We know February is the shortest month in the year but the digital industry leaders must have taken this ‘shortest month of the year’ thing as a challenge because we have seen a ridiculous amount of updates, so without further delay, here’s our digital round up for February:
Microsoft Advertising Now Available in 29 More Countries
On 14th February 2022, Microsoft announced that its advertising platform will be available in 29 more countries in Europe and Africa. With this launch, Microsoft Advertising’s reach will increase by 41 million customers, adding 400 million monthly searches on Microsoft and partner sites, according to the company.
The new markets include
Albania, Andorra, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey, and the Vatican City.
With this launch, Microsoft Advertising will also be supporting the following languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Maltese, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Turkish.
With this expansion, each new market will have access to the following Microsoft Advertising features: text ads, Responsive Search Ads, Dynamic Search Ads, Shopping Campaigns, audience targeting (age, demographic, location, device), remarketing, Dynamic Remarketing, automated bidding (maximum clicks, maximum conversions, target cost per acquisition (CPA), and target return on ad
spend (ROAS)), Universal Event Tracking (UET), and Conversion Tracking.
Advertisers looking to promote and sell internationally will find this expansion by Microsoft Advertising appealing.
As per the company announcement, this is the first wave of a global expansion program for Microsoft Advertising that will feature new markets launching throughout 2022 in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Google’s Privacy Sandbox, including the Topics API sets sights on Android
Last month we highlighted Google’s new Topics approach to replace cookies. Now Google has announced that Google’s Privacy Sandbox, as well as the Topics API, is coming to Android.
Google is currently requesting feedback for its initial design proposals with an expectation to launch in beta by the end of the year and testing being scaled up in 2023. Developers are now able to review the initial proposals and pass on feedback via the Android developer site[https://developer.android.com/design-for-safety/ads].
There is growing excitement with App companies being asked to collaborate with Google. With Anthony Chavez, VP, product management, Android security & privacy at Google adding “We intend to apply the principles of our commitments to the CMA [the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority] with our web efforts to Android as well,”
Google Ads Due to Roll Out Update to Automated Extensions
Google has announced 3 changes to the automated extensions due to be rolled out in March which will affect sitelink, callout and structured snippet extensions. According to Google’s research, not only do ad extensions provide further ways for users to engage but can produce up to 20% higher Click-Through Rate (CTR).
The new improvements from Google are aimed at making management simpler.
Automated Extension Eligibility
Automated extensions will be eligible to show alongside manually added extensions for sitelink, callout and structured snippet extensions. Previously if manually created extensions were present then automated extensions were not eligible. This change will allow ad creators to take up more space on the SERP with a combination of manual and automated extensions.
Automated Extension Reporting
The reporting capabilities will also be updated which will allow easier management of campaigns. On the Extensions page of Google Ads, extensions will be viewable at an individual level with users able to pause or remove automated extensions. Automated Extensions are clearly indicated in the Source column.
Manual Extension Viewability
Previously ad group level extensions would prevent Campaign or Account level extensions from being eligible to show. Now, these higher-level extensions are eligible to show if Google’s machine learning algorithm predicts an improvement in performance. Just be sure to review your extensions at Campaign or Account level if your Ad Group level extensions are particularly specific.
Google Ads phases out modified broad match keywords
Google Ads has long treated search keywords in four different ways, broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match and exact match. These different match types describe how close a search term needs to be to an ad’s keyword before the ad is triggered.
As of 18th February, modified broad match keywords no longer exist as a separate category. It will still be possible to create broad match modifier keywords until July by adding the ‘+’ symbol to the beginning of the word, however, these keywords will be treated by Google’s algorithms as phrase match keywords.
Google states that they are “bringing the best of broad match modifier into phrase match. As a result, phrase match will expand to cover additional broad match modifier traffic, while continuing to respect word order when it’s important to the meaning.”
The expanded phrase match type does not cover everything that was previously covered by broad match modifier and phrase match. This will bring in some unpredictability, especially for ad account managers who have campaigns that rely on modified broad match.
This change brings the risk of small variations in the way your ad will be served. Now is a great time to check that your ads are not losing impressions and clicks as this could have an impact on your conversion rate.
Instagram takes a stand against recycled content
In a recent best practice post on its @creators account, Instagram strongly encouraged users to create their videos directly in Reels. It was made clear that reposting from other platforms such as TikTok would mean that the content will be less ‘discoverable’.
Reels that are mostly covered by text or have a logo or watermark will not be recommended as frequently. Creators also need to make sure that the video is not blurry and does not have a border if they would like to increase the chance of their content being promoted and seen.
The growth of TikTok has seen Instagram pivot heavily towards video content as it moves to compete with the rapidly rising platform. Further guidelines, such as recommending vertical videos and encouraging its users to create ‘fun’ and ‘entertaining’ content such as dance trends, shows where Instagram sees its future.
Many content creators, especially those intending to monetise their content, will want to be on as many platforms as possible. Instagram does not want to be the place where users advertise their TikTok channel and these changes to the discovery algorithm aim to encourage more unique content made within Instagram.
Meta drops out of top 10 most valuable companies
A few years back, Facebook looked unassailable. Facebook the platform was (and still is) the largest social media platform by a clear margin and Facebook the parent company was snapping up companies like Instagram and WhatsApp, positioning themselves in new markets and dominating the world of social media.
However, as of late things look considerably less rosy for the recently rebranded Meta. A growing emphasis on user privacy, has hit Meta’s advertising revenue hard. Following the company reporting a $10 billion loss due to their investment in building the ‘metaverse’, Meta saw a 26% or $240 billion drop in the company’s value in a single day. This is the largest ever corporate wipe-out in US history, beating a record previously set by Facebook in 2018.
While this fall caused Meta to drop out of the top 10 most valuable companies in the world temporarily, at the time of writing, Meta is currently back in the top 10 at position 8, albeit with a significantly reduced market cap of $594bn.
This drop should not significantly affect digital advertisers. Meta’s social platforms remain a valuable channel for placing an advert in front of a well-refined and specific demographic.
LinkedIn debuts its own podcast network
LinkedIn is dabbling deeper into the podcast world. It’s debuting a podcast network that features in-house shows from the LinkedIn News team as well as programs from prominent industry figures.
The podcast network links into LinkedIn’s other products — such as newsletters, live events, videos and posts to keep conversations going outside of the shows.
Creators and listeners will be able to check out the podcasts on LinkedIn and submit a request to publish their podcast series. To increase visibility, the shows will also be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms.
Meta Launches Facebook Reels to All Users
Expanding its Short-Form Video Push, Meta is launching Reels for all users globally.
With Facebook Reels now providing the capacity to reach another 2.9 billion potential subscribers, that’s a big pull, which may still see Meta’s short-form options become a bigger consideration.
Facebook’s also testing more direct monetization tools for Reels, including the expansion of its Reels Play bonus program for top-performing clips, and Stars tipping within the Reels experience.
As elaborated by Meta:
“We’re expanding tests of Facebook Reels Overlay Ads to all creators in the US, Canada and Mexico, and to more countries in the coming weeks. We’re starting with two formats: banner ads that appear as a semi-transparent overlay at the bottom of a Facebook Reel”
Instagram introduces ‘Like’ feature for stories
Meta-owned Instagram has introduced a new way to interact with Instagram Stories: You can now send a “like” response.
Previously, you could only respond to a story by sending the creator a direct message or an emoji reaction – and both of those responses would clutter up the creator’s messages inbox. Not now.
With the addition of likes, Instagram is not only giving users more ways to interact with stories, but it’s hoping to make creators’ inboxes more manageable.
Wave is to Become the First Fully Virtual DJ in the Metaverse
The car company Kia is set to collaborate with the first entirely VR-based DJ called Wave. Kia’s long-term brand message is to create “movement that inspires” and Wave will play music that’s intended to induce a “flow-state” in the listener. A flow state is a mental zone of creativity, intense focus, and uplifted consciousness. Wave uses a digital instrument called “move.ment” that has been developed by the production company DaHouse, mixing a range of nature sounds to produce “pink noise”. With the future of electric cars on the horizon, Kia is claiming its place as a forward-thinking, creative brand embracing the futuristic metaverse as a focal point in its digital marketing strategy.
Tailwind Releases Report on Design Trends for 2022
Tailwind has released its report on the digital design trends for 2022, including template packages to use within the Tailwind app. They have reviewed over 70 sources across social media and graphic design to forecast the four major trend predictions for the year ahead. Tailwind’s mission is to promote user-friendly design tools for social media influencers and brands using custom colour palettes, fonts and template packs. The four design trend themes are as follows:
- Jet Set: Promoting a retro feel of the travel industry and reflecting consumers’ hopes of freedom and exploring the world again, with an intertwining sense of nostalgia and possibilities.
- Vivid Dreams: An upbeat, energetic and psychedelic colour palette to induce optimism and joy. With a wistful and playful nature drawing from the 90s.
- All Organic: Inspired by impressionism and celebrating the natural world of earthy colours, flowers and foliage.
- Look to the Future: The metaverse is growing and the futuristic style is developing with abstract shapes, radiant gradients and innovative dimensions.
Digital World Summons Support for Ukraine
As the world watches on in dismay at the situation in Ukraine, the digital world once again exhibits its possibilities as a force for good. Content creators such as Olia Hercules (@oliahercules) and Nataliya (@experienceukraineandbeyond), are not only able to share real-time updates from the situation in Ukraine but they are also fundraising and promoting Ukrainian culture to humanise the people stuck in this awful war. Choose Love (@chooselove) have fundraised nearly £800k over the last few days to support the refugees and displaced people as a result of this invasion.
Several digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Google have placed sanctions on Russian state-funded media to prevent them from receiving funds. People may feel powerless as they observe the developments in Ukraine, but there are multiple ways to take action, build community and offer support online. The Global Citizen has assembled a number of ways to meaningfully support Ukraine including the best organisations to donate to, media outlets to follow, and the ways to help different communities in Ukraine such as LGBTQI+ youth.