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.
Facebook Announces Cryptocurrency
Facebook has partnered with 27 other firms, ranging from Uber to MasterCard, to launch a new cryptocurrency called Libra. Libra has been in the works for more than year, and the main difference between it and other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is that Libra is backed by government currencies. This allows Libra to have less fluctuation.
The currency will allow Facebook to compete with the likes of WeChat in Asia by facilitating transactions, especially across borders.
Libra will be run by a nonprofit entity in Switzerland called the Libra Association. The Libra Association will be independent of Facebook, but Facebook will have voting power through a subsidiary called Calibra. So if that’s the case, what’s in it for Facebook and the other companies backing Libra?
The stated goal of the currency is to facilitate transactions. Users and businesses will be able to use Libra to make payments on Facebook to friends, buy ads and buy products. But other companies backing the currency like Uber and Spotify will be able to give new users who don’t have access to other currency the option of paying for their services using Libra. Libra essentially provides a currency option where there otherwise wouldn’t be one, enabling companies to have more users because those users have more ways to conduct transactions.
All of that being said, this all needs to be approved by regulators, which are currently in the process of investigating Facebook, so we’ll see how that goes. Libra also needs banks willing to hold the money that backs it, so this is still early days for the cryptocurrency.
This is a diversification play for Facebook as it, initially at least, will have little to do with its social networking products. But for Libra to really take off, it has some challenges that are inherent to Facebook, the biggest of which is trust. Facebook has had a sketchy track record when it comes to protecting its users’ privacy, and financial information is especially privacy sensitive.
Facebook’s doing everything it can to distance itself from the currency though the Libra Association and its representative group Calibra. That distance may be enough to give users and potential users confidence that their privacy is protected.
The other challenge is the cryptocurrency industry is rife with skepticism. Facebook and other major tech players coming into it, however, may lend it some credibility that’s lacked in the past. That vote of confidence plus the fact that Libra is backed by government currency may help Libra overcome the skepticism that’s plagued the category to date.
YouTube Rolls Out AR for Makeup Tutorials
YouTube is adding augmented reality features to some of its videos called virtual try-on. The AR feature is designed to let viewers of beauty bloggers try on virtual makeup while they watch it being applied by these beauty influencers. It also creates an advertising opportunity for makeup companies to promote their products.
The feature works using a viewer’s phone camera. From there they can apply virtual lipstick, for example, and even proceed to purchase it. This feature is launching in conjunction with Google’s three-dimensional display ads that run on mobile to let users do virtual try-ons of products like New Balance shoes.
The feature makes a lot of sense and is a smart use of the YouTube platform. Users go there for a lot of reasons, and education is a big one. If users can learn from experts, try on their own and then buy, that’s a tool for marketers to move consumers all the way through the purchase journey in one place. Moving beyond make-up, though, these tools create an engagement mechanism that invites users to interact with the advertising. The fact that this ad unit is being paired with content users are already interested in helps ensure their propensity to do that.
YouTube May Remove All Kids Content from Its Platform
YouTube is currently weighing the move to transition all content starring kids from YouTube to YouTube Kids in an effort to stop predatory behavior on its platform. It’s just an idea at tis stage, but it comes at at time in which more and more reports are surfacing of innocuous content on YouTube being viewed with predatory intent. This was also announced amidst a FTC investigation into Google’s struggles in protecting children.
The challenge with moving all of that content to YouTube Kids is logistical. When 500 hours of content are added to YouTube every minute, how will it decide what to transition and what to leave alone? It also remains to be seen just what content would classify as needing to be moved. Would Charlie Bit My Finger move to YouTube Kids?
YouTube Kids has its own set of problems with content making its way onto the platform that ranges from disturbing to outright inappropriate, especially for kids.
YouTube’s in a really tough spot, but it’s also the spot facing every tech platform out there that’s monetizing user generated content. When you open your platform up to the public, that content will reflect the good, bad and in-between found across humanity. That’s an issue Facebook has had to contend with this week as well as stories have surfaced on the dirty business that is content moderation. It’s unclear if this is a problem YouTube can fix, but it has pressure on two fronts now—the regulatory front and the PR front.
News Quick Hits
Snap is pitching advertisers on Snap Select, a premium video offering, similar to Facebook’s in-stream reserve and Google Preferred products. The placements are selected by Snapchat to ensure brand safety. The biggest difference between it and Facebook’s offering is the price. Snapchat is charging between $10 and $11 CPM for the placement, which is about half of what Facebook charges.
Amazon is rebranding its ad-supported video service IMDb Freedive to IMDb TV. The service gives users access to a library of ad-supported on-demand video content. The goal of the rebrand is to provide “a clearer understanding of the service...” IMDb TV is different than Prime video, which gives Amazon Prime subscribers access to a catalogue of on-demand commercial free content as well as Amazon Originals for $120 a year.
Pinterest has a new Complete the Look visual search tool that recommends products and pins related to the pin being viewed. When someone is viewing a pin , pins related to the content of the scene are displayed. So if the pin is of someone on a beach, sunglasses, sandals and beach hats may be displayed that go with the environment. Or if the pin is of a living room, pins of lamps and tables that would work well in a room are displayed. That’s the power of the technology Pinterest is employing. It’s not just showing similar pins, it’s showing pins that complement what a user is looking at.
The NBA is launching NBA Last 90, a new platform that will stitch together highlights of a game and create a simulated fourth quarter of a basketball game. Viewers will then be able to bet on the algorithmically-generated game. The service is launching in Europe and will become available in select U.S. markets when the next NBA season gets started. It’s tapping into the growing virtual sports betting trend.