What’s “Next” for Google Merchant Center

Your Merchant Center will be changing over to the “Next” version soon. What does that mean for your current catalog, your pixels, and your web site?

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What’s “Next” for Google Merchant Center

Your Merchant Center will be changing over to the “Next” version soon. What does that mean for your current catalog, your pixels, and your web site?

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Merchant Center • What’s In Store for “Next”

Every other week, our Google ads correspondent Jyll Saskin Gales walks us through the latest platform changes. Jyll spent six years at Google in a senior ad role, and today runs the Inside Google Ads training program.¹

Google is making some big changes with one of its biggest marketing platforms — Merchant Center. 

  • Google Merchant Center is a platform for selling products and connecting with other Google products like Google Ads.

  • Google Merchant Center Next offers new features and a streamlined workflow for marketers.

  • The Shopping Experience Scorecard provides a score and a top quality store badge for businesses that meet certain criteria.

  • Migration to Google Merchant Center Next is automatic and does not result in a drop-off in functionality.

VIDEO CHAPTERS:

  • 00:00 Introduction to Google Merchant Center

  • 01:19 Google Merchant Center Next

  • 02:09 New Features in Google Merchant Center

  • 03:18 Insights and Scorecard in Google Merchant Center

  • 04:43 Google Merchant Center vs Google Merchant Center Next

  • 05:46 Migration to Google Merchant Center Next

  • 06:12 Functionality and Accessibility of Google Merchant Center

  • 06:46 Google Merchant Center as a Destination for Marketers

  • 07:01 Conclusion

Be sure to check out Jyll’s Inside Google Ads training program (affiliate link).

Hashtags • Is This Finally the End?

Hashtags are on their way out — that’s really the only inference you can make from the changes in our industry in the last year or so.

As machine learning gets better, social platforms don’t need to rely on manual tagging to understand what content should be grouped together. You don’t need to tag #mediabuying if you’re talking about running campaigns on Google’s platform, for instance; the site will know that’s the topic.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Meta made some big changes to the hashtag on Threads, its Twitter competitor. For one, the actual hashtag — the pound sign — is gone. You can use it to indicate that you were typing a hashtag, but it disappears and looks like a hyperlink. And, perhaps more telling, you can only use one.

Now, Meta is thinking about extending that new use to Instagram.

Reports say Instagram is testing a limit of five hashtags per post:

If you’re in this test and try to post more than five, you’ll get an prompt.

This, honestly, is a good thing for the Internet as a whole. Really, too much space of a social media manager’s brain is taken up with which hashtags to use. It also means posts won’t look quite as spammy. Most brands have settled on two or three hashtags per post, so this probably won’t affect the majority of accounts.

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Influencers • Nearly All Fail to Disclose Ads

In a sweeping investigation, nearly all social media influencers in Europe have been found bending the rules.

The study, conducted for the European Commission, looked at the posts of 576 influencers on popular social media platforms.

The study found that almost all of them (97%) were sharing commercial content. But only one in five (20%) disclosed that their content was actually advertising.

This issue has caught the attention of European regulators, particularly in Belgium, where there's a strong push for stricter oversight…

Authorities have now flagged 358 influencers for further scrutiny, signaling a broader crackdown on deceptive online marketing practices.

Despite the influencers' significant influence—projected to drive a $24 billion industry this year—their reluctance to declare commercial ties undermines consumer trust.

AdWeek

This is also an issue for marketers who buy the services of influencers to promote their product. Consumer legislation around the world is still finding its legs, and it’s not clear that brands who hire influencers are absolved of disclosure responsibility either.

In other words, if you work with a creator, make darned sure they’re following the rules — or you might face trouble too.

Slack • New AI Features… If You’re Willing to Pay

Slack has introduced new AI features for its users — but not all users… just the ones who are paying on the Enterprise tier.

  • It can now provide a summary of a conversation you may have missed or give you a recap of what has been happening in channels.

  • You can also receive summaries of unread messages or messages from a specific time period.

  • The AI tool can answer questions about projects or workplace policies mentioned in Slack.

  • It can also integrate with other apps, such as Notion and Box, to provide additional information.

Slack says it’s working on:

  • more tools to summarize information

  • a digest feature for highlights from chosen channels.

  • a native integration of their AI chatbot, Einstein Copilot

Slack says users’ data remains private and will not be used for training the AI models.

Currently, this is only available in US and UK English, but support for other languages is coming soon.

If you like crafting…

This has nothing to do with marketing, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

If you’re into building miniatures, or crafting, I’m currently building a tiny miniature room — and I’m livestreaming it.

It’ll probably take me several days to finish, so if you want to watch and come hang out with me, follow my Twitch channel at https://www.twitch.tv/loweffortdad

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Some marketers this week started talking on social media about a new button they noticed in their Google Ads interface: Spacing.

There wasn’t much in the way of an announcement. What could this mean?

  • Is this a new way to space ads out within a specific frequency?

  • Or take a budget range and distribute ads evenly on a rotating schedule

  • Or perhaps some sort of AI control over the white space around your ad unit?

No, no, and no.

Turns out, it’s literally just the line spacing in the Google Ads manager UI.

And if you dig through Google’s labyrinth of help documents, you will indeed find a new entry reading:

The menus take up space.

We understand you need ample screen real estate to take in and act on your data, and the navigation takes up some of that space.

This is in part due to the increased font size and spacing around navigation items, which we need to ensure accessibility for all our advertisers.

Google

Instagram • Carousels Coming to Reels

Instagram is working on letting brands and creators post carousels within its vertical Reels format.

And yes, this too is a direct rip-off from TikTok, which has long had this. On that app, it shows up like a vertical video, but it’s a still image and you can swipe to see more photos, just like you might on Instagram’s feed.

Carousel posts are long known for performing well. It gives brands more space to tell a story, and provides some opportunities for unique creative. My favourite is when the creative is actually one long image that’s broken up between frames, so people have to keep swiping to see the end of the content.

Reels is Meta’s fastest-growing format, so if you’re in the current test group for this, it might be worth trying a couple out.

Bugs • Facebook’s Chirp and Uber’s Extra ‘0’

What is that chirping sound anyway?

Many Facebook users say they keep hearing the app chirp as they scroll through their feed.

Now, we have an answer. It’s a bird — sorry, no, a bug. Meta says they’re aware of it and they’re trying to fix it.

If it really, really pisses you off, you can go to Settings & Privacy, then Settings, then Media, and look for the In-App Sounds section. There’s a place there to toggle them all off.

As bugs go, this one’s pretty basic. Not like that one last year that sent friend requests to profiles that users just looked at.

And certainly not nearly as bad as the mistake made yesterday by the ride-share company Lyft. They reported financials showing their profit margin should expand by about 500 basis points in 2024. That would be a 5% jump, amounting to about $14 billion in their case.

Wall Street, of course, was elated and the stock jumped more than 60% in after-hours trading.

Except one problem — someone accidentally added an extra zero. It was a typo. They meant 50 basis points. In other words, half of one percent.

After Lyft corrected its typo, the stock dropped back down a little, though it’s still up by a healthy amount today compared to earlier in the week.

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