From net neutrality and augmented reality to social news and AdWords tools, check out what went on in advertising, marketing, and technology this week.
FCC Repeals Net Neutrality
This Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules enacted in 2015 despite rampant opposition from the public and a plea from senators to delay the vote. Though the FCC insists this won’t impact consumers or access to content, past examples say otherwise. Internet service providers will now be able to charge websites, apps, and publishers different amounts for their content to load at different speeds. Many suspect internet access will soon be sold in bundles and packages with tiered pricing, like cable TV. Since smaller publishers won’t be able to compete with large corporations, they’ll likely experience a loss in traffic and maybe even have trouble staying afloat.
This could throw off the publisher ecosystem and will almost inevitably change the way people experience the internet. Depending on the cost of future services, this could also minimize the total digital audience. In an age of pay-to-play, it would probably become harder for brands with smaller budgets to reach the audiences they want. Both brands and ad agencies should prepare for a shift in media and campaign strategy. You may have to align with those who are paying for access versus the ones that make the most sense for your brand or audience.
Snapchat Opens Lens Studio to All Creators
Beyond Pokemon Go, Snapchat Lenses have been one of the earliest augmented reality experiences to reach mass adoption. On Thursday Snap Inc. announced the launch of Lens Studio, a desktop app that allows anyone to design AR features that can be added to Snapchat photos and videos. Think: your brand’s very own dancing hot dog. The company also revealed that approximately 70 million people interact with the app’s special effects every day for an average of three minutes. Until now, these Lenses were only created by Snap itself or official advertisers. Now, they’re opening the opportunity to everyone.
Not everyone will be able to create selfie lenses as of now, but the technology will work for everyone on rear-facing mobile cameras. In addition to creative power, you’ll no longer have to work with the Snapchat sales team or spend a minimum amount to run a Sponsored Lens campaign. Brands can also leverage Snapcodes and custom URLs to share the lens. These can be added to social communications, brand websites, billboards, or commercials; and links can be shared in a Snap Ad and beyond. After someone unlocks a lens, it’s added to their in-app filter carousel for 24 hours. If they love it, they can share it with their friends.
Google Upgrades AdWords Customer Match Functionality
Google has found another reason for you to give them all of your money. Thanks to a new addition to Adwords Customer Match, you can now target ads across all Google properties using mailing addresses and phone numbers. That means search ads, shopping ads, YouTube, and Gmail. The lists can also be used to build similar audiences. Previously, you could only target using anonymized email data and demographic info. Of course, as before, Customer Match only works when Google can access their own data bank so users will have to be logged in before being targeted.
This is huge for companies that don’t have access to a trove of email addresses. Now they can leverage the power of Google Customer Match like never before. Most marketers believe this will also boost the program’s effectiveness since brands often have different emails for their customers than Google does, whether people provided spam emails or signed up with the brand a long time ago. Postal addresses and phone numbers are much more reliable, meaning higher match rates. As of this week, you can add lists of phone numbers and mailing addresses using AdWords Audience Manager. When matches are found, AdWords will add the Google accounts to your Customer Match audience. Check out Google Help Center to learn more.
What else you should know this week:
- User journeys are an important process to develop and understand, but they’re often difficult to analyze. Google Analytics has just released four new functions to help. They include an option to break standard reporting by Users in addition to Sessions; a User Explorer tool where you can analyze lifetime metrics of an individual; a new Audience segment for reports and funnels; and a new Conversion Probability tool that analyzes how likely a user is to convert in the future based on behaviors and past transactions. These days, users expect more personalized communication from brands, and these tools reveal how customers are interacting with your brand so you can build stronger connections.
- Facebook has long avoided pre-roll ads, but their time is up. At least for purposefully viewed Watch tab videos, where FB is testing six-second spots. To reach users in their NewsFeed, the company suggests making branded content or mid-roll ads. But mid-roll ad rules have changed too: starting in January 2018, they can only play on videos that are at least three minutes long and only after 60 seconds. You’ll need more than 50,000 followers to incorporate ads into Live videos. Zuckerberg & Co. are also changing the NewsFeed and Watch tab algorithms so videos that are “regularly watched” or “sought out” will get greater visibility. Essentially, Facebook is trying to become another option for users to watch episodic content so they can attract bigger ad budgets. This may be bad news for publishers that invested heavily in Live and NewsFeed video features, but Watch pre-roll ads offer a new way for advertisers to use the platform.
- In other social news, Twitter has started displaying views for all videos – including ads. For Twitter to count a view, a video must be playing for at least two seconds with at least 50% viewability on screen. Since the feature is showing a total of both organic and paid views, this could cause brands, publishers, and influencers to spend more to get those numbers up. Of course, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have employed this technique for a long time. Facebook and Instagram count views after three seconds and YouTube after 30 seconds or half the video, whichever comes first. In a time when you need to create video content to survive on the web, it’s becoming even more important that you promote that video content too.