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Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google, Too Big To Go Unnoticed

A major announcement came this week with the opening of an antitrust investigation into Google. The tech monopoly is being scrutinized for their stronghold on the market which is stifling competition and industry innovation due to their overwhelming control of the market. The probe specifically targets Google’s advertising structure and search technology which have made it difficult for other businesses to compete in the space, harming availability and pricing for consumers.

Big tech companies have experienced this level of criticism from European countries but this is the first it has come within the US. The multi-state bipartisan investigation has been prompted by filings from 50 US Attorneys Generals in what they see as a lack of Google’s desire to leverage the free market for success and undermining consumers to gain an overwhelming share of the digital space. 

The investigation is still very much in the preliminary stages but is expected to expand to data privacy and usage, as has been the focus for other large tech companies. The banning together of the state attorneys generals should not be taken lightly as they have had significant impact on the structure of other industries such as payment from Big Tobacco for related health issues and anti-smoking campaigns to the reform of mortgage lending practices that were harming consumers. The spotlight on Google could intensify the digging into big tech practices depending on their findings.

While it would be premature to speculate where this will lead, it’s clear that the tech giants are under the microscope. It’s also important to note the timing of the investigation as it pertains to the political arena. With so much concern around fake news and bias by big tech, it could be another push for clean and fair election practices.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/google-targeted-by-state-authorities-in-antitrust-probe/562565/

Some Good News For Facebook

The Facebook News Tab is becoming more of a reality and details are emerging about how the platform will integrate with publishers to curate news content. The move to include a news tab has been carefully planned as the company has faced ongoing scrutiny whether they have previously harbored political bias when choosing stories to highlight. In the new launch, Facebook plans to partner with ‘high quality” news outlets that lend credibility to ensure information shared is accurate and dependable.  

An internal memo was obtained this week detailing Facebook’s news content selection process which included the assistance of human editors who will play an integral role in choosing which news headlines are displayed on the tab. What was not clear was how the company will create clearly defined policies for those employees as to avoid personal bias playing a factor.  

As outlined, the editors will focus on promoting news based with the outlet that first broke the story and also prioritize those done by local media. While this sounds good on paper, the execution could prove to be a bit tricky, especially in the case of major news events where it’s critical to get the information out quickly and accurately. 

The most critical of the editor duties noted in the memo may be working to avoid content that’s “constructed to provoke, divide, and polarize” and focusing stories with “on-the-record sources.” Many news outlets choose more riveting headlines to evoke an immediate response to read and share the news. Using less descriptive headlines may decrease engagement for both Facebook and the publisher. 

Reports on publisher licensing were also included and are said to involve three-year contracts between the news organizations and Facebook that also include up to $3 million in payments from the social media giant. The large payout is believed to show Facebook’s commitment to building a reliable news platform. However, it also poses questions about the details included in the arrangement and the accountability required by entering the partnership.

As the electoral season is about to head into full swing with candidate and social topics taking up much of the news cycle, it will be interesting to watch this story develop. The addition could open an opportunity for news redemption for Facebook or it could plant additional seeds of doubt as to the company’s motives.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/more-details-emerge-around-facebooks-coming-news-section/562735/

Uncle Ben’s Brings Dinner To Life

If you’ve ever wandered the grocery aisle hoping for some dinner recipe inspiration, Uncle Ben’s is serving up just what you’ve been looking for this month. In a partnership with the visual search technology of Google Lens and Innit, a personalized food shopping solution, shoppers will be able to scan the company’s products as well as some in-store displays for an enhanced shopping experience during “Family Meals Month.” The scan will connect with Innit for recipes and how-to videos incorporating the selected product. Customers who are registered Innit users will have access to additional recommendations based on their app profiles where they’ve provided food preferences or dietary limitations.

Accessing personalized, real-time content offers the company a competitive edge for shoppers struggling to plan a quick meal. By offering meal suggestions that include other Uncle Ben’s products, it could also boost sales and boost brand loyalty.

The partnership could be the first of many as visual search continues to gain popularity. The additional customization that comes from using Innit brings added ability to remove the stress of family meal planning, providing additional convenience to shoppers and more family time around the dinner table. 

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/uncle-bens-serves-dynamic-content-in-stores-via-google-lens-integration/562785/

Marketing Your Way To Social Success

Most marketers know including social media is a necessity but when it comes down to crafting a strategy, many don’t know where to start. Simply being present on the various platforms isn’t enough. It’s important to understand the intricacies such as creating proper ad units, which platforms engage with the right users at the right place in the journey and most importantly, how to track and measure success. 

While all of this can seem overwhelming, breaking down the social media platforms and aligning their capabilities with your campaign goals can make the process more digestible.  Thinking outside the box to develop a strategic and creative approach can help your brand achieve social success.

Learn how to how to implement strategies that work and turn online interest into conversions.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Facebook Considers Removing Likes

After more than a decade of building its business around likes, Facebook will begin testing removing the count from public view in user feeds. Much like Instagram, the parent company intends to shift focus to content quality to better foster a sense of online community and keeping people connected. The like or reaction count would be visible to the post creator but would be hidden from view from others and could be permanently implemented across the platform. 

While the potential change would likely not have much impact on brand advertising, it could dramatically affect their relationships with influencers. Brands currently review influencer follower and like counts when choosing partnerships. Without this information, evaluation would require other aspects of an influencer account, such as content creativity and follower interaction, when determining which partners would be the best fit for the brand. This could create an additional hurdle for content creators when seeking brand sponsorship opportunities.

The company currently has no projected timeline for if or when they plan to implement the change to all users but, it does appear the shift could be on the horizon with testing now taking place on both major platforms. This combined with other recent changes by Facebook, imply a refined focus by the company on creating quality content and rebuilding user trust in the wake of ongoing privacy concerns. The process of rebuilding may also come renewed faith by marketers, driving engagement and advertising dollars. 

With social platforms being a relatively new industry, there is still much that’s unknown on creating maximum effectiveness and peak usability without the invasion of user privacy.  As people continue to evolve their use of social media, the platforms themselves will need to be prepared to adapt in order to stay relevant.

https://marketingland.com/facebook-confirms-it-is-considering-removing-like-counts-266535?

Binge-watch With The Help of Google 

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all of your streaming options, you’re not alone. Looking for the right program can sometimes take longer than the actual show or movie itself. To help those undecided viewers, Google announced the release of a recommendation feature connected to searches to make binge watching that much easier. 

The added feature will customize suggested titles by considering entered search terms, selected providers, and historical reviews of movies or shows previously viewed. Prior to the update, Google supplied program details such as ratings,critic and user reviews, and the cast list but search criteria had to be specific. Now, users can look for suggestions more broadly with terms like “80s movies,” “romantic comedies,” or “good shows to watch” and a list of top picks will populate.Once suggestions appear, users can further customize by creating a profile of likes and dislikes under “Top picks for you.” The feature will display 5-10 show and movie titles with the option to like, dislike, or skip which helps the algorithm understand the user future search suggestions. Users can also opt to indicate which streaming services and cable options they use which will allow for direct links from programs to services available.   

The basis of the addition is all about customization users crave and expect online. Google confirms that the information is strictly used to help viewers and is not leveraged for advertising opportunities. Based on the wealth of entertainment data available if you can’t find something with Google’s assistance, you may be better off going to bed.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/05/googles-new-feature-will-help-you-find-something-to-watch/

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year...Already

The calendar may only say September, but holiday shopping is already on the minds of marketers. For the rest of the year, it remains the primary strategy focus and will only continue to gain momentum.  Understanding the shifts in shopping behavior is essential to brands for messaging and utilizing the proper channels to reach consumers during this peak shopping time. While shoppers remain divided on their approach, a recently released Coresight Research Holiday 2019: US Shopper Survey,noted the increasing shift to online shopping continues.  However, an overwhelming number of shoppers, 55% of Gen Z shoppers and 54% of Boomers will continue to go in-store to check off their holiday shopping list. While this is good news for retail locations, it leaves much uncertainty as to whether shoppers continue to come in-store simply to browse and price compare and then complete their final purchases online.

Shopping behavior continues to be mixed as many survey respondents indicated they will use a combination of online shopping and visiting brick-and-mortar locations while others are happy to never stepping foot in a store. Reasons for continuing to go into retail locations ranged from the need to browse for the perfect gift idea, tangibly seeing and testing items before purchase, and simply enjoying holiday shopping time and being part of the festivities. Although many plan to continue to shop in-store, over 44% of survey respondents felt just the opposite and liked the convenience of online shopping to avoid crowds followed by those who liked the ease and time saving elements of digital shopping. Consumers planning to do at least some holiday shopping online, are largely choosing Amazon over Walmart and Target, which were popular stops in previous years.

A somewhat surprising finding from the survey was the impact of recent economic changes on behavior.  Nearly 60% of the 1,784 shoppers surveyed reported concern of product price increases this season due to newly imposed tariffs on items coming from China. This uncertainty may have a larger effect on brands as it could require an adjustment in strategy to overcome shopper hesitation. 

The overall consensus from the survey data and behavioral trends illustrated primary concerns for shopping decisions come down to four common themes; price, product availability, promotional opportunities, and finding the best product quality across brands. Overall, consumers are not committed to one way of holiday shopping and will continue dividing their efforts online and in retailer locations. While the behaviors continue to evolve, there are still a large percentage of people who simply enjoy the energy and magic of the in-store experience during the holidays. 

https://www.retaildive.com/news/walmart-target-could-lose-holiday-customers-to-amazon/562203/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Facebook Increases Political Ad Security

Political advertising got more intense this week as Facebook announced increased security measures to ensure advertising validity. Paid ads by political candidates or groups must adhere to more stringent requirements and approval process before going live in a move to increase transparency and gain user trust.

Moving forward, US political advertisers must submit a valid US address, phone number, business email and corresponding website along with either a tax-registered identification number (EIN), a government website with matching email which must end in .gov or .mil, or a Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number. Any political advertisers currently running must provide or update this information in order to avoid being paused in October. Once the organization is confirmed by the platform, ads will display the “i” icon where users can learn more about the Political Ads policy and signifies a “Confirmed Organization.” 

Local politicians or smaller businesses wishing to advertise election focused ads have the option to conform to the original requirements or provide the page admin’s legal name on their personal information document. In these instances, the “i” icon will read “About this ad” for users to gain additional information.

Facebook has also decided to narrow its social issues list with a broader focus to encompass more pertinent topics. The shift will not change the authorization process and the company will continue to keep the list fluid, making changes and updates as needed.

With previous demonstrations highlighting necessary advertiser vetting to avoid fake ads and in turn, false information, Facebook wants users and advertisers to be assured what they see is legitimate during critical campaign times as well as prohibit parties that aim to discourage voting. Facebook hopes the additional steps will disbar ongoing questions about their 2016 election involvement and create documented transparency as the country enters a new election cycle that is sure to be eventful.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/28/facebook-will-require-political-advertisers-provide-further-credentials-or-have-their-ads-paused/

The Cleveland Browns Have A Win With Budweiser

As Cleveland Browns’ fans gear up for football season, this year’s new roster brings renewed hope for a team that’s in need of a big win. While it may not sound like much, the team has had a dismal showing the past few years. Despite the outcome, loyal fans tirelessly cheer on their home team, hoping their luck will change. In recognition of city’s unwavering dedication, last season Budweiser partnered with the Cleveland Browns on their “Victory Fridge” campaign. Due to the overwhelming success, the two have teamed up for a repeat season, only better. 

The 2018 campaign was simple, Budweiser sold fridges to Cleveland-area bars with the message, “When the Browns Win, Cleveland Wins.” Each fridge came stocked with Bud Light and would automatically unlock via smart technology with the first regular-season win. With a 0-16 season in the rearview mirror, fans were anxious for the long awaited victory. When the team won in the third week of the season, the city partied into the morning hours, along with Budweiser marketers, with the overwhelming viral coverage. 

Like the hopes for the team’s season, Budweiser decided to make 2019 bigger and better. In collaboration with WWE star and Cleveland, Ohio native, The Miz, the brand will be selling the coveted beer fridges to devoted fans in a limited-time pop-up store located in the heart of the city. The nostalgic appliance store will only be open for sales this weekend and all proceeds will benefit the local Browns Give Back community partners program. In addition, buyers will receive a redemption code to stock the fridge with discounted Bud Light. 

The campaign comes in response from numerous fan requests who want their own Victory Fridge to show their undying support. While Bud Light continues to battle dwindling sales, the focus on an area of the country that loves Bud Light almost as much as Cleveland sports, is sure to be an early season win.

https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/340016/bud-light-opens-cleveland-pop-up-selling-browns-v.html

Instagram Helps Friends Find Common Threads

Facebook’s Instagram is internally testing a new app for sharing messaging and photos called Threads, poised to be a companion app to Instagram and potentially a direct competitor with Snapchat. Using the close friends list feature, which was unveiled last November, Threads lets users automatically share their status with those on the list. Messages can include those entered by the user, photos, videos, general location, or that they are “on the move” by using GPS tracking. 

The communication allows those friend groups to be constantly connected, with the intention of  growing interest and engagement. By opting for automatic sharing, the app would regularly update your daily activity for more authentic daily highlights. Messages from friends would appear in a central feed which would also indicate which friends are currently active with a green dot. The feed would also show recent story activity by friends as well as a camera to capture photos and videos to share within the group.

The company is keeping details quiet but it appears Initial plans are to launch Thread as an independent app with an ultimate goal of integrating with all of Facebook’s messaging services. The announcement comes as Mark Zuckerberg has made it known that Facebook plans to put a heightened focus on private messaging in order to foster online community and the connection of close friends rather than sharing to the masses. 

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/26/20833903/facebook-instagram-threads-messaging-app-close-friends-snapchat


Weekly Digital Breakdown

Get Your Competitor’s Facebook Ads, Straight To Your Inbox

If you’re like most marketers, you often wonder what your competition is promoting on Facebook in an attempt to adjust your own strategy. By combining Facebook’s Ad Library and some clever automation, PixelMe released a way to be notified of your competitor’s latest marketing with an alert sent straight to your inbox. 

The introduction of the free service, called AdInboxMe, makes tracking your enemy’s ads easier than ever. The process is simple, marketers create an online account and enter Facebook page URLs they’d like to track. AdInboxMe will then send alerts with the launch of new Facebook ads for the corresponding brands with the link to the promotion details. That’s it! You get up-to-date information delivered without any extra searching.

Although only recently launched, the company has seen overwhelming excitement around the service and is currently on a waitlist. However, interested marketers can complete a form to reserve their spot. As PixelMe evaluates performance and interest, they are also considering offering a similar feature for Google Ads and Linkedin.  

While the process seems simple, the tool’s time-saving ability may prove invaluable. The waitlist isn’t getting any shorter so hop over and save your spot.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/new-tool-provides-email-alerts-whenever-your-competitors-launch-a-facebook/559669/

Spotify Hears Advertiser’s Requests

Spotify has been expanding its targeting capabilities on its self-serve advertising platform to help marketers better reach their desired audiences. In response to recent reports that show a 25% increase in brand awareness with use of the platform, advertisers are looking for ways to leverage the streaming service to strategically market to audiences.  

The new targeting options include interest targeting and real-time context targeting, available to reach Spotify Free users. Interest targeting analyzes users’ data through playlist and podcast preferences to identify related targeting categories for a more granular reach. Real-time context targeting allows advertisers to reach listeners when they are streaming at specific times of the day as they relate to activities identified by account use. Options include working out, studying, dinner time, etc. for delivery of a more personalized experience. The additions come just a month after the introduction of podcast-based targeting, which allows brands to market to listeners based on podcast content categories.

Spotify’s continued focus on expanding targeting capabilities comes as advertisers are looking for additional ways to reach the ad-supported service available free to users. The expansion of opportunity also helps the company better monetize the growing free user base. 

https://www.adweek.com/digital/spotify-ad-studio-now-offers-interest-targeting-real-time-context-targeting/

Netflix Accesses Physical Activity For Streaming Improvements

Netflix is taking its streaming capabilities one step further. The app has been discretely tracking customers’ physical activity to evaluate the need for increased video buffering for viewers on the go. The relatively innovative concept is an attempt to provide higher quality streaming for those in motion without any extra steps from the user. 

The initial tests were run with Android app users to collect and evaluate data that would aid in the improvement of the viewing experience. The testing considered not only daily physical activity such as walking or running, but also outside factors like commuting via mass transit which could impact the strength of signal. Lower quality service during such times could result in frustrated users who then abandon their streaming during those times.  

While the company seems to have concluded testing, users are apprehensive about how the data collection was handled. The permissions were automatically activated and could only be disabled manually if customers happened to notice. The lack of required consent makes some have increased privacy concerns about other tracking pushed without their knowledge. 

Although now publicly addressed, the company has yet to elaborate on next steps in response to the results. Netflix has also neglected to respond to requests on if or when the physical activity recognition tracking will now be disabled.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/1/20750424/netflix-physical-activity-tracker-data-stream-quality-test

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Amazon Invests In Homebuying

Buying a home can be a daunting and stressful process. Amazon has recognized the struggle and is extending their services to include real estate. With a partnership with Realogy, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company, The two have created TurnKey for real estate shoppers. Potential home buyers will be able to find and purchase a new home primarily online with access to top real estate services such as Coldwell Banker, Century21, Sotheby’s, etc. Those that complete the process through TurnKey will receive credits that can be used to purchase Amazon Home Services and smart-home products.  

The process will begin by asking users to answer preliminary questions around their desired location and house requirements. Once completed, a Realogy agent will contact the prospective homebuyer to further evaluate their timeline and seriousness to purchase. Home service and smart-home product coupon values will vary based on final home cost but could be valued at as much as $5,000.  

The partnership gives Amazon access to a desired vertical to promote its smart home devices and home services. It also opens up extended advertising opportunities for a niche market with specific interest. From Realogy’s perspective, it’s a much needed branding boost in response to a slowing housing market and increased competition from sites like Zillow. By working with Amazon, they will now be associated with the retail giant’s captive audience and brand enthusiast.  

The TurnKey program officially launched in select cities this week with expansions planned in the future.  Amazon’s direct access to real estate shoppers expands the company’s ability to be a one-stop shop for all things and further hold on the retail market.

https://www.curbed.com/2019/7/23/20706958/amazon-realogy-turnkey-real-estate-industry

Snapchat Continues Record Success

Snapchat just released record user and revenue growth in their Q2 results and marketers are taking note. The company added 13 million daily active users making the platform a welcome alternative to others which have previously dominated the space. 

After a significant decline in users following a 2018 app redesign, the rebound in momentum magnifies the company’s determination to be a key industry player. The company attributes the record success to new filters, Android app improvements, and expanded advertising opportunities. 

The investment in Android paid off with app downloads increasing 37% over prior year.  App users are experiencing a faster mobile experience and as a result, are sending 7% more posts. The popularity of new filters, such as gender-swapping, has also enticed new users to the platform. As for advertisers, Snap added Snap Select, a premium ad service that offers ads in bulk for a fixed price which play during popular content. 

Much of the success can also be attributed to the apps increasing popularity among teens, which are the platforms fasting growing demographic. Snapchat estimates 90% of 13-24 year olds are reached through the platform, making it ideal for marketers to capture this audience and cultivate brand loyalty as these users age.

Snapchat has no plans of slowing down as they continue to gain a larger share of the social media market. The rapid and significant growth shows the company’s commitment to evolving the platform based on user engagement. The company plans to continue to ride the momentum and set the bar high with the Q3 goal between $410 million - $435 million, far exceeding original projections. 

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/snap-adds-record-13m-users-in-q2-as-revenue-jumps-48/559387/


Facebook Mobile News Feed Has A New Look

Facebook is optimizing its mobile ad experience in August to match the recently redesigned mobile app, with a direct effect on advertisers. The update aims to create a less intrusive user experience. As users have become less receptive to traditional advertising and younger audiences continue to steadily decline, Facebook has made platform innovation a primary focus to attract and retain users.

The changes to the mobile ads will impact the aspect ratios of photos and videos as well as the amount of text available in the ad on mobile news feed posts. The most substantial of the updates being the decrease in available text to just 3 lines. Advertisers will now need to be extra clean and concise on their images, video, and text selection in order to make the most impact with less space and cause users to stop mid-scroll to engage.

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The new dimensions are intended to allow advertisers to use assets across Instagram and Facebook without the need for adjustments. The consistency and simplified format will make thumb-stopping content more critical than ever.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/facebook-shrinks-ad-space-on-mobile-news-feed/559194/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Listening To Its Users

If you are becoming increasingly wary of voice activated in-home devices, then you aren’t alone. The uncertainty around how much the speakers are hearing and where that information goes has become a major privacy concern. Speaker listening when not prompted in light of the recent leak of confidential data security policies has many wondering what is being recorded, saved and heard by real people. 

Google’s product manager for search did in fact confirm these suspicions were rooted in truth but not for reasons many feared. However, the explanation for such practices was positioned as a way to help the user experience. Google insists conversations are reviewed by language experts in order to advance search query technology and advance product capabilities and speech recognition. The audio snippets used for these purposes are not associated with a user account and conversations not directed at Google should not be transcribed.

However, the concern that the devices could be “listening” to conversations when not being directly prompted or engaged in what Google calls a “false accept,” increases questions around the company’s practices These can be heard without any action from the users but still may be reviewed as part of the desire for product and voice recognition advancement.

While Google claims just 0.2 percent of all audio snippets are being accessed by language reviewers, there’s no way to confirm the validity nor if there are any user actions being inadvertently taken to prompt the recording.

As the industry continues to face mounting privacy and data monetization concerns, the confirmation that voice data is not being used strictly for AI but can be accessible to a live human may increase the wariness. Questions remain about that data then being leaked or used for malicious purposes with little to no trail leading back to the culprits.

Technological advances are creating increasing conveniences but at what cost remains unknown. Companies are recognizing the mounting dissent and are faced with trying to find ways to increase user’s trust. Confidence in a brand’s integrity is becoming paramount.

https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/google-is-absolutely-listening-to-your-conversations-it-just-confirms-why-people-dont-trust-big-tech.html

Prime Week for Retail

The 2019 Amazon Prime Day sales figures are still uncertain but are predicted to have surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. With shoppers eager to snatch up deals at discount prices, the effect of the sale on retail as a whole is becoming apparent. No longer are the low prices exclusive Amazon. Instead, companies are embracing the hype for their own sales in an attempt to ride the momentum. According to Adobe Analytics, retailers with over $1 billion in annual revenue saw their own spike in sales on day one of Amazon Prime Day of up to 64%, compared to an average Monday. Proving the Amazon effect extends much further than the platform itself.

As the online event continues to gain popularity as a staple for summer shopping, other companies are leveraging the sale to promote exclusive savings of their own. Many of their offers extend longer than just two days in an effort to capture those eager buyers throughout the remainder of the week. Overall, visits to online retailers as a whole accounted for a 66% lift in revenue so far this week. With RetailMeNot reporting 35% of competing brands using clever marketing to play off Amazon’s messaging such as “Prime Savings” or “Prime Deals,” the impact of the strategy seems to be benefiting retailers across the board.

While competition continues to increase for what is now one of the biggest sales of the year, it appears Amazon’s reach combined with two day shipping continue to lift the company above the rest. However, as brands continue to refine their approach, it will be interesting to see who gives Amazon the best run for their money.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/heres-how-the-first-24-hours-of-prime-day-shook-out/

Facebook Guides Advertisers Through The Holidays

Media companies are increasing their arsenal of planning tools to help advertisers strategize and reach consumers more effectively. With the biggest shopping time of the year quickly approaching, this week Facebook released several tools that highlights trends, past insights, and tricks for gaining an edge on the holiday market.

The announcement included the release of an insights tool which is a compilation of previous year’s finding on how people shop and types of ads that drove purchases. The tool is an incredibly helpful aid for planning holiday marketing strategies. While it’s only July, marketers should already be reviewing their plans and budgets for the holiday season. Leveraging this data can assist in creating a campaign structure that is both impactful and cost effective for ad dollars.

In addition, a 2019 Holiday Marketing Guide was also unveiled. The guide walks through the consumer journey and how shoppers can be nurtured along the way to complete a purchase. Facebook also highlights its reach and influence throughout the process. The 63 page marketing planning tool covers through everything from important dates, in-depth analysis about how people shop, and step-by-step instructions on how and when to strategize as well as what’s needed at each phase. 

The goal of providing such resources is to help marketers which in turn, helps Facebook’s bottom line. Many other big tech platforms realize distributing this information comes with huge benefits for everyone. While Facebook did a similar guide in previous years, Snapchat released their own guide which walks advertisers through key events, including holidays on a much higher level as an assistance to marketers. The insights are incredibly valuable and are sure to help brands across platforms.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-launches-new-holiday-season-insights-guide-to-assist-in-campaign-p/558982/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Tech Giants To Face Congressional Hearing

Next week, digital tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook will put their competitiveness aside as representatives from each are set to testify before a congressional panel. The companies are all part of an antitrust investigation as concerns rise about their hold on the market. Details are still sparse, but questioning will likely center around the massive control and influence the digital companies have over internet practices.The case comes as there are growing concerns the tech companies are abusing power to discourage competition.The hearing will involve each facing the House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee. 

As the congressional trial hearing looms, the case isn’t to be taken lightly as big tech company practices have been under intense scrutiny over the last year.  the investigation is not focused on any one particular company, but rather the operation of the industry as a whole, potentially having a ripple effect on others in the space.

 The probe is just one of the legal challenges big tech is facing lately. As reported by the Wall Street Journal last month, Google is involved in a separate investigation with the Department of Justice in relation to the collection and monetization of personal data. Legislation, such as the DASHBOARD Act and a bill preventing location tracking without direct consent from users, is also being proposed to better regulate the industry and protect consumers.

As the spotlight continues to shine on tech industry leaders, more details are being uncovered about operation practices. However, with the evolution of technology continuing at record speed, proactively protecting consumers will be an ongoing challenge.

https://adage.com/article/news/google-amazon-apple-testify-antitrust-probe-congress/2182656

Instagram Adds Restrictions For Bullies

In a follow-up to Instagram’s anti-bullying commitment, the company unveiled a new platform feature this week intended to combat harmful and offensive comments. As previously noted, Instagram has been experimenting with ideas to promote a greater focus on community rather than competition and encouraging users to have more control over their experience.

The new feature will leverage AI to monitor comments as an added reminder for posters to rethink negative online comments. When a user attempts to post something which could be deemed offensive, they will receive a notification asking if they are sure they want to continue the post. The alert is meant to trigger additional thought and reconsider their actions before posting.

The next phase of control options plans to test ways to restrict unwanted users without their knowledge. With many young people reporting that they are hesitant to block, unfollow or report harassing users in an effort to avoid escalation, both on and off online, Instagram will offer a “Restrict” option. Without notifying the offensive party, all comments from the restricted user will only be visible to them as if they are posted but no others will see their comments on posts without the approval of the profile owner. This will also prevent the blocked user from seeing if the person who enabled the function is online or has read their direct messages. 

As bullying and positive mental health continue to be prevalent issues for social media platforms, Instagram is dedicated to refining their strategy to maintain a community focus.

https://instagram-press.com/blog/2019/07/08/our-commitment-to-lead-the-fight-against-online-bullying/

Google shopping just got more personal

For many shoppers, Google has become the first stop for a quick comparison of products and brands. Without having to visit multiple sites for information, a quick search displays multiple options for buyers, making shopping online even easier. The feature also benefits retailers as purchases must be made on their respective sites, driving additional traffic.

The ability to see reviews in the product postings is a feature many shoppers value when comparing options. In an effort to add authenticity and a more personalized experience, Google has now included customer photos to the product reviews. With 88% of shoppers researching products online before making a purchase, this addition will encourage more user-generated content and unscripted product information.

While it’s uncertain exactly how this will impact advertisers, it will incentivize them to encourage customer feedback and take note of what people are saying in the market. As shoppers are increasingly influenced by consumer reviews, the added feature will not go unnoticed. 

https://searchengineland.com/new-google-shopping-program-enables-customer-photos-to-show-with-their-product-reviews-319341

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Changing How People See Search

Online shopping typically begins with a search bar and a product description.  Despite increased ease, it still poses its challenges. You can find yourself scrolling through pages of results if your description isn’t quite right or worse, the item is no longer in stock.  To alleviate the frustration, Google has a new vision for internet shoppers.

The company highlighted its visual search capabilities this week with Google Lens, an app that allows users to search what they see, which leverages augmented reality to find products online.  While in the works for a few years, Google is placing its bets on the evolving technology to provide a more personal shopping experience.

So how does this differ?  Google brings the products to you based on scanned image through the app.  Your picture can provide details such as color, brand, model, etc. with just one image, cutting down on filtering search results.  Once you find the desired product, you get a virtual view from multiple angles, highlighting the detail. If you really want to make sure it’s a fit, you can even place the image next to items you already own through the app to complete a look.

For marketers, the shift could change search campaign implementation and structure.  While visual search gives consumers a more detailed view of products, resulting in more satisfied customers, it only works if image assets for products are available and mobile optimized.  With products changing so frequently, it could pose significant challenges, particularly for smaller brands.

While improved shopping is only the start of Google Lens capabilities, it’s clear AI and augmented reality are shaping the future and are bringing digital window shopping to your living room.  

https://adage.com/article/digital/heres-what-googles-bet-visual-search-means-advertisers/2170861

Burger King’s “Traffic Jam Whopper” Delivers

Endless traffic is not fun for anyone, but if you’re like most, a hot meal delivered to your window would make the time a little more bearable.  Seems crazy, but Burger King is making it happen with their new campaign “the Traffic Jam Whopper” that delivers orders via motorcycle right to your car.  

With a little ingenuity, Burger King seized the opportunity to feed hungry commuters while also driving brand awareness and burger sales. The promotion is highly calculated for flawless execution to deliver orders quickly and accurately.  By partnering with Waze, Burger King is able to use real time traffic data to identify highly congested areas and dynamically adjust messaging with banner ads and push notifications on the Waze app once drivers enter delivery zones. Ads then lead users to utilize voice commands on the Burger King app to place their orders. Once ready for delivery, drivers rely on Google Maps API to pinpoint and locate drivers.

While the promotion was tested in Mexico City to gauge market interest, the results spoke for themselves. In just one week, the company saw app downloads increase by 44x and delivery orders spiked 63%, making the Burger King app the number one fast food app in Mexico.  

With undeniable success, Burger King plans to replicate the service in other large cities including Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Shanghai with the potential to expand. With a little luck, the “Traffic Jam Whopper” could be coming to a commute near you.

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/burger-king-wants-to-deliver-whoppers-right-to-your-car-during-nightmarish-traffic-jams/

Facebook’s “Clear History” Causes Uncertainty for Advertisers

If you’ve ever wanted to erase your past, at least on social media, Facebook is giving you the opportunity.  The company announced this week they would be rolling out a new “Clear History” feature in response to their commitment to protecting personal information. Users will now be able to disconnect browsing history that is used for targeting and advertising purposes.  While this is an effort to foster online privacy, it could have a substantial impact the user experience based on limited knowledge of user behavior and interests.

As for advertisers, this creates concerns with targeting capabilities and campaign set-up strategies.  Data utilized from Facebook Pixels and Custom Audiences could become severely limited as their targeting ability is primarily based on user’s activity outside on other sites then leveraged once users return to Facebook.  Uncertainty remains as to how this will effect advertising opportunities, reporting metrics and site analytics. It’s also difficult to gauge how many users will take this action to protect their privacy versus the number that have become comfortable with the fact that very little is private in the digital space.

https://marketingland.com/facebook-warns-advertisers-clear-history-tool-may-impact-ad-targeting-260995

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Snapchat Develops Its Own Mobile Network

Snapchat made a big announcement on Thursday about plans for a Snap Audience Network, its own mobile ad platform with targeting across various apps.  The initial launch will be strictly for iOS devices and will extend to Android at a later date.

There are still questions surrounding how this will operate as compared to similar networks.  However it’s projected to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google with the added unique ability for app developers to utilize Snapchat’s same full-screen, vertical video ad format.

The announcement didn’t come with much detail, but it appears to be an effort by the company to help boost it’s own advertising agenda to partner with more agencies and businesses. While there are still a number of unknowns with this new platform, it will be interesting to see Snapchat competes with other social networks and what differentiates them in the space.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/snap-announces-plans-to-build-its-own-mobile-ad-network-to-connect-with-its-audience/

Facebook Exposed for Storing User Data on Public Amazon Cloud Servers

Cybersecurity firm, Upguard, uncovered more than 540 million Facebook user files stored on a public Amazon cloud server this week. Information included user actions on the site, comments and Facebook IDs, all of which were accessible on the server for public download despite profile settings.  Once alerted, Facebook immediately worked with Amazon to take down the database, but cannot verify how this may impact users.

While Facebook policies prohibit user data being stored on unsecure servers, this news adds to the growing data privacy concerns with the platform. After last year’s news that millions of user’s data had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook audited thousands of third-party data apps and suspended those who were mishandling. Despite continued efforts to protect user data, it appears the extent of the problem may not be fully known at this point.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/millions-of-facebook-records-found-on-amazon-cloud-servers

Amazon Alexa Advances Healthcare Services

Amazon Alexa users can now utilize the smart speaker for healthcare information with its recently released HIPAA compliant skills.  Users can leverage the technology to manage healthcare needs such as booking appointments, checking a prescription status or accessing stored medical information such as ongoing glucose readings.  The skills are currently only accessible through select partnerships but will expand based on user adoption.

With the launch, some entities are unveiling HIPAA-compliant skills specific to their own recently discharged patients.  Boston Children’s released a skill known as “ERAS” which allows patients and caregivers to ask questions specific to recent patient care records and allows doctors the ability to follow up with patients remotely.

While data privacy remains a huge concern for patients, Amazon confirms data is encrypted and securely stored in addition to the strict guidelines HIPAA puts in place for patient protection.  This announcement is a major advancement in the evolution of remote patient care.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/04/amazon-alexa-launches-its-first-hipaa-compliant-medical-skills/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Streaming Video Exceeds Cable Subscriptions

For the first time, video streaming service subscriptions surpassed cable, jumping up 27% to 613 million subscribers last year. The shift is attributed to the consumers being drawn to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for the 24/7 accessibility across devices and original programming.   This trend further is likely to continue as more cable subscribers “cut the cord” and rely on digital video for programming.

ttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-21/netflix-s-growth-helps-streaming-eclipse-cable-subscriptions

McDonalds Uses AI to Drive Personalization

In an aggressive move to integrate a more tailored dining experience, McDonalds acquired the personalization company, Dynamic Yield.  This technology will be used to create a dynamic menu that will adjust to variables such as weather, time of day or trending menu items.  It will also aid in upselling, or suggesting additional items that compliment your selections. They will begin leveraging the technology for drive-thru customers and plan to expand to self-serve kiosks and the mobile app.  McDonalds plans to roll out the new technology in the US throughout 2019 to increase customer service and clearly distinguish the company from competitors.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/25/mcdonalds-acquires-dynamic-yield/

Big News From Apple

On March 25th, Apple introduced its streaming service, Apple News+ to the public.  While some industry insiders remain skeptical about the announcement, publishers are hoping to use the service to expand their audience and drive digital subscriptions.  Apple News+ includes over 300 magazines and select newspapers for a monthly fee. Publishers view this as an opportunity to reach and engage a news centric audience, driving their own revenue through advertisements.  While the audience is shared across multiple publishers, this approach offers the chance to reach readers who may never interact with some publications and gain loyalty. Publishers are not expecting this to be a magic solution but an added layer to in their efforts to increase readership and expand audiences.

https://www.adweek.com/tv-video/publishers-view-apple-news-as-an-experiment-not-a-solution-to-the-industrys-woes/


Facebook Amends Targeting to Fight Discrimination

Facebook is refining it’s targeting options as they pertain to employment, housing and credit advertisements as prompted by a recent settlement agreement with leading civil rights organizations.  Brands promoting these items can no longer target users based on demographic information such as ethnicity, age, gender, religious affiliation or family status. Based on the previous set-up, targeting could include or exclude these criteria or create look-a-like audiences to target similar users.  While Facebook continues to be under right scrutiny for it’s policies, this is just another step they are taking to earn user’s trust and continue focus on data privacy concerns.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-is-revamping-its-targeting-for-housing-employment-and-credit-ads/

2018 Review - The Year in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing had a tumultuous time in 2018. Technology moved into new areas for growth over the past year that affected the way we shop, communicate, and live. From the growth in artificial intelligence and automated voice systems to live video and changes in Facebook’s algorithms, it was clearly a year to remember in digital circles. Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

This year started with a shock when Facebook announced changes in its feed algorithm to promote more content from local news sources, friends, and family for “more meaningful social interactions.” Facebook also wanted to lessen the number of publishers’ news items in feeds, and the company may have wanted to thwart the rise of hackers and bots as well. Regardless, the January move by Facebook threw a wrench into marketers’ plans for the year, creating a period of adjustment. This link shows all of Facebook’s algorithm updates over the years.

AdWords Grew Into Google Ads

In mid-year, Google announced it was switching the nearly 20-year old brand “AdWords” to the simpler “Google Ads.” Google said the change reflected that its ads are all over the digital landscape now in web display and video ads, text and shopping, and even in app installations; ads are not just words on search platforms. Today’s web advertisers with Google can now run ads on Google’s search platform, on apps and websites, in Gmail, and on a variety of YouTube offerings. The name change represents a shift in digital thinking for marketers, and one that will likely pay big dividends to Google in the years ahead.

AI Technology Growth

Another huge trend in 2018 was the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by marketers across our data streams. Increasingly, companies are using smart systems, chatbots, and devices for more accurate customer segmentation and improved customer interactions.

We all contribute to the increase in AI when we personalize our recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu. Other brands including Hilton, Levi Strauss and Co., and Nordstrom are using AI in chatbots to customize sales interactions with customers. Look for this digital marketing category to expand in 2019 and 2020.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

In just two years, smart speakers have invaded our homes. Today, nearly 50 million Americans own a smart speaker, and that number will likely increase as people get more comfortable with sharing their living spaces with these devices.

Voice search is also growing fast. Web research firm Comscore predicts that more than half of all searches by 2020 will not be done by type or text but by voice. You are already seeing more people at work talking into their devices on search requests. It has become as commonplace as our desktop searches were a decade ago. Marketers will have to adapt to reaching consumers on smart speakers in the home.

Growth in Instagram Stories and Live Video Outlets

Another trend we saw in 2018 was the rapid rise in the use of live video and Instagram Stories. The number of users who create live video on their mobile phones and share with the world rose dramatically in 2018.

Google’s YouTube is the frontrunner in live video, dominating the amount of time spent by users watching video online.

The number of daily active users on Instagram Stories rose to some 400 million, Instagram reported in August. That’s from a universe of over a billion active monthly users. By contrast, Snapchat finished the third quarter with just 186 million daily active users.

Marketers are following those numbers, too. eMarketer noted that 86 percent of marketers use Facebook and almost 70 percent of marketers use Instagram. Only 28 percent of marketers use Snapchat. 

Personalizing the Consumer Experience

A growing trend in 2018 was the increase in personalization in many of our customer experiences. With our mobile devices and search immediacy, we are able to move quickly between purchase considerations and actual purchases. Increasingly, our expectations have risen across all our customer experiences. The winners will be those businesses that can deliver on the personalization process.

Marketers recognize this and have advanced to using SMS messaging, mobile apps, social media, and voice automation to personalize their communications with us as consumers. It’s a world in which we’re becoming increasingly comfortable, and we anticipate more of these personal customer journey touchpoints around us in the coming year.

What Facebook's Targeting Option Elimination Means for Ad Campaigns

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 Recently, Facebook announced it was removing more than 5,000 options for ad targeting in an effort to protect users from discriminatory advertising. Paired with Facebook's spring announcement about the changes in custom audiences, this development has some advertisers worried about the implications for campaigns and reaching consumers.

A Change in Strategy

Once a powerful ad targeting feature, its removal deals a mighty blow to business owners and marketers. Third-party data providers are no longer a viable source, and advertisers don't have the luxury of creating ad targeting based on user data (previously captured both on and off Facebook's platform).

Will this affect audience targeting and social media strategies? The exclusions aren't the end of the platform's ad wars. Fortunately, there are strategies you can still use to reach your target market with Facebook advertising.

Geo-Targeted Advertising

Facebook ads give advertisers the flexibility to target people based on specific location, providing a way to create ads relevant to where an audience is located. Geo-targeting lets you customize and refine options to target an audience most likely to take an interest in your business as well.

Custom Audiences

Here's what geo-targeting does:

●      Engagement: It drives users closer to conversion and targets those who have engaged with your brand. A custom audience is easily created from people who have watched a specific video, for instance. 

Interaction through a social media profile, event, or web page is a good opportunity to nudge people further into the sales funnel. There's no better way to assemble highly targeted individuals than to select those who have already shown interest. 

●      Contact lists: Got a customer list or site data collected via subscriptions from your site? Leverage this data and expand the reach by uploading lists directly into Facebook. Then serve ads to people you know on the platform. If you're working with a smaller custom audience, you can always test the creative methods used to determine which one gets the best response from audiences. Increasing CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bids is yet another alternative to better reach your custom audience.

●      Websites: If you're unfamiliar with Facebook Pixel, now's the time to get acquainted. A snippet of code installed on your website helps to optimize ads based on collected data, create targeted ads for future use, track ad conversions, and remarket to people who've taken some form of action on your site.

Take it one step further with the implementation of a lookalike audience from the same data. This way you can prospect for new customers who match the behaviors of your website visitors in specific geographic areas.

Targeted Interests

Facebook still collects data based on what users interact with while on the platform. The information is segmented according to a user's interests. Since the categories are built on real-time user behavior, using this feature is a good place to start. 

Alternative Advertising Methods

Think the use of third-party data is exclusive to Facebook? Internet giants such as Google use data and targeting options on their own terms. Currently there are no defined regulations regarding the transparency of information collected by third-party providers. Until this changes, advertisers have the green light to access information on other platforms, too.

For example, if annual income plays a major role in your targeting strategy, sites such as Bing or LinkedIn could be beneficial because users on these sites tend to be from high income brackets.

Google Adwords is another can't-miss opportunity. It remains a leader in advertising, and its targeting approaches could help fill the gap caused by Facebook's third-party data removal.

DIY First-Party Data Collection

Most small businesses may not have extensive customer data, so the impact of Facebook's change will probably be felt a lot harder. Facebook once offered avenues to target customers using specific data without collecting it independently. Now, spending more time and effort is necessary for business owners who want to enrich their first-party data stockpiles.

It's just a matter of boosting creativity as a workaround to:

●      Set up landing pages to collect contact information.

●      Beef up email marketing campaigns by running surveys.

●      Engage more with social followers.

In other words, consider going back to the basics. 

What was your strategy before Facebook existed? What if you used an advanced form of interest-based targeting? Brainstorm ideas on how to implement "friends of" segmenting for a change of pace in strategy.

What about retargeting? This is one way to achieve higher conversion rates, and is usually far more successful than demographic-based advertising.

Facebook ad targeting options are changing the landscape of all things digital marketing. Despite this most recent setback, Facebook is still in the business of keeping advertisers happy, so don't lose hope. Meanwhile, make the right adjustments to stay on top of your marketing game.

The Effects of Facebook's Removal of Third-Party Data Targeting

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Say goodbye to data brokers and hello to a new way of reaching consumers. On March 28, 2018, Facebook announced it is banning third-party data targeting starting Sept. 30. The announcement sent a wave of apprehension through the marketing world. But there is some good news: Removing third-party data targeting creates more of a market correction, not a complete disruption. It might even give marketers better results in the long run.

What It Means

In 2013, Facebook launched its Partner Categories, which marked a milestone in the social media platform's partnership with large-scale data brokers such as BlueKai, Acxiom, and Datalogix. When it was created, Partner Categories was intended to provide advertisers with a way to connect in a meaningful manner with Facebook users, and get their brands in front of fresh, new eyes. The third-party data that has been collected has been used by numerous marketers and advertisers to target their audiences.

Marketers will now need to gain their data and information a different way, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Self-Identified Data Performs Better

As helpful as third-party data might be, it's not the be-all and end-all of data targeting strategies. In fact, many companies leveraging self-identified data — or first-party data — experience better performance and unmatched power in connecting with their customers. First-party data is highly focused, and pulls information directly from customers using a company's website or apps. That's why many in the industry think first-party data is the way of the future in digital marketing.

Not sure first-party data can be effective? Consider this: A 2015 study conducted by EConsultancy and Signal revealed that out of 300 senior-level marketers, roughly 66 percent believe first-party data provides a better understanding of customers, which also leads to better overall performance. So even though losing Facebook's third-party data targeting might feel like a sucker punch for many marketers, it's an opportunity to shift strategies and boost results.

The Consumer Connection

What does it mean for users? Facebook's move to end third-party data targeting comes closely on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a few weeks ahead of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes effective for countries in the European Union on May 25, 2018. This new regulation requires companies to get consumers' consent to collect data, giving consumers much more control over their personal information. That might be the largest impact on consumers.

So with its removal of third-party data, Facebook could be setting a new standard for the industry. This means marketers need to change with it, and continue using data collection strategies that best connect brands with potential customers.

About Face: Revealing the Mysteries Behind Facebook's Algorithm

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At the start of this year, Facebook announced an update to its News Feed algorithm, proclaiming that it wanted to give more priority to posts from friends and family that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

Facebook reasoned its member community values open expression and ideas, and that communications from friends and family should have highest priority. Users should also be able to customize the way they consume content.

Under the new system users began to see more updates from popular friends on their screens, and less content from those entities publishing public content including brands, companies, media outlets and other information sources. The term “screens” here is important because Facebook now counts organic reach when an unpaid post enters a person’s screen. This updates how posts used to be viewed as organic reach, i.e. when it entered a user’s overall News Feed, which may or may not be seen by the Facebook user.

Impact on Advertisers?

The News Feed changes have had some impact on advertisers although rising costs don’t appear to be much of a factor. For many media buyers interviewed by Digiday, advertising on Facebook is “business as usual.” Few advertisers are seeing higher rates, and in some cases rates are lower. The more important factor for advertisers is aligning their brands to meet the new changes to authentic content in the News Feed.

Let’s discuss some of the main objectives that Facebook’s new algorithm seems to favor when it decides which posts to show specific users.

Key post factors the algorithm likes: lots of likes and shares, videos with lots of views, references to trending topics, content with which a user frequently interacts, engagement from friends and family members. All of these can take different formats. Here are some we’ve seen over the past month:

The personal posts: Organic posts have diminished in favor on the network in recent years due to the proliferation of professional posts and videos from brands and news organizations. But the algorithm change means news feeds will now see more personal story posts from friends and followers. These posts either spark a lot of conversation or a lot of thank you-type responses. In this case, these posts will dominate the person’s feed as well as friends’ feeds. It’s these organic posts that will likely gain in popularity.

Trending posts: Want to know why everyone’s posting about gun control issues in recent weeks? Because it’s a trending topic. Facebook is more likely to deliver those posts to user screens to drive engagement and, in its words, “spark conversations.”

The heavily commented post: If posts can spark frequent comments on a daily basis, then these posts will be seen in more friends’ feeds. Comments mean engagement, and Facebook rewards engagement. Smart Facebook users find that by asking questions on their feeds relating to content they’ve produced, this will most likely result in more click throughs to their content, and more comments on their pages.

Facebook advertisers, page owners and group leaders need to keep up with the ever-changing nature of the News Feed. Here are some good ways to do this:

Analyze competitors: Find their pages, look at their posts, check the engagement levels, see when and how often they are posting.

Check your own Facebook data: Stay on top of your Facebook analytical data on “who” the fans are so you can tie together brand content with relevant content. You’ll be able to find insights about fans’ and followers’ levels of engagement with your brand, time of day for this engagement and levels of clicks on your posts and ads, among other data. To see your data, click on “Insights” and “Posts” in the left page column.

Watch trending topics: There may be more opportunities for brands and advertisers to link their brand to a trending topic. Twitter has a major events calendar it makes public every month and Facebook rolled out a “Trending News” section on its mobile app following the redesign of its Trending results page.

Ad Evolution: The History of Facebook

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Anyone who's seen "The Social Network" has a good idea of Facebook's inception and meteoric rise in popularity. Today, the social network connects men and women of all ages, with nearly 70 percent of all U.S. adults using Facebook on a regular basis.

But this social media platform didn't just change the way we connect. It's also made plenty of waves in the world of online advertising. Let's trace the history of Facebook ads from the basic Flyers in 2004 to the current year, capturing the incredible growth and expansion of ad platforms available to advertisers (carousel, slideshow, dynamic, etc.) from the social media behemoth.

2004: Facebook launches as TheFacebook.com in February 2004. Student Mark Zuckerberg remarks to the Harvard Crimson school newspaper that it might be nice to get some advertising to offset the costs of the servers

2004: Facebook launches its first ad revenue project, called Flyers, which were ads placed on Facebook's homepage. This offered local businesses the opportunity to send ads to a particular college campus. This evolves into an auction model called Flyers Pro.

2005: Facebook starts to offer sponsorship deals to big brands for its Groups section. Apple gets involved, sponsoring a group on Facebook, and agrees to pay Facebook $1 per member per month. The group's membership explodes in popularity, earning Facebook over $100,000 in its first few months.

2006: Microsoft signs a three-year agreement with Facebook to be the exclusive provider and seller of sponsored links and banner ads. In August, Facebook launches its video advertising platform.

2007: Facebook launches its Facebook Ads platform, part of which includes Beacon and Facebook Marketplace. Beacon was found to track online actions by Facebook users on more than 40 sites, even after they left the network. Facebook Marketplace is still with us today.

2008: Facebook launches "Pages," hoping to actively court page owners to do paid advertising down the line. In addition, the network optimizes its service for mobile phones.

2009: Facebook introduces various language ad options and geographical targeted ads options.

2010: Facebook offers its site as a mobile app. By 2017, Facebook has over 1.8 billion active mobile users.

2011: Facebook offers advertisers a desktop ad program called Sponsored Stories. Advertisers' content appears in users' feeds and looks like posts from friends. Unfortunately, users felt misled by the program. Just three years later, the company drops it from its advertising options, after users cite privacy concerns.

2012: Facebook offers advertisers the Social Graph, which brings together data from connections, likes, and follows by users. The data are used by Facebook with advertisers. Also introduced is Facebook Exchange, a real-time bidding vehicle for advertising.

2013: Facebook buys Atlas Solutions from Microsoft for $100 million to escalate its ad-serving capabilities. Retargeted ads start showing up in users' feeds, displaying products and services users searched for outside of the Facebook universe.

2014: Facebook's ad revenue expected to reach $7.7 billion for the year.

2015: Mid-year results show Facebook's mobile ad revenue in 2015's second quarter reach nearly $3 billion, 75 percent of its total ad revenue.

2016: Facebook's international ad revenue in 2016 grows at massively high rates as the rest of the world catches up with Facebook's growth in America.

2017: Facebook unknowingly runs fake ads during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. To help stop any future false ads, Facebook says it will show users which posts on pages are ads.

2018: Facebook continues to expand ad formats, offering 11 different types of advertising options.

Digging Deeper: How to Leverage Facebook's Custom Audience Options

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Is yours one of the three million businesses that advertise on Facebook? The social media giant has a lot of ad power, not just because of its expansive reach, but because Facebook gives marketers the power to customize ads.

One of the most effective advertising tools Facebook has is its custom audiences. Marketers can create tailored audiences based on data, website activity, or app activity.

Types of Custom Audiences

There are three types of custom audiences that you can create:

  • Customer File

The most common way to create a custom audience is to utilize your customer files. You'll upload customer data, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and Facebook user IDs to build a tailored Facebook audience.

  • Website Custom Audiences

By installing a Facebook Pixel on your website, you can track website visitors and advertise to this custom audience.

  • App Activity Custom Audience

This audience is based on actions taken by your app users, such as in-app purchases or pages visited.

How to Use Custom Audiences Effectively

To get the most out of your custom audience, use these tips:

  • Segment your lists

Once you've created a custom audience, you should segment them into different groups to maximize relevancy and minimize costs. For instance, you could create a segment of VIP customers that buy from you frequently, or a group of lost customers whose purchasing behavior has slowed down.

Once you've segmented audiences, you can create specific ads that speak to each group.

  • Create lookalike audiences.

Facebook can help you find customers that look similar to those you already have. It's a great way to expand your reach. Just upload your customer list and use the Lookalike Audiences to find new customers that resemble existing ones.

  • Upsell to existing customers.

Selling to existing customers is always easier than trying to sell to new ones, so make sure you devote some of your ad dollars to customer retention. Create ads that woo your current customers with discounts or priority access to new products.

  • Learn from each campaign.

As you use custom audiences, you'll watch analytics to see how your ads perform. Start with a small budget and work your way up as you learn the platform and understand how your audience responds. Let each campaign be a learning experience.

Using Facebook to advertise can be a profitable endeavor, but by utilizing custom audiences you're more likely to reach interested customers and get the most out of your budget.

Adtaxi has been named a Facebook Marketing Partner

Facebook Small Business Marketing Partner

Facebook Small Business Marketing Partner

We are delighted to announce that Adtaxi has been named a Facebook Marketing Partner, an honor earned by a select group of companies recognized for their solid track record of success driving exceptional results from Facebook campaigns.

Our mission at Adtaxi is to help advertisers solve complex marketing challenges with custom, performance-driven solutions. Being selected as a Facebook partner further represents what we strive for each day at Adtaxi, which is to arise as a cutting-edge industry leader that breeds success and impact on small and medium size businesses.

The Small Business Solutions Partner Badge was fortified with Adtaxi for our proprietary optimization platform, Quantum, which was created to help advertisers drive conversions and lower the cost of those conversions over time. Initially built to power RTB campaigns, it has now been extended to apply this same methodology to Facebook, allowing us to drive direct response solutions and help advertisers navigate the complexities of digital marketing and the Facebook ecosystem.

“Earning the Facebook Partner Badge is a significant accomplishment for our organization and greatly enhances the opportunity for our Quantum solution,” said Chris Loretto, Executive Vice President of Adtaxi. “We are excited to partner with Facebook and receive recognition for the work we do as an innovator, continuously seeking creative and effective solutions for our customers."

As a Small Business Solutions Partner, our clients will benefit from our continued commitment to superior campaign management, direct support from Facebook, transparency, training, adherence to best practices and the ability to be at the forefront of the fast-paced evolution that FB is known for.

To learn more about Facebook for Quantum, please visit the Social Media page of our website and check out how we drove a 634% increase in return on advertising spend for a client.