Figaro Digital Digest: February 2021

by Figaro Digital

2021 is fully underway, and while there may still be more tough times ahead, brighter horizons are definitely in sight. With this in mind, there is still plenty of great news and juicy topics to get your teeth into, so let’s get to it.

In this edition, we look at the latest innovations and need-to-know updates from the biggest brands and social media platforms. We’ll also reveal the winner of our campaign of the month as well as plenty of other digital marketing insights.

The Latest Social Media News

Facebook lifts the lid on how to get the most out of your video content

Social media trailblazer, Facebook, has recently given users a new look into how its algorithms determine the level of reach video content achieves.

During a livestream, Product Leader Mahncy Mehrotra, shared a range of tips and insights on the subject. While some were standard pieces of advice, the stream did highlight a few useful points for content creators to take note of.

Mehrotra explains:

“What unlocks virality goes back to the core of we want users to enjoy the content that they’re watching, and so, if there is a video that users are consistently viewing that content, engaging with it all the way through, they’re re-sharing it and spreading it with their friends, we take all of those signals around the video watching the video engagement and that triggers, essentially, virality.”

As is to be expected, the key to maximising content reach lies in knowing your audience and what they want to see. Gaining a better understanding of this, through using the insight tools made available to content creators, will ultimately improve the engagement of videos you publish.

Mehrotra goes on to say:

“I think at a high level, what I would like to say is we look at the likelihood that a user will watch the content, so the primary factor that really matters is what’s the probability that a user’s going to engage with this content and watch it for a longer period. And then we also factor in, secondly, what is the likelihood that a user is actually going to engage with this content”.

Though these may seem fairly general points, Facebook believes nailing down these key principles will produce the best results for your video content.

LinkedIn and their new freelance marketplace platform

While the world slowly looks to turn the corner away from the COVID-19 pandemic, LinkedIn is looking to develop a new freelance marketplace platform. The hope is that this platform will enable businesses to connect with who and what they need in light of the ever-changing working dynamic so many people find themselves in.

The career-focused networking site wants to tap into the growing market of websites that connect white-collar professionals, such as web developers or accountants, with businesses that need their services. If done correctly, the new service could further enhance LinkedIn’s capabilities as an HR platform.

The social media giant has attempted this in the past with their ProFinder platform. Though with new features including digital wallets to facilitate payments and profiles for relevant work offers, the proposal looks to take this a step further.

Met with fierce competition, the new marketplace is expected to run along the lines of Fiverr or Upwork – platforms that let customers shop around for services and compare prices. The shift to working from home in the past year saw the revenue of these platforms collectively increase by approximately 37 per cent compared to 2019.

The service is set to launch in September and could help the Microsoft subsidiary attract even more users on top of their already impressive 740 million active profiles.

YouTube implements Viewing Activity Tool for parents

The video-sharing platform, YouTube, has developed a new process that enables parents to keep an eye on their children’s activity, preventing them from viewing potentially unsuitable or harmful content.

YouTube has become more central to children’s lives than traditional television networks. Interests have changed and so too has video content consumption, meaning younger generations are exposed to more than ever before.

YouTube realises that while there are many positives to children using their platform, there are also great risks. The platform’s new tool will allow parents or guardians to choose from three levels of supervision:

  • Explore: For children ready to move on from YouTube Kids and explore content on YouTube, this setting will feature a broad range of videos generally suitable for viewers aged 9+, including vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, educational content, and more.
  • Explore More: With content generally suitable for viewers aged 13+, this setting will include an even larger set of videos and live streams in the same categories as “Explore”.
  • Most of YouTube: This setting will contain almost all videos on YouTube, except for age-restricted content, and it includes sensitive topics that may only be appropriate for older teens.

Given the increased time at home during lockdown, this will have come as some welcomed reassurance for parents , allowing their children to explore the platform safely.

Not only will this benefit children and parents alike, but YouTube will also benefit legislatively, hoping to avoid any repeats of their record-breaking fine of $170 million due to illegal data collection of youngsters.

The new changes are set to be rolled out over the coming months.

The Latest Google Stories

Australia passes unprecedented law forcing Google to pay news media

A landmark piece of legislation making it compulsory for Google to pay media companies for their news content was passed by the Australian government.

The new legislation ensures that news media outlets are now fairly remunerated for the content they produce. In a bid to help sustain public interest in journalism, the News Media Bargaining Code was passed by lawmakers, making Australia the first country in the world to implement a regulation of its type.

Initially, Google suggested it may have had to pull its services from the country entirely if the law were to come into play. This never materialised and, instead, they struck deals with media organisations such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, ensuring payment is made for the content produced.

This bold move from the Australian government was met with fierce competition from tech giants such as Google and Facebook, but is predicted to snowball, with other countries now likely to follow similar regulatory action to curb the power of such companies. Australian Prime minister, Scott Morrison, has already announced that he has discussed the new law with leaders of the UK, Canada, India, and France.

Google is said to have invested up to $1 billion into the global news industry last year, with Facebook making a similar commitment in light of this new law.

Advertisers given a year to adhere to Google’s new Partner Program

In a recent email to all Google Partner Program members, the search engine announced changes to the programme structure and badge criteria.

The initial changes were due to start in June 2020. However, the pandemic naturally brought with it a multitude of complications, so this will now take place at the beginning of February 2022, giving members a full year to meet the programme requirements.

All partners will have to undergo two major changes as a result of the current global economic situation to boost transparency. These changes are:

  1. Partners can either dismiss or apply recommendations to achieve a 70 per cent optimisation score. While the optimisation score requirement was slated to take effect in June, it previously only allowed for the application of recommendations. However, the Google team used search marketers’ feedback to allow for the dismissal of recommendations for clients where it may not have made sense to accept them. “We know that our Partners know their clients and accounts best,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land.
  2. The spend threshold will remain at a 90-day spend of $10,000 across all of a partner’s managed accounts. Before the pandemic, the Partner badge requirements were set to increase to $20,000 every 90 days. However, the Partners team listened to ad mangers’ feedback and kept the requirement at $10,000.

Along with these changes, the email also stated that Google wants to provide further clarity around the benefits of the programme. As a result, there are three main areas that the company will look to support members with:

  • Education and insights.
  • Access and support.
  • Recognition and rewards.

These changes are a smart move by Google to help the search community during these strangest of times. Google has also noted that the advanced notice means there is plenty of time for members to meet the new requirements. All partners holding a partner or premium partner badge will retain their badge status until then.

The Latest Brand Stories

Does Dr Martens’ new strategy mean a new approach to digital?

UK footwear brand, Dr Martens, plans to trade on alternative credentials at the stock market while aggressive expansion plans may leave them disconnected from their punk roots.

This subculture fashion staple burst on to the scene way back in the ’60s when global music icons caused the brand to skyrocket in popularity. Originally marketed for your average postal worker, builder or policeman requiring heavy-duty footwear, the product soon became a punk staple, and by the ‘90s it had entered mainstream fashion.

The brand has fallen on harder times in recent years. At the turn of the century, it stared bankruptcy square in the eye, narrowly avoiding the establishment’s claws in true punk-like fashion. Fast forward to now, and you’ll see that the footwear company has just floated on the stock market in the biggest IPO (Initial Public Offering) for any UK company since September.

This bid to allow the company greater control over who their new shareholders are has raised eyebrows among the devoted Dr Marten buyers among us, worrying that their core values may become skewed.

Vanella Jackson, CEO of brand consultancy Hall & Partners, says, “It depends on their strategy to grow. Generally, the brands that have success at their heart are the ones that stick to their roots.”

How Dr Martens reinvents itself, while maintaining its integrity, could be the difference between thriving for more generations to come or losing its relevance and being kicked to the curb.

Either way, this reinvention from Dr Martens will likely mean a stronger, different form of digital strategy, so be sure to keep an eye out.

NHS England goes big with vaccination roll-out ad

After a seemingly endless year or so, it looks like there is light at the end of the COVID tunnel. However, that light – the vaccination process – is a touchy subject. Anti-vaccination culture is robust, with its affiliates, more commonly known as anti-vaxxers, adamant that it’s not worth getting.

In response to this, NHS England has made a big push on social to promote the benefits of vaccination. By hiring big voices like Elton John and Michael Caine, the NHS is making a concerted effort to get people vaccinated:

The campaign is a reminder that social media isn’t just to promote brands and products. Sometimes, we need to leverage it for the public good.

Campaign of the Month

Dove’s new campaign questions India’s matchmaking traditions

Unilever’s flagship personal care brand, Dove, has never been afraid to fight the good fight of championing women’s natural beauty. Their new Indian campaign is no exception and pushes traditional ideas more than ever before.

The company’s latest endeavour #StopTheBeautyTest launched in India earlier this month. Its purpose: to challenge the long-standing practice of matchmaking marriages, and the judgement and rejection women face within Indian culture as a result.

The film showcases real stories from women who had been judged as falling short of supposed notions of beauty. Powerful in its relatability, the campaign uses real women telling real stories of rejection covering prejudice around height, weight, complexion, hair type, and birthmarks.

But Dove isn’t stopping with just an eye-opening video. The brand is actively taking steps to reverse these long-standing notions by:

  • Partnering with leading matrimonial platforms, to try and free the matchmaking process of beauty biases.
  • Teaming up with the leading Indian matrimonial site to encourage users on the platform to look beyond body type, complexion, scars or hair type and length, to see new sizes and shades of beautiful.
  • Help rewrite matrimonial ads free of beauty biases to drive significant change in this direction.
  • Exclusively partnering with UNICEF via the Dove self-esteem project which aims to reach 6.25 million girls and boys in schools by 2024 to improve their knowledge and skills. The end goal is to improve body confidence and self-esteem through education materials to realise their full potential in India.

The concrete steps being taken here as part of their new campaign demonstrates just how effective brand crusades can be within the global society. Well done, Dove!

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