Are we all ready for a new year? Have you started thinking about your resolutions? Well, it looks like all the digital industry leaders have been busy making announcements and rolling out new updates ready for a great start to 2022. Read the many updates from November down below:
New Microsoft Clarity Analytics Tool Launched
Initially launched in beta 2018, Microsoft Clarity has now been integrated with the Microsoft Advertising suite.
This free analytics tool is not as complex as Google Analytics or other analytics tools, but this makes it easy to use, plus it has some intriguing features for marketers to gain valuable insights. Microsoft Clarity offers website usage statistics, heatmaps, session recordings and can distinguish between real clicks and “rage clicks”.
It comes with a dashboard to show an overview of user engagement. By integrating with Google Analytics it can provide insights to identify user behaviours and frustrations. There are heatmaps to display user engagement, where visitors click, where they don’t, along with scroll depth. You can also see session recordings to see what works well, where improvements could be made and to watch how users use and navigate your site.
From November, new Universal Event Tracking tags will include Microsoft Clarity insights by default with all existing tags being migrated soon after that.
Snapchat Launches New AR Shopping Showcase As Part Of Its Holiday Season Strategy
Snapchat is expanding its eCommerce influence with a major showcase of its evolving AR tools, leveraging Black Friday deals, marking the beginning of the final shopping push of the year.
Snapchat has partnered with a range of big-name brands like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Hollister, Under Armour, Verizon and Walmart to provide AR-focused shopping experience – ‘Snap Holiday Market’.
Accessible via the Lens Carousel in the app, the integrations will offer dedicated product showcases, including interactive and Try-On element, along with up front branding for each partner business – making the shopping experience more immersive for the audience.
Instagram Adds Option To Delete Individual Posts From Carousels
Instagram has announced the addition of a much-requested option – the capability to delete individual posts from within a previously uploaded carousel.
Users will now be able to remove specific posts from the series. After you’ve uploaded a carousel of images and/or videos, you can rejig images just by tapping on the three dots menu, selecting ‘Edit’, then tapping on the small trash icon in the top left of the image/video that you want to remove.
Instagram Launches Live Test Of Longer Videos In Stories
Some users are now able to post 60-second videos in Stories, without them being split up into 15-second segments.
In an official statement, Instagram states: “The ability to create longer Stories posts comes highly requested by our community. We’re excited to be testing 60-second Stories so that people can create and view Stories with fewer interruptions.”
Phone Calls Can Now Be Counted As Conversions Through Google Ads
Google Ads account managers using location extensions in their copy now have a new conversion metric to track-phone calls. Google rolled out this change recently when they revealed that calls through location(s) extensions can be tracked if you’re taking advantage of account-level call reporting.
Google is also adding call and message reporting to the main extensions tab in Google Ads so advertisers can see how individual extensions are driving results from phone calls and messages.
No More Dislikes On Youtube
Youtube’s dislike button has always been a question in terms of what kind of an impact it had on the content creators and if it was valuable or not. In their recent announcement, Youtube have said that they’re now making the dislike counts private in order to protect content creators from harassment and use the dislike button for feedback purposes only.
You’ll still be able to see and use the dislike button on videos, however, the dislike counts won’t be visible to the viewers. Creators will be able to check how many dislikes their content has received to be able to get feedback and measure the reaction to their videos.
We know that a lot of viewers actually use the dislike count to decide whether they want to watch that content or not. Are you one of these viewers? If so, let us know how this update makes you feel!
Google Drops Deadline For Mobile-First Indexing
Google has made no secret of the fact that its goal is to move to mobile-first indexing. However, after a couple of delayed deadlines, firstly September 2020 and then March 2021, Google is now leaving “the timeline open for the last steps of mobile-first indexing” according to their company blog.
Google wants to switch to mobile-first indexing because the balance between mobile and desktop is shifting ever further towards mobiles. Since 2017, over 50% of all web traffic has been on mobile phones and this is especially true in developing countries where computers are expensive and mobile phones are more affordable. Google is also the primary developer of Android which powers around 73% of mobile phones and pocket-sized devices.
Most websites will have already moved to mobile-first, this delay is mainly to support companies whose “sites were facing unexpectedly difficult challenges” in their move to mobile-first. As these sites make the necessary changes they will gradually be switched over.
If you are unsure whether the site you are managing is indexed mobile-first, you can check this in Google Search Console, either on the settings page or in the URL inspection tool.
WordPress 5.9 Will No Longer Be Released In December 2021
WordPress have already released two major versions of their platform in 2021 and had planned for a third update to be released in December. However, core contributors have been raising concerns that “too many things are just not ready” in version 5.9, saying that the release was being “rush[ed] in a dangerous way”.
Following this, WordPress have now announced that the release of version 5.9 will now be delayed to 25th January 2022 to get key components ready for launch.
WordPress 5.9 contains some important upgrades to Full Site Editing using the Gutenberg block interface. Block editing is considered to be the future of WordPress and when fully functional, the Gutenberg block-based interface will allow a publisher to edit every aspect of a website through an easier to use visual interface. It will also be helpful for developers to have a single tool rather than relying on a variety of different plugins to provide a visual web building experience.
As version 5.9 contains significant updates, it is important that all components are working properly, so WordPress either had the option to delay the release until core contributors were happy or to put out a cut-down version and save the changes to block editing for a future version. We are sure that many WordPress publishers are happy to be only waiting an extra month for these updates rather than having them delayed until version 6.
UK Retailers Have Their Biggest Ever Black Friday Event
Data coming in from card issuers and banks suggest that this could be the biggest-ever Black Friday sales day, with consumers spending almost £9.2bn, a 15% increase in 2020. Nationwide said that their customers’ spending was 26% higher than last year and up 24% on 2019. Barclaycard also reported that payments were up 23% in 2020 and 2.4% higher than 2019, but they cautioned that supply problems have meant that fewer big-ticket items like consumer electronics will be sold than in previous years.
The shortage of consumer electronics appears to have been offset by better sales of clothing and sport and leisure items. Beauty and fashion have been high performers according to retailers like John Lewis and Boots, with the latter reporting its busiest hour of online trading all year, taking three orders a second.
Initially considered to be an American event by many UK retailers, Black Friday has been fully embraced over the last couple of years, making standing out from the competition harder than ever. For practical marketing ideas to maximise your Black Friday exposure, check out this recent blog article from SocialB.
Amazon To Stop Accepting Visa Credit Cards
Visa and Mastercard dominate retail card spending in the UK, with 98% of all retail card spending coming through these two networks. Retailers have always had to accept that offering their customers the convenience of card payments, requires paying a percentage to these companies but Amazon is not a typical retailer.
Amazon has announced that “Starting 19 January 2022, we will unfortunately no longer accept Visa credit cards issued in the UK, due to the high fees Visa charges for processing credit card transactions.”
Although Amazon has not been specific about which fees they object to, the root of the problem is likely to be cross-border interchange fees. While Britain was in the EU, these fees were capped at 0.3% but since Brexit, Visa and Mastercard have increased the rate to 1.5%. Interestingly, Amazon has only decided to stop accepting Visa credit cards, which is possibly because Mastercard supplies Amazon’s own branded credit card.
Some commentators are suggesting that Amazon is attempting to start a race for a new payment method that could end up with them moving away from card payments altogether. Advances in open banking and deregulation means that Amazon could take payments directly from a customer’s bank account, cutting out the card companies completely.
Credit cards were not built for online commerce but because of their ubiquity, digital checkouts have necessarily included them but now Amazon and other large retailers are undoubtedly looking into alternative, digitally-native payments. Even if Visa decides that they need Amazon more than Amazon needs them and blink first, the writing could still be on the wall for traditional payment methods.
Sainsbury’s Has Adopted Amazon’s Cashierless Retail Technology
Londoners may have had the opportunity to visit one of the Amazon Fresh stores and experienced the ‘Just Walk Out’ cashierless payment system. For those who haven’t, Just Walk Out is similar to the Scan and Shop service offered by many supermarkets but with one key difference – you don’t need to scan your items. Just Walk Out uses overhead cameras, weight sensors and deep-learning technology to detect what shoppers take from or return to the shelves.
Shoppers scan a QR code when they enter the store and go around the store, taking what they want. The technology automatically detects when items are taken from the shelves or put back and keeps track of your items in a virtual basket. When you have done your shopping you walk out and your shopping is charged to your Amazon account.
Sainsbury’s have become the first international third party retailer to adopt Just Walk Out technology in a new ‘SmartShop Pick & Go’ store in Holborn Circus in London. Amazon’s technology has been integrated with the Sainsbury’s Smart Shop mobile app, allowing customers to scan when they enter the shop and pay without needing to go to a checkout.
The SmartShop Pick & Go is the first time that Amazon has allowed a business customer to use their own app to manage store entry and exit as well as receipts and payments. This enables Sainsbury’s to leverage their existing systems, and allows their customers to use the Sainsbury’s app that they are already used to.
Is Amazon’s ‘In Stock Head Start’ Making Retailers’ Lives More Complicated?
With In-Stock Head Start, Amazon’s merchants can sell their products before they arrive at the Fulfilled By Amazon warehouse. It makes out of stock products discoverable on Amazon and makes products available to buy once the shipment is headed to the fulfilment centre and Amazon is confident about its arrival.
On paper, this sounds great for sellers, but it doesn’t take into account the primary reason that many people buy from Amazon, fast delivery times. We imagine that many potential customers will be put off if a product takes longer to arrive than 1 or 2 days and will browse for an alternative that will arrive quicker.
This is potentially bad for retailers, Amazon is still allowing ads to drive people to these listings which could lead to conversion rates for these items falling drastically. This in turn will have a negative effect on campaign performance and create significant wasted spend.
Some retailers are undoubtedly seeing benefits from In-Stock Head Start, especially those who have a very fast turnaround supply chain, but for others it may be worth running experiments to test whether your campaigns perform better with this feature turned off.