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Google buys expert community and ‘answer engine’ Superpod for $60 million



Google has acquired another “answer engine.” The company paid roughly $60 million for Superpod, predominantly for the team, according to published reports. Superpod matched audience questions and expert answers across a broad range of topics.

Founders to work on ‘larger project’ at Google. A statement acknowledging the acquisition on the Superpod site said, “We are sad to announce that we will be closing Superpod today as part of a transition into a larger project. We can’t share any details at this time, but we’re trekking onwards toward the same north star and are very excited about the future.”

The question is: what is that larger project? Many reports have speculated that Superpod’s founders and assets will be deployed in some way toward the improvement of the Google Assistant. That’s logical but there may be other use cases that Google envisions. It’s difficult to imagine that Google would pay $60 million to add a few new people to the Assistant team.

Superpod built the infrastructure for an expert community that could be used in multiple ways within Google or as part of a new social Q&A initiative of some kind. The company was started by two former Google employees, William Li and Sophia Yang in roughly 2016. The mobile Q&A app promised “Pods of experts in every topic, responsive within an hour.”

Been there, done that. As others have pointed out, Superpod’s concept was far from original. In fact “answer engines” or “social search engines” have been around since the early 2000s in different forms. A partial list includes:

  • Aardvark (acquired by Google)
  • (still here)
  • Askville (Amazon-owned, shuttered)
  • ChaCha (shuttered)
  • Facebook Q&A (shuttered)
  • Jelly (acquired by Pinterest)
  • Keen (pivoted, acquired)
  • MerchantCircle Q&A (shuttered)
  • Microsoft Q&A, Bing Social (both shuttered)
  • Mosio (pivoted)
  • Quora (still here)
  • Replyz (shuttered)
  • Rewarder (shuttered)
  • Text411/kgb (shuttered)
  • Yahoo Answers (still here)

Google’s previous expert, Q&A initiatives. The idea behind them has always been: humans are better at answering questions than an algorithm. Yet, the vast majority of these initiatives failed to attract sufficiently large audiences. The most recent example was Jelly, started by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

Google previously tried to build expert platforms or communities several times. The company shuttered its Wikipedia-like expert community Knol in 2011. More recently there was Google Helpouts, a platform for finding and paying for expert advice or tutorials. And the earliest of these efforts, roughly 16 years ago, was Google Answers, a Q&A service discontinued in 2006 under pressure from the free Yahoo Answers.

Why you should care. Google hasn’t disclosed the percentage of voice queries that are handled by Google Assistant versus traditional search results. Assuming Superpod’s community and capabilities are somehow integrated in the The Assistant, it could reinforce a preference for the Assistant (“answers not links”) and put more SEO pressure on companies to show up in featured snippets or the “zero position.”

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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Price extensions now supported in Microsoft Advertising Editor



Price extensions in Microsoft Advertising Editor.

Price extensions launched in Microosoft Advertising a little over a year ago, allowing advertisers to show products and pricing in text ads in mobile and desktop search results.

Why we should care

Now you can manage those extensions in Microsoft Advertising Editor. That means you can manage them in bulk and much more quickly.

From the Shared LIbrary in Editor, you will be able to add headers, descriptions and prices, including currency.

To associate price extensions with ad groups in your campaigns in Editor, select an ad group and use the “Choose price extension” dialogue box.

More on the news

Some helpful reminders for price extensions:

  • The prices must be included on the landing page.
  • They are charged the same CPC as a click on an ad headline.
  • They can link to third-party retailers.
  • Do not duplicate the same copy in the header and description of a price extension.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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Google Lets Advertisers Promote YouTube Live Streams as Display Ads



Google is introducing a new ad format that lets marketers run YouTube live streams in display ads.

Live stream ads can appear anywhere Google’s display ads are shown. So a person could be scrolling through a website, such as this one, and see a live stream playing right where an ad would be.

People can expand the video to full screen and interact with the live stream just as they could on YouTube.

Here’s an example of what a live stream ad looks like:

Google Lets Advertisers Promote YouTube Live Streams as Display Ads

Live streaming on YouTube is free, so advertisers will only have to pay for the ad unit itself.

The new live stream ad format is currently in a limited beta. There’s no further information available about how Google plans to charge advertisers for these ads.

One of my initial thoughts was whether viewing time would be a factor in the cost.

For example – would an advertiser be charged the same if a person only watched a few minutes of a live stream as opposed to watching the whole thing?

I presume we’ll learn more when the ad format rolls out more widely.

Other Google Advertising News

In related news, Google introduced another display ad format today that allows users to interact with 3D objects.

The new ad format, called Swirl, lets advertisers showcase products from all angles.

A car manufacturer could take an existing 3D model of a car and use it in a Google display ad. Then, those who view the ad could rotate the car as well as zoom in and out of it.

For more information about the Swirl ad format see our coverage here.

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Google Search Console image search reporting bug June 5-7



Google posted a notice that between the dates of June 5 through June 7, it was unable to capture data around image search traffic. This is just a reporting bug and did not impact actual search traffic, but the Search Console performance report may show drops in image search traffic in that date range.

The notice. The notice read, “June 5-7: Some image search statistics were not captured during this period due to an internal issue. Because of this, you may see a drop in your image search statistics during this period. The change did not affect user Search results, only the data reporting.”

How do I see this? If you login to Google Search Console, click into your performance report and then filter by clicking on the “search type” filter. You can then select image from the filters.

Here is a screen shot of this filter:

How To Filter By Image Traffic in Google Search Console

Why we should care. If your site gets a lot of Google Image search traffic, you may notice a dip in your traffic reporting within Google Search Console. You may have not noticed a similar dip in your other analytics tools. That being said, Google said this is only a reporting glitch within Google Search Console and did not impact your actual traffic to your web site.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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