Digital Dash: 4 top-secret IG tests & more

1. 4 top-secret Instagram tests you shouldn’t know about yet
2. Quick whiz-through of 10 big announcements from Facebook F8
3. Pinterest drops 2 new much-needed features, users are high-fiving for both
4. YouTube releases new advertising options as viewers turn back to TV
5. Google does a Facebook, updates impression metrics to what it should have been all along
Bonus bite: Facebook has released its Q1 2018 results

 

1. 4 top-secret Instagram tests you shouldn’t know about yet

Before new social media features get released, or even officially tested, they are sometimes spotted going incognito (or trying to) in the app’s code.

This week, a whole bunch of potential new Instagram tests were posted about by Twitter user Jane Wong (and later covered by The Verge).

There’s no promising these will ever make it to a smartphone near you – but let’s hope they do get released because some of them look pretty awesome.

Here’s a rundown of what might be on the way:

1. Stories Archive calendar view
Instead of scrolling through an endless grid of all old stories, wouldn’t life be so much easier if you could see them all conveniently organised on a calendar?

2. Profile mute button
Just because you find someone’s content super annoying or painfully dull, doesn’t mean you’re ready to play the ‘Unfollow’ card. A mute option would give you the chance to stop seeing another user’s content (for however long you want) without causing offence.


3. Existing photo Stories stickers
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You could soon be able to add photos from your camera roll into your stories as stickers.

4. Slow-mo recording mode
After recently adding Focus mode to its camera, could a slow-mo option be next in line? Looks that way.

 

2. Quick whiz-through of 10 big announcements from Facebook F8

Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference took place this week, and as usual, it’s taken half a lifetime to wade through the sheer volume of platform announcements.

And just in case you don’t have half a lifetime to spare, we’ve rounded up the top 10 updates for you below:

Facebook

  • ‘Clear history’ privacy control: you will soon be able to delete your Facebook history, just like you can your web browsing history. Interestingly, this includes activity taken outside of the platform (e.g. websites). While I doubt this feature will be widely used (mostly because it will mess up News Feeds and ad delivery for the user), it’s a little concerning to think of the impact it could have on custom audiences.
  • AR Studio updates: new ‘visual programming capabilities’ will be available (for Facebook and Instagram), making it easier than ever for anyone – not just developers – to create AR content with drag-and-drop animations, interactions and logic. No JavaScript required.
  • Groups tab: this is dedicated to helping you navigate your existing groups, but by later this year, it will also help you discover and join new ones.
  • Facebook Analytics updates: Facebook’s version of Google Analytics is getting an upgrade that includes the addition of a Journeys feature, a new app and auto-detect funnels. To anyone who got a bit excited at the mention of funnels – you are a friend of ours.

 

Instagram

Sharing to Stories: third-party apps like Go-Pro and Spotify will now have direct integration with Instagram and Facebook Stories, meaning there will be loads of new ways to share more about your interests with your story viewers. Even more apps will be added soon.

Instagram_third party apps Stories

Photo: Instagram

  • Video chat: you’ll soon be able to tap on the camera icon at the top of a Direct thread to chat one-on-one or in a small group.

Instagram_live video chat

Photo: Instagram

  • Explore topic channels: the Explore feed will begin to organise content into topic channels (like Pinterest) so you can browse your areas of interest.

Instagram_explore topics

Photo: Instagram

 

Messenger

  • Augmented reality: AR has made its way to Messenger (at last) in the form of a cool new feature that lets advertisers send a message to users, prompting them to open their camera. From there, they can enjoy the branded AR effects and go on to buy.

Facebook_AR Messenger

Photo: AdWeek

 

WhatsApp

  • Group calling: just like Instagram, WhatsApp is getting group video chats (oh, and stickers too!).


3. Pinterest drops 2 new much-needed features, users are high-fiving for both

Let’s take a break from Facebook and all its children after that epic F8 update session.

Pinterest also has news this week.

Two new features have been announced, both of which are refreshing reminder of the platform’s commitment to its user experience and setting the pace with social search.

First up is news from Pinterest’s engineering blog: users of the app’s beta version will soon be able to narrow down beauty search results by skin tone.

Pinterest_skin tone search

Photo: Pinterest

The platform is using machine learning to detect the skin tone in relevant Pins – something it admits isn’t always straightforward thanks to factors like lighting, shadows, blurriness etc.

Pinterest worked with ModiFace to get the feature ready for rollout – a company that, with the help of deep neural networks, produced successive algorithms for skin tone detection.

But that’s enough of the techy stuff – from a user’s perspective this is a celebration-worthy addition. It’s a much-needed and long-awaited feature that will massively enhance the relevance of the search experience.

The second notable Pinterest announcement of the week is an update to all new UI components, making it much easier for blind or visually impaired users to browse, search and save ideas.

Following an accessibility audit, and talks with Pinners themselves, the platform identified areas where improvement was needed. These included:

  • Better screen reader support
  • Colour contrast sensitivity improvements (making colour palettes easier on the eye)
  • Focus indicators
  • Accessibility best practices for engineers and developers


4. YouTube releases new advertising options as viewers turn back to TV

YouTube is releasing some new features to help brands connect and better serve users consuming video content on TV screens.

Believe it or not, this type of screen is the fastest growing surface for YouTube, racking up over 150 million hours of watch time per day.

According to the Google-owned company, we’re in the midst of a second major shift in how people interact with YouTube. The first being when mobile viewership exceeded desktop.

This second shift has seen people return to the ‘original, purpose-built device for video viewing – the television set’. YouTube has played a major part in this by building a ‘rich YouTube experience for set-top boxes, gaming consoles, streaming devices and smart TVs.’

Advertisers of course need to be able to respond and capitalise on this shift. Optimising content for a super HD, 4K, 50-inch screen is a whole different ball game than optimising for mobile.

YouTube gets this. And so is adding a new TV Screen option in AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager, which will join the pre-existing computers, mobile phones and tables options.

There will also be a new ‘light TV viewers’ option to help you reach people who consume most of their television and video content online.

Finally, YouTube is going to begin selling advertising space on YouTube TV through Google Preferred in the US. This means that advertisers will be able to target people watching more traditional TV-type content online and YouTube’s popular user-generated content in a single campaign.

 

5. Google does a Facebook, updates impression metrics to what it should have been all along

There always seems to be a bit of confusion around the measurement of reach/impressions.

Are they counted when your content is actually on someone’s screen, in front of their eyes (this is what most people understandably assume)? Or only when technically ‘placed’ in a News Feed or website (meaning the user doesn’t even necessarily see it)?

Facebook’s definition for organic reach and impressions used to be the latter – something it fixed last year.

And Google is now following suit by updating its AdSense impressions metric from ‘served impressions’ to ‘downloaded impressions’.

Here’s what that means:

Served impressions: it used to be the case that an impression was counted when Google found an ad to meet an ad request on the server. If an ad failed to download or if the user closed the tab before it arrived, these would still be considered impressions. Not very helpful.

Downloaded impressions: from now, an impression will only be counted if the ad has begun to load on the user’s device.

As a result of the changes, some advertisers may see a drop in their impression counts, and knock-on improvements in other impression-related metrics. YouTube has stated that earnings won’t be affected.

 

Bonus bite: Facebook has released its Q1 2018 results, and guess what? It’s still growing like crazy. Despite all the struggles (to put it lightly) of late, the company is still going from strength-to-strength in terms of ad revenue (50% YoY growth) and daily/monthly active users (13% YoY growth).