August in digital: it’s getting better, better everyday

The world of online advertising can be a murky place. The unwanted pop-up ad. The unskippable video. The completely useless ‘targeted’ ad. But platforms and regulators are listening. In order to maintain our increasingly short online attention spans, they’re improving the user experience, working to better personalise ads, while encouraging more transparency where possible.

Spotify tests unlimited ad-skipping function

Spotify is letting its free users in Australia skip as many audio and video adverts as they want, and as often as they want. The test, called ‘Active Media’, means advertisers will not have to pay for the ads that are skipped. Spotify hopes that by allowing users to spend more time on the ads they’re actually interested in, it can get a better idea of what ads work best for certain users.

Speaking to AdAge, Spotify’s Global Head of Partner Solutions Danielle Lee, said: “Our hypothesis is if we can use this to fuel our streaming intelligence, and deliver a more personalised experience and a more engaging audience to our advertisers, it will improve the outcomes that we can deliver for brands.”

Facebook removes over 5,000 ad targeting options

Facebook is making changes to how its ad targeting works in order to prevent advertisers from posting discriminatory ads. As of this month, advertisers won’t be able to exclude people who are interested in things such as ‘Passover’ or ‘Buddhism’. However, they will still be able to target those who are interested in those terms.

According to Facebook’s news blog: “While these [ad targeting] options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimising the risk of abuse is more important. This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

Government launches investigation into influencer marketing

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into influencer marketing, with a particular focus on social media stars who are failing to clearly disclose when a post is an #ad. It’s the first time the CMA has taken active steps in rooting out bad actors in the space, rather than only reacting when a brand is reported by the public or other influencers.

George Lusty, the CMA’s Senior Director for Consumer Protection, said: “If people see clothes, cosmetics, a car, or holiday being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it. So, it’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand.”

Pinterest’s Promoted Videos now at max width

After a brief stint testing maximum width videos with a select few brands, Pinterest is now rolling the format out to all advertisers. Now, videos are approximately four times bigger, spanning across the platform’s two-column grid in feeds and in search on mobile. It represents a considerable amount of real estate for advertisers who are vying for the attention of users.

According to Pinterest, bigger does mean better. During the trial period with max width videos, John Lewis saw a 33% increase in purchasing intent for its nursery campaign, while Adidas saw a 12.6% lift in ad awareness for its World Cup campaign.

Snapchat remains popular with younger users

It’s been a tough year for Snapchat. It saw its share price plummet after Kylie Jenner declared the platform dead in February. The platform also lost users for the first time, with a drop from 191 million users in Q1 to 188 million users in Q2 2018.

However, it’s not all bad news. By the end of this year, Snapchat will become the most popular social media platform in the UK for 18- to 24-year-olds. It’s expected to grow its user base in this demographic by more than 350,000 users by December, meaning it’ll overtake Facebook as the most popular online hangout spot.

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