“When you say it, it’s marketing. When they say it, it’s social proof.” – Andy Crestodina
Our digital marketing news roundup will deliver the most essential updates and changes straight to your inbox.
In this digital marketing news roundup, we’ll cover Gmail’s new shortcut features and the strange “Error 404” message users were getting; Microsoft’s improvements and new features for Outlook on the web; Google’s phishing quiz which helps users spot malicious emails; Facebook’s changes to the Page Manager and Recidivism Policy; the possible cross-messaging between Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp; a Twitter bug affecting Android users for years; and the upcoming changes to Google Search Console plus, what is Site Kit by Google?
We’ll also talk about LinkedIn’s Interest Targeting feature for advertisers; Google’s 15-second non-skippable video ads; Bing Ads becoming the single global platform for all search advertising campaigns on AOL and Yahoo networks; Amazon’s new ads metrics; and Reddit’s cost-per-click ads.
In this article, we’ll cover the most recent digital marketing news on the following topics:
- Social Media
- Search Engines and SEO
- PPC and Advertising
- Other stuff we found interesting
Let’s dig in into our selection of digital marketing news, shall we?
“Email is a push channel, so we need to push it to work harder.” – Kath Pay
Gmail down. Users across the world were unable to access their emails after a strange outage which happened on Tuesday morning, January 29. The outage resulted in a mysterious “Error 404” message as well as the Gmail App crashing for both Android and iOS users, as reported by Downdetector. However, Google’s reaction time was pretty perfect as they’ve managed to sort out the fault shortly after it was discovered.
On another note, Google is rolling out handy new shortcut features in Gmail in order to help users correct mistakes and edit while in compose view. The features include:
- Undo/Redo – if you’ve accidentally deleted an email draft, you can recover it from the compose view; and, you can also redo the content;
- Strikethrough – users will have the option to ‘line out’ material in their emails; same way as you do it in a Word doc. According to Google, this is “a visual cue that something has been completed or can be used as an edit suggestion”;
- Download as EML – users will be able to download messages as EML file in rfc822 format from Gmail on the web. The EML files are recognised by other email clients; the format allows users to “view Gmail content along with attachments with those clients”.
It’s important to know, the features will be rolling out over the upcoming days to all Gmail users on the web and G Suite users and, also, they’ll be ON by default.
Microsoft has been cooking up a new Outlook.com experience for a while; and, now after all the testing has been done, they’ve announced the experience is available to all Office 365 users.
That’s not all. The company have added some highly requested features like:
- Improved search – Outlook will anticipate what you’ll need based on recent conversations and people with whom you’ve worked the most;
- All your files in one place – Microsoft has added a Files module that’ll show you all the files you’ve received or sent;
- Suggested replies – Gmail has them and now Outlook.com has them, too. A bit late but let’s not complain much, alright?;
- Simplified event creation – users can quickly add events to their calendar with updated event icons in order to easily (and quickly) identify events and see location suggestions;
- Smart room suggestions – the intelligent technology in the new Outlook will help you find the best room for your meeting based on the attendees, time availability and your preference;
- Simplified add-in experience – a simplified way of accessing add-ins with more user control. People can access popular apps and services like Boomerang; Evernote; GIPHY; Microsoft Translator; PayPal; Trello; and, more right from their inbox;
- More ways to use and manage groups – improvements to existing features; and, introducing new features like group Files view and group management in the People module.
Also, Microsoft recently released a new Office Insider build (11231.20080) for users in the Monthly Channel level. The new version (1901) adds @mentions support for Word, Excel and PowerPoint but, the most notable feature in the new build is the animated GIF support in Outlook. Yes, you read that correctly. You’ll no longer use boring static images in your emails. Instead, you can make them epic with some cool GIFs (without using a cheeky workaround!).
Has one of your account been hacked lately? Your Instagram? Or worse, your email?
If your answer is ‘Yes’, we’re sorry to say you’ve been a victim; and, possibly an unintentional collaborator; in a phishing scam. If you’re still not fully aware of what phishing is, it’s the most common form of cyber attack aimed at obtaining your password(s); and, taking over your account(s).
The next question is – how to spot malicious emails? Well, Google has released a phishing quiz (via Jigsaw – a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet Inc.) which displays several samples of common phishing techniques, such as using hyperlinks with a domain name disguised to look like a real web address. The aim of the quiz is to train test-takers in a number of quick, easy ways to be more cyber-secure; such as – hovering over a link in an email before clicking on it; or, check an email address against the name displayed as the supposed sender.
According to Jigsaw’s product manager’s blog post, they’ve created the quiz “based on the security training they’ve held with nearly 10,000 journalists, activists, and political leaders around the world from Ukraine to Syria to Ecuador.”
Phishing scams are not limited to emails; there are also phone-specific phishing scams, too. But email ones are fairly common. In fact, 1% of all emails sent around the world are phishing expeditions. Hence, take Google’s quiz and make sure you know what to look out for to prevent being a phishing scam victim.
“Social media is not just a spoke on the wheel of marketing. It’s becoming the way entire bicycles are built.” – Ryan Lilly
Seems like Facebook finally got sick and tired of Page’s trash content and is doing something about it. The company announced there would be two changes happening in the coming weeks. First, Page managers will have access to a new tab – Page Quality – which will show them when Facebook has removed or demoted certain content that goes against their Community Standards. Second, and way more interesting, the social media giant will be updating their Recidivism Policy. Facebook has long prohibited creating new Pages, groups, events and accounts which look similar to ones already removed due to a violation of the Community Standards. However, users have been trying to bypass the company’s enforcement and attempting to use existing Pages they already manage for the same purpose as the removed ones.
In an attempt for better transparency (and accountability), the company explained they’ll no longer going to wait for Pages and Groups to violate its Community Standards before removing them from the platform. Instead, they’ll be moving towards a more proactive approach to identifying what can and cannot stay on their servers.
Last, but certainly not least, we heard Facebook is working on end-to-end cross-messaging encryption between Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Basically, the services will continue to work as standalone apps, but their underlying technical infrastructure will be unified allowing more than 2.6 billion users across all three apps to communicate. Currently, there’s no timeline for when this will happen; but, the goal is to have it ready by the end of 2019; or, early 2020. Could this be Facebook’s attempt to assert control over the sprawling divisions at a time when they’ve been battered by scandal?
Twitter’s been testing a new tag – Original Tweeter – which is supposed to make it easier to identify who started a thread. The new feature, which we’ve noticed popping up for some users, will make it easier to find posts from the original tweeter within a thread but, it’ll also help prevent abuse on the platform. For example, make it easy to distinguish accounts masquerading as other tweeters. The rollout is confirmed to be to a ‘small percentage’ of iOS and Android users. However, couldn’t they have made the tag a bit prettier and more original?
A Twitter bug has prevented the “Protect Your Tweets” setting from working as intended for some Android users. The notable thing here is that the bug has been affecting Android users over a period of several years. The first detection of the bug happened on November 3, 2014; and by the looks of it, it still has not been fixed by January 17, 2019. Twitter announced the setting was disabled for some Android users if certain changes were made, such as changing the email address associated with the account. However, it seems people on iOS or the web have not been impacted. According to the mobile operating system market share stats for that period, Android (75.16%) users are far more than iOS (21.98%) ones. Hence, shouldn’t Twitter have done everything possible to fix this long time ago?
With over 1 billion users and 894 photos uploaded per second, Instagram decided to roll out a new option which will enable users to share a direct link back to an Instagram Story. This will certainly provide a new way of boosting Stories awareness and engagement. Basically, you can get a separate URL for an Instagram Story – being it yours or someone else’s – and share it.
In addition, Matt Navarra has noticed Instagram is giving more users access to the Promote option for stories. Given the broader emphasis on stories by parent company Facebook, it makes sense for Instagram to be rolling out such tools; both have significant implications for brands looking to make the best of the options.
We’ve heard, through the grapevine, Facebook’s WhatsApp will be limiting users to forwarding a message only five times. The idea of it is to attempt cutting down the spread of misinformation. WhatsApp initially limited message to being forwarded 20 times in July last year. Before that, users could forward a message to up to 256 people.
While this new limitation could help prevent the spread of bad information, it won’t necessarily be as limiting as it sounds. Messages can still be forwarded to groups with each group including up to 256 people; which means a forwarded message could be put in front of nearly 1,300 people. So, we’re wondering – what’s the point of the limitation if there’s a workaround to it?
Google’s unsuccessful attempt at creating yet another social network – Google+ – will be officially shut down in April. The company has admitted that the network may not have been a raging success; but, there’s still evidence of a loyal user base. And, that base seems to be wondering what to do and where to go next. A lot of users are addressing this matter in Google+ Mass Migration Community, too. However, faithful user or not, you may still want to get a copy of your Google+ data and you can. People can use either third-party apps (like Google+ Exporter) or Google’s official tool – Google Takeout (be advised, though, it can occasionally be glitchy). Our advice, don’t wait until last minute to get your data; do it now and be done with it.
SEARCH ENGINES AND SEO
“Relevance is a search engine’s holy grail. People want results that are closely connected to their queries.” – Marc Ostrofsky
Google announced a series of updates that are coming to Search Console in the next couple of months. Along with those, though, Google seems to have made the ‘hard decision’ to drop some legacy features.
The following new features will be fully implemented in Search Console towards the end of March:
- Crawl Errors in New Index Coverage Report: In an attempt to make the list of crawl errors in Search Console more actionable, Google is shifting the focus towards issues and patterns used for site indexing. With crawl errors being moved to the Index Coverage Report, Google believes site owners will be able to find and fix issues faster.
- Sitemaps data in Index Coverage Report: By having the sitemaps data in the Index Coverage Report, Google says it’ll be easier to focus on URLs that site owner care about. Users will have the ability to track URLs submitted in sitemap files by selecting and filtering data in the Index Coverage Report.
- User-management is now in settings: Search Console’s user management interface has been merged with the Settings section. Also, this will replace the user-management features in the old Search Console.
We’ve also mentioned some old features will be removed (or replaced) from the Search Console. Here they are:
- HTML suggestions: With Google’s algorithm getting better at showing and improving titles, there’s no longer a need to show info about short or duplicated titles in the Search Console.
- Property Sets: The feature will be removed due to low usability. As a replacement, Google will soon add the option of managing a Search Console account over an entire domain.
- Android Apps: The feature will be removed as most of the relevant functionality has been moved to the Firebase console.
- Blocked resources: This standalone section will be removed as blocked resources can be now found in the URL inspection tool.
Last, but not least, Google introduced a new WordPress plugin which will bring all the insights from your Google tools – Search Console, Analytics, AdSense and Page Speed – to your WP dashboard. The plugin is called Site Kit by Google and is said to be released to beta testers in early 2019. Of course, users overly eager to get their hands on it, already, can sign up for the beta version. We prefer to see the feedback first. What about you?
PPC AND ADVERTISING
“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” – Mark Twain
LinkedIn announced a new feature in the Campaign Manager – Interest Targeting – which will allow advertisers to target ads to the platform’s audience members based on their professional interests and topics. They can also target their campaigns using over 200 professional interests (ex. artificial intelligence, global economy, customer experience, etc.)
The company emphasised the following benefits of Interest Targeting:
- More relevant ads: Shape brand perception with different professional audiences by associating your brand with the topics that they care about;
- Target specific accounts + interests: Using account targeting with interest targeting will help advertisers reach an audience of potential buyers who have already expressed or are likely to express, an interest in the content that’s relevant to your business;
- Target people by degrees and interests: Use a combination of degrees and interests to reach an even more targeted audience.
The professional network has been testing Interest Targeting in the past few months; and, customers have already seen a 25% increase in click-through rate.
The news around the Inbox is that Google is expanding the access to 15-second non-skippable video ads and bringing them to Google Ads and Display & Video 360.
These type of ads were, previously, only available to select advertisers through YouTube reservation, which is similar to Google Preferred. Now, advertisers can utilise 15-second- non-skippable video ads simply by going to Google Ads or Display and Video 360; and, setting up a new campaign. It’s important to note, Google will continue to have protections in its ads system to cap the number of ads a user sees.
This is, in fact, another step Google is making towards a more flexible and intuitive buying experience, where all formats are accessible to all advertisers; regardless of how they buy.
The access expansion has already started, but a full availability will happen in the next few weeks.
Our friends at PPC Hero reported that Microsoft and Verizon Media (formerly Oath) have recently announced a new multiyear global native advertising partnership making Bing Ads the single global platform for all search advertising campaigns on the AOL and Yahoo networks. The signed partnership will allow advertisers to leverage the benefits of Microsoft AI and audience targeting across the AOL and Yahoo search networks.
The migration from Oath to Bing Ads is said to begin on March 15 and completed by March 31. After the completion date (March 31), search campaigns will no longer be manageable on Oath. Advertisers, who still have live search campaigns on the Oath ad platform, will have to re-create their campaigns in Bing Ads.
This partnership represents a step forward for both Verizon/Oath search ads and Bing Ads. Advertisers will need to beware of potential changes in traffic if they are currently running on the Bing Ads platform; or, are considering expansion.
Amazon has introduced new metrics which capture insights on new customers that converted from ad campaigns. The “new-to-brand” metrics are available for video, display and Sponsored Brands ad campaigns; they determine whether an ad-attributed purchase was made by an existing customer or one buying a brand’s product on Amazon for the first time over the prior year. The set of metrics includes total new-to-brand purchases and sales, new-to-brand purchase rate and cost per new-to-brand customer.
With these new metrics, advertisers now have the necessary tools to estimate the cost of acquiring new customers on Amazon; and, identify the most cost-efficient channels and tactics to achieve their campaign goals.
Facebook announced they are launching a Brand Safety capability for the Facebook Marketing Partners (FMP) program. The first companies to be certified are DoubleVerify (an ad measurement platform) and OpenSlate (a video content rating platform for marketers). The capability recognises companies offering proprietary solutions that can help Facebook advertisers review content options; and, control where their ads will appear.
Why should you care? After more than a year of being in the public eye due to brand safety concerns, content policy updates, video metric missteps and data breaches, having access to third-party tools beyond Facebook’s control offer marketers an added level of security to keep their brand away from abusive content that continues to plague the platform.
Reddit announced their launching cost-per-click (CPC) ads; the platform’s first performance-based ad unit. The CPC ads can be bought via Reddit’s ad dashboard and are considered to “complete the suite” of ad offerings; alongside cost-per-impression (CPM) and cost-per-view (CPV) ads.
The new CPC ad units will allow advertisers to implement direct response campaigns across desktop and mobile; and, they’ll be delivered either in the form of a link or Promoted Posts (video included).
According to Reddit, the CPC ads are the first of several upcoming performance offerings; with enhancements to ads targeting, reporting and campaign management tools to come.
OTHER DIGITAL MARKETING NEWS WE FOUND INTERESTING
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service fits him/her and sells itself.” – Peter F. Drucker
After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the subsequent privacy violations and repeated consumer data breaches, Facebook have been struck with, yet, another low blow. According to The Verge, advocacy groups (Open Market Institute, Color of Change and the Electronic Privacy Information Center) have written to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting a major government intervention into how the infamous social network operates. The groups’ letter outlines several moves the FTC could take in order to deal with the company such as a multi-billion dollar fine, reforming Facebook’s hiring practices, and most notably, breaking the company up for abusing their market position. The request could fall on deaf ears though.
Twitter’s CEO – Jack Dorsey – finally gives the public some insight on how the oft-requested feature for editable tweets would work. In an interview with Joe Rogan, Dorsey said: “we’ll maybe introduce a 5-second to 30-second delay in sending the tweet and, within that window, users can edit.” The reason for the time limitation is to prevent taking the real-time nature of a conversation flow out of the whole tweet. Dorsey also mentioned he’s thinking about making the editability dependant on the context. So with Rogan, Kim Kardashian, heck, the whole Twitter-verse asking for this feature, surely it’s only a matter of time before we’re able to edit a tweet. Right?
Do you remember Facebook’s standalone photo app Moments? Not many others do, either. So, take a moment to remember Moments because it seems the infamous social media decided on shutting it down. The official shutdown date for the app is February 25 and the reason for its retirement is that “not many people were using it”.
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 blog for more digital marketing news, social media marketing, business growth tips and tricks plus, of course, all things email marketing.