Digital Dash: Microsoft gets sneaky, Google gets gifty & more…

Digital Dash: Microsoft gets sneaky, Google gets gifty & more…

1. Microsoft gets sneaky, starts paying people to use Bing over Google
Taking on Google – the search engine with a brand name that’s become an actual verb – is a challenge too intimidating for most. The chances of trying and winning are slimmer than your average runway model, but Microsoft has an unexpected tactic up its sleeve that could just prove fruitful: money (or points, to be specific).

It’s new ‘Rewards’ scheme, which perhaps would be better named ‘Bribes’, will allow users to earn points for various online actions, including using Bing to search.

To begin racking up the rewards, you must either do 10 searches a day or 50, depending which level member you are. Points can then be redeemed for music, movies etc.

As much as Google is the go-to search spot for practically everyone, loyalty could be put to the test now there’s cold hard cash involved. Even so, I doubt it will make much of a dent in the giant’s popularity (however much Microsoft hopes it’ll pay off).


2. Google gifts marketers with advanced attribution solution
It’s often the case with new software that prices rise in line with demand. I actually received an email just this week to let me know that a free service we use would now cost around £100 a month. Thanks, but no thanks, matey.

Anyway, it’s really nice when the opposite happens instead. And this week, it did.

Google Attribution, a new – and free – attribution solution, was announced at the Google Marketing Next conference. Instead of using a last-click attribution model, the new software takes the entire customer journey pre conversion into account.

It uses data-driven machine learning to understand the influence every single touch point has had in relation to the final purchase decision and assigns fractional conversion credit to each.

This is a big departure from last-click models that give all the glory to whichever ad or link occurred closest to the conversion itself. The problem with this way of doing things is that, almost without fail, every interaction or exposure to a product/brand plays a part at least to some extent in the final decision to make a purchase.

Here’s a good example from Marketing Land: if a user searches and clicks on an ad on a non-brand search term, then converts later from a brand ad click, only the brand ad will be credited – meaning it’s easy to underestimate/overestimate the performance of each ad and channel. This can lead to an untold number of strategy adjustment slip-ups.

Google Attribution is basically the company’s Attribution 360 offering but without the price tag (although to be fair it is a simplified version). It offers a more complete picture than any of Google’s other attribution tools.

I should add that although this all sounds very exciting, it remains to be seen whether the new software will live up to expectations. It’s always worth bearing in mind too that results could be designed to prove the value of Google’s own ad products and platforms over others.


3. Instagram upgrades direct messages with two new features
Bit by bit, Instagram is opening up more opportunities for link sharing. Actual post captions are still well and truly off limits, but we’ve come a long way since the days when you could only have one lonely URL in a bio – it’s become possible to add links in Stories and ads, and as of this week, you can send them in direct messages too. They appear along with an inline preview.

Have a little look-see:

IG Direct new features

This is great news for brands, who’ll be able to direct users straight to product pages.

Another Instagram Direct update from this week is the ability to send photos and videos in their original portrait or landscape form with no cropping. Being boxed in by square-only rules was no fun, so this will be welcome news to many.


4. Facebook brings Perspectives to the UK ahead of general election
To put those who aren’t UK-based in the picture, there’ll be a general election next month following a surprise announcement by our current PM Teresa May, who made the decision despite previously saying she wouldn’t. Shock horror! A politician backtracked on a promise! Crazy stuff.

Ahead of the voting, Facebook has brought its Perspectives tool – first introduced in France ahead of the presidential election – to Britain.

Perspectives is a new interactive prompt that will appear in the News Feed under election-related articles, and when clicked, will direct users to another page called Political Party Positions. From there, a comparison of different parties’ positions on a number of important issues will be presented.

To maintain impartiality and avoid any scandals, Facebook has stressed that Perspectives content will be completed by the parties themselves. Unless they don’t provide any that is, in which case there will be a link to their Facebook page instead.


5. Facebook’s Messenger ads arrive on Instagram
Facebook has shared a handy ad unit with Instagram this week in the form of click-to-Messenger ads. Brands can now buy Instagram ads (via Facebook) that automatically begin a conversation in Messenger via deep link.


IG click to messenger ads

The great thing about this from a marketer’s viewpoint is that once a chat is underway, it represents an ongoing direct line to the other person – meaning that the brand can contact them again (and include them in advertising audiences) at any time.

Instagram’s Messenger ads can be published in photo, video or carousel format; they can also include a referral code to open a specific line of communication instead of a general one.

In addition, Facebook’s ad manager will dish out Messenger-specific performance metrics, including the number of messages, new conversations and blocks that an ad triggered.