Facebook, Fake News and More Measurement Glitches
While 2016 was hard for some of us, it was really hard for Facebook. In light of recent election results and after a number of fake news sites that took advantage of the virality of false information on social networks were discovered, the platform was accused of inflating fake news that influenced voters’ decisions. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded that “more than 99% of what people see is authentic,” the platform has moved towards using AI to remove fake news, rather than human curators that could create bias. Last year, an update was designed to demote stories flagged by users as fake, and earlier this year, another update used an algorithm to identify clickbait stories. Facebook’s taken more immediate steps in recent weeks, too, by banning fake news sites from using its advertising network.
And to top it all off, Facebook announced that it found more mishaps regarding measurement, including weekly and monthly reach of advertisers’ posts, number of full video views and time spent with Instant Articles. While the platform has said none of these metrics have affected billing for ads, it comes rather quickly after the fake news scandal — and Facebook’s acknowledgement of the overestimation on video metrics a few months ago. In order to appease advertisers, the platform’s ramping up third-party verification of data, planning to form a Measurement Council made up of marketers and executives and looking into an audit via the Media Rating Council.
Why do we care?
If we can learn anything from Facebook’s blunders this week, it’s that people value transparency and accurate information. Fake news may not seem to have much to do with brands, but it does. Metrics, however, play a much larger part in brands’ lives. At this point, advertisers have different options. One is to reconsider Facebook, as brands should care about advertising on responsible platforms. After all, people are pointing out, if marketers are required to tell the truth, shouldn’t so-called publishers (and tech companies) be? On the other hand, with Facebook and Google receiving 85 cents of every dollar spent on digital advertising and the power of their targeting capabilities, some people can’t afford to move off the platform, or won’t be affected in a huge way if they do continue. While Facebook is making moves to rectify its mistakes, brands should take note of these changes and move forward, perhaps a bit more cautiously.
Twitter Combats Abuse with New Tools, Employee Training
In more of an effort to combat its rampant abuse problem, Twitter has rolled out a new feature for users in the form of a word filter. Similar to one that Instagram has already introduced to its users, Twitter’s tool lets people block words, hashtags and even emojis from their mentions. While it’s a good way for users to shield themselves from abuse on the platform, it doesn’t actually remove or alert Twitter of any abusive activity. But Twitter’s working to fix that, too. In addition to the filter, the platform’s giving users a new reporting option specifically for “hateful” content and re-training its moderation employees to better catch abuse.
Why do we care?
For users on the platform, Twitter’s move toward tackling abuse is a huge step. For brands in particular, it’s one way to protect themselves from unnecessary negative sentiment, although in a similar response to Instagram’s filter, brands shouldn’t avoid all concerns, especially valid ones. And while Twitter’s moving in the right direction, it might prove a little too late for those that have given up on the platform due to its inaction in the past, which could then affect the audiences brands are interested in reaching — or even give brands a reason to rethink their presence.
Pinterest Launches Autoplay Video, Explore Section
Following in the footsteps of Instagram and Facebook, Pinterest heads down the “Explore” route, complete with autoplay video. In the platform’s new “Explore” tab, users will get content recommendations based on personalized algorithms and trending items from publishers and other sources. And while Pinterest has long been known for its strong community focused on recipes, clothing and DIY, with the new tab, the platform hopes to expand its reputation by helping users find additional topics.
Why do we care?
Compared to platforms like Snapchat or Facebook, Pinterest may not have as big a user base, but it stands out as one with more engagement. One advantage it holds is that it allows users to take hold of a moment of inspiration and continue discovering new content from there. And by tapping into personalization and native video, it’s looking at ways to get users to come back by incorporating features that have proven successful on other platforms. For brands, the idea is that these features could give content more exposure, although there are no details on how Pinterest will accommodate ads or branded content.
Your Weekly Platform Updates
FACEBOOK INTRODUCES UNIFIED INBOX FOR BUSINESSES, TESTS NEW AD FORMAT
Other news on the Facebook front has overshadowed some new features for businesses on the platform, including a Pages Manager app that provides a unified stream of Facebook comments and posts, as well as messages and comments on Instagram. And it’s testing out a new product ad that showcases multiple products, through a main image and related items below. Click once and it brings up a second page with more products. Click again and the user is directed to the retailers website.
SNAPCHAT PARTNERS WITH FOURSQUARE FOR BETTER TARGETING
Now, advertisers on Snapchat will get to take advantage of a partnership between the platform and Foursquare that will give them more detailed targeting. With 90 million locations available via Foursquare, brands can use specific parameters, rather than a larger fence, to guide geofilter campaigns. Additionally, the platform’s parent company Snap, Inc. has reportedly filed (albeit confidentially) for its initial public offering.
Why do we care?
From customer service and community management to advertising with paid social, these updates from Facebook and Snapchat will make advertisers’ lives easier. Snap’s pending IPO is something to take note of as well, as it would give the company more capital and the ability to better compete with larger platforms with billion-dollar valuations. While there’s no official word from the company yet, for brands, it could mean bigger and better features to test out.
WHO’S DOING COOL STUFF?
BP’s making pumping gas easier and more enjoyable this week with Miles, an interactive pump that, while still pretty basic on the AI front, lets people listen to music, share on social media, take video ecards and play trivia while they’re waiting to fill up their car. The project’s part of a partnership with Pandora and The Onion (the publication helped develop Miles’ personality). And while the activation’s only available in Brooklyn and Chicago until February, the petroleum retailer could expand the pilot program based on customer response.
As if it doesn’t already, Nutella is looking to make people happy with its first branded content series, just in time for the holidays. The documentary series, “Spread the Happy,” plans to celebrate real people and their stories with four episodes, released each week on Nutella’s YouTube channel. With episodes on a young girl and her friendship with her local garbage man and a family pop group that aims to spread happiness through music, the brand hopes to focus on communicating the happiness, rather than the branding.
Even parents are desperate this year to get what they want for Christmas. In Lexus’ 2016 holiday campaign, adults shamelessly use their kids to get Santa’s ear to ask for a new car, going so far as to hijack their kid’s letter to the North Pole and coach their child on what to say on the big guy’s lap. It’s a different angle than more traditional Christmas ads that focus on family and quality time, but they’re humorous, less corny and speak to some of the magic surrounding the holiday season. And they’ll cater to varying markets, with certain spots translated and new versions created for different audiences.