Google's New Mobile Focused Algorithm; Adblock Plus Legal In Germany

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Google Flexes Its Algorithm

On Tuesday, Google updated its algorithm to incorporate a site’s “mobile-friendliness” into search result prominence. “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results,” Google explained in a February blog post announcing the update. Wired reporter Cade Metz called the adjustment “likely the biggest change of the past three years ... By improving the state of the mobile web, Google makes its mobile search engine more attractive. In doing so, it makes more money.” The move may scare some publishers, but it’s a worthy reminder that it’s Google’s world, and they’re just playing in it. Read on. Also, check out AdExchanger’s earlier coverage of media companies’ reactions to the looming change.

Ad Blocking Upheld

A court in Hamburg, Germany, struck down a four-month-old lawsuit against Adblock Plus on Tuesday. The plaintiffs, German publishers Zeit Online GmbH and Handelsblatt GmbH, argued Adblock Plus’ software is illegal. “Adblock Plus will continue to provide users with a tool that helps them control their Internet experience,” Adblock Plus wrote in an emailed statement following the verdict. “At the same time, we will endeavor to work with publishers, advertisers and content creators to encourage nonintrusive ads, discover new ways to make ads better and push forward to a more sustainable Internet ecosystem.” Read the Adblock Plus blog post, in which the company calls on the industry to work with Adblock Plus to develop new forms of ads “that are actually useful and welcomed by users.”

Disrupting The Branding Survey

Knotch, a start-up with $4 million in fresh funding, wants to bring new methods to measuring the impact of brand-produced digital content. Founder Anda Gansca sees an opportunity in user surveys. “Brands are working so hard to get their audiences to love their content, and so much of this stuff now is in editorial environments, and we end up shoving something [like a survey] in their face,” Gansca told the WSJ. Instead, Knotch’s tech serves an image that prompts ratings on a negative-positive scale when a user hovers over it. The technology isn’t revolutionary, but with the amount of money “flying blind” in the sponsored and branded content realm, there’s a lot of value in demonstrating ROC (return on content).

Autoplay Weathers Early Storms

Facebook’s decision to embrace autoplay video ads increasingly seems like an industry standard, as Twitter, Instagram, Vine and other publishers echo the change. After early vitriol from commenters and bloggers toward autoplay, eMarketer’s Paul Verna is “surprised there hasn’t been more of a backlash.” While users aren’t fond of autoplay videos, and its adoption has led to an increase in the deployment of ad blocking technology, the demonstrable video views they bring to marketers and publishers is apparently worth the audience irritation. Read on via Digiday.

Twitter Commerce Flies The Nest

Months after the launch of Twitter’s ecommerce initiative, ticket-sellers have started to partner with the platform to drive sales. Most recently, the Atlanta Hawks tapped Twitter to sell tickets to the team’s playoff games. Re/code points out that former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard is now Twitter’s head of commerce and also cites an anonymous source who claims, “Twitter currently doesn’t take a cut of ticket sales, though it seems plausible it could in the future.” Twitter has a ways to go before the product’s solidly in place, or before it even knows if users will respond positively to open commerce on the platform. But the potential for a “Buy” button placed directly on a tweet is an alluring end game.

Cars.com Sees Big Mobile Opportunity

Many publishers struggle to monetize mobile, but not Cars.com. “A car dealer doesn’t really care if their lead comes from the mobile application or if it comes from the desktop,” said Jack Williams, president of Gannett Digital Ventures, during Gannett’s Q1 earnings call. “We found it’s really very close to the bottom of the sales funnel,” added CEO Gracia Martore. Gannett acquired Cars.com in October and reported that the site increased digital revenues by 28%. Seeking Alpha transcript here. In related news, Gannett announced that its spinoff of its broadcasting and digital division (including Cars.com) will be called TEGNA. Read the release.

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