From dating to digital privacy, a lot happened in October in the digital world. COVID restrictions may be continuing but there’s plenty of innovation to talk about, from social updates to adventurous brand campaigns.
So what was on our radar last month? We’ve curated a list of the biggest digital news for you right here. Keep reading to find out all the latest from social, Google, and brands.
The Latest Social News
Instagram crack down on undisclosed sponsored posts
Instagram has been battling against undisclosed commercial partnerships for years now. Even though influencers are required to flag commercial arrangements with the tags #ad or #sponsored, many neglect to do this.
Now, in a move to better tackle the issue, Instagram has announced planned updates to try and improve the visibility of sponsorships.
One of the updates will be a new prompt, requiring influencers to confirm whether they’ve received incentives to promote a product or service before a post can be published. Instagram also have new algorithms in development, designed to detect potential advertising content. Once identified, this content will be flagged with the business involved and guidance on sponsorship rules will be issued.
A recent study by Netimperative found that over three-quarters of Instagram influencers hide sponsorship disclosure in their posts, which goes against regulations. And, with Instagram liable for legal action if the problem persists, it’s no surprise they’re cracking down on this.
The new disclosure tools and updates are being rolled out over the next year, though it’s not yet clear which regions they will apply to. However, with Instagram’s focus on commercial partnerships tightening, influencers would be wise to review their promotional practices.
Facebook dating rolled out in Europe
Since Facebook’s inception, there have been stories of people finding love through the social platform, with users becoming Facebook friends and discovering common interests. With the US launch of Facebook Dating last year, Facebook started to expand explicitly into the area of love and relationships. Now, just a year later, Facebook Dating has been rolled out into Europe too.
As explained by Facebook, Facebook Dating aims, “To help more people find meaningful relationships through things they have in common, like interests, events and groups.”
Facebook reports that since its launch, over 1.5 billion matches have already been made through Facebook Dating, in a total of 20 countries. The opt-in service utilises Facebook’s existing features, like stories, events, and groups.
There are also dedicated features such as the “Virtual Dates” video chat feature and “Secret Crush”, which allows users to select up to nine existing Facebook friends they are interested in romantically. If a match isn’t made, the other user isn’t notified and the crush remains a secret.
Users can create Facebook Dating-specific profiles, allowing for a distinction between their public and Dating profiles. With matches made using the vast amount of user data Facebook holds, this new Dating service could be a powerful competitor to existing online matchmaking services.
New logo and continued development for YouTube shorts
YouTube officially announced the launch of its new TikTok-style short video feed, YouTube Shorts, in India in late September, where TikTok is now banned.
The Indian Government banned TikTok – along with 58 other Chinese apps – in late June. Now, with YouTube Shorts boasting a new logo and a shortcut button on the main app, it’s clear that YouTube is investing time and development into making sure its Shorts feature becomes a replacement.
Indian users can currently discover Shorts videos from the “Shorts Shelf”, a side-scrolling display of clips embedded in the app’s main feed. Indian users can also upload content via the Shorts Camera, which features additional quick editing functions like timers, speed controls, and the option to add music.
YouTube has confirmed that, even in regions where the Shorts Camera isn’t yet available, your content can still be featured in the Shorts feed. YouTube explains, “You can still make your video eligible for the Shorts shelf and feed, all you need to do is make sure that it’s 60 seconds or under, and shot in the vertical format.”
Though an announcement hasn’t yet been made about the release of Shorts in all regions, it’s likely to be soon.
The Latest Google News
Google Shopping: New pricing and promotions for the festive season
Google has released promotion and pricing updates for both advertisers and users to take advantage of this holiday season.
One of the updates is the ability for users to discover whether item prices are “high, low or typical compared to other prices from across the web and in nearby stores.” These new price insights will show up on product Shopping pages when a user clicks on a listing. If they want to wait to see if items are listed at a better price, users can enable “price tracking” to get alerts either via email or in the Google app. Price comparisons will include online retailers and local stores, as well as those that offer curbside and in-store pickup options.
Another important new change Google has introduced is to make advertiser promotions faster and more visible. One of the biggest bugbears for retail advertisers has been the long wait time for approval on promotions, so Google’s announcement in September that approvals would be speeding up came as welcome news.
Advertisers will also be able to edit promotion timings and duration after promotions go live, meaning increased flexibility and control. On top of this, promotions are now eligible for both free and paid listings on the Shopping tab, making increased visibility possible.
Google introduces group targeting for better user privacy
The balance of maintaining user privacy and enabling highly targeted advertising is a hard one to get right. Google is taking a step forward though, with a move from individualised targeting to group targeting.
Google’s new “Privacy Sandbox” initiative is designed to develop new, privacy-friendly methods of audience targeting. Instead of relying on unique IDs or individual cross-site tracking, they look to offer personalisation with anonymity, which is where group targeting comes in.
According to a preliminary study by Google, findings suggest that targeting audience cohorts instead of random user groupings could enable significantly better performance. Clustering people into cohorts could also help maintain their privacy, too.
Ultimately, Google says the results so far are promising, whilst maintaining that it’s still very early in the process.
The Latest Brand News
Sky ditches product-focused ads in a bid to “recapture hearts and minds”
Sky has just launched a major new ad push, and in place of its usual product-focused approach, it’s looking to build an emotional connection with customers instead.
To shift public perception of the brand and put customers “back at the heart” of Sky, the new campaign will feature a series of ads, each focusing on different people and their relationships with TV. The first, which aired on 23 October, tells the story of a young boy called Harris who is obsessed with robots and watches all his fictional heroes – from Ironman to Star Wars’ BB8 – on Sky Cinema.
With TV experiences now so diverse, and customers’ attention split between the likes of Netflix, terrestrial TV, and YouTube, Sky Director Sunny Bhurji explained he wanted to showcase the individuality of people’s experiences, “The key thing we wanted to do was put the customer back at the heart of our advertising. We’ve done a lot of product advertising, and that’s great… but we wanted to lean in on TV being part of you and showcasing part of you.”
Premier Inn looks backwards in new forward-facing campaign
It may sound like a contradiction, but Premier Inn’s new marketing strategy involves going backwards. The chain has been hard-hit by the COVID crisis, but is now looking towards the future optimistically with a new campaign that focuses on the brand’s heritage and core values.
The first national lockdown and ongoing restrictions have had a huge effect on Premier Inn, with like-for-like sales falling by 77.6 per cent in the first half of the year, and remaining 38.5 per cent down in August. Nevertheless, Premier Inn’s brand marketing director Tamara Strauss explained there will be a focus on consistency, “It hasn’t changed our perspective, we just have to think differently about the implementation… We are having to work with uncertainty looking forward, which means we have to take a few gambles along the way, but they are calculated gambles.”
Campaign of the Month
I’m Lovin’ It Live: McDonald’s launch a week of free virtual events
McDonald’s showcased a week-long series of virtual events, named I’m Lovin’ It Live, designed to give communities a small lift.
We’ve seen the cancellation of most major events in the 2020 calendar, from football and rugby matches to concerts. McDonald’s new online showcase aimed to give families something to enjoy from home instead, and involved some of the stars we might have seen in person if circumstances had been different.
I’m Lovin’ It Live ran from 26 October to 1 November. Highlights include performances by Jess Glynne, Olly Murs, Craig David, the Kaiser Chiefs, Lewis Capaldi, and Stormzy, plus daily fun football sessions with Peter Crouch and Lioness Lucy Bronze, and a holiday reading club with children’s author and popstar Tom Fletcher.
Michelle Graham-Clare, Vice President, Marketing and Menu, McDonald’s UK and Ireland said, “2020 has been a really challenging year, so many of the things we enjoy have been negatively impacted and we’ve heard from our employees and our customers, we are all in need of a little lift. I’m Lovin’ It Live will be the biggest music event of the year and we are delighted to offer it for free to anyone with the My McDonald’s App.”
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