The changes might seem trivial, but the latest news from Facebook and Google has got industry experts considering the wider impacts for marketers and consumers, including our friends in the digital marketing media…
FACEBOOK: FIVE NEW REACTIONS FOR POSTS
We got a bit excited when this new feature appeared as we hovered over the ‘Like’ button. BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Now that I can also be angry, sad, wowed, in love with or simply howling with laughter at a post, the term ‘social engagement’ has become a whole lot more complicated for marketing people.
“On the surface it’s a very minor change, but once you start digging you can see that this is one of the largest changes ever made to the platform,” says Matt Owen, Head of Social Media for Contentive.com. The first effect, he says, will be the impact on retaining existing users and increasing engagement. “In the past a user would avoid using the ‘Like’ button when viewing a post about a sad event – the death of a family member for example. Now they have the ability to express a range of emotions, increasing engagement… which will no doubt please Facebook’s shareholders.”
As a user, what you see in your feed won’t be affected by the TYPE of reaction you give, just the fact that you reacted. “In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post — we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content,” said Facebook Manager Sammi Krug. As a marketer, therefore, getting ‘angry’ reactions won’t necessarily push your content out of people’s feeds… it just won’t look great from a brand perspective.
“It shows nuanced thinking on Facebook’s part not to merely introduce a ‘dislike’ button, which could easily give rise to Reddit-style ‘voting’ on posts, particularly unsavoury if they are personal post,” says Owen. “[However], I have been wondering if the ‘Anger’ emoticon might be one used as a negative reaction to posts that the user does not agree with – there’s an interesting study to be done there in a few months I suspect.”
It’s not just brands and marketers who will be impacted by the update, Owen claims. “This ‘small change’ may help Facebook gain and retain younger users who are used to multi-functional apps and services with a strong visual component, so there is a definite sense of future-proofing here as well.”
Stephen Lepitak, editor at The Drum, finds the visual aspect unappealing. “It’s always good to add reactions and they do seem to already be upping engagement. However I’m not a big fan of the design. They look a little amateur to me.”
GOOGLE: NO MORE PPC ADS ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE
Again, this seems like a pretty minor update – basically, Google has removed text ads from the right-hand side of the search engine results page, and added another slot for advertising at the top of the results. This means the user will see only advertising ‘above the fold’ when they perform a Google search.
The changes could drive up CPCs, as there will be more competition for fewer ad spots.
Amy Wilson, founder of w digital, told us: “Over the last 5 years, we have seen average cost per click increase dramatically. Although Google often reports CPC deflation, this is mainly due to how they aggregate reporting across the SERPs and other platforms such as YouTube. Independent research carried out by Search Engine Land showed that by Q2 2015, SERP CPCs had increased 40% vs the same period in 2014.
“We anticipate that this latest move by Google to significantly reduce ad space on the results page will further exacerbate inflation; advertisers will need to work harder to find efficiencies on the paid search landscape.”
But why the change? Graham Charlton, editor-in-chief at ClickZ Global, comments, “I think Google has done this as it receives far fewer clicks on the right hand side PPC ads as it does on the top ads. Users’ attention tends to move from the top of the SERPs downwards, so these ads are producing diminishing returns for Google (eye-tracking studies have shown this). In addition, it brings the desktop serps more into line with mobile.”
I terms of what this means for marketers, Charlton also thinks that adding the extra slot for an advert will make it harder to reach users through traditional SEO. “It makes the top three organic slots the aim, as CTR drops off sharply after that. A focus on long-tail search becomes more important, as well as the ability to attract and retain customers who will search by brand. It also means a combined PPC and organic strategy becomes important.”
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