Digital Dash: Target’s GiftNow button & more
1. Target’s GiftNow button is the best news for picky shoppers
Nothing brings Christmas festivities to a grinding halt like an unwanted gift. Even if, by some miracle, you manage to disguise your disappointment and avoid causing untold offence, the item then becomes your responsibility (at least until you manage to regift it).
It’s an age-old holiday headache that almost everyone has to suffer at some point.
But times are changing.
With the launch of its GiftNow button, US retail giant Target aims to put present power in the recipient’s hands, reducing the number of seasonal returns and obliterating bad gifting in the process.
Here’s how it works: when you find a gift you want to give, you click on the GiftNow button on Target’s website and enter the recipient’s email address.
The gift-ee can then visit the link to view their potential new product, and either accept it or alter it in some way (e.g. change the size and colour).
In the unfortunate event that the initial reaction is shock, horror or disgust – the recipient can instead choose to pick a different item altogether (to the same value).
Other big-name retailers such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Michael Kors have also turned to the GiftNow technology, which is provided by e-gifting service Loop Commerce.
2. Google Analytics steps up its game with 4 new customer-focused tools
Within the past few weeks, both Facebook and LinkedIn have bared their teeth to Google with the launch of new website analytics features.
And while each of these platforms are in their web analytics infancy, the moves are still a big deal because both companies have access to different – and potentially richer – user data than Google.
But with major players starting to move uncomfortably close, Google has marked its territory this week with 4 new tools – each designed to give you more insight into your website visitors.
Here are the headlines:
1) User-focused reporting: you now have the option to measure ‘users’ as well as ‘sessions’ without having to build a custom report. To opt-in, just go to Admin/Property Settings, then toggle the switch for ‘Enable Users in Reporting’.
2) User Explorer: you’ll now be able to see the lifetime metrics and dimensions at user level (for the top 10,000 users). Data will go back to 9 March 2016.
3) Audience reporting: you can now create and publish audiences to Analytics, giving you cross-channel insight, and the ability to add the audiences as a secondary dimension in segments, custom reports and custom funnels.
4) Conversion probability: this machine-learning calculation applies data from past transactions to let you know how likely a user is to convert again in the future. Customers are then grouped based on this information, and can be targeted with different messages on AdWords and DoubleClick.
3. Facebook unveils click-to-WhatsApp button in new ad unit
When Facebook acquires you, there’s one thing you know for sure – it’s only a matter of time before you get monetized.
WhatsApp has fared well so far, staying true to its ‘no ads’ policy. But Facebook is unsurprisingly intent on finding ways to offer up the immense WhatsApp audience to advertisers.
And hot on the heels of rumours of a standalone WhatsApp business app comes the release of a new Facebook ad unit complete with a click-to-WhatsApp button.
The feature – which will roll out firstly to North and South America, Africa, Australia and most of Asia – will enable Facebook users to call or message a business on WhatsApp.
It will operate in a very similar way to ads that direct users to Messenger.
This could represent a big step forward for advertisers, offering them another way, and another platform, to connect with fans.
With 1.3 billion users worldwide (mostly outside the US), any opportunity to integrate with WhatsApp and capitalise on its insane popularity will surely be welcomed by brands worldwide.
4. Is Instagram about to announce a standalone Direct Message app?
You might have lost track a bit with all the Instragram tests going on recently but prepare yourself – here’s one to take note of.
The latest in the testing line up, and being trialled in only six countries to being with, is a standalone version of its DM service – called Direct.
Just as Facebook spun Messenger off into its own app, Instagram is now doing the same thing. You can bet your bottom dollar more new features and functionality will follow to incentivise people to make the transition.
Direct is due for a global rollout next year. The aim behind it is undoubtedly to encourage more people to use the app to chat with friends, which they’ve already got more incentive to do thanks to the ever-popular Stories feature (e.g. comments on stories automatically get sent as direct messages).
We’ll be interested to see how the app fares. It wasn’t such a smooth start for the Messenger app but things turned around and it now sits comfortably near the top of the app charts.
We’ll also be interested to see if Facebook FINALLY integrates Instagram direct messages into its unified Inbox – something we’ve been waiting forever for.
5. Facebook tests private comments feature, but will it make things better or worse?
While nowhere near as controversial as YouTube’s comments section, Facebook’s post comments are no stranger to a spat or two.
Perhaps with this in mind, Facebook is testing an option to let you restrict the visibility of your post comment – as reported by The Next Web.
You can see from the screenshot above that a new padlock icon indicates the feature, which reveals four options when clicked. These let you choose who you’d like your comment to be visible to.
The four options are:
• Friends and post owner only
• Friends only
• Post owner and commenters only
For us, the jury’s out on whether the feature will benefit users or just make things really messy.
On the plus side, private comments – if rolled out – will let you comment on a controversial news story for example, without being subjected to potential abuse or backlash from other users.
On the down side though, it could create a secret world within public posts. It’s easy to see how people could have potentially negative discussions right in front of a post publisher’s eyes, but without them even knowing.
Brands will have their own concerns about the news: if lots of people use the tool out of preference rather than need, what affect would it have on how well interacted with a page appears to be? Would some customer insight be lost? Would it be more difficult to manage conversations and intervene when needed?
Another question on our minds here at SMSW is how private commenting could impact future Messenger bots that rely on being able to reply to post comments.
We’ll keep you updated.