The Figaro Digital Digest: October 2019

by Caroline Barrow Figaro Digital

October has lived up to its stereotypical best this month with some Facebook-related scares and a cocktail of marketing treats from inventive brands.

Stick the kettle on, wrap up, and find out all the recent tricks and treats from the world of marketing below.

The Latest Social News

PayPal Drops out of Facebook’s Digital Currency, Libra

Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, Libra, was designed to change the face of digital transactions on not just its own platform, but the entire web. However, Libra has had to withstand a rocky road since its introduction with more bad news landing this month.

PayPal has become the first company to drop out of the cryptocurrency, stating that it ‘made the decision to forgo further participation in the Libra association at this time […] to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities.’

Since then, G7 countries have warned against the currency, with VISA and MasterCard having second thoughts. Tough times for Facebook, it seems, particularly given the negative press it has been getting over fielding political ads.

Instagram Drops ‘Following’ Tab and Introduces Restrict Mode

Instagram has done away with the ‘Following’ notification tab and has added a new ‘Restricted’ mode for its users. Now, clicking on the heart tab will only show your own activity as opposed to having the option to stalk everyone you follow.

In addition to that big change, Instagram’s new ‘Restricted’ mode has been introduced to clamp down on bullying and harassment on the platform. This new mode will allow you to swipe a user, placing them on restrict. This means you will no longer see this account’s comments as it will be hidden by a “See Comment” banner.

Users can then choose whether or not they view the comment, which means the mode acts as a soft block without revealing that fact to the restricted user.

Twitter Caught Using Personal Details to Target Ads (Again)

Twitter has publically apologised for ‘unintentionally’ using email addresses and phone numbers to inform ad targeting on its platform. These details were shared to Twitter by users on the basis that they would only be used for account recovery and security. However, without users knowing about it, this data was used for ad targeting purposes.

This, of course, flies in the face of GDPR with this story doing social media platforms no favours.

The Latest Google News

Google Scraps Mobile VR

Google has scrapped its mobile-based VR solution after the technology has failed to become a mass-market product.

The specific product Google is discontinuing is the Daydream View VR. The company announced that it won’t be compatible with its latest phone and halted sales of the technology. Initially, Google hoped the headset could change the way people interacted with the digital world on mobile, but it appears that the market simply isn’t ready.

Google Chief: ‘I’d Disclose Smart Speakers Before Guests Enter My Home’

Following a question as to whether homeowners need to disclose to guests if smart devices like Google Nest are in use, Google’s SVP Rick Osterloh provided an answer that likely swept Google executives off their feet in fear:

‘Gosh, I haven’t thought about this before in quite this way. It’s quite important for all these technologies to think about all users… we have to consider all stakeholders that might be in proximity.’

‘Does the owner of a home need to disclose it to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.’

His comments have sparked some discussion about the place smart hubs have in our private homes, as well as adding further flame to the ever-burning privacy discussions around Google.

With voice search on the rise, tools such as Google Nest seem essential, but the technology is struggling to disentangle itself from privacy discussions.

The Latest Brand News

Direct-to-Consumer Ad Spend up 50 Per Cent

A new report by advertising intelligence firm MediaRadar has illuminated some interesting findings regarding the direct-to-consumer (DTC) industry.

DTC brands have increased their total ad spend across digital, TV and print by 50 per cent year-over-year to over $1 million in Q2 2019. Digital has increased 22 per cent year-on-year, implying that DTC brands are seeing big ad spend as a necessity to compete.

Bot Accounts Responsible for 80 Per Cent of Vaping and Tobacco Tweets

Social media is a big part of digital marketing with conversations between those involved with a brand or industry being central to fostering a product’s reputation.

However, new figures from the Nicholson Foundation found that 80 per cent of vaping and tobacco tweets come from bot accounts, raising concerns for both the industry and the accuracy of social media-based analytics.

Further analysis found that most bots were focused on sharing misinformation about e-cigarettes. Raquel Mazon Jeffers, Head of Research on Population Health at The Nicholson Foundation, responded to the news:

‘These are really persistent marketing techniques that are misinformed or are spreading misinformation, and it seems to be fuelling a new generation of nicotine addicts in youth.’

When analysing social trends and data, it’s important to keep bots in mind.

Our Favourite Campaign of the Month

BT Launches its Biggest Ad Campaign for Over 20 Years

BT isn’t known for its big ad campaigns, but the telecommunications company has gone big by hiring Saatchi & Saatchi for its newest video: Beyond Limits.

In order to capture the brand’s relaunch, the ad campaign focuses on how the company helps to bring down barriers between families, people, and communities.

The advert plays homage to the Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities by following a girl who travels around the UK to see how technology can and is shaping the future.

The campaign was complemented by a live show from Jess Glyne which featured graduates of its Skills for Tomorrow education campaign which trains children in cutting-edge technology. The gig also broke the world record for the most drones used to film an indoor event.

Marc Allera, Chief Executive of BT’s consumer division, said:

‘This campaign represents […] a bold step into the future, helping people to break down barriers and realise their potential.’

The campaign got decent interaction on social, but the true stand out was how it was able to intertwine digital and TV advertising into a cohesive whole.

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