping page. 

The results page now has unique features like price history, expert reviews, and comparison shopping among sellers which surpasses Google’s current interface’s capabilities. 

It will be intriguing to monitor the impact in terms of total traffic and conversions that these new changes have, in Bing’s quest to achieve more parity with its competitors” 


Amazon Ads Updates Q2 2021

At the tail end of Q1, Amazon launched the Search Term Impression Share Report for Sponsored Products. This report will show you how your impression share stacks up against other advertisers. 

Here’s what our senior SEM analyst CJ Milhoan thinks about the new report: 

CJ Mihoan

“This feature is important for advertisers that are seeing keyword targeting volatility. 

For example, should your top-selling term stop producing sales you’ve grown accustomed to, you’ll want to see if this value has dropped, as fewer impressions translate to fewer clicks and fewer clicks mean fewer opportunities for transactions (most of the time). 

It’ll be important for advertisers going forward to look at this data over time, as changing values can indicate that a change in bidding strategy should be considered or that you have new competitors entering the market.” 

Last but not least, Prime Day was bumped to Q2 this year! While last year Prime Day was in October, in normal years, Prime Day was at the beginning of Q3 in July. Did you prep for Prime Day sales this year? 

Lately, it’s been hard to keep up with when Prime Day will be, but it’s always a good idea to have a game plan. For next year, bookmark our blog: How to Get Ready for Prime Day—so you can stay ahead of the competition. 

Now you’re up-to-date on the latest ecommerce trends and news from Q2 2021! If you want to see similar content, sign up for our blog newsletter below. We won’t bug you—you’ll just get a monthly email with our most useful blogs each month. 

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates from our team!

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