Happy spring, dearest readers. Warm days are ahead! While the seasons were changing, so was the world of online advertising—that’s why it’s time for another news round-up. Let’s see what’s been going on recently.
Facebook removes more targeting options
In 2018, the National Fair Housing Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Communication Workers of America, and several other groups filed suit against Facebook due to concerns that its advertising platform enables discrimination against particular audiences on the basis of race, gender, age, and so on.
Last summer, Facebook removed over 5,000 targeting options from its advertising platform—a decision that impacted advertisers from all verticals. Now, Facebook has announced new policies specifically geared towards advertisers in the housing, employment, and credit industries:
- Facebook will no longer allow advertisers in these industries to target users according to gender, age, or ZIP code.
- Facebook will disable targeting that appears to exclude users on the basis of race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, or religion.
- Facebook is building a tool that will enable users to view all the housing-related ads that are currently running in the US.
It goes without saying that everyone at WordStream fully supports this decision and the broader trend of Facebook more diligently working to eliminate discriminatory ads.
LinkedIn introduces lookalike audiences
LinkedIn, which now boasts over 600 million users, has announced that advertisers now have the ability to create and target lookalike audiences on the platform.
Long employed by savvy Facebook marketers, lookalike audiences enable you to target users similar to those who’ve already engaged your business in some way—visited your website, downloaded a whitepaper, or even become a paying customer. The idea behind lookalike audiences is that the users who look and act like those who’ve engaged your business are more likely than others to take the action you want them to take.
In a nutshell, you can expand the reach of your LinkedIn ads and remain confident that the impressions and clicks you’re driving are coming from relevant, high-quality users. In fact, LinkedIn says that some of the advertisers who got early access to the lookalike audience functionality grew their reach tenfold without sacrificing quality.
To get started with LinkedIn lookalike audiences, head to Campaign Manager and create a Matched Audience. If you’re looking for ways to build out your first audience, you can pull a list of contacts from your CRM or a list of people who’ve visited your website.
LinkedIn has also announced the expansion of interest targeting, which the platform initially rolled out to advertisers in January. Now, you can target LinkedIn users according to combinations of their professional interests—thus allowing you to get more granular. To help you get started, LinkedIn has created a couple dozen templates of predefined audiences that you can target.
Facebook launches a search engine for ads
Competitive research on Facebook just got a little bit easier. Late last week, Facebook announced the expansion of the Ad Library to include every business page that’s running ads—not just pages related to politics and social issues, as was previously the case.
For those who don’t know, the Ad Library—launched in the US as the Ad Archive a while back—was originally intended to enable Facebook users to get more information about the political ads they saw on the platform. Basically, if a user saw an inflammatory, politically charged ad and wanted to make sure it wasn’t being run by a tech savvy man based in—oh, I don’t know—a massive Eurasian powerhouse, they could so with the Ad Library.
Now, in step with their continued efforts towards greater transparency, Facebook has expanded the Ad Library to enable users to get more information about everyone’s ads. If your business has a Facebook page and you’re running ads on the platform, anyone can use the Ad Library to see what you’re putting out there.
(Technically, users could already do this by navigating to your Facebook page and clicking on the Info and Ads tab. The Ad Library simply makes it easier and more streamlined.)
But, users aren’t really the concern, right? Nope—it’s your competitors that you have to worry about. The Ad Library is essentially a search engine for Facebook ads. Your closest rival can simply type your name into the search box and get instant access to all the creative advertising assets you’re running.
The good news is that your competitors still can’t see all the behind-the-scenes stuff—the demographics you’re targeting, the parameters of your lookalike audiences, and so on. And, at the end of the day, as important as it is to write strong copy and create compelling visuals, those audienced-based details are what really matter.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the other businesses in your space and make sure their ads aren’t getting too similar to yours.
Google makes Gmail dynamic, interactive
Gmail is about to become a lot more useful. Last week, Google announced that it has improved its email property—which boasts over a billion monthly active users—by making it far more dynamic and interactive than ever before.
Compared to other web-based experiences, said Gmail product manager Aakash Sahney in the announcement blog post, “email has largely stayed the same—with static messages that eventually go out of date or merely serve as springboards to accomplish more complex tasks.”
We’ve all been there: You get an email invitation to RSVP to an event and, rather than taking care of it within the email itself, you have to navigate to another website and fill out a form there. Not anymore. Thanks to the new, dynamic interface, you’ll be able to accept meeting invitations, complete forms, browse products, respond to Google doc comments, book hotel rooms, and more—all within Gmail.
Business owners and digital marketers alike should certainly feel excited about this. In the past, it’s been all too easy to suffer low engagement across your email marketing campaigns due to the static nature of the messages and the frustration that your contacts may have felt when trying to complete simple tasks.
Let’s say you run a local gym, for example. Previously, when you’ve asked your email contacts to fill out the sign-up form for a new exercise class, you’ve probably lost interested participants simply because they didn’t feel like clicking through to your website. Now, as long as you’re a G Suite customer, you’ll be able to drive more conversions with the help of dynamic, interactive Gmail templates.
Instagram makes Stories ads interactive
Great news for social media marketers who (wisely) incorporate engagement with users into their strategies: Instagram has announced that polls are coming to Stories ads.
Instagram Stories are insanely popular, and a lot of businesses have been using interactive elements—polls, hashtags, mentions—in their organic Stories posts for some time now. It’s a smart tactic—and for more than one reason.
Using a Stories poll to directly ask your followers for their input on your product is a fantastic way to inform the path your business takes going forward. By no means is this a new idea—solving for the customer should be the primary reason you’re in business, after all. A Stories poll enables you to glean those valuable, customer-minded insights in fun, informal way.
Tangentially, fielding customers’ opinions through a Stories poll shows them that you care. You’re giving them an opportunity to influence the development of your product according to their pain points, needs, and concerns. There’s no doubt that they appreciate that.
Anyway, back to the news at hand. With the extension of polls to Stories ads, you can now field opinions not only from your followers, but from Instagram users at large.
Let’s say you’re the in-house social media manager for a coffee house in Boston. In the past, you’ve used organic Stories polls to get your followers’ opinions on ideas for new espresso drinks. Now, by incorporating polls into your paid Stories, you can field responses from other users who may be interested in your shop. By creating a custom audience based on users who’ve visited your website or creating a lookalike audience based on users who’ve signed up for your weekly newsletter, you can reach new audiences with your interactive Stories ads while feeling confident that you’re engaging relevant users.
Amazon blocks certain vendors from advertising
CNBC has reported that Amazon is no longer allowing vendors to promote products that ultimately yield losses for Amazon.
Whereas an Amazon seller is a third-party business that sells its products directly to consumers through Amazon’s platform, an Amazon vendor is a third-party business that sells its products to Amazon for resale to consumers. Of course, Amazon aims to resell products at a profit. However, due to packing and shipping costs, Amazon sometimes loses money in the process of buying from vendors and reselling to consumers.
Aw. Poor Jeff!
The company’s logic, it appears, is that no longer allowing certain vendors to promote their unprofitable products will force those vendors to sell to Amazon at lower prices.
This decision, which CNBC was able to make public thanks to emails sent to certain vendors, indicates the lengths Amazon is willing to go to if it means a better bottom line at the end of the quarter. Apparently, they calculate that the money they’ll lose by blocking vendors from running paid promotions is less than the money they’ll gain by pressuring vendors to sell to them at lower prices.
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