Digital Dash: Amazon’s ad win & more

1. Amazon’s ad business is only a baby and it’s still beating Twitter and Snap
2. Facebook traffic drops 50 million hours a day, Mark Z not fazed
3. Instagram now lets you schedule posts, and it’s about damn time
4. Hold up… Google can predict flight delays before airlines?
5. New Facebook ad optimisation option connects businesses to jetsetters


1. Amazon’s ad business is only a baby and it’s still beating Twitter and Snap
Amazon’s potential to become an even more formidable force in digital is a topic covered at least twice a week in our office.

The ecommerce giant is already starting to make waves in new areas like fashion and bricks-and-mortar retail, and its ad business could be a game changer.

Amazon as a platform is about as valuable as it gets to advertisers. Although Facebook and Google are the reigning powerhouses, offering granular targeting and immense mountains of data, Amazon has something they don’t: actual cross-device purchase behaviour intel.

As things stand, sellers can pay to appear in search results on or buy custom banners that appear above search results. Sales for these made up a huge chunk of the $2.8 billion revenue earned in 2017 – more than Twitter ($2 billion) and Snap ($800 millon) as reported by Fastcompany.

But this is only the tip of the ad iceberg.

Not long from now, Amazon’s Alexa devices and Prime Video platform will open up a whole new world of advertising opportunities for businesses.

And if Amazon can back it up with a beautifully user-friendly self-serve ad management system (like Facebook’s); a range of exciting and creative ad units (like Facebook’s); and top-notch targeting (like Facebook’s) – ad revenue will flood in.

I mean, if it can outsell Twitter and Snap while barely even trying, just imagine what’s possible.


2. Facebook traffic drops 50 million hours a day, Mark Z not fazed
When Mark Zuckerberg announced THAT major change to the News Feed algorithm almost 3 weeks ago, he knew what would happen: users would spend less time on the platform.

But in a strange way, he was okay with that.

He reinforced that the time people do spend will be ‘more valuable’, and said the update – which includes prioritising meaningful interactions, posts from friends and family, and Live video in News Feed – was being implemented for the greater good. To bring people closer together.

In fact, as confirmed by Mark himself, the changes actually began rolling out in late 2017 and have included less viral video being shown in News Feed.

Just as predicted, the results (from Facebook’s 2017 Q4 report) show that time spent on the platform has dropped by 50 million hours per day.

Now granted that sounds like a lot. But, as pointed out by Mashable, when you take into account that Facebook has 1.4 billion daily active users (up 14% from Q4 2016) – we’re talking about an average time decrease per user of 2.1 minutes a day.

Interestingly, it was also revealed that Facebook saw its first ever drop in daily active users in the United States and Canada.

However, despite 2017 being a ‘hard year’ – involving high-profile fake news scandals and questions over the psychological impact of Facebook’s addictive nature on younger users – there was some really positive Q4 news too, such as the 48% year-on-year increase in ad revenue which now sits at US$12.8 billion.

So while the headline ‘Facebook traffic down 50 million hours a day’ seems shocking, it needs to be put into context and considered alongside overall business performance and ultimate goals. I wouldn’t be surprised if the likely underlying reason for releasing the stat is to strengthen Mr Z’s position as a leader who’s willing to see his share price dip and results go down to provide users with a better, more connected Facebook experience.

Man, that’s a good bit of PR.


3. Instagram now lets you schedule posts, and it’s about damn time
Anyone whose role covers social media in any way shape or form will understand how vital it is to be able to schedule posts to be published at a later time/date.

Facebook has had its scheduling system in place for what seems like forever, but for some reason, it wasn’t available on Instagram.

What this has meant for many (including us) is having to use third-party workarounds such as Schedugram – which essentially trick the system by logging in and posting live on your behalf at a time specified by you.

The main problem with this is that you have to pay a subscription fee.

Thankfully, Instagram has now finally added scheduling support for businesses to its API, meaning you can use popular social media software applications like Hootsuite and Sprout Social to schedule posts.

Just to be clear, you still can’t schedule directly within Instagram, unfortunately. The support also doesn’t cover ads.

But we’re not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so thanks Instagram!


4. Hold up… Google can predict flight delays before airlines?
It’s hard to imagine that any flight delay could have a silver lining. But I guess the bad news would be slightly easier to accept if you knew in advance it was going to happen.

From this week, Google will be giving users that precise privilege through its Flight app – using AI to predict flight delays before they’ve even been announced by the airline. It will also offer more info on what’s responsible for your tardy trip.

Google_Flight delay

Photo cred: The Next Web

There is a slight catch though. Google’s flight delay alerts – which collate information from historic flight delay data and machine learning – will only appear if the system is at least 80% confident.

This means you could find yourself in the unenviable position of running late, getting a flight delay notice, and having to decide whether to make a dash for it or trust in Google.

A lonely wait in an empty departure lounge could follow.


5. New Facebook ad optimisation option connects businesses to jetsetters
Facebook has what feels like an endless list of behaviour and interest targeting options to help you create an audience perfectly suited to your ad.

And while this is great and seen as one of the ad platform’s many strengths, there is some question over how accurate/effective interest targeting in particular is. For example, just because you post a photo of a backyard barbecue party doesn’t necessarily mean gardening is your number one hobby and you’d love to see a lawn mower ad.

[On a side note: did you know that you can actually check and edit what Facebook thinks you’re interested in by visiting Setting/Privacy/Ads. It’s been known for some very random categories to pop up there.]

Anyway, I digress. The reason I’m telling you this is just to paint the picture that interest targeting isn’t always foolproof.

Which is why a new ad optimisation option for businesses that want to connect with soon-to-be travellers could be really useful.

Instead of narrowing down an audience by their behavioural or interest tendencies, you can now optimise your ad for ‘people who plan to travel’, just like you can for ‘clicks’ or ‘purchases’.

This means your ad will be delivered to people who have shown ‘general intent to travel but have not yet expressed intent for a specific destination’, as stated by Facebook.

This could be really valuable for a whole range of businesses, including travel agents, hotels, booking sites, and anyone selling any kind of item people might want to vacay with.

What’s also really interesting about this is that Facebook genuinely has the inside track on the intent thanks to information from the huge number of websites using the Facebook Pixel.

If I had to guess, I would imagine more optimisation options will follow this one, and that they’ll also use behaviour tracked on external websites, via the Pixel, to improve the accuracy of audience selection.