From new mobile tools and UI frameworks to refined ad measurement and fake news fighters, check out what went on in advertising, marketing, and technology this week.
Google Launches Mobile Scorecard & Impact Calculator Tools
Google has long used website speed as an SEO ranking factor for desktop, but we recently reported that it will be an official ranking factor for their mobile search index starting in July. This means learning how to improve mobile load speed is going to be even more important moving forward. Luckily, they’ve just unveiled two new resources that can help you figure out where your site stands. The Mobile Scorecard will use Chrome User Experience Report data to compare your mobile speed with other companies. Google recommends using a benchmark of five seconds for mid-range mobile devices with 3G connections and three seconds for 4G connections. The Impact Calculator can help put Mobile Scorecard findings into monetary perspective. Using the 2017 finding that conversions can fall by up to 20% for each second of delay in page load, it can clarify exactly how much a change in page speed can impact the bottom line.
According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load. This stat and results from these tools can help convince your clients or coworkers to make mobile site speed improvements. Just by plugging in your current site speed, average monthly visitors, average order value, and conversion rate, you can build a clear case. Of course, these aren’t the only resources Google has introduced to encourage site owners hasten their mobile load time. Check out “Landing Pages” in the new AdWords experience to see which URLs in your account are mobile-friendly and high priority and use the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) version of your site in search campaigns.
Facebook Kills Explore Feed, Refines Ad Metrics
Facebook had several big announcements this week. On Thursday, they shared that they’ll be ending the Explore Feed less than 4 months since its launch. It was designed as a separate feed for content from publishers and public figures, but users have made clear they don’t want two feeds. It didn’t keep them better connected to friends and family as intended. Zuckerberg and Co. also announced that they’re changing their advertising metrics to improve transparency and clear up confusion. Some metrics will now be labeled explicitly as “estimated” or “in development.” Lastly, Facebook has released a list of reporting metrics they’re removing from their analytics platform like amount spent today, button clicks, Page mentions, and Page tab views. The social networks says these metrics are either redundant, outdated, not actionable, or rarely used. They’ve also shared suggested metrics to look at instead.
As a result of the failed Explore Feed, posts from businesses, brands, and media will return to the same feed as updates from friends and families. But since Facebook has discovered that its users care more about these updates than brand or media content, brands will have to be even more precious with the content they choose to share. As far as ad metrics changes go, you’ll have to make do with the shorter list and tell clients when metrics new or in development. To learn more about effective Facebook analytics, enroll in their new program, “Measure What Matters.” Starting this March, one track will offer tips for branding oriented campaigns and another will focus on measurement for direct response campaigns.
YouTube Improves Live Streaming Functionality
When YouTube launched live streaming last February, it was only available to accounts with 10,000 subscribers or more. In April, they dropped the subscriber requirement to 1,000 and invited more users to live stream. This week, they shared an announcement that live streaming will now include several new features. The first, chat replay, allows creators to display live chat conversations even after a live stream is over. Comments will appear alongside video replays, just as they appeared live. In the monetizing feature of live streams, Super Chat, viewers can pay to have their comments highlighted in the chat stream. Automatic English captions, as pictured above, have also been added. They provide a quick and inexpensive way to make live streams accessible to more people. Last but certainly not least, creators can now add location tags over their live streams. Like SnapChat, users can explore other videos with the same location tag by clicking on it.
This announcement comes a week after YouTube limited some of its previously available data from creators. The company claimed this was a measure to protect the privacy of viewers. It seems like the new live stream tools were launched as an attempt to appease brands and other creators now that they can no longer filter viewer demographics data as finely. Regardless, brands should make use of this functionality to create more live-specific content and spark meaningful connections to their audience. The update especially reinforces the importance of staying active in your stream’s chat. And remember to use your brand’s social media and email newsletter to promote upcoming live streams and attract a larger audience. You can also create a live stream trailer to promote on your YouTube channel, in other YouTube videos, and across your social profiles.
What else you should know this week:
- As part of this year’s Mobile World Congress, Google announced the beta release of Flutter, their new mobile UI framework. They say it will help both new and experienced mobile developers “build beautiful native apps in record time.” It targets the sweet spot of mobile app development: performance and platform integrations. Designs are expressive and flexible thanks to widget sets, animation libraries, and a layered, extensible architecture. Interfaces made with Flutter will work across iOS and Android. Since their alpha release last year, they have added multiple performance and support features. Up next, they plan to make it easier to embed Flutter to an existing app, add inline WebView, improve routing and navigation APIs, and provide more Firebase support. You can learn more with Flutter’s Getting Started guide.
- Mobile apps now account for nearly 60% of our total digital time. On Wednesday, Adobe announced several enhancements coming to their A/B testing tool this spring. Target’s new experience composer will let you easily swap images or text for different testing variations, while the mobile experience preview will let you see and share it before it goes live. In tandem, they make it easy to run personalization experiments on mobile apps without help from a developer. This removes friction and gives you more control over your brand’s mobile app experiences.
- Researchers at the University of Cambridge have designed an online game to educate people about the way fake news spreads online. Called “Bad News,” it guides players through the creation of a propaganda machine. You can start a blog or impersonate a major news outlet then build an imaginary social media following by posting fabricated headlines, sharing inflammatory images, and deploying bots. You then earn badges for your success, aptly named Impersonation, Emotion, Conspiracy, Polarization, Discredit, and Trolling. By revealing the techniques and motivations fake news organizations employ, the game’s creators hope to “inoculate” the public against their influence. A similar pilot study proved successful in building teenagers’ resistance to fake news. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it’s a fun distraction.