“Not viewing your email marketing as content is a mistake.” – Chris Baggott
Our digital marketing news roundup delivers the most essential updates and news straight to your inbox.
In this digital marketing news roundup, we cover the world’s worst spam support ISPs, Facebook unintentionally uploading the email contacts of 1.5 million newcomers and the reason Canada is taking Facebook to court, a social network’s decision to reduce the sense of competition among users, a new mobile layout for Google Custom Search, customising your GMB URL, an add-on that blends advertising data from across multiple channels into Google Sheets, Facebook’s newest bid strategy and the difference between two very important data privacy regulations.
Did you hear that a security flaw in a leading e-commerce platform revealed the revenue and traffic data of thousands of stores? And, is it possible for a Microsoft patch to work against anti-malware software?
In this article, we’ll cover the most recent digital marketing news on the following topics:
- Email: cyber criminal hijacked a prominent email security firm’s brand name and which major email provider became the first to support two new security standards.
- Social Media: another unintentional Facebook data breach and Instagram hiding like counts.
- Search Engines: GSC reporting still not working after indexing bug was fixed and vulnerability in IE allowing hackers to steal Windows users’ data.
- PPC and Ads: Facebook’s Ads Manager is getting a new interface and AdStage joins the add-on game.
- Other stuff: a Shopify API security flaw leaked financial data of thousands of stores and which federal agency is joining Instagram.
Let’s dig in.
“A bad email reputation is like a hangover: hard to get rid of and it makes everything else hurt.” – Chris Marriott
Spam & ISPs
Spam keeps plaguing the internet and, the worst part is, even Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are knowingly selling services to professional spammers – for profit. They simply either don’t do enough or, worse, do nothing to prevent the spammers which are operating from their networks.
We took a look at Spamhaus’s stats about The World’s Worst Spam Support ISPs and you’re never going to believe who we saw listed at number 7 – google.com. Yes, you read that right. According to the Spamhaus Block List (SBL), they found 119 SBL listings for IPs under the responsibility of google.com.
Cybercrooks are getting more fearsome and ferocious by the minute. They even got as far as spoofing a prominent email security firm – GreatHorn. That’s right, this is not a joke.
The company reported that attackers spoofed the return path and received headers of Barracuda in an attempt to steal Office 365 credentials. Microsoft was spoofed in the display name. It seems that the attack “exploits a well-known security flaw in Google and Microsoft’s handling of authentication frameworks such as DMARC.” For further details, check out MediaPost’s article.
Our friends at ZDNet reported that Gmail has become the first major email provider to support two new security standards both of which are extensions to the SMTP – MTA-STS and TLS Reporting. Their purpose is to help email providers establish cryptographically secure connections between each other, with the main goal of twarthing SMTP man-in-the-middle attacks – which have become a major problem for the email landscape. You can find more info on Google’s Help Center.
Are you tired of Gmail’s messy and crowded design? If the answer is ‘Yes’, we have some news for you. Gmail’s ex-designer – Michael Leggett – released a Chrome extension called Simplify, a day after Inbox was shut down, which aims to improve Gmail’s design by hiding some of the buttons, boxes and logos that are currently cluttering the page. He also published his code for the extension on GitHub and vowed to never fill it with ads.
“The first rule of social media is that everything changes all the time. What won’t change is the community’s desire to network.” – Kami Huyse
Remember, earlier this month, when Facebook asked its users for email passwords? Well, the bunder just got worse.
On top of all its other privacy offences, the social network has unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users, who had just signed up to the network, without their knowledge or consent.
According to CNN, Facebook described its ‘sticky fingers’ like this: “When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts, we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account.”
This incident – which is enough of an offence in GDPR terms – is the latest privacy misstep from the beleaguered technology giant, which has tottered from scandal to scandal to scandal. The gaffe was also reported by our friends at Ars Technica, Media Post and Business Insider.
Facebook & Privacy Laws
What’s Facebook “fascination” with breaking privacy laws? It’s like the company is stuck in a vicious circle of never-ending data breaches. Certainly, they must realise the damage that it is doing not only to them but to the users as well.
The most recent mishandling of users’ data was determined by privacy regulators in Canada. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada report states that Facebook neglected to obtain consent from users to share their data with “This Is Your Digital Life” app – third-party app involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal – which resulted in an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices.
The company refused to submit to audits, prompted by the authorities, despite already complying with US data checkups. Furthermore, for the reasons outlined in the report, the regulators intend to take their findings to the Canadian federal court and seek an order that would require Facebook to change its privacy practices.
Are you obsessed with your Like counts? Have you been staring those little hearts pretty much most of the day? Does it drive you crazy when you don’t get as many ‘likes’ as others?
Well, hopefully, all that narcissism, envy spiralling and low self-image that stems from the above actions will end. Why? Instagram is considering hiding like counts on posts in order to reduce the sense of competition among users.
As much as competition motivates and drives businesses to excel as well as help them to learn and bring out the best in their products, it also brings out the worst in people.
At some point, being on social media stopped being fun and became a popularity contest. Thanks, status hierarchies. So, maybe, if Instagram rolls out this feature the emphasise will go back on sharing art, cool products, useful services, advice and self-expression. More on the topic here.
“Relevance is a search engine’s holy grail. People want results that are closely connected to their queries.” – Marc Ostrofsky
Google announced a new mobile layout for Custom Search that is supposed to provide an improved experience for mobile device users. As much as the changes mostly affect mobile searchers, some have also been extended to desktop as well.
Why should users care? Considering Google’s mobile search engine market share worldwide is 95.29%, we think this new update will give mobile searchers a more fluid experience which is crucial for conversion. Especially, when a user is trying to locate something specific on your website. And, let’s be honest, most of us already spend way too much time on mobile devices as is. So, this new layout seems like a pretty smart move on Google’s part. Don’t you think?
Ah, the mobile-specific changes can be optionally disabled by setting the “mobileLayout” attribute of the search element to “disabled”.
Google Search Console (GSC)
Do you remember Google’s de-indexing bug that happened earlier this month and took about 6 days to resolve? Well, you should since we covered it in our previous digital marketing news roundup.
The issue was supposedly fixed, however, a few days later, Google reported the Search Console is still recovering and as a result coverage reports are not being updated. Anyway, due to the bug, Google intentionally paused the reports on 7 April. But, it’s already been 16 days – and counting – since GSC coverage report update and the reporting is still not working. John Muller’s response about resolving this wasn’t very encouraging either. He just said he was afraid to make any predictions and that the team is working hard on getting things resolved.
Pardon us, but weren’t they working relentlessly on resolving this before?
Google My Business (GMB)
Are you a verified business? If so, Google is now allowing users to create customised short URLs – called “short names” – for GMB listings. At the moment it appears that only some businesses have access to them though. Nonetheless, it’s definitely not just a test feature considering there’s a help article on how to create or change it.
Why should businesses care? Firstly, the feature makes it exceptionally easy to promote the URL. Secondly, customers can easily type it into the browser’s address bar. And thirdly, it also looks pretty good in marketing pieces. However, be careful, the short name can only be changed 3 times per year. So, make sure you’ve chosen a great one.
Internet Explorer (IE)
Remember Internet Explorer? According to stats, 2.58% of people do and are still using it. Unfortunately, based on what we’ve recently learnt, even that miniscule percentage must stop using IE and completely remove it from their computers. Same goes from those who stop using it but still have it on their PC.
Why? A security researcher has discovered a new security flaw which allows hackers to steal Windows users’ data via IE. The insane part is that Windows users don’t even have to open the now-archaic web browsers in order for malicious actors to use the exploit. As long as IE exists on your computer hackers are taking advantage of the vulnerability. You can find more details about the security flaw here.
PPC AND ADVERTISING
“Advertising brings in the customers, but it is your job to keep them buying from you.” – Chet Holmes
AdStage – cross-channel campaign analytics and optimisation platform – is getting in on the add-on game by launching a new data connector for Google Sheets. The add-on will allow marketers to import their paid search campaigns, social campaigns and analytics data from AdStage into Google Sheets with one query. Sounds like a time-saver, doesn’t it?
Considering AdStage supports paid search and social networks including Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google Analytics and more, we’d say this add-on is the perfect tool businesses need in order to pull all their advertising data from across multiple channels and have it blended in one place. You can read more about AdStage for Google Sheets here.
Facebook rolled out a new interface for Ads Manager which has more simplified navigation features, a cleaner interface and an update campaign management experience. The new navigation bar will offer more space to manage ads and highlight tools that will give more insight into ad performance and reporting.
Advertisers will also have a new copy and paste feature which will provide more flexibility when building ads. The company also added an auto-naming feature that will help businesses customise their campaign, ad set and ad names faster.
Now, let’s take a look at Facebook’s newest bid strategy, shall we?
Previously, bid strategies were focused on maximising conversion volume (bid cap) and cost predictability (target cost). Now, the company rolled out cost cap bidding. The focus of this bid strategy is to maximise cost efficiency by getting businesses the most results at or below the set maximum cost per optimisation event.
Do you have any older campaigns running on Bing Ads? If you do, now would be a good time to double check if you have any lingering standard text ads and destination URLs still active.
Why? Bing announced that, as of August, you won’t be able to create new destination URLs. Also, destination URLs will be phased out entirely by the end of the year.
What to do? Convert any standard text ads to expanded text ads and put your landing page URL in the Final URL field. Also, if you’re using destination tracking, you should put that in the Tracking template field under Ad URL options.
OTHER DIGITAL MARKETING NEWS WE FOUND INTERESTING
“Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.” – Ian Schafer
A bug bounty hunter and application security engineer Ayoub Fathi discovered a security flaw in a Shopify API endpoint which could be exploited to leak the revenue and traffic data of thousands of stores. Could this be the reason MailChimp and Shopify parted ways?
Shopify, which accounts for over 800,000 merchants in more than 175 countries, set up a new API over the past year and naturally, for a bug bounty hunter, Fathi was interested. So, he started digging. Initially, he identified only 4 vulnerable stores out of a 1,000. Hence, he stopped testing as the result was not deemed to have any security impact, yet.
However, sometime later, he decided to dig deeper and the results were, to say the least, shocking. More details about his findings can be found here.
ArsTechnica reported that the most recent Windows patch, which was released early April, seems to have done something (what exactly is to be determined) to anti-malware software which caused problems to client-based antivirus systems like Sophos, Avira, Avast, and most recently McAfee.
The machines affected seem fine until users make an attempt to log in. At this point, the system just stops working. It’s unclear if systems are freezing altogether or just going excruciatingly slowly. Some users said the log in process took them ten or more hours.
Avast and McAfee gave a hint to the root cause and it appears Microsoft has made a change to CSRSS (“client/server runtime subsystem”) which is a core component of Windows that coordinates and manages Win32 applications. Supposedly, this is making the anti-virus software deadlock.
There have been massive changes occurring for many countries regarding privacy regulations. Why? Due to the continued rise of consumer data breaches and growing privacy concerns.
The most recent one was the EU General Data Protection Regulation which went into effect on May 25, 2018, and was considered the most significant change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. So, GDPR covers the EU; but, what about privacy in the U.S.?
Just when marketers thought things calmed down post-GDPR, California passed their own privacy bill – the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Considering the timing of it all, the passing of CCPA led a lot of organisation to believe that if they are GDPR compliant, they would also be CCPA complaint. But, what are the differences between GDPR vs CCPA? Our friends at ReturnPath decided to shed some light and share with us how to prepare for CCPA.
Instagram & CIA
Instagram is welcoming a newcomer – the Central Intelligence Agency. Yep, you read that right. Espionage it for the ‘gram people.
Why? The intent behind this decision still remains unclear. However, CIA Director Gina Haspel, clued the public regarding this when she addressed a crowd at Auburn University (Alabama) while talking about the social media savvy of new recruits, as well as transparency and the challenges of an agency that’s devoted to secrets to communicate its work to the public.
Federal agencies like the FBI and TSA have Instagram accounts, too. However, the FBI’s is relatively boring with postings of students and law enforcement training. No top secrets divulged. The TSA’s is wilier with postings of confiscated items people tried to “smuggle” past airport security.
We’re hoping the CIA’s posts would be more like the TSA with its blunts and nunchucks than FBI’s corny dad jokes and smiling kids.
Let us know what digital marketing news topics and areas you would like us to look out for in the future. Write your requests below, we’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.
In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for more digital marketing news, social media marketing, business growth tips and tricks plus, of course, all things email marketing.