The Figaro Digital Monthly Digest: January

by Figaro Digital

January often brings with it Blue Monday, a wave of ‘new year, new me’, sobriety, and unrealistic exercise regimes. On a more positive note, January does present the digital marketing industry with a fresh opportunity to dust off old marketing ideas and re-invent campaigns.

Many brands have been taking their New Year resolutions seriously, with major industry moves kicking off this month. Check out how the industry reacted the January blues and dove headfirst into fulfilling their resolutions below:

The Latest Social News

Fake Influencers Are Costing Brands £157 Million

According to a report by New York-based marketing company Captiv8, fake influencer profiles are costing brands roughly £157 million. In 2017, brands paid roughly £1.65 billion on influencers, but a total of 11 per cent of these were fake profiles.

In response to recent changes in the Advertising Standards Authority, Instagram has clamped down again on fake profiles and followers in hopes to stem the flow of fraudulent profiles. The change to advertising standards implores influencers and celebrities to be even more explicit with their intentions when posting sponsored content.

While influencer marketing will still be a hot commodity in 2019, brands are likely to be a little more cautious and rigorous in their screening processes.

Twitter Trials “Speech Bubble” Feature In Beta

Twitter is now accepting beta applications for a bunch of new features, including a “speech bubble” addition. The next update will bring in speech bubbles for replies, along with indentation features and colour-coded indications for those you follow or reply to.

Status availability will come in the future, but will not be in this beta test. Availability can be switched on and off, with Twitter stating that this will help foster conversations as users will be more likely to reply to people if they see that they’re online.

Another future rollout will be icebreaker tweets, which are used to kick-off conversations around a particular topic in a positive way.

Reddit Hires Former Twitter Ad Executive To “Make [Their] Ads More Engaging”

Reddit has hired Shariq Rizvi, formerly of Twitter, as its Vice President of Ads, Products and Engineering role. Rizvi, commenting on his newest challenge, stated that he wanted to revolutionise the platform’s approach to advertisements, seeking to make them “more engaging.”

Expanding on his goals, Rizvi said one of his two major plans of attack is to diversify the app’s appeal beyond serving businesses, instead looking to drive up engagement to make it a better social platform.

Reddit, then, is attempting to become an even more competitive platform to both help serve businesses and intertwine their ads with social engagement.

Facebook Introduces Fact-Checking Service In The UK

Facebook is launching its fact-checking project in the UK, with British company Full Fact assuming responsibilities. The project has already been launched in the US to mixed reviews.

The change is a concerted effort from Facebook to crackdown on fake news, misinformation and predatory ads on the platform. How this algorithm change and introduction of a potentially partisan authority will affect PPC and marketing on the platform waits to be seen.

The Latest Google News

Google’s Built-in Ad Blocker To Roll Out Worldwide On 9th July

Google Chrome’s built-in ad blocker, which censors advertisements that do not adhere to Better Ads Standards, will be rolling out worldwide on 9th July. The blocker is currently available in Britain, Canada and the United States, but will soon be without geographical limitations.

The blocker was originally introduced in February 2018 as an attempt to rid Google’s ad space of “negative ads.”

Negative ads typically fall into four categories: pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, pages with over 30 per cent of ad density, and large sticky ads. If a website has one of these negative ads on the page, Google will automatically censor all advertisements. Harsh, but fair.

Google Assistant Adds Interpreter Mode To Translate Conversations

Google has added an interpreter mode to its Google Assistant tech, which turns the digital assistant into a translator. The feature is meant to be used when two people are conversing with each other, with Google Assistant translating each person’s words into the other’s language.

The technology is meant to be used in businesses but can be adapted to work anywhere.

For example, a restaurant worker could end up taking an order from a French-speaking couple, but not speak the language. The worker would simply have to put Google Assistant into interpreter mode, which would then translate the couple’s speech into their native language and vice-versa.

John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst At Google, Plays Up Role Of “Good Content”

During a Google Webmaster Central Hangout this month, Google’s John Mueller sent out a reminder to users that even the most technically well-optimised website will suffer without good content. Responding to a query from a user who was confused as to why his technically-perfect website was struggling to rank, Mueller stated:

“[A] thing to keep in mind is that just because something is technically correct doesn’t mean that it’s relevant to users in the search results. That doesn’t mean that it will rank high. So if you clean up your website, and you fix all of the issues, for example, if your website contains lots of terrible content then it still won’t rank that high. So you need to, on the one hand, understand which of these technical issues are actually critical for your website to have fixed. And, on the other hand, you really need to focus on the user aspect as well to find what are issues that users are having, and how can my website help solve those issues. Or help answer those questions.”

The Latest In Branding

MasterCard Removes Name From Branding

In a risky move, MasterCard has removed its name from its branding, opting for a minimalist look. The move – the conclusion of 20 months of extensive market research – has received a mixed response from the public, but has been lauded by branding and marketing experts.

The decision has come after an extensive research and brainstorming period, with MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar stating that:

“[It’s] important to show up in a prominent way to attract attention on the one hand and on the other to make the right impact. Our brand is very attractive and has a high level of recognition around the world but how do we take it to the next level?”

Subscribing wholeheartedly to the less-is-more ethos is risky for brands, but can pay off. From a simple aesthetic perspective, Rajamannar stated that “red and yellow interlocking circles [makes] the visibility […] more prominent.”

In a world where marketing needs to accommodate mobile space and embrace minimalism, the change may be an important step in modernising the brand.

Short Ads Tipped For A Strong 2019

Marketers are taking a leaf out of TV’s book by adopting short-form advertisements, with online advertising seeking to hit that sweet five to seven second ad length.

A study conducted by Phoenix MI analysed 100 short form TV ads, seeking to compare their effectiveness with long form ads. The study found that short form and long form ads had the same or similar levels of effectiveness and memorability.

Shorter ads, then, are on an upward swing, so incorporating them into your marketing campaigns is a smart move.

Gillette Gets “Woke”, Receives Mixed Response

Last week, Gillette debuted its newest advertisement, focusing on the topic of toxic masculinity. The ad has proved to immensely popular, but has drawn a mixed response.

The short film, entitled ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’, immediately went viral, amassing four million hits in 48 hours. As seen by the video’s rating, however, the response has been very mixed.

Politics aside, Gillette will see this advert as a success given its reach, but many are now choosing to boycott the product. Its revenue and sales figures for this period will tell the full story, but the advert is a reminder that political adverts swing both ways:

Our Favourite Campaign Of The Month

(Source: Greggs)

Our favourite campaign of the month showcases the power of Twitter. Having a sharp, humorous Twitter presence can pay dividends, as seen by Greggs’ rebuttal to internet provocateur Piers Morgan. Following the long-awaited reveal of Greggs’ first vegan meat substitute, Morgan responded to the news in his typical fashion:

Greggs quickly responded with a witty response, which brought a massive influx of engagement:

Combined with the brand’s effective video on social, one tweet ignited sausage roll pandemonium in the UK, with many Greggs selling out of the product. In fact, the success of the sausage roll has caused the company to re-assess its profit forecast, with sales jumping 7.2 per cent.

While the product would have been a success regardless, the furore with Morgan on Twitter made news headlines and was even the basis for a section on Good Morning Britain.

Following on from this, Greggs capitalised on the hype even further by sending vegan sausage rolls to influencers. The lesson here is that no matter how carefully planned out your marketing approach is, always look out for avenues to increase engagement.

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