Is that cookie disclosure banner on your web site pulling you down in Google rankings? Instagram gets closer to e-commerce integration in its TikTok clone… The largest growing demographic of podcast listeners are teenagers… and how a single Excel spreadsheet is all that anybody is talking about in the U.K. today.
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Today: Is that cookie disclosure banner on your web site pulling you down in Google rankings? Instagram gets closer to e-commerce integration in its TikTok clone… The largest growing demographic of podcast listeners are teenagers… and how a single Excel spreadsheet is all that anybody is talking about in the U.K. today, Monday, October 5, 2020.
Happy World Teachers Day
I’m Tod Maffin from engageQ digital. And here is what you missed, today in digital marketing.
Brought to you by the Keep Optimising podcast.
FB Ad Problems
If you run Facebook ads for a client or for your own brand, you may have noticed that for about a month now, your results have been sub-par. This isn’t happening to everyone, of course, but enough people noticed a performance drop that it’s becoming a popular topic on the Twitters.
David Herrmann over the weekend tweeted “Your Facebook ads aren’t working because the algo doesn’t work right anymore. I’ve kept tabs on the ads for the last month. Something changed in early September. It was right around Labor Day, then fell from there.”
Others weighed in too, one guy saying every since September 10th, they dropped to a 0.7 ROAS “out of nowhere across hundreds of ads that had consistent results for months.” A quick translation 0.7 ROAS, that’s Return on Ad Spend, means that those campaigns are not profitable. They are literally losing money. Since a 1.0 ROAS is the break-even point.
We have noticed this too here at our agency. I wish I had a solution to offer, but with Facebook being silent on any changes that may have caused this, it’s left to digital marketers to speculate and share what is working. One of the most common suggestions I’m seeing out there are DABAs — that’s Dynamic Ads for Broad Audiences, basically product ads that try to put the right combination of image and copy and headline in front of people.
So, all that to say — if you’re one of those marketers who set it and forget it… I know, I know, you’re not… but if you are… go check in with your Facebook ads dashboard. Something may be a afoot.
Cookie Banners and CLS
As I’m sure you know, one of the factors that Google takes into account when it comes to how high up the results page you are is the speed of your web site. The faster it is, the better position you’ll get.
Google determines speed by looking at three points of data — how fast the first bit of content shows up, how soon a user can interact with your web page, and how much your web page’s layout jumps around. I know you’ve seen these… you go to click a button but suddenly the page shifts because a banner ad loads in or something.
Google calls that last metric Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS.
And recently, Google clarified one question that many digital marketers were asking. And that is: Will you penalize us if the thing that causes our web page to jump around is the mandatory legal cookie banner that so many web sites have now.
Google search engineer Martin Splitt replied on Twitter: “I have looked at a few sites and libraries to implement those.... and have seen performance impact, but not really impact on Cumulative Layout Shift. And anyway - there are already solutions that have zero impact on CLS."
Also, he said if your brand’s site is extra jumpy because of one of these banners, you can send him a link to your site and he’ll look into it.
Some interesting data from the audio streaming app Deezer. They say total podcast streams on their platform more than doubled from last July to this July. The most popular genre: No, not true crime? But Comedy. I guess we’re all looking for a break from the doomscrolling.
The largest demographic group growth came from people under 18 years old, with an increase of nearly 250% year over year.
STILL AHEAD — Instagram adds another placement for your product ads, LinkedIn’s change to the Story format is a welcome addition for privacy advocates — and Facebook’s automated enforcement bots get it wrong, again, this time — in the most ridiculous of ways.
That’s in a minute, when TIDM continues.
It’s not an episode of Today in Digital Marketing until we briefly bitch about Facebook’s AI making lousy enforcement decisions.
And here’s an example that happened late last week.
Facebook banned a group run by the Free States Militia. These are a group of anarchists who believe the U.S. government is lying to them about nuclear fallout shelters. They’ve already built a series of their own bunkers in the Appalachia and are thought to be stockpiling weapons in those bunkers, all with the goal of eventually separating from the U.S. The group was actually founded by a U.S. Senator — Sam Blackwell.
But here’s the thing. There is no senator named Sam Blackwell. There are no bunkers. There are no weapons. Because the Free States Militia does not exist. Well, not in the real world anyway. The group is part of the lore of the Fallout video game series.
And a bunch of Fallout enthusiasts created a group to role-play and trade tips on the game.
But Facebook’s AI enforcement bots aren’t smart enough to make that distinction.
So, not only did Facebook remove the group, BUT it also banned the admins of the group. I don’t mean ban them from the group; Facebook banned their personal accounts entirely.
That means those people couldn’t access their account. Couldn’t administer any ad campaigns. Couldn’t manage any brand pages they owned. One of these admins said “It makes no sense, especially when there are real life militia groups still up and running on Facebook.”
Facebook eventually restored everything, but not because of any of the on-site appeal forms. No, those went nowhere. It was only when the media started asking that Facebook put things right.
Facebook claims it has 15,000 human content reviewers, but all I hear about these days — and have experienced personally — are inaccurate enforcement decisions made by AI bots, appeals automatically denied by different bots, and no way to get a human being to look into it.
This is why last month I stopped using Facebook and Instagram for any personal use. One wrong click by an automated enforcement robot could shut me out of our clients’ accounts.
Facebook has a long way to go, if it wants to be a trusted partner for digital marketers.
This morning, Instagram expanded its Shopping platform into IGTV.
Shoppers will be able to watch an IGTB video, then check-out with a few taps. They’ll either be sent to the brand web site OR, if hooked up right, can do the purchase right in the app, although you’ll give up a cut of that sale to Instagram if you want to do it that way.
They say soon they’ll be testing shopping integration into its TikTok clone, called Reels. And soon these shoppable IGTV videos will surface on Instagram Shop, as well.
Quoting TechCrunch: “Instagram isn’t alone in seeing the potential for shopping inspired by short-form video content. Walmart’s decision to try to acquire a stake in TikTok is tied to the growing “social commerce” trend which mixes together social media and online shopping to create a flurry of demand for new products — like a modern-day QVC aimed at Gen Z and broadcast across smartphones’ small screens.”
“By comparison, TikTok so far has only dabbled with social commerce. It has run select ad tests, like a partnership with Levi’s during the early days of the pandemic to create influencer-created ads that appeared in users’ feeds and directed users to Levi’s website. It has also experimented with allowing users to add links to e-commerce sites to TikTok profiles and other features.”
“Instagram didn’t say when Reels would gain shopping features, beyond “later this year.”
Stories: LinkedIn / YoUTube
A couple of lower-case S “stories” about upper-case S “Stories”...
LinkedIn has added the ability for people to view Stories anonymously. In case you missed it, LinkedIn added the vertical format a week or two ago. This is actually quite a nice touch, since platforms like Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories all reveal the names of people who viewed them. To be clear, by default your name will be shown to the original poster when you watch their story, but you can change this by going to settings and clicking the “Visibility” section. Inside there, you should see the option “Story viewing options”
And YouTube has a new speech enhancement option within YouTube Stories that will reduce background noise in video clips. So far, that option is only available in the iOS app.
Excel and COVID
And finally, here’s a cautionary tale about the tool I suspect digital marketers use the most — that’d be spreadsheets.
In the U.K., health authorities have begin reporting a significant spike in coronavirus infections. But it’s not because there was a sudden spike… they’re actually catching up on a backlog of infection reports that they didn’t report earlier.
What happened? Turns out, the database of infections was being managed in Microsoft Excel — and nobody noticed that the spreadsheet they were using had reached the maximum number of columns.
This means not only was reporting data inaccurate, by tens of thousands, it also means those infection details were not passed to contact tracers.
The government health body says “No problem, we’ve fixed it — by by splitting the Excel files into multiple Excel files.”
I mean, what could go wrong, right?