Digital Dash: Instagram’s organic geofencing & more

1. Instagram test revealed! Geo-fencing could soon be an option for organic posts

Remember code hacker Jane Manchun Wong from last week’s Digital Dash? For anyone who missed it, Jane found an in-development “Add Hashtag” field buried in Instagram’s app code.

And while we’re still not sure whether that feature will be open to all users anytime soon (although personally I’m crossing my fingers), we do have another possible upcoming feature to tell you about, also discovered by Jane.

The “Choose Locations” option, spotted within Instagram’s code once again, appears to let you narrow down a post’s visibility by country.

Photo: Jane Manchun Wong via Tech Crunch

To be clear, what we’re talking about here is a new option for organic posts, not paid. Instagram already offers highly accurate location targeting for ads.

Anyway, this feature could be pretty valuable if it rolls out.

It would enable you to cater organic content and captions to different global audiences from one main page. This could include posting in different languages, while making sure each post is only delivered to users in countries speaking that language.

The benefit of this over simply promoting an existing Instagram post to a particular region is that people visiting your profile page will only see posts relevant to them.

But while this sounds great and all, I’m a little sceptical of how good it will be in reality.

Facebook’s had organic geofencing in place for a long time now, and whenever we’ve used it reach has taken a real hit – much more than just the expected result of limiting by country.

If this feature does come to Instagram, it would be a case of hoping this gets fixed. Otherwise, the whole thing feels a bit pointless.


2. Rumour becomes reality – Snapchat X Amazon visual search collab is here

Let me take you back to July 2018.

The weather was hotter than now, 87% of people you needed to talk to were on vacation, and a very exciting rumour was exposed in Digital Dash – a possible visual search collaboration between Snapchat and Amazon.

Well here’s the big news: that possibility is now officially a reality.

I don’t expect you to recall the details from all those weeks ago, so here’s a quick recap:

  • The visual search works just like Pinterest’s
  • You press and hold using the in-app camera to identify items featured on screen
  • A card then appears showing that item and similar ones, along with their prices, titles, review scores and Prime availability
  • You can then tap to shop directly through Amazon

That last point is the real clincher because it gives Amazon a monopoly on the Snapchat audience.

Here’s an example of the tool featuring CoverGirl’s clean matte liquid makeup.

Photo: Tech Crunch

This has the potential to be a really powerful partnership.

Amazon will benefit from a whole world of new exposure and traffic (not that it’s lacking in those departments!), and Snapchat will up its social commerce game in a major way.

It’s also possible, but not confirmed, that Snapchat has negotiated a cut of referral traffic.


3. Twitter testing ads that live outside Twitter

Twitter has been teaming up with publishers for a new programmatic advertising initiative that’s now in testing.

As reported by Business Insider, Twitter will begin allowing advertisers to buy Timeline Ads embedded on third-party publisher sites.

Here’s how it works:

  • Businesses will be able to target ads by website
  • Ads will be shown to visitors of third-party websites via an embedded Twitter timeline
  • Four ad placements will be interspersed among the top 20 Tweets in an embedded stream

What’s most interesting about this is that Twitter is entering new off-platform territory, currently dominated by Google and Facebook, which will open up all new realms of possibilities for businesses on Twitter.

Publishers must be approved by Twitter to gain access to Timeline Ads.


4. Facebook Stories Ads placement rolls out

It was only a matter of time before this happened: Facebook is now rolling out Stories as an ad placement to advertisers worldwide.

While you’ve been able to deliver ads via Instagram Stories for a while now, Facebook Stories has been an organic only domain.

But that’s all changed this week, and now you’ll see Facebook Stories as a placement option when setting up your ads.

Photo: Marketing Land 

As confirmed by the company itself, Facebook Stories Ads support every ad objective currently available for Instagram Stories Ads. This includes reach, brand awareness, video views, app installs, conversion, traffic and lead generation.

Advertisers will have access to the full suite of targeting and measurement capabilities too, just like with any other ad.

So how exciting is this new ad unit? Well, I think that remains to be seen.

Facebook reports that over 300 million people use Facebook Stories and Messenger Stories every day – but it’s a little unclear what that actually means. Are they counting people actively posting Stories or just viewing them?

Either way, it’s definitely worth road testing the new placement and seeing what kind of results you get.

Facebook’s made no secret of the fact it’s investing heavily in Stories, so it’s fairly likely it will increasingly become an important way to reach users on the platform.


5. Snapchat gets serious about shopping, launches Shoppable Snap Ads and more

If the Snapchat X Amazon partnership mentioned above didn’t convince you Snapchat’s ready to compete in the big leagues of social commerce, this surely will: the company is rolling out Shoppable Snap Ads ahead of the holiday season.

The new self-serve unit lets you feature a selection of products within a single ad.

These can each be tapped to reveal more information.

Photo: Marketing Land

To add to the excitement, you can also now upload your product catalogues to automatically create Story Ads, Snap Ads and Shoppable Story Ads featuring items from your website.

But wait, there’s more!

Snapchat is also beefing up its advertising pixel. So rather than just gaining insights into which pages people visit after seeing a Snap ad, you’ll now be able to track specific actions taken and then build custom audiences of these.