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The Publisher Lab: Gen Z and Apple, 9 years of the Google algorithm, and AI’s anticipated impact on agencies and publishers

The Publisher Lab: Gen Z and Apple, 9 years of the Google algorithm, and AI’s anticipated impact on agencies and publishers

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Welcome back to another Publisher Lab recap!

We have another sleep-deprived co-host this week but Tyler Bishop is back to take his podcast seat and is joined, as always, by Whitney Wright.

This week we’re talking about Gen Z’s love for Apple, almost a decade of Google algorithm updates, and how AI is predicted to be the number one tech disruptor for advertising and digital publishing this year.

If you prefer to watch the podcast, head over to our YouTube channel or listen to it here.

Gen Z and their love for Apple products should help company grow advertising efforts

Even though iPhones are triple the price of the average Android, it is by far the most popular type of smartphone used by Gen Z. 34% of all iPhone users are from the Gen Z generation; compare that to only 9% using a Samsung smartphone. Apple also ranks as one of Gen Z’s top 20 favorite brands. In fact, last year, Apple increased its overall market share of phone usage from 35% to 50%.

Part of this cultural phenomenon is how noninclusive iPhones are. If you’re an iPhone user, you know that iMessages are received in blue and Android messages are received in green; also, iMessage connects all Apple products together. This brings exclusivity to Apple that other companies have not been able to copy and that keeps its users attached to the brand.

Just to put it more into perspective, for every 100 iPhone shipped, there are 26 iPads,17 Apple Watches, and 35 pairs of AirPods also sold. For Samsung, for every 100 smartphone shipments, there are less than 11 tablets, six smartwatches, and six wireless earbud pairs sold.

This popularity with Gen Z is giving Apple a leg up on the competition and a better understanding of the up-and-coming demographic that many advertisers are wanting to reach, as Apple has tons of data its been collecting over the years. In fact, Apple is expected to break $10 billion in global ad revenue for the first time next year.

Many did not think Apple was capable of becoming such a presence in the advertising space. This is similar to Amazon a few years ago when no one considered them a part of the advertising competition. Now, if you’re not Google or Meta, you would be happy to be performing the same as Amazon.

Apple’s brand strength is probably its most important asset as it continues to grow its business and it can use its proximity to the end customer to its advantage. Amazon, though not quite in the same position as Apple, has been focusing on getting closer to the end customer in the wake of third-party cookies disappearing in the near future by buying up wifi hardware companies. Google, which used to be at the top of the pecking order, will now have to compete with companies that are closer to the end user as privacy laws change.

Apple is almost certainly a worthy competitor with Google in the advertising space, as they are capable of achieving it and so there is likely no reason why they wouldn’t. Apple’s search engine Safari, when used on mobile, gives you Google search results, but clicking on the first auto-completed answer will give you a result through Safari (confusing, we know); Apple’s search engine is basically an automated ‘I’m feeling lucky’ (on Google). If Google decides to stop paying Apple to give Google search results or Apple cuts them out, it would still have a powerful search engine.

So, with this, you have Apple dominating the mobile phone space and possibly winning the search engine game, all while more users use mobile than desktop.

While some may point to how Apple Ads were a big flop, it’s likely if Apple goes that route again, it will do so in a different manner and do it well, such as piggybacking off of its user base.

Publishers should be aware of Gen Z’s looming presence as well, as they can use what Gen Z cares about to their advantage. Consider what topics Gen Z is interested in and find ways to incorporate it into your content. Additionally, publishers need to be aware of what medium of content the next generation wants. For example, Tyler’s friend recently hired a TikTok specialist to grow their viewership. Publishers need to consider where they can meet Gen Z where they are already at and anticipate what they will want; you may have content that they want but it’s not currently in the format they prefer.

Also consider updates that Apple comes out with, such as the new update that allows users to copy and paste text from an image. You could create new content with this or put images in your content that users could copy and paste on their mobile devices.

Looking back on 9 years of the Google algorithm

Moz recently posted a blog looking back on 9 years of the Google algorithm and how it has changed over the years.

In 2009, Google reported roughly 350-400 launches. In 2021, that number had grown to 4,367 launches, averaging nearly a dozen changes a day.

Over the years, page rankings have had continually more movement. However, it is more nuanced than that. Some of those changes were because of Google algorithm updates but some of it was out of Google’s control.

For example, consider when the World Health Organization announced the start of the pandemic on March 11, 2020. Immediately, the way people searched and what they were searching for completely changed, affecting rankings across the board.

If we look back on all of the major page ranking movements over the past nine years, the biggest one was the major outage in August of 2022. Second place was phase 2 of the Penguin 4.0 update in October 2016, which removed all previous Penguin penalties.

Many publishers and SEO experts will remember Pengion 1.0 as a turning point in page ranking and SEO, and not necessarily in a way that made their lives easier. It was one of the most disruptive and shocking updates to hit people’s websites and made it clear just how much power Google has on people’s websites and potential livelihood.

So what can we learn from these page ranking changes and algorithm updates? We cannot predict the future but there are things we can glean.

One thing we can take away from all of the Google updates is that old SEO tricks and ways to rank are not going to keep working; everything about search has changed since algorithm updates started being deployed. In fact, one of the biggest factors in page ranking movement isn’t even necessarily the algorithms themselves but actual search page changes. It used to just be search results, but in the past we have seen sponsored content at the top, video results, carousels, and more.

Another thing is that as AI becomes more popular, signals from Google about these changes are likely to become increasingly harder to decipher. Anyone hoping that Google will begin being more upfront about how to rank or the changes happening in the algorithm updates is going to be disappointed.

What can be guaranteed, however, is that Google will continue to want content that is valuable for searchers on sites that are fast, secure, and mobile-friendly, and don’t want sites built purely to rank.

Things will Google’s search algorithm is going to always be changing, and the seemingly important things like internal linking and long/short content may or may not matter in the future, even the near future. What matters is meeting users where they are headed, including content that others are going to want to read.

Agencies and publishers foresee AI as most impactful tech in near future

A recent survey conducted by Digiday+ Research has revealed that artificial intelligence is the most anticipated by publishers and agencies to have a significant impact on both buy and sell sides in the near future. The survey, which included nearly 200 agency and publisher professionals, found that over 75% of respondents believed that AI would have the biggest impact, making it the number one emerging technology in both agencies and publishing.

As part of this trend, ChatGPT has already been implemented in search.

Marketers and agencies on the buy side are finding ways to incorporate ChatGPT into brainstorming sessions and help with writer’s block, while media executives on the sell side are encouraging their editorial teams to experiment with ChatGPT and are beginning to consider how it could affect SEO-driven content and freelancing.

The survey respondents believed that the metaverse is the next most likely technology to affect their business. However, only 9% of respondents cited the metaverse as having the potential to impact agencies and publishers, compared to the overwhelming 76% who said that AI was the emerging tech with the biggest potential impact.

The continued growth of AI is exciting and reminds us of when email first became popular. Google was strategic in the way it presented itself to the public then, providing free and easy-to-use Gmail (which used to have a waitlist to get on) and the simplicity of its search engine. Then, the data and the user base that they gathered as they grew is what made it possible for them to become the empire they are today.

There does seem to be an apprehensiveness about generative AI and how it is applied to their businesses; JP Morgan has banned it within its business and China has banned ChatGPT and Bard, wanting their own tech companies to provide generative AI to its public.

However, those who allow experimentation with generative AI are going to be the ones that get ahead, know how to use it to their advantage, and best follow the continual changes that come with it. Find out what others are doing with the technology and iterate on it, or test it out yourself and begin to realize all of the different ways you can use it.

AI is another technology like the internet or smartphone that we will look back on and remember what it was like before and what it was like after.


Thelatest.ezoic.com is a ‘what’s new’ product page to help publishers stay informed about the newest features of Ezoic so that they can use the products to their full advantage and educate potential Ezoic publishers about the products.

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Whitney is a former journalist for numerous city-wide newspapers and online media sources and an accomplished digital and creative marketer. She has multiple years of digital publishing expertise and contributes regularly to all of Ezoic's content sources.

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