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.
Pinterest Rolling Out Updated Business Pages
Pinterest is continuing to expand aggressively into the commerce space with the rollout of updated business pages that will feature a new “shop” section.
This section will have a comprehensive collection of products offered by a brand or retailer. Users can click on the products featured to be taken to the brand’s website to complete a transaction. Transactions are not being conducted on Pinterest.
This is an updated take on Pinterest’s buy button that’s been available for some time but has been difficult for retailers to implement. Pinterest wants to “make every pin, and the products inside of a pin, make those all shoppable.” Along with this new shop section, Pinterest plans to offer more personalization for users visiting a retailer’s page.
If Amazon has taught brands anything, it taught them to be wary of platforms that serve as both the retailer and the marketplace. Pinterest aims to do away with that approach by letting brands showcase their products on a destination where they’re naturally inclined to be looking for inspiration, while allowing retailers to conduct transactions on their own platforms.
It is important for brands to think about how their products come across on Pinterest, which is much more like a catalog than it is anything else. The products that perform best are staged in rooms in images that are Pin-ready. While the shop pages on Pinterest are likely appealing to any online retailer, activating effectively in the channel may mean doing a reevaluation of product imagery.
Google Launches Play Pass
The services game is heating up in the hardware world of all places. Following last week’s Apple event, which included the launch of Apple Arcade, a subscription gaming service that offers users access to over a hundred games for $4.99 a month, Google introduced Google Play Pass. Play Pass does things a bit differently than Apple. It gives Android users access to more than 350 games and apps. The apps and games are ad- and microtransaction-free, and access costs a very familiar $4.99 per month.
Google took Apple’s offering, which is focused only on games, and raised them non-game apps. The service solves a couple of business challenges for Google. First, it lets them compete with Apple’s new offering. Second, it encourages people to download and try paid apps on Android. It’s trying to get Android users to subscribe to a bundle because few Android users are paying for apps in general. The bundle may do that.
The subscription model seems to be playing out everywhere, and right now we’re seeing it peak in the video streaming category. These plays by Apple and Google, however, show the next great subscription surge may be coming for apps.
Amazon Puts Echo Everywhere
Is There an Echo in Here? Yes. Probably.
Amazon held an event this week that included new Echo hardware and Alexa integrations. The announcements included Echo Buds, which integrate your favorite voice assistant into Bose noise-reduction headphones for $130.
The voice assistant is also making its way into Alexa-enabled smart glasses. Yes, glasses for your face will have the voice assistant technology built into them, and before you get too creeped out, there’s no camera.
Amazon even has the Echo Loop, a smart ring with a microphone, haptic alerts and a speaker.
Those were some of the more surprising reveals. Echo is also getting an updated smart speaker, as well as a new Echo Show. An Echo alarm clock and night light (dubbed the Echo Glow) are also going to be available soon.
Amazon clearly sees the potential for voice, and they’re prepared to go all-in. They’re continuing to lead the category by showing just how far voice can go and making sure other services have to keep up. Alexa is the most prolific voice assistant, and Amazon plans to make it the most pervasive.
News Quick Hits
Facebook announced that tens of thousands of apps were recently suspended as part of its ongoing review of platforms accessing personal data. The move is part of an app review process implemented by Facebook in 2018 following the Cambridge Analytica personal data scandal. Initially Facebook flagged 400 developers for abuse and proceeded to limit API access. It’s good that Facebook has such a process in place, but it is concerning that so many apps remained on the platform since Cambridge Analytica.
Apparently, Stories have a limit on where they can live, and Facebook found it. After extending Stories into Facebook Groups last December, they discontinued on September 26. All existing group stories will be deleted.
Facebook acquired Servicefriend, a startup that specializes in creating customer service bots. Signs point to Servicefriend being somehow involved with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, although how this will work is unclear.
Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law received a major decision this week in the favor of Google. The law gives people control over what information is available about them online, which means services like Google can be forced to delete links from their search results. The new ruling, however, limits the geographic reach of the law, so search engines like Google cannot be forced to delete links globally, just regionally.
Snap has been studying Defense Against the Dark Arts with a project running for some time called “Project Voldemort.” The project focuses on documenting Facebook’s efforts to undermine startups that may compete with Facebook. Project Voldemort has captured instances such as Facebook discouraging Instagram influencers from promoting their Snapchat accounts. Basically, Snap is documenting all of the things the FTC might need to put an antitrust Avada Kedavra killing curse on Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook, it acquired CTRL-Labs for between $500 million and $1 billion. The startup specializes in letting humans control digital avatars with their brains, which Facebook hopes to use for AR or VR glasses. Nothing to see here… just Facebook accessing brains.
Snapchat announced that it will allow video ads on its platform to be up to three minutes long, a pretty generous extension from the ten-second cap that existed before. The videos are still skippable, so as with most things, make ads as short as they need to be to get the point across. But along with these extended ads, Snapchat is launching a new targeting method that will let advertisers target ads to users who show a greater likelihood of viewing long content. Lastly, Snapchat is making its unskippable six-second ad format interactive by allowing for the “swipe up” option to be included. Now, the ads will be forced view and allow for a response from users.
Facebook-owned Oculus held a major event featuring a slew of announcements. First, we have Facebook Horizon, a new virtual world that features avatars of Oculus users hanging out in a virtual world. Second, Oculus Quest is going to be able to connect via USB to computers with a feature called Oculus Link, enabling more power-intensive apps to run on the device that’s typically standalone. Oculus Quest will also be getting an experimental feature that tracks users’ hands, enabling gameplay and interaction without controllers.