Digital Dash (Jan 17): 5 quick-fire stories from this week
w/c 30th January 2017
1. Facebook updates News Feed algorithm, includes new video and authenticity ratings
Completion rate (%) will now be used to help determine where a video belongs in the News Feed.
Longer videos may well get a boost from the update, with Facebook recognising that people who watch the majority of these are clearly enjoying the content. A long video/high completion rate combo will now trump a shorter video with the same viewing results.
Factors, including the number of people who click to view in full-screen and watch with sound, will now also be taken into account, as will whether or not the video is live.
Facebook is also putting new measures in place to reward timely and authentic content. Posts hidden by lots of users or begging for likes, comments or shares will face relegation.
In terms of timeliness, posts that temporarily gain high engagement (i.e. during a sports event) will benefit from extra exposure.
Bonus bite: Also in the works are selfie masks for brands, meaning businesses may soon be able to create sponsored versions of the popular augmented reality filters.
2. Instagram tests multi-image posts
Photo uploads are kind of like donuts. Sometimes you just need more than one.
Despite this compelling argument, Instagram has stuck stubbornly to its rule of one photo per post only… unless you’re willing to pay for a carousel ad.
Or at least that was the case.
A new update for beta testers on Android has revealed an album option, which includes space for up to 10 photos. Each with its own filters and editing functionality.
While this is really cool news, I have to question whether it will lower the quality bar. For a platform made famous for its stunning visuals, forcing people to pick only their very best (or most envy-inducing) shots kind of made sense. With 9 extra spaces to fill, who knows what will happen.
I’m envisioning having to see someone’s dessert from 10 different angles. And that is really not helpful for someone who struggles to stick to a single donut.
3. Pinterest brings search ads to brands
Household names such as eBay, Garnier and Target have all been testing Pinterest’s latest offering for advertisers: search ads.
The platform reports that 97% of monthly searches are for non-branded queries, so the new ads will allow brands to capitalise on this upper-funnel intent by appearing natively in results pages.
There are two types of search ad campaigns:
Keyword – advertisers can bid on specific keywords, or groups of keywords, used in search queries. Adding to the appeal of these is Pinterest’s unique ability to understand how people relate to an image based on how they are saving and naming it – crucial insights that it can share with businesses.
Shopping – advertisers can auto-generate ads from product feeds (via FTP), which dynamically respond to inventory levels. The plus side? No need to develop ad creative.
4. Lego launches kids-only social network
Following on from Monkey – the social network made by teens, for teens – we now have one just for kids: Lego Life.
Like Instagram (but minus the food porn, vacay snaps and Beyoncé bump), Lego Life offers a safe online environment where children can get to grips with social media while sharing a common interest in everyone’s favourite little building blocks.
Users need a parent’s details to sign up, and although there’s a complete ban on text comments, they can communicate using prewritten responses, custom emojis and stickers.
Kids can share photos of their Lego creations on the platform and take on building challenges, but they won’t be asked for any personal information and there’s no tracking enabled. The company has also said that content will be heavily monitored.
5. Snapchat: QR Snapcodes for links, launch of ad tech platform 2.0 and landscape lenses
For brands with ecommerce, any new opportunity to promote URLs on social media is a cause for major celebration. While you can link away to your heart’s content on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have made it painfully tricky.
But the tide is turning (gradually), and this week Snapchat unveiled a new tool that lets all users create QR codes, which automatically open a URL within the app when scanned.
In other Snapchat news from this week, the app launched its second-generation ad platform, which is set to mimic Facebook’s model by licensing its API to allow agencies and brands to do their own buying, self-serve style. This will also include a variety of targeting and measurement tools, with A/B testing and real-time analytics all in the line up.
It was also reported that Snapchat is working on an update to its lenses. The fancy new versions will reportedly be able to identify landscapes, not just faces, which can then be overlaid with augmented reality animations.
w/c 23rd January 2017
1. YouTube ads can now be targeted using Google account data
People don’t play when it comes to Google searching. They generally know exactly what they want and just need to find it. No messing about.
This purpose-driven mindset makes search history a complete goldmine for brands – a goldmine that YouTube advertisers have just been granted access to.
Ad targeting will now include data from activity associated with users’ Google accounts – including demographic info and the all-important past searches.
Big news, but the week’s YouTube updates don’t stop there.
The video platform is also integrating Customer Match (a tool that lets businesses match a customer database to signed-in Google users), which means that they’ll be able to target high-value customers across YouTube, in addition to search and Gmail.
2. Google’s Android Instant Apps go live
On the grand scale of life-altering commitments, it’s not quite a puppy. Nonetheless, downloading a smartphone app is still a loaded decision.
Is it worth the search and download effort? The homescreen clutter? The precious MBs? And what if it’s shit? Don’t even go there. Deleting is two clicks you’ll never get back.
Thanks to Google though, a new era is upon us.
This week marked the arrival of its long-anticipated Instant Apps for Android – fast-loading sections of full apps that are accessible to everyone. Yep. Even those who haven’t downloaded anything.
So if someone sends you a link to a Buzzfeed Tasty video but you don’t have the app installed, fear not! You’ll still be able to instantly view the content through the relevant app module, which will automatically appear.
Watch Instant Apps in action
3. Twitter fights back – too early to count it out?
You remember Twitter, right? It was kind of a big deal a while back but not so much in recent years.
While Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have flown to all new heights, Twitter has struggled to follow the flock – flapping around like a birdy with a broken wing instead.
But, behind the scenes, the platform has made some really smart changes – and it looks like they’re working.
The most notable of these was the switch to a more algorithm-defined feed. Many didn’t like the move, mainly because it was a big shift from the real-time updates that have defined the platform – but Twitter has since noted consistent growth in daily active usage, tweet impressions and time spent.
Is Twitter about to take off again? Doubt it. But it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.
4. The White House calls time on message switchboard, turns to Facebook Messenger
Believe it or not, you can call the White House switchboard directly to leave a message for the President.
Correction: you could.
Shortly before Trump took office, the comments line closed. It now urges you to send a message online instead, which can either be done via the White House website or Facebook Messenger.
While this definitely goes to show the importance of digital in modern-day communication, it also conveniently limits the people-power required to manage Trump-related ‘feedback’.
5. Take a look: Facebook’s VR apartment (you’ll wish it was real)
Facebook has introduced the world to Oculus Rooms – an immersive virtual apartment where you can access apps, enjoy a ‘social encounter’ with friends, watch videos and play games.
Rooms can be accessed through the Gear VR or Oculus Rift headsets, and if you’re lucky enough to own the latter, additional features and functionality become available such as a customisable full-body avatar.
While the whole shebang is undeniably impressive – and likely indicative of the future of social networks – this version ironically lacks in one area: social. As it stands, you can either navigate around on your own, or interact with Facebook friends, but there’s not much scope to mingle with strangers and get to know them.
Take a look around here
w/c 16th January 2017
1. RTIM: a digital marketing concept you need to know about
I wouldn’t subject you to an acronym unless I really had to.
I really have to.
RTIM (real-time interaction management) is one concept that just can’t be ignored. The term describes the process of automatically reacting to precisely what your customers need in a precise moment, and under a precise set of circumstances.
Real-time has been around for a while and is most commonly used for web and email personalisation. But thanks to tech advances, the concept has become more powerful than ever – far from your regular audience targeting or segmentation.
This is hyper-aware, hyper-relevant contextual marketing backed up by a real-time decision engine, and supported by predictive technology, granular customer intelligence and machine learning.
This combo lets RTIM anticipate a customer’s behaviour and needs before they’re even aware of it. For example, with RTIM, someone could receive a voucher for sun lotion just before heading to the park for lunch, and just as the clouds cleared and temperatures spiked.
But if the person didn’t typically go to the park during their lunch break and/or the weather wasn’t sunny at that moment – the communication they received would be completely different.
2. By teens, for teens – is social network Monkey the next big thing?
New social platforms are being announced all the time but Monkey caught our eye. It’s gathering some serious pace in user take-up.
Similar in concept (but hopefully not content) to the infamous Chatroulette, Monkey is a new network that helps young people make ‘internet friends’ from all over the world.
The iOS app connects two random people for a set period of time, letting them video chat before deciding if they want to stay in touch. If the answer is yes, they are sent across to Snapchat – for now. However, Monkey will soon be adding chat and additional discovery features to keep people in-app.
Behind the platform are two ex-hacker teens who believe in the charm of online friendships, and their ability to let you to be whoever you want to be. Monkey is already living up to its name, climbing up the social networking charts like nobody’s business, currently sitting at no. 25 in the App Store.
3. Russian-based botnet ranks as “single most profitable fraud operation to strike digital advertising”
We frequently have it out with display advertising. Fraud, accidental clicks and banner blindness means that it simply doesn’t stack up against other digital channels.
So it was great to hear that Methbot – an insanely sophisticated and also insanely fraudulent online operation – has finally been busted after tricking advertisers into believing they were gaining low-cost video impressions from premium publisher sites.
Methbot sailed under the scam radar for an alarming amount of time, all the while stockpiling money for empty impressions created by over 500,000 fake IP addresses and 250,000 phoney URLs.
Manipulation of geolocation data; countermeasures against code designed to detect fraud; and imitation of human behaviour such as mouse clicking; all contributed to the scam being seriously tricky to uncover.
4. YouTube’s live-streams get flashy with new “Super Chat” tool
Not happy to live in Facebook’s live video shadow, YouTube has released a new tool that lets viewers pay to have their comments highlighted. Not only does the feature give fans a way to make sure they get seen and heard, it also offers creators a new way to monetize their content.
Super Chat comments are pinned to the top of the chat stream, and are colour coded to indicate how long they’ll stay there for.
It won’t surprise you to hear that the more you spend, the longer your comment stays in the spotlight. If you’ve got a spare $500 kicking around, you can be the proud owner of a 5-hour slot.
Personally, I’d rather go on a shopping spree.
5. Snapchat deal beefs up ad targeting options, brings offline data to the table
Last week, Snapchat treated advertisers to deep-linking and auto-fill forms. This week, they’ve dished up another serving of ad delight.
Snap Inc. has signed a deal with Oracle Data Cloud that includes access to its bank of gold dust, sorry, offline customer data.
This means that advertisers can now target people based on their previous offline purchase behaviour.
STX Entertainment, one of the brands testing the new tool, has wasted no time putting it to good use and its ads are now zeroing in on people who’ve visited movie theatres – a group with a proven interest in its products that would otherwise be difficult to target online.
Your move, Facebook.
w/c 9th Jan 2017
1. Facebook unleashes slew of updates to kick-off 2017
Not that you could ever accuse Facebook of being slow to offer up new features and functions, but even by its own standards, January’s avalanche of updates is kind of a lot. And we’re barely even half way through the month!
Anyway, I’ll breeze through the top 5 here – mainly because it allows me to sneakily squeeze 9 news bites into the usual 5.
- Mid-roll ads: the new option, which will run during broadcasts of 90 seconds or longer, is now being tested.
- Broadened dynamic ad targeting: you will soon be able to show dynamic product ads to people who have visited other websites looking for similar items, or engaged with similar content on Facebook. Up until now, you only had the option to target your own website’s visitors.
- Automated captions for video: this will now be available for all video content, not just ads.
- Live Video news: (*it slowly dawns on you that I’ve actually squeezed 15 news bites in*). The Live Video updates from this week mean you can now:
- Go Live from desktop
- Assign a new page role: “Live Contributor”
- Get video insights for a regular user profile (if you’ve got over 5,000 followers)
- Pin comments
- Host podcasts and webinars.
2. Instagram announces ads within Stories
Firstly, congrats on making it through that mammoth Facebook update.
Let’s keep it short and sweet for Instagram.
The main news this week is that brands will be able to place ads within Stories.
Both the 5 and 15-second versions will be skippable and labelled as sponsored content.
To make sure users don’t react too badly to the the new entertainment imposter, Instagram has promised that the ads will only run between stories and never interrupt them.
3. Snapchat tests deep-linking and web auto-fill features
Snapchat’s mission to lure advertisers has ramped up this week with the testing of two new, and significant, features.
Deep-linking will allow you to see an ad, swipe up, tap a link, then be taken directly to a specific place within another app (e.g. ecommerce product page).
The auto-fill feature also involves a one-tap degree of effort, enabling you to opt-in to have lead-generation forms completed using the personal details from your profile.
4. KFC launches American football themed Instagram game
A sentence starting with “Kentucky Fried…” usually results in a Bargain Bucket not a virtual game of American football.
But this week, our favourite fast-food Colonel kicked off the Kentucky Fried Football Challenge on Instagram – an interactive game that’s taking place across 35 linked accounts.
To start, you select between different tactical plays (tagged accounts named after menu items), which lead to an associated profile. Thumbnails then create a football field grid image, which includes a video replay letting you know how far you’ve progressed up the field.
The ultimate aim is to score a touchdown. And if you manage to do that before the chicken cravings kick in, we salute you!
5. Bentley zooms into the record books with largest ever car photograph
If you freak out a bit when someone sends you an email with a 10GB attachment, this may cause you some serious anxiety.
Bentley, with a little help from NASA, has created a gigapixel image (yes, GIGAPIXEL!) of its Mulsanne model cruising across the Golden Gate Bridge. To clarify, that’s 53 billion pixels.
I’ll just give you a second to take that in…
At first look, even the car itself isn’t visible – but when you start zooming, everything becomes clear. Right down to the fine stitching on the headrest logo. Seriously.