In an everchanging fast paced environment digital marketing often sees changes to the functionality and services available through various platforms.

For those not ‘in the know’ it can often be hard to keep up with these changes.

Read our guide below to help you understand the top 10 digital marketing updates this year so far.

1. Google Ads Phrase Match Update

The Phrase Match keyword type will be getting an update starting in February 2021. Phrase match will begin to incorporate behaviors of Broad Match Modifier (BMM) simplifying keywords and making it easier to reach relevant customers.

Broad Match Modifier – This match type lies in between broad and phrase match. It gives more control than broad match and more freedom than phrase match. It works by adding a ‘+’ sign in front of words in a keyword phrase when the match type is selected as broad. For the keyword to match, the words that have the ‘+’ sign in front of them should be present in the search query. The order of the keywords does not matter. 

Phrase Match – Ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword. The meaning of the keyword can be implied, and user searches can be a more specific form of the meaning. Phrase match is more flexible than exact match but is more targeted than the default broad match option. The order of the keyword matters unlike with Broad Match Modifier.

google phrase match update
Google Ads phrase match update, original by Google

This change means that both phrase match and broad match modifier will have the same matching behavior however, phrase match will respect the word order and will not show up for searches where the wording is reversed. If you wanted to show up for reverse wording, then you could test broad match keywords. You will no longer be able to add BMM keywords from July 2021, existing BMM keywords will continue to serve using the new behavior. These changes may cause traffic to fluctuate for phrase match keywords due to them matching the behavior of BMM so you should keep an eye on performance.

2. Google Ads Insights Page

Google are starting to release the new insights page to more Google Ads accounts. The insights page is an easy way to explore and action observations and emerging trends based on your business. It gives you detailed insights into growing trends for search terms, audiences, and geographic locations.

Google ads insight page
Google Ads insight page, original by Google

It also shows when there is a performance change such as conversions decreasing by 11%. This could be useful to identify new terms and audiences to use in your campaigns based of what is trending and could also help identify additional negative keywords.

3. Google Ads Identity Verification

google ads identity verification
Google Ads identity verification, original by Barry Schwartz

Google Ads is beginning to roll out identity verification and many advertisers are now receiving an email to that requires them to verify their identity. Documentation is needed to verify the legal name and address of the advertiser.

You will be required to provide registration documents such as:

  • Certificate of incorporation
  • VAT registration certificate
  • Certificate registration of charity
  • DUNS certificate

Once the account owner’s identity is verified, the name and the country of the company will appear in an ad disclosure. The ad account will be paused if the verification is not completed within 30 days. An additional 30 days after you submit your documentation will be given to complete any additional verification steps. You can’t verify your identity until Google ask you for the information but it’s important to make sure you are prepared with the correct documents if Google ask you to verify your identity.

4. Facebook iOS 14 Update

facebook ios14 update
Facebook iOS 14 update, original by Susan Wenograd

Apple will begin to require that all apps in the App Store show a prompt to users on iOS 14 devices, in accordance with their App Tracking Transparency framework. Apple’s policy will prohibit certain data collection and sharing unless people opt in to tracking on iOS 14 devices via the prompt. As more people opt out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, ads personalization and performance reporting will be limited for both app and web conversion events.

Facebook have announced some of the effects that the new iOS14 update will have:

  • Data delays - up to 3 days due to real-time reporting not being supported.
  • A limit of 8 conversion events for your domain
  • Targeting limits - as more people opt out custom audience sizes may decrease.
  • Ad creation limitations
  • Attribution model changes - 28 day click or view through no longer supported.

To prepare for this update you will need to:

  • Make sure your domain is verified to help avoid any future disruption of your website campaigns.
  • Prioritise and rank the top 8 conversion events for your domain.
  • Anticipate how changes to attribution windows will affect analytics.

5. Facebook – Revamped Access Your Information Tool

Facebook are looking to provide more data transparency with an updated version of its Access Your Information Tool. The new tool breaks down the data that Facebook has on you making it easier to manage the information you do and do not want Facebook to track. Facebook are also going to be adding information on how your data may be used to personalise your experience. For example, you might see that your primary location was one of multiple signals that informed a recent ad you saw for a food delivery app.

Facebook access your information tool
Facebook access your information tool, original by Facebook

This update is likely due to the new ios14 update where Apple are making changes to their identifier for advertisers, making it easier and more accessible to opt out of tracking by giving prompts that will provide more information on how each app is looking to track your activity. Facebook is trying to get ahead of this update by giving users more control over their data.

6. Facebook Login Update

facebook login update
Facebook login update, original by John Bullard

Facebook have also updated their login. Facebook now offers a limited data mode when users login to their account which will give app makers the option to limit the amount of data their apps collect via Facebook's software development kit (SDK), which could be less intimidating for users via the new IDFA prompts. The Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) is a random device identifier assigned by Apple to a user's device. Advertisers use this to track data so they can deliver customized advertising. This update is again due to the new iOS14 update which is having a big impact on Facebook. With the limited login users will only be sharing their name, profile picture and optionally their email address. So rather than a long list of data being collected users will instead be prompted to share only limited data insights which could see fewer users choosing to block data outright.

7. Microsoft Ads Replacing Manual CPC

Microsoft Ads are going to be replacing manual cost per click (CPC) with enhanced CPC by the end of April. Manual CPC is a bidding method that lets you set your own maximum CPC for your ads. Enhanced CPC is a  bid strategy that adjusts your cost per click (CPC) to help maximise conversions or conversion value. All campaigns that do not already have an automated bidding strategy in place will automatically be migrated to enhanced CPC. Microsoft Advertising recommends paid advertising managers start testing their automated bidding setup now, before the migration sunset begins.

It released the following decision tree to determine which automated bidding strategy is right for your campaigns:

microsoft ads bidding strategies
Microsoft Ads bidding strategies, original by Microsoft

If you have any campaigns not using an automated bidding strategy already then they should be tested so you are prepared for when this change happens and have an automated bidding strategy in place.

8. Microsoft Ads Filter Link Extensions

Microsoft Ads now offers filter link extensions. This means advertisers can present many different features under categorized headers.

microsoft ads filter link extensions
Microsoft Ads filter link extensions, original by Microsoft

They are like structured snippet extensions but you can add URL destinations so the user can go straight to the page that relates to that extension. Clicks on filter links will be charged the same cost per click as clicks on the ad headline. This is a good way of showing the user more about what you offer, and it allows them to click through on what they are interested in.

9. Google My Business Adds Desktop Messaging

 Google is rolling out messaging within the Google My Business desktop interface. This allows users to contact you directly through Google My Business.

Google my business desktop messaging
Google My Business desktop messaging, original by Rebekah Dunne

It will offer customers another way of contacting your business and make it easier to respond to customers as most businesses work on computers/laptops during the day.

10. Shopify Expands Its Shop Pay

Shopify has announced a new integration with Facebook which will enable Shopify users to purchase items via its 'Shop Pay' payment system when buying in Facebook and Instagram Shops.

Shopify shop pay system
Shopify shop pay system, original by Shopify

Shop Pay is an accelerated checkout solution, which enables Shopify customers to save their email address, credit card, and shipping and billing information in the app so that they can complete their transactions faster whenever they are directed to the Shopify checkout.


Shopify merchants can enable Shop Pay in a few simple steps:

  • From your Shopify admin, go to Settings > Payments.
  • In the Shopify Payments section, click Manage.
  • In the ACCELERATED CHECKOUTS section, check Shop Pay.
  • Click Save.

This marks the first time Shop Pay has been available outside of Shopify. For businesses, the expansion of Shop Pay means more sales and fewer abandoned carts.

Hope this has given you a good insight into the ever changing environment of digital marketing. Watch this space for more digital marketing updates.

If you are struggling to keep up with your digital marketing and are looking for help, then you can speak to our team of experts here.


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About the author

Cameron Park-Blackburn

Cameron Park-Blackburn, PPC Executive

Cameron completed his digital marketing apprenticeship in 2020. Through this, he found his passion for paid search. Cameron continues to learn alongside the paid search manager and head of paid search, developing his skills to offer the best possible ROAS for our clients.

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