It appears that much like everyone else, the big players in the content marketing world took a little break over Christmas and New Years.
Not to worry though. As it’s been a good few weeks since our last Friday recap, there’s quite a bit to catch up on.
I’ve sectioned it out by company to provide brief summaries of their updates. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google Search and Google AdWords all underwent some changes since our last post in December.
Instagram – Ads in Stories, updated Business Tools and new ‘save’ function
Ads in Stories
It looks like the the ‘gram have their sights set on expanding their business customer base, with the introduction of more updates to help businesses grow their social media presence.
Instagram has announced that it will soon start showing ads between user’s Stories. They have a number of major brands on board that have been performing trials, and will open up the ads to all business accounts worldwide within the coming weeks.
The ads will appear between Stories of each user (not within them) and can be skipped by the user if they wish. The format of the ads can be photo or video, with a limit of 15 seconds for video ads. To purchase the ad space users will need to have Facebook’s Power Editor ad-buying tool installed, or seek them out through third party ad buying platforms that use Facebook’s Ads API.
Updated Business Tools
After revealing that one-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses, Instagram has also announced some upcoming changes to Business Tools that will help users analyse this information.
The Tools will now include analytics about Stories, including the reach, impressions, replies and exit rates for each individual story.
The combination of ads in Stories and the data to interpret user interest is very beneficial to brands that are using Instagram to reach their audience – and for those who aren’t! This information can help businesses create targeted and more relevant content for their prospects to drive conversion.
New ‘save’ function
On iOS devices businesses can now save their entire story from the past 24 hours to their camera roll. This will be helpful in conjunction with the updated Business Tools, for revisiting archived content to determine what worked well with audiences from metrics like views and engagement. Version 10.3 of Instagram must be installed to enable the saving function.
Other minor updates include slight changes to formatting, with all content attached to posts shifting to the left-hand side of the header. You may notice from now that the ‘Sponsored’ label appears underneath the profile name and an icon is visible on the right-hand side that displays options for learning more or sharing (on organic posts).
Facebook – Journalism Project and mid-roll advertising
The Journalism Project
Giving new meaning to the term social ‘media’, Facebook has introduced the Facebook Journalism Project.
The aim of the project is to ‘establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry’ by working with news sources to ensure accurate, relevant and timely news is delivered to Facebook users.
Facebook said that “we will be collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.”
There are three facets to the program – collaborative development of news products, training and tools for journalists, and training and tools for all users.
This project could be the result of some bad press that the company received recently, after letting artificial intelligence decide which trending stories should be top news and publishing ‘fake’ and inappropriate news as a result.
You can visit the Facebook Journalism Project Page for more information and updates.
Mid-roll video advertising
After we shared speculations that Facebook would explore its video publishing options, it appears they have decided to introduce revenue streams for video publishers.
According to Recode, the site will start testing a ‘mid-roll’ format that will play ads within video content on Facebook. After a user has been watching a video for 20 seconds Facebook will interrupt the content to play the advertisement.
The company will offer publishers the same revenue split as Youtube does, with 55% of sales going toward the owner of the content. The video content will need to be at least 90 seconds long to be eligible for a mid-roll ad, which means we may see an increase in video length and quality on the platform. Whether video content of that length can retain audience interest is another story.
While this is great news for publishers, it could potentially be a big turn-off for users. Most people already grow impatient with pre-roll ads that can’t be skipped, so if ads are going to be appearing in the middle of what they are watching they could potentially abandon the content altogether.
We’ll provide any further updates as they are announced.
Twitter – 360 live video and a final goodbye to Vine
360 live video
As a further addition to Twitter’s live streaming updates, the site has now introduced live 360 video in conjunction with Periscope.
The videos will be marked with a ‘LIVE 360’ label, and are currently only available for production by ‘interesting broadcasters’ and well-known personalities. Similar to how you would navigate viewing of a 360-degree image on Facebook, you can click and drag the video to see what is happening all around the person filming while the video runs live.
— Alex Pettitt (@Alexpettitt) December 28, 2016
For more information, check out the Periscope blog.
Confirmation of Vine closure
In other news, Twitter has finally confirmed the widely-mourned closure of Vine.
We reported the company’s decision to kill off Vine in October last year, with a suspected cause being its struggling user numbers from increasing competition.
A huge number of Vine users were shocked and saddened by the decision, and popular Viners were concerned about the potential loss of their videos.
A tweet from the official Vine account confirmed the closure date of January 2017, stating the app will then become ‘Vine Camera’.
Update – the Vine app will become the Vine Camera on Jan 17. Please download your Vines before then! More here: https://t.co/zrE1oDTx48
— Vine (@vine) January 4, 2017
An FAQ page on Vine states that “the Vine Camera will allow you to make 6.5 second looping videos and post them to Twitter, or save them to your camera roll in a logged out state. You will not be able to do any of the other things you can currently do with the Vine app.”
Users have until January 17 to download their existing Vines before they will be transferred to an archive, and can also connect their account to Twitter to avoid losing their followers.
For more information about what will happen to your Vine account, visit the FAQ page.
Google Search – Page speed in mobile indexing, mobile interstitial penalty and updated iOS app
Page speed as a ranking factor
In November last year we wrote about Google’s decision to swap to mobile first indexing. The change meant that sites would be ranked according to the markup and content of the mobile version as opposed to desktop.
In late December, Search Engine Roundtable noticed something interesting during a Google hangout chat with John Mueller, Google Webmaster trends analyst. Mueller indicated that page speed won’t be taken into account during the ranking process.
This could have an interesting effect on page ranking in Google, particularly for those sites that have changed to AMP HTML to increase their page speed. Google, however, never promised that AMP pages would be favoured in the ranking process, the focus instead being on improved user experience.
Mobile Interstitials Penalty
Another update that we wrote about last year was the upcoming penalty for mobile interstitials (pop-up ads).
The update was predicted to become live from January 10, and like clockwork, it began rolling out on that date. Google Webmasters John Mueller and Gary Illyes both confirmed the update going live via Twitter.
To refresh your memory, Google will penalise mobile pages with pop-ups that cover the majority of the page and/or affect the browsing experience. Not all interstitials will be affected by the penalty, with exemptions for pop-ups that are in place for a legal obligation, that are there to protect gated content or for those that do not cover the entire page.
To find out whether your pages might be affected you can read more here.
Updated iOS app
Version 22.0.0 of the Google iOS search app has been released, incorporating even more content elements into the platform.
According to the update summary in iTunes, these are the following changes:
- YouTube videos are available from cards right in the feed – users do not need to leave the app to view them
- Hotel rates and booking info can be viewed directly in the search results
- Restaurant menus can be opened from the search results, without opening another window
Google is clearly encouraging users to stay within the app, by eliminating any reason to leave for video viewing or hotel/restaurant research.
As the primary goal for many websites is to drive organic traffic to their site, this update could be troubling for businesses. While they are still getting user attention within the Google app, brands are losing the opportunity to further engage with their audience and guide them to conversions within their site.
It will be interesting to see whether many brands notice a drop off in mobile traffic once the update is widely adopted.
Google AdWords – New testing and experimentation guide
To help AdWords users with testing their ad campaigns, Google has introduced a guide for drafts and experiments with AdWords.
The guide, also known as ‘Google Best Practices’, helps advertisers to perform tests on their campaigns and interpret the results for best performance. The goal is to help AdWords users get the most out of their ads and ensure they are taking advantage of any proposed changes.
Google said that “Digital marketing is always evolving. It’s crucial to evolve your approach as well. This ongoing process of optimisation should be built upon a solid framework of testing and experimentation.”
There are three key topics within the guide: Deciding how and what to test, creating experiments that produce clear results and analysing results to choose experiment winners.
To access the guide visit the AdWords help page here. Happy campaigning!