Innovations in Search and Social [October 2023]


What’s new in the realms of paid search and social media? This month, Nick Tuttle, Director of Search Media Investment, and Lauren Brown, Director of Social Media Investment, compiled all the latest news, trends, and resources for easy access.

TikTok and Google are exploring a new partnership that would integrate Google’s search prompts and web-based search results into TikTok’s own search stream. Clicking or tapping a result would open a web browser within TikTok rather than opening Chrome or another app. This initiative arose from studies that, according to Google SVP Prabhakar Raghavan, show “almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

All of X’s interaction counts and action buttons—except the views counter, added back in December—may soon only be visible within the post details (viewable once users click into or expand the post). When Instagram tested something similar in 2019, post engagement declined, so this will likely cause a drop in X’s reposts and quotes. However, analysts suggest this could also slow the spread of misinformation and may lessen competition for vanity metrics.

A GIF of John Travolta from the movie "Pulp Fiction" looking around trying to find something.
No likes? Replies? Nothin’?

X appears to be close to launching new pricing tiers for X Premium, including an ad-free subscription option. Recently surfaced back-end code suggests there may be three tiers: X Premium Basic, X Premium Standard, and X Premium Plus. X owner Elon Musk claims that encouraging users to pay for the app is a way to combat the rise of bots and AI-generated spam.

The Wall Street Journal detailed pricing for Meta’s proposed ad-free Facebook and Instagram subscriptions, based on Meta’s submission to European Union officials. The impetus for these ad-free options is the EU’s evolving data privacy regulations, which put more strain on Meta’s capacity to personalize ads and content based on user activity. According to WSJ, Meta’s plans would cost around $14 per month for an ad-free Facebook or $17 per month for both Facebook and Instagram.

A GIF of Jon Stewart wiping away fake tears with a $100 bill.
Hope X and Meta get the boost they need.

Microsoft kicked off the fall with a series of new product updates for Audience Ads. The tech giant said these updates will help advertisers achieve better results with less effort and create more engaging ads that are served to a higher-value audience. Expect to see ads in new markets, within more games, on additional video platforms, and in the free consumer version of Microsoft 365. Predictive targeting and new AI bid strategies are also part of the rollout.

Despite investing $100 billion in Bing, the search engine says it simply can’t compete with Google due to its monopoly position, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The ongoing US vs. Google anti-trust trial has already uncovered behavior from Google like raising ad prices to meet revenue targets. The trial’s outcome could potentially reshape the company and the search landscape.

A GIF of Thanos adding the yellow stone to his infinity gauntlet and becoming even more powerful.
“Just a little AI here, and…oh yeah, that’s the good stuff…”

As the world’s largest video sharing platform, YouTube is ripe for data analysis on its users, content, and performance metrics. A look at the current state of AI-generated content, user and creator demographics, and expectations for multiple languages for accessibility has uncovered trends that could soon impact YouTube creative development and audience targeting.

Meta is rolling out its first generative AI-powered features in Ads Manager for ad creative—Text Variations, Image Expansion, and Background Generation—to enable the creation of ad variations quickly and automatically, with the system optimizing to the best-performing ads.

Amazon is set to roll out upgraded generative AI capabilities that offer a more conversational, detailed, and personalized user experience. Shoppers will be able to compare products in real time and seek additional details, reviews, and recommendations tailored to their search context. Advertisers may need to reassess campaign strategies to maintain visibility among AI-powered results.

A constant stream of packages coming down a conveyor belt.
Keep ’em comin’, Amazon… keeeeep ’em comin’…

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