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Digital News to Watch: Cookies are dying and it’s time for senior marketers to talk about it

This week’s digital news highlights several key updates: Google has reverted to paginated search results on desktops, emphasising the importance of top rankings, with similar mobile changes expected soon. The digital marketing industry is encouraged to reconsider the reliance on cookies as their phase-out continues. Google Analyst Gary Illyes stresses the need to avoid soft 404 errors to optimise SEO. Microsoft’s AI CEO Mustafa Suleyman sparked debate by calling most web content “freeware” for AI training, raising fair use concerns. Google Ads introduced AI-powered updates to improve ad performance and brand control. Lastly, the integration of direct mail with digital advertising is proving effective, especially in catalogues and nonprofit sectors, as consumer behaviour spans multiple channels.

Google dropping continuous scroll in search results

Continuous scroll was launched by Google in October 2021 for mobile, and December 2022 for desktop. Last week (25th June) Google turned off continuous scroll for desktop, with removal from mobile search results expected to follow in the next few months. Users now have to click through to the next page to see any results that aren’t ranking on page 1. Returning to Google’s traditional paginated display of search results may impact the number of clicks websites receive, and it may become even more important to rank in the top 10 positions.

Cookies are dying and it’s time for senior marketers to talk about it

If you are a CMO or other generalist marketer, you probably know enough about ‘the death of the cookie’ to want to pass the topic on to your media or digital teams. However, as the industry returns from a heady week in Cannes, the Conscious Advertising Network is urging you not to. For the last four years, our industry has been discussing the demise of cookies, or more accurately, third-party cookies, since Chrome announced that it would follow Safari, Firefox and other browsers in deprecating them. Since then, almost all the discourse has been about how to replace cookies, but rarely stopping to ask whether they were truly a good idea in the first place.

Google warns of soft 404 errors and their impact on SEO

In a recent LinkedIn post, Google Analyst Gary Illyes warned that soft 404 error pages are damaging to a website’s crawlability. Soft 404s occur when a server responds with a 200 OK status code for a page that doesn’t exist (rather than the correct 404 Error status code). This misleads crawlers and means they may continue to crawl these pages, which is a waste of a site’s crawl budget. This is an important reminder for sites to serve the correct HTTP status code when the server encounters an error, as this allows crawlers to allocate their resources more effectively.

Microsoft AI CEO: Web content is ‘freeware’

Microsoft’s AI CEO Mustafa Suleyman believes most web content is “freeware’ that can be used for training AI models. The only exception: is websites that explicitly opt out. Freeware is any form of copyrighted software that can be freely downloaded, installed and used by end users. Fair use or theft? Fair uses allow for limited use of copyright material (e.g., criticism, teaching, research), but what AI models do goes beyond this. The companies behind the AI models clearly want to profit from this content. There is no such “social contract” that I’m aware of. Microsoft (and Google) simply believe that all online content should be available for AI training. Clearly, this benefits these large multinational corporations.

Google Ads unveils major AI powered updates

Google has announced four major updates to its Ads platform, improving query matching and brand controls for advertisers.

These changes are designed to enhance ad performance and give advertisers greater control over their brand-related traffic. The key updates include a new recommendation for brand inclusions in broad match, brand exclusions across all match types and Dynamic Search Ads, improved visibility in search term reports (misspelled search queries are now reported with the correctly spelled search query, making 9% of search terms previously listed under “Other” due to misspellings now visible), and easier blocking of misspelled searches (adding one misspelled word as a negative keyword will exclude all its misspellings).

These updates provide advertisers with more powerful tools for controlling how their ads are displayed. Increased visibility of misspellings in search term reports and simplified exclusion of negative terms will be particularly beneficial. It will be interesting to see how advertisers adapt their strategies to leverage these new features, especially in managing brand-related traffic and misspellings.

Why the lines between digital advertising and direct mail are blurring

Digital media has transformed advertising, enabling omnichannel campaigns that blur the lines between digital and traditional methods. Integration of direct mail and digital advertising creates an effective omnichannel approach. Direct mail remains effective, projected to grow by 1.5% to $38.2 billion in the U.S. this year. Brands like Parachute combine direct mail with digital channels for success.

Collaboration between digital and direct mail teams maximises returns, especially in catalogues and nonprofits. Digital marketing enhances direct mail through direct attribution models, audience tracking, and techniques like QR codes. As consumer behaviour blends across channels, balancing direct mail and digital is crucial for omnichannel experiences and multichannel growth. Cross-channel collaboration is now essential for success.

For more information on any of these stories or for support on your digital marketing campaigns, get in touch with our team who’d be willing to help. Send us an email to 

Matthew Fraser - Modo25
Matthew Fraser
Matthew Fraser - Modo25
Matthew Fraser

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