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Google’s Free Ecommerce Listings Have Arrived—Here’s How Brands Can Capitalize

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By Gregg Manias

Search results in Google Shopping will soon include free listings for sellers after the search engine announced it wants to help retailers connect with consumers, even if those merchants don’t pay for advertising.

“Solutions during this crisis will not be fast or easy, but we hope to provide a measure of relief for businesses and lay the groundwork for a healthier retail ecosystem in the future,” wrote Bill Ready, president of commerce at Google, in a blog post published April 21.

That means consumers will soon see two distinct ribbons of visual results for product searches for both paid and organic results. The important distinction with the latter, of course, is it will be free to merchants.

These changes will take effect in the U.S. by the end of April. Google plans to expand globally by the end of the year.

It’s the latest evolution of Google’s so-called Froogle offering, which morphed into Google Product Search and then Google Shopping.

Now we have free shopping listings.

But Google is also likely motivated by Amazon assuming most of the market share for search queries with purchase intent. And let’s not forget all the trouble it has had in the European Union over dominance of shopping SERPs—even when shopping ads haven’t satisfied the intent of the search query.

Free shopping listings address both: they help Google better capitalize on product searches and they level the playing field a bit more, which is likely to appease regulators.

Google said existing users of Merchant Center or Shopping ads don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings. (New users will eventually be able to access a streamlined onboarding process.)

But this is also another example of why every website—but particularly ecommerce sites—should implement schema markup. Those sites will soon have a big advantage over much of the competition.

That’s because schema augments the existing content and describes exactly what products and services there are and how they should be classified for ecommerce product listings. And the

more the machine knows about a product, the better it can support the contextual cues consumers search for. If they haven’t already, ecommerce marketers should add all relevant product markup, including: aggregated rating, reviews, brand, color, image and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN).

Another user benefit to consider is showing reviews, which already help retailers increase click-through rates and tell the search engine whether users’ intent was satisfied. From this we can intuit good reviews will likely help retailers boost their organic results in Shopping as well.

That being said, we know the data feed we use for paid advertising will fuel these organic results, which could mean reporting in Analytics will be muddied. That’s because we may not know what came from paid versus organic unless advertisers heavily customize by adding parameters that get removed when they are applied to paid results.

Then again, it may still be possible for companies to tag their paid ads with URL parameters to distinguish those from the organic listings. A potential source of confusion could be if advertisers have campaign URL parameters in their Google Shopping feeds and then Google leverages those campaign URLs for its free listings. However, historically, Google has been smart enough to know better than to do that, so it’s probably unlikely.

Gregg Manias is a Vice President of Strategy at Acronym. He leads Acronym’s eCommerce practice with a focus on marketplace strategies including Amazon, Walmart, Ebay and Home Depot.

abstract covid graphic

Understanding the Coronavirus Pandemic Through Data Visualization

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By Jonah Feld

We are not epidemiologists. We are experts in data visualization, and we put that expertise to use to better understand the COVID-19 crisis.

The New York Times collected this dataset, which it “made available to the public in response to requests from researchers, scientists and government officials who would like access to the data to better understand the outbreak.”

The following eight interactive visualizations combine this COVID-19 data with US Census data, allowing users to filter and explore critical information at a state and county level.

We took raw numbers for cumulative cases and cumulative deaths by county and by date and turned it into something that allows the user to explore to better understand the meaning of raw data.

We also created measurements, like ratios, rates of change, percentages, etc., that add context. And we added filters to let users narrow the scope to create their own visuals that answer the most important question in data interpretation: “Compared to what?”

Through these graphs, we hope to visually communicate how serious this disease is, as well as its overall impact to date and the effectiveness of efforts so far to flatten the curve.

We hope these graphs help us all better understand this difficult situation.

Stay safe.



Descriptions of the types of graphs:

Treemap: A treemap visually represent parts of a whole. Contrasted with a map, the states and counties are proportionate to the desired value, not land area.

Animated Scatter: An animated scatterplot is a fantastic visualization when a line chart won’t do. Click on a single dot to trace progression over time.

Racing Chart: A racing chart is like a flipbook of bar charts over time. For a single measurement, it communicates changes in comparative rank, differences, and scale in an easily digestible clip.

Historic Table: This sortable table shows most metrics through the point in time indicated in the date picker. Right-click on a state to drill down to county, or skip to all counties nationally.

Daily Chart: These charts show daily activity (rather than cumulative activity as of each date). The vertical orientation encourages comparisons of daily measures over a shared x axis for dates.

Log Chart: A logarithmic scale is best for representing exponential functions. A steady slope of a line represents a fixed rate of exponential growth, and the horizontal gridlines indicate a relative change in magnitude, typically 10x.

Since Inception: This chart replaces the dates on the x axis with the number of days since reaching a common starting point: either 100 cases or 10 deaths. By aligning start points, the differences in rate of growth are more easily observed.

Small Multiples: Small multiples, popularized by visualization guru Edward Tufte, are a matrix of similar graphs using the same scale and axes, allowing them to be easily compared.


Jonah Feld is a Director of Product Development at Acronym. He specializes in data visualization and data integration for Keyword Objects, Acronym’s proprietary Enterprise Keyword Management platform for professional search engine marketers. He has 17 years of experience in SEO/SEM, with a heavy focus on analytics and reporting, having worked at agencies and in consultative roles developing business intelligence solutions.

The Forrester Wave for Search Marketing Agencies is out and…

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Acronym was ranked as one of the top 12 search marketing agencies by research firm Forrester.

In fact, The Forrester Wave™: Search Marketing Agencies, Q4 2017 report noted the 5 Strong Performers, including Acronym, offer a “competitive option.”

The report included an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of 12 vendors against 25 criteria in current offering, strategy and market presence.

Acronym scored the highest possible score in the following criteria:

· Collaboration
· Account Management
· Global Execution
· And Performance.

“Acronym did well in this year’s study due to its ability to collaborate with other agencies and internal stakeholders,” the report said. “It also received high praise from client references for its account management…”

Forrester said in conducting this research it found search marketing agencies have reached what it called “full maturity” because they have mastered SEO and paid search.

“Every agency in this Forrester Wave demonstrated that they have a good framework or methodology in place to create a client’s SEO strategy and each agency uses proprietary or third-party tools that help automate SEO tasks like keyword research or site auditing,” the report said.

What’s more, Forrester said non-traditional search engine expertise and agency strategy are key differentiators among search marketing agencies.

These are two key Acronym attributes. In fact, the news from Forrester comes on the heels of awards from two industry bodies lauding Acronym’s work in voice-activated queries, proving Acronym’s understanding of modern end user interactions across mobile devices and digital assistants, such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, is quite advanced.

“Acronym is leading the next generation of search agencies because we’re not only becoming more AI- (or, more specifically at this point, machine-learning-) led, we’re broadening our service offerings to clients,” said CMO Mike Grehan. “We were pioneers in the first generation of search agencies specializing in SEO and paid search. Now, we are focused much more on understanding searcher intent and consumer behavior throughout their journeys. That means we’re well positioned to deliver in social, display, content, discovery and more. Simply put: The path to purchase is fragmented today – and brands need a Strong Performer to navigate.”


AcroBabble – Going (Creatively) Digital – November 2, 2017

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Adobe Holiday Online Sales Forecast To Surpass In-Store By 10% 

Adobe’s annual holiday season sales numbers revealed an estimate that online sales will rise 13.8% YoY to $107.4 billion and outpace in-store sales by 10% this year. Adobe predicts that, for the first time, mobile visits to retail sites will surpass desktop visits. The report is compiled from an analysis of a trillion visits to 4,500+ retail sites and 55 million product numbers.

Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status hit 300M users, nearly 2X Snapchat

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that both Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status have 300 million active users daily. As Facebook products like Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories have their own augmented reality face filters, they’ve reached a level of parity with Snapchat. Over half of Instagram’s daily active users are on Stories now.

Yext’s Latest Advancements Will Expand Where Business Information is Published

Yext has revealed three major platform advancements to be powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning: Yext for Events, Yext Knowledge Assistant, and WeChat Mini-Programs integration. Created to help businesses engage consumers through voice search and smart assistants, the advancements will enable businesses to manage new data sets and expand where business information is published.

Apple releases iOS 11.1 with shiny new emojis

Apple has released the first feature update for iOS 11, iOS 11.1. Among several new features are dozens of new emojis including wizards, fairies, mermaids, and vampires. There are also several new clothing, animal, and facial expression emojis. For the first time, some are gender neutral. Apple promises 70 new emojis, making iOS compatible with Unicode 10.0.

Google: We Won’t Tell You When the Mobile-First Index Has Fully Rolled Out

According to Gary Illyes, Google won’t announce when the mobile-first index is done rolling out. Plans for a mobile-first search index were first announced by Google last year. Google representatives initially stated the company planned the mobile-first switch for early 2018.



AcroBabble – Going (Creatively) Digital – October 19, 2017

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How Many People Watch Netflix? Nielsen Tries to Solve a Mystery 

Nielsen is using audio recognition software to determine how many US viewers actually watch shows on Netflix – and it says it has streaming data for the first time ever.


Pinterest Opens up Search Advertising in its Ads Manager 

Pinterest is letting advertisers target consumers searching for specific products, so it can serve ads when said customers have indicated intent on the platform.


Twitter Introduces New Video Ad Unit for Increasing Website Visits 

Twitter’s Video Website Card allows advertisers to use auto-play videos to encourage viewers to visit their sites and apps afterward.


Svedka Vodka Uses Retargeting to Make Creepy Halloween Ads That Follow You Around

Spirits brand Svedka Vodka and ad agency Bensimon Byrne have created a campaign that uses data about consumers who watch Halloween videos to turn banner ads into spooky stalkers.


Bayern Munich’s AR Push Starts From Its App 

Thanks to a new AR feature, the app from German football team Bayern Munich enables fans to include players in their selfies – and dress the players for the occasion.


Echo and Home Will Probably Have to Tell You They’re Always Listening – In Europe 

Google, Amazon and other companies with voice assistants that collect personal information from consumers will likely have to obtain explicit opt-ins for European users as GDPR looms in May 2018.


The Results Are in And It’s Another Big Win for Acronym!

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Acronym is the Winner of the Award for Best Search Marketing (SEO). Innovation in Voice Search optimization earned the coveted prize for Empire State Building-based global search agency.


(NEW YORK, Sep 25’17) Since 2004, the industry’s finest have been stepping up on stage during New York’s bustling, annual Advertising Week to be recognized for outstanding work. The jury itself for the prestigious OMMA Awards is comprised of an array of advertising and marketing professionals representing some of the biggest agencies and brands worldwide. The competition is tough and so is the judging.

So, when Acronym was named as a winner in the Best Search Marketing category, you can bet there was one heck of a whoop went up from the winning team table. You see, an OMMA Award is not specifically a Search Award, it’s the longest established and most prestigious award for advertising and marketing agencies.

Each year a glitzy awards gala takes place with the best-of the-best vying for recognition. And what an interesting change of venue for this year’s awards. Held at The Cutting Room this year, a real rock music venue which has seen the likes of John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Sting, Sheryl Crow and even David Bowie graced the stage, the atmosphere was buzzing.

Acronym’s official title of the Award entry was: “Voice-Driven: Uncovering the secrets of Google’s “answer box” optimization.” We’ve done great deal of research into Voice Activated Queries (VAQs) and into best optimization techniques applied to actual people talking to Google, not typing into Google.

Our long-time client, Scotts Miracle-Gro® worked with Acronym to develop a strategy to detect data signals that identified certain terms as being more likely to come from customers using voice search. The strategy pays close attention to Google’s featured snippet and Answer Box — two components that enable matching results through voice-activated queries.

So, it’s a big thank you to Scotts MIRACLE-Gro® for working so closely with us researching and experimenting. And huge congratulations to the Acronym team who worked on the winning campaign.

We’re on a roll this year. Winners of 5 honors at THE DRUM Awards and winner of the industry-wide OMMA Award, with more to come. Looks like we’ll be seeing you at another awards event pretty soon. If not, we will keep busy inventing new methods that define what the Next Generation Search Agency (NGSA™) is expected to be. Not in the future. Clients expect the winning thinking today. Meeting their expectations is rewarding in itself.

The Drum US Search Awards Recognize Acronym: Best Use Of Voice Search

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Acronym Wins: Best Use Of Voice Search

The Drum Search Awards US set out to find the absolute best in search and recognize the finest work being produced in the US search industry. With New York  as the perfect backdrop, the awards ceremony took place yesterday, September 20th, at Edison Ballroom – and we got to bring a much-deserved souvenir back to the Empire State Building!

Having previously been announced as finalists, Acronym brought home the bacon last night, being honored with the award for Best Use of Voice Search. On top of that, we were highly commended for several of our other submissions including the Technical Innovation of the Year, and the Rising Star submission for our very own Nate Ford.

This past July, as part of the content program leading up to The Drum Search Awards USA, our CMO, and SEMPO Chairman, Mike Grehan participated as a panelist on The Drum’s Search Panel. The discussion, driven by a panel of top executives, provided insight into the problems and intricacies of our interactive future with ever-evolving AI (Artificial Intelligence). It’s only natural that our unmatched premonition gave us a win in one of hottest and most controversial subject areas of the year.

Jokes aside, the magic came from our team’s incredible work with our clients, including Scotts Miracle-Gro, providing an opportunity to research and develop some distinct practices, processes, and tactics employed to target voice-based queries. The campaign evolved to target gaps in other high-volume keyword targets worth producing new content to best satisfy the searchers intent.

As 2017 begins coming to a close, Acronym continues to expand its accolades and honors for the amazing work we do for our clients. With more wins to come, it’s time we got to thinking about trophy cases!




AcroBabble – Going (Creatively) Digital – August 24, 2017

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Facebook lets brands promote publisher & influencer posts as ads

Facebook launched a way for brands to take posts that publishers/influencers create, and tag as branded, and promote them as ads.

Marketers already had the ability to pay and amplify these posts as ads, but brands can now sidestep sharing and promote the original posts as ads. For this new update, brands can use all the standard options to target the ad. Facebook will allow  publishers/influencers to specify which brands can promote their original posts and for brands to specify which publishers/influencers can tag them.

Google adds 30 languages to voice search & makes it possible to use emojis with voice typing
Google added 30 new languages to voice search, including Bengali, Urdu, Swahili, Georgian, and more. Additionally, users in the US can also search for emojis using voice typing.

Labels are coming to Bing Ads & Bing Ads Editor
Bing Ads is launching customizable labels globally over the next couple of weeks. Similar to AdWords, labels can be applied on campaign, ad group, ad, and keyword levels for account management and analysis.

Users can add and edit labels from a new labels menu in the web interface. Support for labels is among several updates to Bing Ads Editor for Windows. Bing Ads says labels support will be coming soon to the Mac version of Editor.

AI Powered Search Engine Aggregates Audio Clips

AI-powered audio content platform, Audioburst, has rolled out a search engine for searchers to find/share audio files aggregated from various sites. The audio clips are categorized and users can search for live and pre-recorded audio segments from radio shows and podcasts.

Each 1-3 minute audio clip in Audioburst’s Content Library is retrievable through its search engine and other major engines such as Google and Bing.


Acronym Shortlisted: The Drum Search Awards

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Acronym is shortlisted for The Drum Search Awards USA. We are pumped to have been nominated and announced as finalists for 9 categories. You can see all of the the 2017 nominees here. We look forward to the awards ceremony in New York on September 20.


As part of the content program leading up to The Drum Search Awards USA, our CMO, Mike Grehan, participated as a panelist on The Drum’s Search Panel which took place at the Yext offices. You can read our recap of the event here, or have a look The Drum’s clip below for a little taste of what went down!


[x_video_embed type=”16:9″][/x_video_embed]

AcroBabble – Going (Creatively) Digital – August 3, 2017

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Snapchat will let brands measure its ads’ impact on sales, results against rivals

Snapchat launched a program enabling third-party measurement firms to track ad impact on sales and to include that information in the dashboards used to assess spend.

The marketing mix measurement program will work across all of Snapchat’s ad formats and track campaign return on ad spend and sales lift. That data will help evaluate how campaigns impact businesses’ bottom lines and where they should be spending money.

YouTube using Redirect Method technology to fight terrorist video content in search results
YouTube has rolled out a new search feature based on the Redirect Method technology. When people search certain keywords, YouTube will display a playlist of videos aimed at disproving “violent extremist recruiting” content.

YouTube has struggled to keep terrorist content from plaguing its site, so the goal is to enable people at risk of being radicalized to rethink by providing resources directing them to video content that challenges extremist propaganda. YouTube will expand the functionality to include a wider set of search queries in various languages, and use machine learning to update query terms. There are also plans to expand the Redirect Method tech in Europe.

Google releases details on new beta Search Console reports

Google revealed a preview at two of the new features coming to the new beta Google Search Console. These include an Index Coverage report and AMP fixing flow report.

The Index Coverage report shows the total of indexed pages and information on why pages can’t be indexed. It will also show example pages with problems and tips on resolving them.. According to Google, the report provides “simple sitemap submission flow, and the capability to filter all Index Coverage data to any of the submitted sitemaps.”

The AMP fixing flow report includes AMP Issues report which shows current AMP issues impacting your AMP content in search, grouped by error. Google’s new Search Console interface will aim to provide more actionable insights, better support of organizational workflow, and allow faster feedback loops between you and Google.

Pinterest Puts Search And Lens On The Home Feed

After learning that monthly mobile text searches and visual searches rose, Pinterest revealed plans for increased focus on its Search and Lens features. The features are now available on the home page.

Ads can now be served against searches that originate from the home page. A new search bar at the top of the home page allows visitors to search from the Explore tab. The Lens feature provides visual search instead of text search. Amazon also recently launched Spark, letting people search and find new ideas before going to a brand’s page in the marketplace. Users typically start with a broader search, and then close in on the specific topic. User behavior is changing how Pinterest and other sites offer services.