Are X's Bots Are Coming From Inside the House?

Also: Google's advice about author expertise and bylines is confusing some SEO professionals.

Check out our daily podcast:
🎧 Listen • 󠀠  Subscribe 󠀠 • 📈 Advertise

Follow Us: TikTok, Threads, more
Follow Tod: Mastodon, Threads, more 

ADVERTISE: Reach 4,000+ marketing decision-makers for as low as $10! [more]

In Today's Issue

The ReederContent tips & strategies for growing your career, brand, and business every Saturday morning.

Google’s Confusing Advice on Blog Post Bylines

A clarification from Google’s search team that is causing, well, more confusion than clarity.

We’ve known for years that Google prizes Expertise in web page content. It’s the E in their E-A-T guidance. Put simply, if whoever wrote a web page knows a lot about the topic they’re writing about, that will help you in the search engine rankings.

That led many web publishers to put bylines on blog posts and obsess over their schema, linking to the right number of articles, and so on.

In a recent piece by The Verge, they wrote:

But this week on social media, a Google spokesperson basically said — what are you talking about? We never said to do that.

Google doesn't somehow "check out our credentials." It is something I get that people can misunderstand, but not what I'd expect a news publication researching all this to misunderstand.

Author bylines aren't something you do for Google, and they don't help you rank better.

They're something you do for your readers -- and publications doing them may exhibit the type of other characteristics our ranking systems find align with useful content.

What’s strange here is that this latest clarification seems to contradict everything Google has said in the past about how to demonstrate expertise to your readers. They’ve created a detailed metadata schema — something that readers can’t even see.. a schema is only meant to be seen by search engines.

As you can imagine, the update is not sitting well with SEO professionals:

So perhaps this all comes down to Google’s canonical advice: Just make good content. Make it accurate, and be consistent in that reliability. Perhaps that’s what they mean.

One extra bit here about news websites: While bylines don't influence search ranking, they are required for eligibility in Google News. The company says this does not lead to better ranking within Google News itself.

TRIVIA: What percentage of all daily searches on Google are completely new queries?

Tap or click to guess and see the right answer

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Cart Scanning to Do Away With Receipt Checks

In a move to speed up the shopping process, Sam's Club, owned by Walmart, is replacing traditional receipt checks at the door with a camera that scans shoppers' carts as they exit.

They say this will save a few seconds spent at the exit for receipt scanning, and they believe those seconds add up to something significant.

But how will consumers react? The scanning system requires people to walk through a large blue gateway, that looks sort of similar to an airport security metal detector.

The AI behind the cameras scans the objects and tries to figure out what’s in the cart, and if anything is in the cart that’s not on the receipt.

This AI technology goes beyond the capabilities of similar technologies, like Amazon's Just Walk Out, by handling a larger scale of items.

Currently installed in ten locations, Sam's Club plans to implement this system in all its nearly 600 U.S. consumer warehouses by the end of the year.

SEC’s Twitter Account Hacked

Well, someone’s in trouble.

The American securities regulator, the SEC, is under scrutiny after its X account was hacked.

Yesterday, a post on its account falsely announced the approval of Bitcoin ETFs, leading to a swift 2.5% rise in Bitcoin's value. This spike, however, was short-lived as SEC Chair Gary Gensler quickly retracted the fake statement.

This caused a $40 billion fluctuation in Bitcoin's market value.

For its part, X says it wasn’t their fault — the SEC didn’t have two-factor authentication turned on. Which is weird, considering that one requirement of getting the Verified badge for government accounts, which the SEC account had, is to have 2FA on.

Now, a group of US senators are demanding answers from the SEC. An internal probe is anticipated, focusing on staff conduct related to the breach.

New IG Feature Might Generate UGC for Brands

Instagram is experimenting with a novel way for users to connect — and it might help your brand get some fresh content.

They call it "Friend's Story" — it’s currently in testing, and it will let you create a Story and share it directly with a single friend.

Here's how it works: when you select the "Friend’s Story" option while crafting your Story, your friend gets the chance to review it. If they like what they see, they can add it to their own Stories feed. Your handle appears on the Story, crediting you as the creator.

For brands, consumers and fans could submit their stories to you, potentially getting featured on your profiles. This might make a more manageable way to handle a UGC-based contest.

Instagram confirmed the test, but there's no set date for a wider release.

Could you see a use for this for your brand?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Ad Spend to Make Modest Growth in 2024

A new report says the global ad market is stabilizing after pandemic-related disruptions, with forecasts showing moderate growth in the coming years.

GroupM projects a 5.3% increase in global ad spend this year, slightly lower than 2023's 5.8%. North America is expected to see a 4.2% rise, excluding political ads. However, election cycles and events like the Olympics will temporarily inflate ad spends in certain years.

The overall ad market's growth rate is slowing, indicating a shift for publishers reliant on ad revenue. Digital advertising, constituting about 70% of the global ad market, is also experiencing a slowdown.

Traditional media advertising, including print, radio, and television, will also keep declining.

The report says entertainment marketing might face its own small downturn due to the aftermath of the 2023 Hollywood strikes, and sports betting ads are expected to encounter regulatory challenges in Europe.

Marketing Services You Should Know About

  • Are your brand's social media channels overwhelming your team? We can help. EngageQ is North America's leading engagement and moderation agency. We'll praise fans, answer questions, upsell products, hide nasty comments, escalate issues, and more. 20% discount:

  • Book your own ad now for only $5

X Hates Bots.
But Are They Running Them Themselves?!

Tech journalist Parker Molloy says she may have uncovered something awfully close to fraudulent reporting by X.

She posted a series of tweets from accounts that are replying to other people. The accounts all say some variation of this:

Remember, these are replies to people’s tweets.

It’s probably not surprising that bots are using AI to generate content on the platform — what is surprising is that Malloy says some people believe X itself is behind this.

One user replied to one of these bot messages saying:

The bot activity is coming from inside the house (…) it appears these are stale accounts that were taken back over by XTwitter, turned into Blue Checkmarks and use AI to keep DAU/MAU and other activity metrics higher than they actually are.

Also a little sus: Molloy says none of these tweets can be found in #Twitter’s search.

We asked X for comment on whether it’s using bots and AI to artificially juice its engagement numbers. We did not hear back by deadline.

What do you think? Is X behind these bot accounts?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Exclusive in-issue content
 No ads at the top of issues
20+ marketing science interviews
 15% discount on advertising

Exclusive members Slack channel
Regular livestreams with Tod
 30% off our Premium podcast
 Discounts on marketing tools
Support the work Tod & team does

ADVERTISE: Reach 4,000+ marketing decision-makers for as low as $10! [more]

Upgrade Your Media Buying Skills:

Tools We Use and Recommend:

Some links in this newsletter may provide affiliate revenue to us.


or to participate.