The Figaro Digital Monthly Digest: December

by Figaro Digital

It’s Christmas! Snow has (hopefully) fallen, the population of turkeys has hit record lows and we’ve all rinsed our stack of go-to festive DVDs. The marketing world doesn’t slow down at Christmas, though. Festive cheer and the upcoming January sales means brands can’t stop, so check out what the industry had in its stocking this December.

The Latest Social News

Facebook Expands Subscriptions

Facebook isn’t a huge fan of organic search, but it still needs to stay in touch with its publishers and content creators or they’ll take their business somewhere else. To propagate this, Facebook has been working on a subscription option to help publishers stay in touch with their audiences. Essentially, readers of a publication pay a subscription fee, and will be notified of stories immediately via the Facebook page, as well as unlocking articles stuck behind paywalls. These notifications can come through Facebook Messenger, which boosts engagements.

Facebook has announced that it’s adding 30 publishers to its already impressive list. These are used for Facebook to gather insights about the service, with an idea to add it to other publications and pages in future. The social media titan would like to incorporate the subscription model as an audience building and retention method, even outside of the avenue of journalism.

Importantly, Facebook is also integrating a Welcome Screen, which encourages users to follow a particular page. So far, the company has noted that the Welcome Screen increases the percentage of followers from 54 to 94 per cent, increasing articles read by 40 per cent.

Overall, the subscriptions model could be a way for marketers to diversify its Facebook advertising model in future.

Instagram To Introduce “On This Day” Feature

Borrowing heavily from its cousin Facebook, Instagram is implementing an “on this day” feature, allowing users to reminisce about old posts and Stories. The feature takes from Facebook’s year in reviews and reminders, which have a tendency to up engagements.

This makes a change from Instagram’s recent focus on shopping features, reverting back to its old focus on user memories, personalisation and experience.

Reddit Co-Founder Says Social Media “Has Peaked”

Alexis Ohanian co-founded Reddit 13 years ago at the age of 22, with the website now becoming a multi-billion dollar tech giant. Ohanian, who has now become a venture capitalist, has spelled the doom of social media, saying that “we’ve hit peak social—all social media as we know it: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.”

Ohanian sees the future coming from more community-based platforms, especially in community-led groups on WhatsApp and other communication platforms:

“What people seem to be clamouring for more and more is community, whether it’s going to private group chats on existing platforms, like WhatsApp groups, or going to new platforms that have emerged.”

Ohanian’s advice: look for start-ups

The Latest Google News

Geo-blocking Has Been Banned In The EU

Under the guise of improving the single market for consumers, the EU has banned geo-blocking, significantly damaging the potential and reach of local SEO. Geoblocking is defined as the automatic exclusion or redirection of users located in certain countries, identified by their IP addresses. So, for example, if you try to access the French Amazon in the UK, you’ll automatically be re-directed to the UK site.

In the EU’s view, this is bad for the consumer, as they could get a better deal in a different country, for example. However, this is another move by the Union against Google, who it sees as a major private stumbling block in its long-term ambition regarding the digital single-market.

In addition to the above, Google crawls your website using a US IP address. We’ll now have to be extra careful to make exceptions for Googlebot, as these only result in the US version of your website being indexed, while the international versions are totally ignored.

So, how does this affect marketers? Basically, we have another digital headache to get around when it comes to optimisation and local search. We’ll now have to find a way to prioritise local search without resorting to pop-ups – which are negative in Google’s view – to check a user’s nationality.

A lot of questions still need to be answered and, hopefully, sharpish.

Google Shuts Down Its Ill-Fated Messaging Service Allo

(Source: Google)

Google has failed in the messaging market once again with Allo, which it announced would be shutting down in March 2019.

The app, in the words of Head of the Communications group at Google, Anil Sabharwal, “as a whole has not achieved the level of traction we’d hoped for”. The app did little to differentiate itself from competitors such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, with users being left confused and lukewarm on the product.

Google, though, has learnt a lot of lessons from Allo, which it has seemed to incorporate in the RCS chat, which launched on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL this month. That chat platform will be carrier-based, giving Google an opportunity to provide competition for iMessage.

The Latest In Branding

Squarespace Turns Heads With New York Ad Campaign

(Source: Squarespace)

It’s difficult to brand your business when your business is, well, helping to brand other businesses. Squarespace, however, found a way to put this across with a campaign which focused on minimalism and inventive visualisation.

Squarespace used bold typefaces, unique angles and, surprisingly, an algorithm to find its new aesthetic:

“In our collaboration with DIA, we came up with this idea of an algorithm that could actually create serendipitous compositions,”

Squarespace explained, leading to an ad campaign that felt idiosyncratic and surprising.

Evaluating the campaign, Chief Creative Officer David Lee stated that the aim was to “figure out if someone could identify Squarespace purely from its motion.” As a result, they’ve created the most visually-appealing advertisement in New York at the busiest time of year.

Amazon’s Cashier-Free Go Store On Its Way To The UK

(Source: Amazon)

Amazon’s experimental cashier-free Go experience will be coming to London as part of an international rollout of the store. Targeted towards time-hungry office workers, the Go store has no cashiers and payment comes via scanning an app, which is linked to a customer’s Amazon account.

The store is advertised as having “no lines, no checkout” as the scanning and weighing process is incredibly fast. All shoppers have to do is scan a QR code on entrance, pick up their items and leave. A combination of AI, cameras and deep learning allow the store to track who is taking what from the store, allowing Amazon to bill the appropriate Amazon account.

If it kicks off, it could revolutionise the notion of shopping on the high street, pushing it close to the experience of online patronage.

Our Favourite Campaign Of The Month

(Source: Foodbank)

Our favourite campaign of the month comes from Hungry Puffs, a crowdfunding effort for food relief organisation Foodbank, based in Australia. As part of a response to the Australian government reducing support to organisations like Foodbank, the charity launched a new product: Hungry Puffs.

The cereal contains no calories, no fibre, no nutrients, all to reflect the daily breakfast habits of 100,000 West Australian children. The cereal is, in fact, just an empty box that costs $5, the price of 10 meals for 10 children. The proceeds of the sale go to Foodbank, meaning the box is an inventive twist on charity donations.

Bundled amongst other real cereals, the box is an ingenious way to raise awareness around the Christmas period, especially with its packaging and placement.

The campaign has become a sensation in Australia, with the Brand Agency Managing Director Nick Barnes stating:

“”It’s a cliché, but at this time of year we tend to spend far too much time thinking about ourselves and too little about how less fortunate members of the community are struggling. So we’ve created a product that can be bought in participating supermarkets – making the situation many unfortunate West Aussie kids have, a reality for all of us”.

More often than not, charities rely on well-placed TV adverts to drive up funds. Foodbank has done the opposite, opting for a well-placed reminder rather than a simple TV slot.

Get The Latest News

Please take a look at more of our articles for the latest news updates, guides, and opinion pieces, or discover our digital marketing events for more in-depth learning.