Spotify is burning up the podcast charts, in all the wrong ways… Facebook’s putting ads on sites that never asked for ads… How Pinterest’s algorithm changes could affect your brand’s content strategy… and the World Health Organization paying an influencer to talk up contact tracing… an influencer that is completely computer-generated.
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--- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/todayindigital/message
And we start with some breaking news… just as I was heading into the voice booth, Facebook announced they will be restricting how many ads a brand can run at any one time.
Again, this just happened, and I haven’t had a chance to look into it much deeper, so I’ll be quoting liberally here from SearchEngineJournal.com’s
“This new enforcement on ad limits will begin rolling out in February of next year, and continue through the summer. Why Limit Volume? Facebook is stressing more ad volume doesn’t mean better performance. Adding more of anything Facebook needs to optimize, it can actually prevent that from happening effectively. Brands may notice certain ad creatives get few, if any, impressions and may find the status stuck in the Learning Phase for awhile. Every time an ad is shown, the algorithm builds its learnings, but more ads means each version is shown less times. Facebook cites that 4 in 10 ads never exist the Learning Phase at all. This also means budget is being spent and taking longer (or maybe never) to optimize for winners, costing brands more money in the long run.”
And so, I know you’re wondering what YOUR limits will be. Apparently Facebook will place your brand into one of four groups — those groups determined by how much your PAGE has spent on ads in the past year. That’s the PAGE, not the Ad Account. The more you spend, the more number of ad creatives you can run.
If you try to run ads past your group’s limit, you’ll just get an error. If you REALLY want to run those ads, you’ll need to stop or pause ads that are CURRENTLY running, to open up one of your slots.
If you’re thinking — welp, I guess we’ll be creating two brand pages, Facebook warns if you do that, your pages would then compete against each other in the ad auction, you’ll end up with two different learning sets, and of course you’ll then have to manage the consumer confusion around why your brand has two brand presences.
SearchEngineJournal notes that it’s not clear what’s considered “one ad” — do dynamic creative ads count as one? Or as the sum of all their rotating assets?
Since we’re on Facebook, it might amuse you to know they’re a little red-faced today, after jamming ads onto web sites that never signed up to have ads there.
Some web site publishers were seeing their news articles on mobile served with those “interstitial” ads in between their content. The ads seemed to come from Facebook’s Audience Network.
One brand caught up in it: the Danish public broadcaster which, as a public broadcaster, isn’t meant to have ANY ads. They’re funded by a media licence fee citizens pay annually.
As for HOW those ads got there — Facebook didn’t say, of course. They also didn’t say how long that error lasted. Or how many ads got served. Or how many users were affected. Or how many publishers ended up with ads. No, they didn’t say much, as per usual, but did apologize.
And while we’re kicking Facebook — do you remember last week, I reported on the Agorapulse study that found removing the Call to Action buttons on ads will IMPROVE performance?
Yeah. Guess what Facebook just took away? Your ability to remove Call to Action buttons.
In their latest iteration of the ads manager, you MUST select a call to action button. There is no longer an option to run a link ad without one.
Why does Facebook hate us advertisers so much?
Google has added really a nice touch for businesses that have to make OUTBOUND calls — so, we’re talking sales calls, or following up on support requests… that sort of thing.
Until now, of course, when those calls appeared on their customers’ or prospects’ phones, the number showed up as Unknown. Or maybe their call display would say the name of your brand, but with call spoofing so rampant these days, a lot of people just plain don’t believe it.
Now, Google has added what they call Verified Calls. The way it works is this. Whenever your brand calls someone else, on the recipient’s end, their screen has a blue checkmark and the phrase Verified Call From, with your logo. And even better, in the screenshots Google showed, there’s a new field that indicates the REASON for you calling them.
The examples they gave were a bank’s reason: Confirm transaction activity. An airline example said “Flight time changes” and a meal delivery service would read Your food delivery.
It wasn’t clear HOW your people would input that information before dialing, though apparently you’ll need to use one of Google’s many telephony partners. It also wasn’t clear if this was something you’d need to pay for, as the brand, above and beyond their partner’s fees. And there’s one catch — one BIG catch. This will only work on Android phones. It’s already pre-loaded on many Android devices, and Google says the Android 11 upgrade will bring even more in.
Verified Calls is launching first in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Spain and India, with more countries to follow.
Some podcast marketing news now. Podtrac, one of the main measurement firms, says Apple had 61% of the market share of all podcast downloads they tracked in August. But Spotify is, closing in fast. This maybe likely to their rush to pay big bucks to acquire major podcast names like Joe Rogan and Michelle Obama. It hasn’t been easy sailing, though… Spotify was under fire recently for removing some of ROgan’s more extreme right-wing guests before putting his library up on the site.
And Spotify’s also getting some negative attention because of ANOTHER one of their recent acquisitions — the podcast hosting platform Anchor. Some podcast producers reporting that people are copying their podcasts — same title, same art, same description — and simply downloading the REAL show’s episodes and re-uploading them to their own FAKE podcast account on Anchor. When you look at the real and fake podcasts side by side in Anchor, it’s almost impossible to tell which one is the real one. Why do they do this? First, Anchor is free for podcast producers to host their show. But probably the real reason — Anchor has monetization and can insert ads into podcasts, paying the person who created the show. Or, in this case, copied the show.
Full disclosure: This show is hosted on Anchor. We do not use Anchor’s monetization program. Not that I don’t want to, but it’s just not available in Canada.
A couple of other podcast marketing tidbits:
- The Wondery podcast network has cut a deal with American Express — new card holders can get a year free of Wonder’s subscription level
- Google Podcasts now lets you cast shows you’re listening to onto different speakers or displays
- Emarketer says US podcast ad spending will increase by 10% in 2020. The IAB pegs it a bit higher, at nearly 15% growth.
- And, I’m sure I’m reading more into this than I need to, but Gimlet — the podcast network that was acquired by Spotify the same day they bought Anchor — Gimlet shows are back to saying “listen wherever you get your podcasts” in their trailers. Until now, since the acquisition, they were saying “listen on spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.”
You won’t believe what these two companies announced today!
That’s probably the way Taboola and Outbrain would have written their news release. They are the two leading content farms you see jammed at the bottom of many news web sites, telling you about credit offers in your city, or five credit cards charging 0% interest until 2022.
For a year now, they’ve been deep in negotiations for a merger some say would have been worth $850 million dollars. But now, that deal is off.
They would have made a formidable entity, to be sure. People familiar with the talks said they would have used the Taboola brand and tried to compete head-on with Google and Facebook. One reason for the failed talks, say insiders who spoke to CNBC: Taboola tried paying less than half of the price both parties agreed to. Also, the recent trend of regulators sniffing around for antitrust cases apparently was a factor that scared them off.
Quoting MarketingDive: “Taboola and Outbrain together were unlikely to topple the dominance of Google and Facebook, but their failed merger reinforces the myriad complications in establishing a new digital advertising entity that can match the power of the duopoly. The companies still would have been able to offer impressive scale, with an estimated combined audience reach of 2 billion users per month.”
According to a recent study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, digital ad spending will increase 6% this year in the U.S., compared to an 8% drop for all other forms of advertising.
Pinterest says it’s changed its content algorithm, and the change may help digital brand marketers reach more people.
Quoting the company: Pinterest has revised its system to improve the relevance of its recommendations and listings. The process involves taking into account more user actions, and building a system that's capable of responding to variable inputs. That process has lead to various advances in feed display: We were able to show more relevant pins to users by improving the accuracy of our predictions. We improved engineering velocity by separating the model predictions from the ranking layer. We now can iterate on ranking functions by modifying utility terms and in parallel do model iterations.”
Yeah, I don’t understand most of that either.
To be fair, this wasn’t a news release, this came from their engineering blog which was written, I presume, by engineers.
I think what they’re trying to say is they’re ranking user engagement as being a more important factor than they used to — if that’s the case, getting engagement on your brand’s shoppable pins will be important. This tracks with pretty much every other social algorithm.
They also said they’re increasing prioritization of pins with video in them.
A particularly disturbing troll over the weekend affecting TikTok kept many people off the platform. I found out about it through a tweet on Sunday, claiming that some people’s For You feed was showing video of a man committing suicide.
Today, TikTok confirmed the report. Apparently the video was originally livestreamed on Facebook last month, which, of course, is horrifying. But then trolls took the video and edited it into seemingly innocuous videos. So you’d be watching kittens playing, then suddenly it cuts to a man shooting himself in the head.
TikTok was trying desperately to shut it down, but the multiple variations apparently outwitted a lot of the automated detection tools they have. Many people tweeted recommendations to stay off TikTok for a few days, and I’ll be honest, I took that advice too.
The British government is paying young social media influencers to talk up COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. Apparently, not many British citizens have been willing to share details of their recent contacts. And, after nine weeks in a row of failing to meet their targets, the national health authority is turning to Instagram stars to help in the effort.
After all, traditional public health channels have usually meant TV ads. Or radio ads. Places that young people just aren’t.
One such influencer, who has 1.5 million followers on Instagram, posted a selfie of her and a friend with the caption “the best way for us all to get back to doing the things we love” is to get tested.
The government isn’t saying how much they’re paying, though they do say more than 7 million people have seen the messages.
TheNextWeb.com says influencers with more than a million followers earn about $13,000 in U.S. dollars per post.
Quoting their site: “The World Health Organization has been using influencer marketing techniques in its coronavirus messaging since April. It has gone a step further by using a computer-generated influencer called Knox Frost to “get accurate, vetted information about COVID-19 in front of millennials and Gen Z”. The AI, which is said to be 20-years-old has just under a million Instagram followers.”