Digital dash (Nov 16): 5 quick-fire stories from this week

Digital dash (Nov 16): 5 quick-fire stories from this week

w/c 28th November 2016

1. Facebook introduces Instant Games
Fair play to Facebook for its not-at-all slow but very sure bid to take over the world.

In its latest move toward digital domination, the platform has added arcade-style video games within Messenger and its News Feed.

Sony and Microsoft don’t need to worry just yet though. Early reports suggest the new addition is a bit glitchy – plus, I don’t see Words with Friends taking down Call of Duty anytime soon.

Either way, we’ll be interested to see how Instant Games plays out with users over the next few months. The feature is free to use right now, so let’s see how long that lasts.


2. Snapchat axes Story Explorer
A great idea in theory, a little less so in action – Snapchat has wiped Story Explorer from Live Stories.

The feature, which was introduced around a year ago, promised to group together people’s snaps from a particular moment during a live event to let users experience it from all kinds of different viewpoints.

While this sounded cool, the product was often a bit of a let down, with common complaints ranging from unrelated footage being displayed to an overly complex user experience.


3. Facebook blocks Prisma from using Facebook Live
Remember a month or so ago when we reported that Prisma had added the ability for users to air artistic videos via Facebook live? It looked like a totally friendly affair.

Yeah, so that’s over.

Facebook has decided that Prisma’s use of its Live Video API doesn’t adhere to the T&Cs, which state that the API is only for publishing live video from non-mobile devices.

Prisma of course doesn’t fall into this category, but instead a weird grey area where it’s not stated outright that third-party apps can’t publish live video to Facebook via users’ smartphone cameras.

You sure don’t need 20/20 vision to read between these lines.

What this really boils down to is that Facebook is working on its own live art filters and really can’t be arsed to compete for people’s attention when it could definitely just force them to interact with its home-grown version.

Seems reasonable…


4. Wearable tech hots up as scientists create solar-powered fabric
Phone chargers are way too much effort.

They’re never near you when you need them, the cord is always too damn short, and they deliberately wait until you’re at 1% battery to begin the world’s most frustrating game of hide and seek.

Life would be so much better if your pocket could just casually re-juice your phone while you went about your business – and thanks to a group of nanotechnology scientists, it might not be too long before it can.

By creating copper ‘ribbons’ that are thin and flexible enough to be embedded in woven fabric, and capable of harvesting and storing solar energy simultaneously, the scientists have essentially produced a method of making wearable tech self-powering.

As long as it’s sunny outside that is… good luck, UK.


5. Cyber Monday 2016: the record-breaking results are in
We suspect there were a lot of lengthy lunch breaks taken across the US four days back, as 28th November 2016 became the largest ecommerce day in history.

Shoppers split with around $3.45 billion during the course of the day, beating Black Friday’s spend by around $110 million.

Topping the charts for people with the most explaining to do when they get home (biggest spenders) was California, closely followed by New York and Texas.

Biggest on the buzz front were eBay, Amazon and Macy’s, who whipped the social media squad into a frenzy with their day-making deals.

The majority of retail site traffic came from smartphones, but unsurprisingly, more conversions happened on PCs (65% of online sales).

So, we’ve got a Friday event and we’ve got a Monday event; all we need now is someone to give us an excuse to shop like we hate our money during the rest of the week.


w/c 21st November 2016

1. Instagram releases ephemeral content and live video for all users
In possibly its cheeky-monkiest move yet, Instagram has nicked Snapchat’s defining feature: ephemeral content.

Yep, that’s right. Instagrammers can now send photos and videos to select followers or groups, via direct message, that disappear after 24 hours.

This week, the platform also released its long-awaited live video functionality, which is accessible through the in-app camera.

Unlike Facebook however, you can’t watch Instagram’s live videos after the user has stopped recording. This is definitely a good thing for anybody who’s ever unwittingly found themselves starring in a broadcast while slightly less than sober…


2. Facebook adds yet more custom audience options – this time for offline event tracking
Okay, so this doesn’t quite top last week’s page engagement custom audience news (which we’re still smiling about… although also still waiting to get access to), but it’s still very cool.

A few weeks back, Facebook announced that marketers would be able to upload offline purchase files and automatically cross-reference them against ad delivery data.

This allowed direct tracking of in-store sales via Facebook advertising.

And now it’s gone one better: allowing a custom audience to be created from those who converted after seeing an ad.

This (hopefully) means you’ll also be able to create a lookalike audience from the same bunch of people. Which means, MORE SALES!


3. Google’s searcher intent poll proves most effective election predictor
Thought we’d go election-free for the third week in a row? No chance!

Don’t worry though; we’re not even going to dip our toes in the minefield that is political debate. We’ll stick to what we know: digital.

A couple of weeks back, somewhere around 8th November, you may or may not have heard a collective “WTF?!” as word spread across the globe that Donald Trump was the USA’s new President.

That’s obviously not to say it wasn’t welcome news for some (clearly!), just that most people fell somewhere between a little surprised and fully dumbstruck.

Why? Because almost every prediction leaned confidently toward a Clinton victory as the race drew to a close. Except one.


The search engine discovered that Trump accounted for 58% of intent-driven search queries relating to the two candidates. Oh, and it’s also correctly predicted the outcome of every Presidential election since 2004.

How? Because search data can accurately reflect unbiased intent – which most other methods of predicting an election outcome simply cannot.


4. Dog food website sees 27.1% sales uplift by adding urgency to copy (case study)
According to market research conducted by premium dog food supplier Bob & Lush, what keeps pooch owners awake at night is running out of food for their furry friends. I know, too cute.

The brand – led by the ConversionXL Institute – wondered if this insight could be used to spark conversions on its website.

It could.

By mixing a new ingredient, urgency, into its most prominent product page copy (with a “Free next business day delivery if you order before 4pm” message), Bob & Lush was able to successfully bring customers to a faster buying decision.

This ultimately led to a tasty 27.1% uplift in revenue.

Guess it’s safe to say it was barking up the right tree, then.


5. Lidl and The Salvation Army find cool new ways to interact with social fans
In the spirit of Christmas giving, Lidl is running a really interesting campaign giving Twitter followers the chance to lower the price of certain items.

The more that people Tweet about a product, the more the price drops.

This is a really innovative way to make fans feel involved and appreciated.
Also, shoppers are much more likely to nip into store and grab a lobster if they’ve contributed to its bargain price tag.

The Salvation Army (Canada)
People’s cheesy Christmas card photos are rarely what they seem. Behind the cringey clobber and uncomfortable arm draping is usually a world of weird family dynamics and rows over who will stand next to who.

In some cases though, there’s a more concerning story behind the smiles. And The Salvation Army has found a great way to use Facebook’s 360 videos to shed light on the reality of poverty in Canada, and the fact that despite appearances, one in 10 people can’t make ends meet.

At first glance, the campaign videos seem to show a perfectly normal festive family occasion, but as the user navigates beyond the poses, a bleaker picture is revealed.

Take a closer look at the campaign here.


w/c 14th November 2016

1. Facebook rolls out ‘page engagement’ for custom audience targeting
Back in 2013, the arrival of custom audiences made us really happy. The more recent option to target to a custom audience of select engaged users got our pulses racing big time.

But the news that this now includes people who’ve interacted with pages and posts? Well, that’s basically the best thing to happen since Beyoncé and Jay Z became Barbie and Ken for Halloween.

Along with the update comes four sub-options, which we’ll definitely be taking advantage of ASAP. These let you target:

  • Anyone who visited your page
  • People who engaged with any post or ad
  • People who clicked any call-to-action button (note: this refers to the profile page button, not posts)
  • People who sent a message to your page
  • People who saved your page or any post

If Facebook follows this up with the ability to target to users who engaged with a specific post, we might actually lose our shit.


2. Instagram updates Stories, and enables vertical videos and ads
Instagram has done something quite amazing – it’s released a few new features for Stories that aren’t Snapchat clones. And they’re darn cool too.

You can now:

Link to web pages: this is really big! After announcing that it was testing shoppable ads a few weeks back, Instagram is now letting verified users link to web pages via clickable ‘see more’ text.

Tag other accounts: just like you can with regular posts. Simply tap the tagged username and you’ll be directed to their page.

Use Boomerang directly: the popular one-second video app has been integrated into Stories.

Also re. Instagram: we’re all for equality… just not so much when it comes to dimensions.

Only being able to promote square images and publish square videos has not been fun. But it seems the platform has woken up to this and has removed the restrictions, leaving marketers free to create vertical ads, and post vertical videos without being cropped.


3. LinkedIn introduces audience insights for posts
Your inner private detective will be super happy to hear that you can now find out who’s read your LinkedIn posts, who they work for, what their role is, where they live and last but not least, how they discovered your content.

This step forward offers crucial insights for people who need to know if their posts are connecting with the right audience.

If you’re a Google AdWords expert and you find out that your articles are mainly being read by sheep farmers (not quite sure if LinkedIn is a hotspot for this demographic…), it’s definitely better to know.


4. Facebook changes the definition of organic reach
You’d be forgiven for assuming that reach referred to the number of unique users who had seen your post. We did.

And that is true for paid content.

But this week Facebook admitted that, until now, organic posts were just out there doing their own thing. Chalking up organic reach counts willy nilly for content included in news feeds regardless of whether or not anyone had actually seen it.

So a post that had technically made it onto the news feed (below the fold, as it were) but not actually onto the user’s screen (if they hadn’t scrolled down, for example) would still be considered to have organically reached them. WTF, right?

Well fear not, it’s all been fixed. Both paid and organic metrics now only count ‘viewable’ reach, i.e. posts that got screen time.

Up to a 20% drop in organic reach stats are expected, but on this occasion we’ll happily take the hit in return for a metric that reports what we need it to!


5. Unacast partnership signals the future of location data
If you already think technology is a bit creepy, and from time-to-time you wonder whether you’re part of some kind of weird Truman Show type experiment – a new collaboration between the world’s largest proximity network and mobile marketing platform DSP Juice Mobile might just massively freak you out.

While lots of companies use location data – gathered mainly via Wi-Fi or beacons – for targeting, attribution or retargeting, this is different.

Rather than letting you know when somebody has walked into your store, Unacast can tell you what department and aisle they were in, and even what products they looked at. It’s an insane level of granularity that could prove revolutionary for marketers.

Feel like you’re being followed? You are.

*Cue evil laugh*