This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are the show notes for the Brave Ad World Podcast. Each story is discussed at a deeper level on the podcast.
Facebook Diminishes Ad Blocker Effectiveness While Giving Users More Advertising Control (Read more at AdAge)
Facebook is giving users more control over the ads they come across on the platform in an effort to fight ad blockers. The new tool is available within “ad preferences.” From there users can add and remove interests they want to be served ads against.
The goal is to make the ads as relevant and non-disruptive as possible. That insight came from a study Facebook partnered with Ipsos on. The studyfound that 79% of users feel like they should be able to opt out of specific ads, which is what the ad preferences aim to help people do. Beyond this move, Facebook is going around ad blockers and will be displaying desktop ads even if users have ad blockers enabled.
Ad blockers are troublesome for all involved from publishers to brands, and Facebook’s two-fold approach makes a lot of sense. It gives users more control, while making the ad blockers themselves less effective on its platform. It’s a model that both addresses user concerns around online ads, while taking them away. This will, of course, be met with a degree of frustration from users, and Facebook’s walking a pretty fine line here. That being said, it will be an experiment worth watching and even duplicating.
Twitter Expands Moments (Read more at Mashable)
Twitter Moments hasn’t exactly been everything Twitter hoped for in terms of growing its user base. But Twitter hasn’t given up on it, announcing that more creators, including influencers, partners, brands and eventually, everyone will be able to start creating Moments of their own. This could encourage those Moment creators to drive non-Twitter users to Twitter through other social networks.
Profiles that create Moments are going to have a special Moments section added to their Twitter profiles, feature any Moments they might have made. This could potentially give Moments a bit more visibility because at the moment, it’s not part of the core Twitter experience, which makes it of little surprise that it hasn’t taken off as hoped.
Moments has the potential to become Twitter’s Snapchat or Instagram Stories. It would allow brands and people to curate content around a specific event, and encourage people to spend time with the content versus a passing tweet. Those curated experiences would be worth driving other people to by posting a link for friends and family to Facebook, for example. For brands, it could open things up nicely for specific opportunities, such as sponsored events, announcements and other experiences that are stories that can be told over the course of 24 hours. Moments has potential to be interesting to the masses. Twitter’s challenge is making the masses aware of its existence and utility.
Facebook Upgrades 360-Degree Videos (Read more at Facebook’s Media Blog)
Facebook’s 360-degree videos are getting an upgrade to make them more immersive and even easier to explore. Thanks to a new “guide” feature, video creators will be able to select specific portions of their videos to highlight. The point is to guide users to the best parts of a 360 experience through a guide that automatically moves the user’s attention to specific areas duringparts of the video. Users have the option to turn the feature off if they so choose.
Beyond helping the users see the best parts, analytics are being provided to content creators. Heatmap is a tool that tracks the parts of a 360 video that have been watched most and uses visualization to show the most popular parts of a clip. Heatmap is paired with deeper analytics for content creators to understand who is watching the videos and what they’re doing when they do. This includes a demographic breakdown by minutes viewed.
This information on the most poplar moments in a video is being extended to Facebook Live videos, so streamers will be able to see which parts of their videos drove the most comments, likes and reactions.
We’re in the very early stages of 360 videos and live streaming, and the more content creators understand who is viewing their content and how, the better the actual content being created. Facebook’s focus right now is all-in on video, both standard and evolving video like 360-degree content. Part of growing that aspect of its platform involves giving content creators the tools they need to create content that performs and users want to watch. This is a key part of that overall plan.
Twitter Launches Promoted Stickers (Read more at AdAge)
Twitter Stickers have only been available to all users for a few weeks, but Twitter hasn’t taken long to monetize them. Its newest ad option is Promoted Stickers, which it debuted this past week with Pepsi.
Pepsi is launching with about 50 custom stickers across ten different markets. Just like Pepsi, more brands will be able to take part with stickers created and promoted within the Twitter app in the #Stickers library. These stickers can then be used by people to add personality and fun to their images. Each brand can have four to eight stickers in each market. Costs have not been disclosed.
Stickers were an obvious way for Twitter to encourage brands to promote themselves on the platform. It’s definitely an awareness driving tactic that uses Twitter users to integrate brands into their own content and share brands in a unique way. It remains to be seen just how successful stickers will be in general on the platform. Obviously, the success of stickers in general will be critical for the success of those that are promoted.
Google’s Duo App Takes on Video Chat (Read more at Google’s Blog)
Google’s latest app, Duo, has made its debut. The app, which Google announced a few months ago, is a video chat application. The app works on both iOS and Android, and it allows users to call each other for video calls, competing with the likes of WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype and FaceTime—a very competitive market.
The move comes after Google’s app Hangouts failed to compete in the market. Hangouts will shift its focus to workplace video conferencing and will be integrated into Google’s productivity software.
According to Google, Duo uses something called “bandwidth estimation” to provide the optimal quality of video or just audio if bandwidth isn’t strong enough.
Duo enters a very competitive market with two apps owned by Facebook, one by Microsoft and one by Apple. It’s not going to be easy for Duo to gain a foothold, but with the rise of messaging apps, Google has to do something. Google’s betting on better technology. That’s a big bet in a market where consumers are entrenched in their existing communication behaviors.
Pinterest Launches Promoted Video (Read more at AdWeek)
Promoted video has finally come to Pinterest. The videos will serve as autoplay video ads that run interspersed among pins from other users, very similar to how video ads work on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The move comes with the news from Pinterest that videos have risen 60% on the platform over the past year, especially in the categories of fitness, DIY projects and beauty tutorials.
Video ads are not a replacement for Cinematic Pins which play as a user scrolls through a feed or stop playing when a user stops scrolling. The ads come after advertisers like General Mills and Universal Pictures put them through testing.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other competitors of Pinterest have seen the potential for video, which comes at a premium price and has been a huge success, especially for Facebook. The move allows Pinterest to go after bigger budgets from bigger advertisers.
The space is pretty crowded, but Pinterest has a unique position to use the video ads to do less promoting of products and more promoting activities that use products. People turn to Pinterest for tutorials and ideas. Video ads could help advertisers give them ideas that lead to purchase.
Twitter Expands Abuse Controls to All Users (Read more at Twitter’s Blog)
Twitter has expanded the tools users have to control the abuse they see online. Now, all users can turn off notifications from people they do not follow. In addition, a quality filter has been made available to limit the types of tweets that appear in a user’s notifications as well as across the platform. This is intended to cut back on duplicate tweets and automated responses by looking at account origin, behavior and other factors.
The tools have been available for verified users in the past, but now they’ve expanded to all users, especially after an increase in allegations that the platform has not done enough to curb abuse on the platform.
Abuse is a serious problem for Twitter, and it’s been accused of not doing nearly enough. These tools have been in use by celebrities for some time, so it makes all the sense in the world to make those tools widely available. Twitter has a reputation problem, and if it’s going to grow its user base significantly enough to appease Wall Street, that reputation needs to turn around. This is one incremental step toward trying to make that happen.
News Quick Hits
- Hulu’s free option will soon be no more as the service’s ad-supported option goes away. It will rely entirely on its subscription service, while Yahoo will be launching Yahoo View, an ad-supported TV episode streaming service. Yahoo View will show the last five episodes of ABC, NBC, FOX and other network shows, which will become available eight days after airing. (Read more at Mashable)
- Instagram is testing a new drafts feature that will allow users to start posts and save them to finish later. Saved drafts are available for posting the next time a user opens the app. There is no confirmation this will become a permanent feature. (Read more at Mashable)
- Facebook has updated its News Feed Algorithm in an effort to make the stories users see “more personally informative.” This means a new ranking system is being implemented to personalize content for each user. This system will elevate the most informative topics based on a user’s interest and habits. Facebook’s News Feed quality surveys will be used along with other factors like relationship with the person or publisher that posted as well as what a user has clicked on or interacted with. (Read more at Facebook News Room)
- Microsoft has acquired live streaming service Beam, which competes with Twitch but with the added ability to let stream viewers contribute to the experience though custom buttons streamers can add to their broadcasts. Those buttons let viewers cast votes for what should happen. (Read more at Mashable)
- Pinterest is now allowing advertisers to bid on ad inventory on CPM basis. Previously, CPMs were a fixed price. This announcement also came with news that Pinterest has launched frequency caps. The move is designed to help advertisers integrate Pinterest in their media plans without having to make Pinterest-only exceptions. (Read more at AdAge)
- Instagram Stories has chosen to take another step forward with features that copy Snapchat. Now, users can zoom while filming their stories. In addition, the can now switch between front and rear-facing cameras while recording by double tapping the screen. (Read more at Mashable)
- Twitter is reportedly in talks with Apple TV. The goal is to bring a Twitter app to the platform to stream video, particularly Thursday night NFL games this fall. Currently, users can view their feeds on Apple TV, but this would be a larger pivot toward streaming video should the deal go through. (Read more at The New York Times)
- Facebook is encouraging Messenger bots to be more responsive by requiring, with some exceptions, bots to respond to users within 24 hours of a person interacting with the bot. Beyond that a bot can only follow-up one other time after the window until the person interacts again. To encourage adoption, Facebook has removed the restriction on promotional messaging in bot responses. The policy change does not apply to bots that manage productivity, personal information or news. (Read more at MarketingLand)
- Snapchat has acquired mobile search company Vurb. Vurb’s aim was to take on mobile search with a new take that encouraged users to browse, instead of scrolling through pages of search results by pulling in cards with information from sites across the web like Yelp, Uber and Google Maps. No information on what role Vurb will play with Snapchat is available. (Read more at TechCrunch)
- Instagram has just launched a new channel dedicated to live events like concerts and sporting events. The channel’s role and functionality is similar to that of Snaphat’s Live Stories, which aggregates video content from events that happened over the past 24 hours. The channel is available in the Explore section, and content shown to users will be delivered by algorithm based on a user’s behavior and tastes. (Read more at Mashable)
- Facebook carousel ads can now include ten images and/or videos. Previously, the amount was limited to five. (Read more at SocialTimes)
- Facebook quietly launched a new app called Lifestage to compete with Snapchat. Lifestage is a video sharing app available only to users 21 years old or younger. The app works by allowing users to create clips about whatever is on their mind. The clips are then cut together to create a public profile. (Read more at The Next Web)