Four most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

Image by Norbet, available via CC BY 2.0

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week, Instagram Stories is draining the life from the very Snapchat feature that inspired it; publishers are losing patience with walled gardens; and paid ads may soon be coming to voice search – what does this mean for the user experience?

Ads are now a billion-dollar business for Amazon

Yesterday, Amazon released its fourth-quarter earnings report for 2016, disappointing members of Wall Street with revenue that was lower than some had estimated.

But buried within the report was data which suggested that Amazon’s efforts to become a larger player in the digital advertising world are gaining steam. Al Roberts reported on the news for ClickZ this week, and considered how much further Amazon’s ad business might be able to go.

Instagram Stories might be killing Snapchat Stories

In a painfully ironic turn of events, the much-derided Instagram knock-off of Snapchat Stories might actually be killing the original. Al Roberts reported for ClickZ on how the usage of Snapchat Stories has declined significantly since Instagram launched its own version of the feature.

According to Nick Cicero, who runs creative studio and social analytics platform Delmondo, “from August to November 2016, the average unique viewers per Snapchat Story has decreased about 40%.”

Just this week, Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. filed for an Initial Public Offering of $3 billion, setting in motion what could be the biggest tech flotation in years, and revealing surging sales as well as some significant losses. If this trend of declining interest in Snapchat’s features continues, the latter may win out over the former. But if Snap’s moves to evolve its business beyond the Snapchat app are successful, the company will soon have bigger fish to fry.

Is Facebook Instant Articles a flop for publishers?

In May 2015, Facebook launched Instant Articles, a way for publishers to create “fast, interactive articles on Facebook” – as long as they are published within Facebook’s walled garden.

Less than two years on, publishers are waking up to the fact that Instant Articles may not necessarily be the best deal for them. According to a report published by Digital Content Next, some publishers are starting to scale back their use of Instant Articles, citing restrictions on the number and kinds of ads they can incorporate into their content. This in turn is making it harder for them to drive revenue, especially in comparison to their own websites.

The report also indicates that content publishers may be losing patience with walled gardens of every kind, as Snapchat’s Discover is seen as holding “little to no short-term financial interest” to publishers.

Two side-by-side screenshots showing the new, more visual, Snapchat Discover, with large picture thumbnails of Discover stories overlaid with text.

The future of voice search, and monetising the map

Voice search is one of the biggest and potentially most revolutionary trends currently dominating the search industry, and was a major focus of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report for 2016. This is particularly true for local search, as voice searches are frequently “near me” queries carried out on a mobile device when users are out and about.

Until now, voice search has remained un-monetised; but that could all be about to change. Columnist Brian Smith took a look at how this might come about, as well as the potential pitfalls of paid voice search, over on Search Engine Land.

Related reading

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