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Facebook hates losing revenue. Who knew?!

Facebook’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Just not the kind it wants.

Since last year, Facebook’s been at the centre of one controversy after another.

First, it was the shaky IPO. Then the Cambridge Analytica data leaks.

Conducted secret social experiments (and got caught), looked the other way when the platform was used for inciting genocide and finally got a massive fine for violating user privacy.

Despite the controversies, Facebook’s ad revenue keeps on growing.

As far as advertising goes, it seems Facebook can do no harm. Even when it falsely reports on video metrics!

But there’s something different about their most recent run-in with civil rights groups. 

Since last Friday, 17 brands have joined the Facebook boycott, including Unilever (which also pulled out of Twitter).

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will [. . .] revisit our current position if necessary,” said Luis Di Como, Unilever’s executive vice president of global media.

Facebook’s stock fell by 8% last week resulting in a reversal on its policies on content moderation.

Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will be following in Twitter’s footsteps only a week after pleading, “Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online”.

May be brands are finally ready to look beyond cheap clicks.

Or as BBC ponders, maybe in a pandemic infused downturn, this is just the kind of PR that was needed. 

Facebook strengthens social e-commerce with Shops

Facebook Shops

Facebook recently announced a new feature to support small businesses called Facebook Shops. Shops will give businesses the ability to display and sell products directly on Facebook.

While most sellers will still need to drive buyers to their e-commerce store from Shops, Facebook is testing an invite-only Checkout program for which it will charge an undisclosed fee for each transaction.

Unlike the existing Marketplace, which offers peer-to-peer selling, Shops is a free-to-use social e-commerce solution available through Facebook and Instagram.

With Shops, ability to handle customer support through Messenger and eventual plans to sell products directly through chat, Facebook is making omnichannel e-commerce possible for the 90 million small businesses using Facebook.

Facebook is also planning to offer shopping through Live Stream videos same as shopping channels.

Zoom out

For some time now Facebook has been working on connecting its app (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp) into an ecosystem.

Shops bring Facebook one step closer to building a social e-commerce ecosystem similar to WeChat. In addition to Shops, Facebook has also introduced a string of new features including the ability to connect loyalty programs to Facebook accounts.

Facebook has big plans for revolutionising online retail. With social e-commerce from Instagram poised to bring $10 billion in revenue by 2021, Facebook is putting its weight behind making social commerce available to business of all sizes.

What now

This move alone may not be enough to replace Amazon but for some small businesses, Shops could become a compliment or even a substitute to Etsy.

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t positioning itself to become an e-commerce platform. Instead, more data on how, where, when and what we purchase will allow Facebook to improve its ads revenue.

Here’s a word of advice for anyone interested in giving Shops a shot, social e-commerce is ‘social’ and might require a significantly different approach than what most e-comm retailers are used to.

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Google wants Facebook advertisers to sit up and pay more attention

Last year Google introduced two new ad-formats, Gallery Ads and Discovery Ads.

The first didn’t make it past the beta but the latter was launched globally this April.

What are Discovery Ads?

Discovery Ads are a new automated, multi-channel ad-format available across YouTube, Gmail and for the first time ever in the Discover Feed on Android devices.

Automated Campaigns? Introduced in 2018, allow you to set your budget and ad-copies, then let Google take care of ad serving and optimisation.

Google wants a share of your social media budgets

For a long time, Google has wanted to grow past the search intent and offer more advertising across more touchpoints throughout the purchase funnel.

Google would like you to know that with Discovery Ads you can reach 2,9 billion people across YouTube, Android devices and Gmail.

Or roughly the same amount of users across all Facebook apps combined.

According to Google, 86% of people expect to discover new brands as they watch videos and browse the web – and Google wants you to know that they’re on it.

“With Discovery Ads, you can rely on Google’s understanding of consumers’ intent across our properties to engage these audiences as they scroll through their favourite Google feeds—no search query needed,” writes Jerry Dischler, VP of Ads Platforms & Google Properties.

Setting the bar high for quality

The biggest attraction in this new ad-format is the Discover Feed on Android devices.

While Discovery Ads are targeted based on Google Audiences (but advertisers can also use Custom Intent Audiences), Google only wants to show ads that are the most relevant and include high-quality images, one ad at a time, in the Discover Feed on Android devices.

Are Discover Ads expensive?

Google recommends setting a budget at least 10x your target CPA bid.

Basically, if the maximum you’re willing to pay for acquiring a customer is 10 €, the set up a daily budget of 100 € and get at least 40 conversions before making any changes to the campaign.

Are Discovery Ads a good alternative to advertising on social media?

While paid search is focused on capturing people in the knowgodo and buy moments, where the intent is expressed by the user through keywords, Discovery is about spontaneity. 

Besides YouTube and Gmail, the biggest charm of this new ad-format is really the Discover Feed on Android devices. People often habitually browse this feed the same way they browse Instagram or Facebook.

In markets where Android is the dominant device, we might see more advertisers testing Discovery Ads.

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Is Facebook Live making a comeback? Maybe…

Facebook Live first saw the light of day in 2016 but quickly ran into challenges with their regular users. 

Being a live video streaming service that allows anyone to share a live broadcast from a phone or desktop straight to the News Feed, publishersinfluencers and celebrities have been frequent fliers since day one.

It was us Regular Joes, you and me, who didn’t love the idea of broadcasting to everyone we’ve ever met.

Like that Susan who dropped off the radar after high school or Juan Ramón Martínez Escudero Villanueva Cortéz who was our hostel buddy for a week during the Barcelona backpacking tour of ´92.

We want more control over who can view our live broadcasts.

Now, as nature has collectively sent us to our rooms with Covid-19, most major eventsconferences and workshops are folding like chairs on the Lido deck at closing time.

Online video sharing platforms, like Facebook Live and Zoom, are seeing a massive boost in their usage.

Facebook hasn’t seen quite the same growth as Zoom during social distancing but music labelscelebsbrands and publishers are still flocking to Facebook Live.

Previously, it was chiefly publishers making use of Live to expand their reach because the possibility to advertise within it or otherwise monetise the broadcasts, has been limited.

With this renewed interest, however, Facebook is quickly optimising existing features and adding new oneswith possible updates that could allow monetising content, or even publishing it outside of Facebook for greater reach.

We’re waiting to see if Facebook will pitch Facebook Live to advertisers once again.

Hopefully, this time around, they’ll iron out the details around monetisation before doing so.