Digital Dash: WhatsApp’s Status Ads & more

1. And so it begins! WhatsApp confirms ads are coming to Status 

Bit by bit, Facebook has been drawing WhatsApp closer and closer into its advertising world.

And it’s fair enough really, because although WhatsApp was originally an anti-ads domain, it was also a $1 a year service. Facebook scrapped the fee and so were always going to find other ways to monetise the ridiculously popular app.

This all began a while ago with the introduction of the WhatsApp Business app, and “click to WhatsApp” Facebook ads more recently.

And now, as reported by The Next Web, WhatsApp Vice President Chris Daniels confirmed that ads will begin to be placed in the Status section of the main app.

For anyone who doesn’t know (WhatsApp is much more popular in some parts of the world than others), Status is the WhatsApp equivalent of Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook Stories.

To give you a little idea of just how huge the feature is, Instagram Stories has 400 million daily active users and WhatsApp Status has over 50 million more.

So in many ways, the launch of Status ads is the moment a lot of businesses have been waiting for.

We’ll be interested to see how the change affects WhatsApp Business. You’d think that placing ads inside the regular WhatsApp app means that’s where you’d need to connect with customers too…

Anyway, with limited details available on how the ads will look, how they’ll integrate into Ads Manager etc., we’ll be keeping a close eye on this.


2. Impact of the 280 character limit: Twitter reveals all

Remember the old days of Twitter? The character count was 140 and your poor sentences would be brutally hacked about until they finally fitted within the limit.

Then a new era dawned. Last year, the company announced that Tweets could be double the length – up to 280 characters long.

Some – sick of the painful editing process the 140-character rule required – celebrated the news.

Others weren’t happy and questioned what would become of Twitter if its main USP (short, snappy updates) was diluted.

Well now we get to find out whether the character-expansion decision was a good one; Twitter has revealed a list of trends noted since implementing the change.

Here are the headlines:

  • Only 12% are using more than 140 characters – and only 1% of people are using the full 280
  • 33 characters is the most common length – ironically, it used to be 34
  • Engagement is up – more Tweets are receiving replies (but it’s questionable whether that can be attributed to the extended limit given the above)
  • “Please” and “Thank You” are on the rise – there’s been a 54% and 22% increase respectively
  • More questions are being asked – there’s been a 30% increase in Tweets including a question mark
  • Some abbreviations are reducing, others are increasing – in some cases, people are using the full version of words more and short versions like “sry” and “gr8” less, in others both the long and short versions are both being used more

Photo: Marketing Land

While the above is interesting, I’m not sure it really tells us much about the 280 limit’s impact. Interestingly, we can see that with less pressure to be concise, some people are more comfortable to be even more brief than before.

And while 12% of people are going over the old limit, only 1% are using the full new allocation.


3. You can now follow businesses on… wait for it… Google Maps

If the words “follow” and “Google Maps” were used in the same sentence, you’d probably assume I was talking about directions, right?

Well from now on, that will be one of two potential options.

Google is upgrading its Google Maps Android app by adding a “follow” button under Google My Business listings.

Tapping on it means you’ll be notified with news from that business, meaning you’ll always find out about things like flash sales, events, special opening times and more.

From a retailer’s perspective, this will be a really handy way to keep your most loyal customers in the know (and in the store).


Another Google My Business feature was also announced in the same blog post: listings for stores due to open soon will now feature in search results, along with the launch date.

Photos: Google


4. You can now use LinkedIn data to hyper-target Bing Ads

Microsoft owns LinkedIn. Microsoft owns Bing.

LinkedIn has over 575 million users globally. Bing sells ad space on search results pages.

It makes A LOT of sense for these two to integrate, and that’s exactly what’s now happening.

Now in beta for Bing’s current US-based clients, the LinkedIn Profile Targeting project means advertisers will be able to leverage LinkedIn data in their search campaigns on the Bing Ads platform.

Let’s think about what this would actually look like in action, using SMSW Media as an example.

We could not only target people by job title (e.g. marketing manager), as you obviously already can on LinkedIn, but you can narrow it down by mixing demographic data with search intent intelligence. So we could show ads, for example, to marketing managers searching for “social media agency”.

It goes without saying that this type of targeting could be really powerful. It will cost more for sure, but it will be worth it for the quality of the leads.

Another advantage of this is how well it serves both B2C and B2B businesses.

But there is one major drawback: hardly anybody uses Bing.

If we were talking about Google, I would be seriously excited about this. But Bing has a search engine market share under 1%… and that fact does poop on this party a little.


5. Facebook starts rolling out ThruPlay, perfect for businesses tired of paying for pointless video views

You might already know about ThruPlay. Initially announced in late September this year, it’s a new ad option that allows advertisers to optimise and choose to only pay for video ads that are played to completion, or for at least 15 seconds.

It’s now rolling out, and I’ve heard whispers that it’s damn effective.

As things stand (in terms of view duration), you can optimise videos for 2 or 10-second views. This means Facebook will show the content to people most likely to watch for those lengths of time.

The 2-second optimisation is kind of strange because of autoplay and just the fact that watching a video for 2 seconds isn’t worth a whole lot to businesses (unless your vid is 2 seconds long).

10-second optimisation ensures you get in front of people willing to tune in for a more decent amount of time.

15-second views (or complete views if your video is under 15 seconds) are another level up from this, but be prepared to pay more for users willing to settle in and watch your content for longer.

The other thing that separates ThruPlay out is that it has an optional billing element too.

You can choose to only play for 15-second viewers as opposed to doing your best to deliver the video to people who’ll watch for longer, but ultimately paying for everyone. This will definitely hike up the price per view but it could be well worth the investment.