February is dominated by Valentine’s Day. And businesses and brands of all shapes and sizes attempt to capitalise on the goodwill of those in love or the cynicism of those out-of-love, leading to a competitive period of branding and advertisements.
As a result, the month of love tends to turn into a month of fierce marketing competition with brands hoping to sweet talk consumers or out-pun their competitors.
Find out about the industry’s blushes and rejections below:
The Latest Social News
Instagram To Test Direct Messaging Via The Web
Instagram has opened up new avenues to slide into people’s DMs by expanding its messaging service to the web. Previously, messaging could only take place via the app, but according to a screenshot by reverse-engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong, the feature is on its way to the web:
Instagram has since removed the possibility of accessing the new feature, which strongly implies it’s on its way.
Facebook To Reveal Who Uploaded Your Ad-Targeting Information
Facebook will now reveal which site or company has shared your information for ad-targeting. Facebook, which is under pressure from the UK and the EU for its data-sharing practices, is attempting to circumvent any restrictions on the platform by becoming more transparent.
The end result will debut on 28th February in the form of a ‘Why am I seeing this?’ button below advertisements and targeted sponsored content. If users click this button, a drop-down menu will appear detailing when the user’s contact information was uploaded, who uploaded it, and when access was shared between partners.
The effects of this will be two-fold: users will understand advertising better and advertisers may change their behaviour depending on their reaction.
This is a mixed bag for certain advertisers; a better understanding between advertisers and users is always positive, but users may change their behaviour to increase their own privacy. A big positive is that this will limit the power of exploitative agencies, which can only be good for the industry.
Facebook Wants To Make Shows About Its Influencers
Facebook has created a new funding program under its Facebook Watch umbrella with the aim of fostering relationships with publishers and influencers to create new shows on the platform. Essentially, Facebook is attempting to usher influencers to Facebook from other platforms – notably Instagram and Twitter – with a $200,000 contract for an eight-episode series.
An insider at Facebook told Digiday the following:
“[Facebook] wants an in-road to more influencers. But instead of producing shows directly with talent, they want to work with some of the top publishers in the space.”
Looks like influencer stardom isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
LinkedIn Borrows From Twitter And Introduces “Trending Stories”
LinkedIn’s credentials as a social media site are increasing exponentially, but the site is now smartly borrowing from its competitors to improve itself. Earlier this month, LinkedIn introduced a “trending stories” section, allowing users from all over the world to stay on top of the most popular stories from their chosen industries.
Previously being very location focused, LinkedIn has now opened up a way to network internationally by funnelling its users to popular content. The more users share this popular, viral-ready content, the more networking that will occur.
The Latest Google News
Google Engineers Start Their Journey To “Killing the URL”
Due to copious possible security risks, Google engineers have been asking since September for the internet to band together and “kill the URL”. Google isn’t proposing to go under the bonnet and change the whole infrastructure of the internet, but to change the way URLs are displayed to the user.
Recently, malicious links – particularly phishing links – are becoming closer and closer to resembling the “real thing””; complicated URLs ensure that minute changes cannot be noticed, leading to an increase in cyber security risk. Often, sites will simply redirect to their malicious counterparts, leaving inexperienced internet users adrift.
Speaking to WIRED, Google said:
“What we’re really talking about is changing the way site identity is presented. People should know easily what site they’re on, and they shouldn’t be confused into thinking they’re on another site. It shouldn’t take advanced knowledge of how the internet works to figure that out.”
While this is a long way off, a change to displayed URLs may open up new opportunities for agencies to get creative or limit creativity in URLs. Either way, watch this space.
John Mueller Explains How To Stop Pages Turning Into “Soft 404s”
During this month’s Google webmaster Hangout, John Mueller explained an issue where expired product pages would turn into “soft 404s”. During the session, Mueller was asked the following:
“Google is reporting our expired product pages as soft 404. These URLs redirect to a relevant, alternate product with a message saying the product they wanted is unavailable.”
Usually, if content is no longer available, it’s standard practice to redirect it to an equivalent page. The site owner was doing this, but Google was still reporting the page as a “soft 404”.
The answer: it had to do with the page’s messaging. If a Googlebot crawls a page and sees “no longer available”, it’ll automatically mark it as a 404. If your website – or a client’s – has product unavailable pages, Mueller suggests putting in a re-direct and ridding the page of “no longer available””.
The more you know!
The Latest In Branding
In response to the significant hype around Blue Planet and Planet Earth, the BBC has released its own line of eco-friendly clothes. As part of this move, the broadcasting company is also selling homewares and books.
The brand kicked off on the big stage at London Fashion Week. Clothes will be made of wholly-sustainable products, including dyes, with consideration for the volume of water use during production.
“The BBC is seeking to partner with trailblazers who are providing solutions to how we consume so that we as individuals can become a part of the solution and work towards a sustainable future.” Julia Kenyon, Global Brands Director, BBC studios
Being part of London Fashion Week, the BBC was able to enjoy significant press through the event’s digital platform and reach. Sites such as The Guardian and Independent ran popular stories, although responses on social media were mixed
Could this be a smart move for the BBC?
DTC Brands Are Moving Away From Digital
Not all brands and areas in marketing are looking to digital as the present and future. DTC brands – which stands for direct-to-consumer – and their manufacturers are beginning to rely on TV again as opposed to digital mediums.
A full write-up can be found on The Drum, but the fact that DTC brands are regressing into older forms of marketing is an interesting trend to keep an eye on. Digital-first brands, such as Birchbox, are expanding into more traditional forms of media in an attempt to diversify their outreach and the consumers they attract.
We will be publishing an in-depth interview with Birchbox in the up-coming issue of our print magazine. You can read digital versions of past Figaro Digital magazines on our website here.
Our Favourite Campaign Of The Month
Paddy Power is known for pushing its content close to the mark, but its newest “loyalty is dead” video campaign pushes the boat out, even by their standards (or lack thereof).
While Valentine’s is a positive time of year, romance can be a double-edged sword, as exemplified by Paddy Power’s subject matter.
The brother of Ryan Giggs, Rhodri, is the star of this newest campaign. Ryan’s infidelity with Rhodri’s ex-wife is common knowledge these days, so the fact that he’s the face of a campaign called “loyalty is dead” is a brave effort from Paddy Power.
Playing on this old and unforgettable tale of football and brotherly drama, the video puts a good-natured spin on the sad news. In just a minute, Paddy Power summed up its entire plan: it is daring and does not believe in limitations.
Fan reaction has been strong, with the video racking up 1.1 million views on YouTube already. The video was shared and discussed heavily on social media, stoked on and helped by the brands sharp and humour-focused reactions to sporting events.
Thankfully, the campaign paid off, mostly due to its humour-filled and well-made video. The lesson here is that courageous campaigns can sometimes pay off, just don’t bank on this level of “bants” paying off every time.https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18&v=EQL4tl0U_5o