Latest Digital Marketing Updates January 2024

Get ready to discover the latest moves of tech titans that will leave you fuming. This year, major players like Meta, Google, X, and Microsoft are making waves with cutting-edge features and controversial changes.

new-things-january-2024

Get ready to discover the latest moves of tech titans that will leave you fuming. This year, major players like Meta, Google, X, and Microsoft are making waves with cutting-edge features and controversial changes! From Meta’s contentious ad targeting adjustments to Google’s bold AI and design experiments, these developments will grab your attention and perhaps even ruffle a few feathers. Buckle up as I take you through the recent headline-making updates, AI advancements, AR glasses on the horizon, and the ever-evolving digital market. It’s a rollercoaster ride through the tech and social media that intrigues and incites you.

1. Meta Announces Upcoming Launch Of Link History Feature For All Facebook Users

meta-announces-upcoming-launch

Meta has recently announced that its new Link History feature will soon be available to all users on Android and iOS, though not on desktop yet. This feature, gradually introduced in certain regions, allows users to conveniently track links they’ve clicked in the app.

According to Facebook, users have the option to activate Link History. Once enabled, links clicked and visited through Facebook’s Mobile Browser are stored for 30 days. However, this history won’t include links accessed through private Messenger chats. Users also have the flexibility to delete any link from their history whenever they choose.

2. New X Link Preview Format To Feature Headlines In Article Images

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As we begin the new year, there is some good news: post headlines are making a reappearance in link previews on X but with some adjustments. These previews, which are now being reinstated on the app’s web version with plans to expand to additional platforms, now include headlines positioned differently and without the accompanying preview text.

A simple headline is placed on the article image in the revised X link preview, highlighted by 9 to 5 Google. This new design, backed by Elon Musk, is meant to provide a more visually pleasing in-stream experience.

Previously, the header image, title, and preview text were included in X’s link previews, offering a thorough context for what the link linked to. Musk, on the other hand, prioritized aesthetics in October, instructing the

3. Threads Take On ‘Borderline’ Content Recommendations In-Stream

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Mosseri has identified a problem with Threads, where users increasingly access questionable information. The team is actively tackling this issue as part of their ongoing efforts to improve the platform, which is just six months old.

This issue of questionable content is not limited to Threads or recent developments. In 2018, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, acknowledged the more significant problems that social media platforms face regarding content consumption. He observed that contentious information tended to garner more attention, which is a recurring issue across numerous social platforms.

4. Bing Tests Copying Google’s Knowledge Panel Design

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Bing is experimenting with a fresh layout for its search knowledge or answer panels within its search results. This updated design resembles the Google knowledge panel, which Google has been using for over a year.

5. Google Search Launches Graphical Weather Design On Mobile

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After several years of development, Google has finally released its new, more visually engaging, and animated weather results in mobile search. When you search for weather forecasts on Google Search from a mobile device, animated images will now accompany the weather details.

6. Google Search Introduces Swipe-Based Style Recommendations

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Several months ago, Google introduced a “get style recommendations” feature in its search results. Interestingly, you can swipe left and right through these style suggestions when using mobile search. After a few swipes, Google presents a carousel of product results tailored to your preferences.

7. Google Search Units Available For Rent Section In Local Panel

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Google has recently added a “Units available to rent” section to specific local panels. This section displays listings for homes, condos, and apartments currently on the rental market. Dan Buchy brought this to my attention and posted it on LinkedIn. You can see an example of this feature by searching for “Highland Station apartments.”

8. Google Search Introduces Site-Specific Product Categories

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Searching for a specific brand on Google Search might display a “browse by category” option for that site. For instance, if you search for “eBay,” Google could present various shopping categories on the eBay site. This feature may not be entirely new, but it hasn’t been widely noticed.

9. The Next Phase in AR: Functional AR Glasses Nearing Consumer Release

functional-ar-glasses

Key players in the AR wearable market include Meta, Snapchat, and Apple, with Apple’s Vision Pro soon to launch. However, its high retail price of $3,499 limits its appeal mainly to affluent consumers and Apple enthusiasts.
Meta is also developing AR glasses, with a prototype ready for developer testing later this year.

Similar to Apple’s, their challenge is making the product affordable for the average consumer. Meta aims for a consumer launch in 2027, focusing on reducing costs and finding production efficiencies. The future of these AR wearables, whether entirely new devices or advanced versions of existing products like Meta’s Ray Ban Stories with added heads-up displays, is still unfolding.

10. Instagram Introduces Feature To Cancel Story Uploads Midway

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Instagram has introduced a small but significant update to its app, enhancing the user experience for social media managers and regular users. In the latest version of the app, users can cancel an Instagram Story upload while it’s in progress. This feature is helpful in catching errors or issues before the Story becomes viewable in the app. For instance, if you notice a spelling mistake, add the wrong link, forget to tag a profile, or encounter other common errors, you can quickly halt the upload and correct these mistakes.

The update was highlighted by social media expert Ahmed Ghanem, who shared an example demonstrating the new functionality. Within the Stories upload flow, a button lets users stop a Story from going live after hitting the “Share” button. This feature is expected to be especially beneficial for those who manage multiple Stories and social posts daily, providing a much-needed tool to ensure the accuracy and quality of their content.

This update is available in the latest version of the Instagram app and is seen as a valuable addition to improving content management on the platform. It addresses a prevalent issue for many users by providing a practical approach to avoid unintended errors from being published. Overall, this update is expected to be highly embraced by the Instagram community, particularly those who use the platform for professional social media management.

11. Threads Enable You To Hide Both Like & Share Counts On Your Posts

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The update gives users more control over their social media presence, which can help alleviate the pressure and judgement typically connected with engagement metrics. Previously, Threads only enabled users to hide Like counts; however, with this upgrade, users can hide both Like and Share counts on individual posts. In addition, users can make this the default for all their posts in the app’s settings, which will also apply to their Instagram posts.

A social media specialist, Matt Navarra, noticed the change and provided an example of how users can pick the “Hide like and share counts” option in the post detail screen.
This feature is part of a broader effort by Instagram and its parent company, Meta, to create a more welcoming in-app environment. These platforms have been experimenting with engagement counts to reduce the pressure on users and improve the overall social media experience.

12. Microsoft Launches New Generative AI Ad Creation Tool

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This revolutionary application uses conversational AI prompts to generate new commercials in various formats. It simplifies creating banner adverts, making them more accessible, particularly to smaller merchants and marketers who may lack the means to conduct successful campaigns. The programme may generate ads from a single product URL, and users can further customise these ads for different channels.

The AI-generated ads made by Microsoft’s technology are automatically aligned with each retailer’s style guide. Users can further customise their advertising by selecting extra prompts. It includes the option to update and emphasise specific words and phrases, crop and clean up backdrops and change all aspects of the advertisement based on text prompts. This level of customisation and ease of use makes it a valuable tool for building campaigns and optimising ads for delivery across various platforms.

13. Meta Reaffirms Commitment To Metaverse Amid Recent Strategic Shifts

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Nicola Mendelsohn, Meta’s head of worldwide business, underlined his commitment during the World Economic Forum in Davos. Mendelsohn emphasised that while the hype around the Metaverse was significant a couple of years ago, Meta has always viewed it as a decade-long journey to realise its vision fully. The company continues to envision itself on this path, progressing and attaining milestones.

Meta’s approach to the metaverse is consistent with current engagement patterns, particularly among younger audiences increasingly active in virtual environments such as Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft.

This trend mirrors the evolution of social media, which initially engaged younger audiences before becoming a central part of daily interaction for billions worldwide, including in professional settings. Despite scepticism and a recent focus on generative AI, Meta has invested heavily in its metaverse vision, pouring over $47 billion into its Reality Labs in the last four years. The company has introduced new ways to access digital engagement spaces, such as linking VR games via mobile devices and releasing new versions of its Quest VR headsets.

14. Meta To Remove More Detailed Targeting Options For Ad Campaigns

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Meta has announced modifications to its Facebook ad targeting options, effective January 15, 2024. Some comprehensive targeting options are being removed or consolidated, particularly those linked to sensitive themes such as health, racism, and ethnicity. This decision is in reaction to previous challenges and objections involving unethical or unlawful usage of the platform’s ad-targeting features.

Existing ad sets with impacted targeting choices will run until March 18, 2024, but advertisers must alter their targeting preferences by that date. After March 18, ads with discontinued targeting options will be removed, and affected ad sets may be halted. Meta is encouraging advertisers to use its broad targeting and Advantage+ options, which rely more on Meta’s automated systems and are believed to drive better performance often.

15. WhatsApp Adds Custom Stickers & New Text Formatting Options On The Android

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WhatsApp has announced new features for its users that improve the app’s customisation and interaction capabilities. First, a new custom sticker creation feature has been implemented, initially for iOS, allowing users to modify photographs from their camera roll to create unique visual combinations. This function, available on iOS for over a year, will enable users to create stickers from their images by clipping out pieces from photos for personalised visuals. Users may customise their stickers with pictures, drawn-on updates, dynamic effects, and more. It is a simple process: generate a sticker from an existing image in the device gallery and then customise it with different aspects. This new technique allows users to edit previously created stickers.

Additionally, WhatsApp is rolling out new text formatting options on Android, including adding code blocks, quotes, bullet points, and more. These formatting options have been available on iOS for some time and are now being introduced to Android users.

16. Openai Debuts GPT Store For Tailored Assistant Services

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This store gives ChatGPT users access to specialised ChatGPT tools created for specific activities and use scenarios. The GPT Store offers various GPTs built by OpenAI’s partners and the community, including categories such as DALL·E, writing, research, programming, education, and lifestyle.

The GPT Store, first presented at OpenAI’s developer conference in November, allows users to explore popular and trending GPTs from the community leaderboard.
Some examples of custom GPTs are a Canva tool for help with Canva designs and a website designer chatbot. These specialised variants of ChatGPT are intended to deliver more detailed and relevant responses suited to specific needs rather than general interpretations of user queries. The GPT Store is initially rolling out to ChatGPT Plus, Team, and Enterprise members and offers

17. Microsoft May Extend Bing Chat’s History Beyond 90 Days

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Microsoft is exploring extending Bing Chat’s memory/history beyond the 90-day restriction. Microsoft’s Advertising and Web Services CEO, Mikhail Parakhin, hinted at this move. When Bing Chat Personalised Answers was first introduced, Microsoft claimed that the chat history would be kept for 90 days. However, some users observed that their conversation history went beyond this timeframe.

In response to a customer query about being unable to view previous chats, Parakhin admitted that the current lifespan is 90 days but wants to extend this period. He noted that the inability to view specific earlier discussions could be a technical issue and that he has submitted the complaint to the team.

This potential extension of Bing Chat’s memory/history is significant as it would allow users to access and reference older conversations for a more extended period, enhancing the utility of the chat feature.

18. Google Chrome’s New Feed Organises Content By Topic

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Google has improved its Chrome following feed function for mobile, which enhances how users receive content. The update allows the feed to present content from both publications and themes that users follow. This change causes a more diversified group of sites to display in Chrome’s follow feed, providing users with more content tailored to their interests.

Glenn Gabe, recognised for his insights into alternate Google feeds and SERPs, described this update as a significant alteration to Chrome’s following feed. Previously, the feed displayed content from individual newspapers, but with this change, it has shifted to topic-based content.

Users may now switch between Discover and Following feeds in a new tab in Chrome, offering a more personalised browsing experience.
This update is an expansion of the Google Search and Discover follow feature, and it indicates Google’s ongoing efforts to enhance user experience by providing more relevant and diverse content based on individual preferences and interests.

19. Instagram Enables Users To Create Custom Stickers From Still Image Posts 

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Instagram has added a new tool that allows users to remove components from still image postings and use them as stickers in their Stories and Reels. This function, labelled “Create a cutout sticker,” is available under the three dots menu of publicly uploaded still image uploads. When engaged, Instagram’s technology recognises the focus element in the image and saves it as a distinct sticker for usage in Stories and Reels.

This functionality is similar to Meta’s recent addition of an image cutoff option to WhatsApp. However, this feature is not without limits. Users must find publicly posted still image posts to create stickers from, and the post’s creator must have permitted others to develop cutouts from their content. The sticker will also be lost if the creator deletes the original post.

Despite these limitations, this feature offers new creative opportunities and the potential to spark more creativity among Instagram users. It remains to be seen how users will utilise this feature to build their custom stickers from posts within the app.

20. Meta Introduces A Sleep Alert Feature For Teens

sleep-alert-feature-teens

Instagram has added a new tool that allows users to remove components from still image postings and use them as stickers in their Stories and Reels. This function, labelled “Create a cutout sticker,” is available under the three dots menu of publicly uploaded still image uploads. When engaged, Instagram’s technology recognises the focus element in the image and saves it as a distinct sticker for usage in Stories and Reels.

This functionality is similar to Meta’s recent addition of an image cutoff option to WhatsApp. However, this feature is not without limits. Users must find publicly posted still image posts to create stickers from, and the post’s creator must have permitted others to create cutouts from their content. The sticker will also be lost if the creator deletes the original post.

Despite these limitations, this feature offers new creative opportunities and the potential to spark more creativity among Instagram users. It remains to be seen how users will utilise this feature to build their custom stickers from posts within the app.

21. Youtube Says The Thumbnail A/B Testing Option Is Coming Soon

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The post from Social Media Today addresses YouTube’s future creative tool, the A/B thumbnail testing option. This tool, previewed in June, will allow artists to upload three alternative thumbnail versions for each video and conduct comparison testing for up to two weeks. After the trial, makers can select the best-performing thumbnail, potentially increasing video engagement. Initially announced to be widely pushed out in 2024, there have been no updates on the tool’s expanding availability until lately.

Rene Ritchie, the YouTube Creator Liaison, issued an update indicating thumbnail testing is still underway. By late last year, the testing had extended to encompass 50,000 YouTube channels of diverse types, sizes, and geographies.

This number is relatively small compared to the total number of channels on the platform. The testing will continue until the team feels the product meets the creators’ needs, after which it will move into launch mode. 

22. Meta’s Sheryl Sandberg To Exit Board After 12 Years

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Sheryl Sandberg, Meta Platforms’ former Chief Operating Officer (META.O), has declared her intention to leave the company’s board of directors when her current term expires in May. 

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to Sandberg’s statement, expressing his excitement for their future partnership in a new position.

Sandberg’s exit from the board marks the end of a historic era, as she has been with Meta Platforms for 12 years, including almost 14 years as COO till 2022. Known for being one of the most prominent figures at the company, Sandberg was instrumental in developing Meta’s 

advertising-based business model, which has faced its share of criticism. 

Throughout various controversies faced by Facebook, Sandberg has been a vocal advocate for the company, emphasising the lessons learned and the ongoing efforts to refine the platform’s capabilities in managing harmful content.

23. Zuckerberg Announces Meta’s Intense Push To Spearhead AI Advancements

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According to Social Media Today, while Meta Platforms remains focused on its long-term metaverse ambition, the business has prioritised Artificial Intelligence (AI). Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues are excited about using the latest AI technology, which they believe will fundamentally improve our interactions in various ways. This year, Meta intends to expand its AI projects by increasing investment in back-end technology, potentially bringing additional AI aspects across its multiple platforms.

Mark Zuckerberg summarised Meta’s AI aspirations, indicating that generative AI will become more integrated into our daily lives. Meta’s Ray Ban Stories glasses include an AI assistant, an example of this integration. Meta’s investment in hardware is expected to increase, with plans to build a giant tech stack than any other company. The ultimate goal is the development of Automated General Intelligence (AGI), enabling systems to think independently and suggest new options and use cases, enhancing user experience.

24. Bing Tests Shadow Effect On Mouse Over Search Result Snippets

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Microsoft is currently testing a new visual effect for Bing search results. A shadow effect is added when a user hovers their mouse cursor over a search result snippet in Bing. This unique style was first noticed by Frank Sandtmann, who shared his observation on Mastodon. Interestingly, this shadow effect is not being used for ads, or at least not in the test group that Frank is in. Implementing this feature is part of Bing’s ongoing efforts to enhance user experience and interface design.

25. Google Search To Show More Third-Party Comparison Websites In Europe

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Google has announced modifications to its European search results by the new Digital Markets Act (DMA). These modifications include deleting some Google vertical search units and inserting third-party comparison site units into the search results. Specifically, Google will:

  • Remove features like the Google Flights unit from the search page.
  • Add dedicated units that include links to various comparison sites across the web.
  • Introduce query shortcuts at the top of the search page to help refine searches, focusing results on comparison sites.
  • For categories like hotels, Google will start testing a dedicated space for comparison sites and direct suppliers to show detailed individual results, including images, star ratings, and more.

These changes are part of Google’s efforts to adapt to new regulations and provide a more diverse range of search results in Europe.

26. Google Tests Search Result Snippet Product Listings & Local Images

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Google is experimenting with a new layout for search results with multi-image thumbnails linking to products. This format, previously seen in tests for platforms like Pinterest and restaurant-related searches, is now applied to eCommerce sites. The search results display multiple images and title teasers without a meta description. These teasers function similarly to site links, directing users to various subpages within a product category.

27. Google Tests New Interface For Job Search Results

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Google is currently testing a new interface for its job search results. The previous design was more boxed in, while the new interface flows more seamlessly and integrates better with the overall search results user interface. This update was first noticed by Alexander Chukovski, who shared a screenshot on Twitter, highlighting the changes as part of an ongoing update to Google Jobs in Germany. The new design offers a more updated user experience and is specifically visible for job-related searches.

28. Instagram Lets You Opt Out Of Reading Receipts For DMs

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Instagram has recently implemented a feature allowing users to turn off read receipts for direct messages (DMs). This option, announced last November, enables users to control the visibility of “Read” and “Seen” indicators in message streams. To use this feature, users can go to their IG Direct inbox, select a chat, tap on the user or group chat name, choose “Privacy & Safety,” and toggle off “Read Receipts.” This function is helpful for those who wish to avoid pressure to respond immediately after reading a message. Additionally, Instagram offers a global setting to turn off read receipts for all chats in the “Messages and Story Replies” section, providing a broader option for managing message privacy.

29. Threads Is Close To Launching Post-Drafts

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A recent discovery in the back-end code of the Threads app indicates that users will soon be able to save their posts as drafts. This upcoming feature, highlighted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, will allow users to return to and edit their posts later. Introducing a draft option, which has been under development for several months, is part of Threads’ efforts to achieve feature parity with other social media applications. Despite not having all the standard features yet, Threads has been experiencing a steady increase in its user base. This growth is attributed to new users from various regions, including Europe, and those transitioning from other platforms.

30. Meta Introduces Brand Protection Tools, Including Improved Product Image-Matching Processes

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Meta is improving its Brand Rights Protection Manager product to support brands in protecting their intellectual property (IP). AI-powered capabilities for more accurate listing replica product detection are included in this release. Companies may provide product reference photos for Meta to utilize in detecting duplication. With enhanced discovery capabilities, including stored searches and broader search parameters, the tool makes it simpler to watch for intellectual property infringement. Furthermore, Meta raised the restriction on reference images from 50 to 200, enabling the system to cross-check various product variations. In addition, Meta is launching a new Intellectual Property Reporting Centre to monitor reports of IP violations, which will streamline the process for companies to monitor and handle IP issues even more.

31. YouTube Tests Super Chat Likes To Incentivize Creator Donations Further

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Super Chat likes is a new feature YouTube tests to increase donations and participation during live streams. Viewers can purchase animated Super Stickers or highlighted notes to make them stand out using Super Chat, a feature previously available in Premieres and live streams. Depending on the amount spent, these Super Chats are pinned for some time. The pinned Super Chats can now be “liked” by other viewers, which could lead to increased engagement and conversation on these emphasized postings. It might motivate broadcasters to highlight well-liked remarks and provide viewers another option to join in and generate excitement. With the help of this program, YouTube hopes to improve its live-stream contribution choices and give creators other ways to get money from their viewers.

32. Google Adds New Generative AI Elements To Chrome, Including A Writing Assistant

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To improve the experience of using the Chrome web browser, Google is rolling out new generative AI technologies. Users can now generate their own backgrounds using generative AI wallpapers on Chrome’s desktop version. Users can submit a text prompt and check what background Chrome generates utilizing this function, accessible through the Customise Chrome side panel. This feature aims to enhance the browsing experience by offering visually appealing and modifiable backdrops.

Google also adds a writing helper to Chrome to help users create better search queries and posts. It probably provides recommendations and enhancements to enable users to communicate through the browser more successfully. These updates are part of Google’s initiatives to improve user engagement and innovation.

33. Google Showing New Phone Number Buttons For Some Search Results

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For many years, Google has included phone numbers in search result snippets, especially when it senses that people desire to call a particular establishment. This characteristic has been seen in screen grabs from 2014 and 2016. However, Google is now testing a new button-like structure for phone numbers in search results. With this modification, users may have a more precise and noticeable method to get contact details when looking for products or services.

34. Google News Introduces A Publisher Filter For Specific News Search Queries

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When doing particular news search searches, users may now filter news results by publisher thanks to a new tool that Google News has added. Though it now has a more user-friendly interface and a button that shows relevant publishers for a specific topic, this functionality is comparable to the “site:” command that Google News has supported for many years.

For instance, a publisher filter option appears when you use a mobile device to search for a phrase like “SEO” in Google News. It’s essential to remember that this functionality could not be accessible on a desktop and might not function for all search queries because it appears to be enabled just for some topics and devices. 

35. Bing Tests Bubble Style Search Bar Menu & Bullets For Site Links

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Microsoft is presently testing two additional interface modifications to Bing Search. The search bar’s bubble-style menu is the first modification, which could offer a distinct visual style and user interface for accessing search settings and choices.

The second modification relates to using bullet points in search result snippets for site links. Typically, site links assist users in navigating from search results to certain parts or pages within a website. Introducing bullets could provide a more structured and aesthetically pleasing method of presenting these site links to users.

These modifications imply that Microsoft strives to enhance the Bing Search platform’s user interface and experience.

36. Google Tests Videos On The Right Side Of Search Results Page

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On the right of the search results page, Google tests out presenting video results. However, Google is testing this functionality again with a simpler structure that includes video thumbnails. This test implies that Google is investigating methods to increase the visibility and accessibility of video content in search results, giving users a visual preview of videos that are relevant to their queries.

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