This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are the show notes for the Brave Ad World Podcast. Each story is discussed at a deeper level on the podcast.
Tech Firms Work to Appease Publishers
Tech firms are working to make publishers happy, so they distribute content on their platforms. This week, Apple announced a test that would allow publishers to serve ads in Apple News through Google’s DoubleClick. Many publishers already leverage DoubleClick, so this test would make it easier for them to implement campaigns on their sites across other tech, which in this case means Apple News. This is intended to make monetization easier, but it comes with some risks to Apple.
It means opening up the doors a bit to Google, which is less privacy-focused than Apple.
Speaking of Google, it announced that it is ending its first-click free policy. That policy made subscription-funded publishers allow visitors to see at least three articles free if they wanted their content to show up in search. That policy is being lifted to let publishers decide how much content they want to let users view for free, which is being embraced by publishers who were frustrated that Google was dictating how their businesses should run. The Wall Street Journal went so far as to pull out of the first click free policy, leading to a 94% plunge in Google News site traffic.
It’s a publishers’ market, and platforms are beginning to see that. While Facebook has taken a more draconian approach to how it deals with publishers, giving in only a bit here and there, Apple News and Google appear to be making some more significant shifts. That matters.
Publishers and their content is what keeps users coming back time and time again. Without the publishers, services like Apple News have no reason to exist. This is a shift. Previously, publishers were basically following the rules they were told to. Now, they’re the ones making demands, and tech platforms are starting to listen.
Amazon Launching Its Own Delivery Service
Amazon is in the process of testing a new delivery service that would cut out UPS and FedEx from the two-day delivery process and make Amazon the fulfiller of online orders. The announcement sent stocks for UPS and FedEx down, but it was not unexpected. Amazon’s been testing the program for some time.
It makes sense for Amazon to control the final part of the exchange it has with its customers. Given its size and scale, managing fulfillment would certainly be a major cost saver for Amazon.
The move certainly emphasizes Amazon’s power in the market among retailers, and they know it. Lately, retailers have been going after Amazon in partnership with Google Express. Needless to say, Amazon’s continuing to grow more dominant in the category, but it finally seems there’s some collaboration among retailers to fight back.
Instagram Stories Can Be Cross-Posted to Facebook
Following a test in Portugal, Facebook is adding a new option for Instagram Stories that allows users to cross-post their Instagram Stories on Facebook Stories as well.
The feature’s only available to people, not brands as they don’t have access to Facebook Stories yet. The update is intended to decrease the extra work required to manually post to both Instagram Stories as well as Facebook Stories, if users so choose to do that. That really isn’t the case, however.
Stories on Facebook haven’t seen anything near the success of Instagram Stories, but this move certainly makes Facebook Stories a potentially more attractive option. The problem with Facebook Stories is people don’t really use it, but allowing users to cross-post from Instagram to Facebook as well helps get content on Facebook Stories, which may bring more uses into the feature.
Users have shown a willingness to engage with Facebook Stories, but this move is meant to give the feature more prominence. What was once Snapchat’s most defining feature has become central to Facebook’s plans for its products.
News Quick Hits
- Facebook is working to right the ship after revelations that Russian accounts launched ads containing misinformation to influence the 2016 US Presidential election. This week Facebook announced the hiring of 1,000 people who will be reviewing ads on the social network for their content and targeting. Beyond that, Facebook will be implementing more requirements to run ads on Facebook, including the ability for users to review all ads a business is running from their Facebook Pages. Facebook’s steps are intended to implement some self-regulation before federal regulations are considered, and they underscore the importance of human oversight over automated.
- Yahoo’s revealed that the 2013 cyberattack was actually worse than the 1 billion compromised accounts it reported initially. It’s now been revealed that attackers managed to gain access to all 3 billion Yahoo accounts. Every single person with a Yahoo account as of August 2013 was included in the breach.
- Instagram added a new interactive sticker to Stories that allow users to poll people. The stickers create two options for users to choose between by tapping one of the stickers. From there, they can see how the results for the poll are looking in real time. Instagram also added in a new color picker option to make it easier to to draw with specific colors, similar to the Photoshop eyedrops tool. Lastly, Instagram launched an alignment tool to hep users better position stickers in their Stories.
- Google is testing an offer to publishers that would give them additional aggregate data about site visitors. The test is called Insight Engine Project, and it provides age, gender, relevant search history, shopping history and general purchase behaviors for site visitors. Google’s pitch is that it helps publishers serve more relevant ads to their audiences.
- As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, the social network is testing an additional information button in articles shared in a user’s News Feed. The button brings additional information from other sources like trending articles related to the subject, a Wikipedia entry about the publisher and other information that provides additional context for the story being shared.
- Google announced a slew of new devices this week, including new versions of its Pixel phones—the Pixel 2 and the Pixel XL. Both phones are water resistant and boast incredible cameras, and neither has a headphone jack. Users can activate Google Assistant by squeezing the edges of the phones. The second device was the Google Home Mini, which adds Google Assistant skills to any Chromcast Audio-capable speaker in someone's home. This is meant to extend Google Home capabilities throughout a house. The third device was the Google Home Max, which is a far more powerful Google Home with much better sound and voice recognition, enabling it to interact differently with different members of a household. The Google Pixelbook is the next device, and it is a high-end Chromebook that also works as a tablet. Finally, there’s the Daydream View, Google’s VR headset, which includes new colors as well as 250 VR games built for Daydream-capable phones.
- Instant messaging service AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is shutting down on December 15. While AIM was incredibly popular for a time, it’s been eclipsed by services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.