Inside Digital Marketing: March 2023
At a Glance...
Google and Microsoft make headway into the AI space, Tiktok gives users greater control over their ‘For You’ feed, and Google Ads makes customer acquisition easier
It’s been another busy month as we enter spring. Google, TikTok, and AI have had a lot of airtime at the In Digital Newsroom: TikTok allows users to press reset on algorithm learnings, while offering certain creators some monetisation opportunities; Google grants advertisers another useful function, and AI is full speed ahead despite concerns from tech leaders.
Tiktok’s new algorithm refresh
TikTok is introducing a feature allowing users to brush up their ‘for you’ feed through an algorithm refresh. This feature is a welcome change for users who may have dwelled a bit too long on topics that they only had a brief interest in, whose tastes have evolved since, or simply had watched without thinking. This new reset can be found in the Content Preferences tab of settings.
For advertisers, this refresh presents opportunities as well as challenges. TikTok allows advertisers to target users based on age, gender, location and interests. With users now able to reset their registered interests, this is going to muddle the targeting process on a huge scale: could previously engaged users now become un-targetable?
On the other hand, depending on the level of adoption of the feature, it could present the opportunity for more relevant, up-to-date targeting and lower costs. Indeed, if a user is frequently being served ads for products that are of no interest to them, refreshing the algorithm would mean no longer serving ads to that user, provided it was being served through interest targeting.
The feature was first announced on the 16th of March on TikTok’s own newsroom subdomain.
TikTok introduces a creator paywall
It’s commonly thought that to be truly successful on TikTok, users need to be BIG on TikTok – in contrast to platforms like YouTube & Instagram, where influencer revenue is more attainable to creators servicing unique niches.
In a move to offer revenue potential to their users, TikTok have introduced ‘Series’: a new feature that enables creators to put collections of their content behind a paywall. This is in line with platforms like Patreon, YouTube, and the infamous OnlyFans. Within a Series, users can post up to 80 videos, and videos can be up to 20 minutes long, offering their followers more in-depth content – for a price.
This longer-form monetisation play sees TikTok taking a similar strategic approach to YouTube, combining short-form and long-form content. However, the big advantage YouTube has is ad monetization, which enables smaller creators to start earning immediately with little to no extra effort. With TikTok Series, creators will have to invest more time into how they position both their free and ‘premium’ content. It’s likely this will initially be most effective for long-standing creators with a large, loyal following, who can further monetise both existing and new long form content on their platform.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out – whether creators will see significant returns from the platform, and how much users are willing to pay for this premium content.
Currently only a handful of selected creators can access Series, but TikTok has announced that public applications for the feature will be coming soon.
Customer acquisition made easier by Google
Google has recently launched a new customer acquisition feature to the Ads platform, aiming to help advertisers reach potential customers likely to make their first purchase.
The new customer acquisition feature feeds in customer data through the Google Tags and applies predictive modelling to understand common patterns between users who make a first purchase. Based on this modelling, the feature then bids more aggressively on other users who are following the same patterns, i.e., who Google predict are more likely to buy.
One of the key elements of the new feature is the ability to set an “additional conversion value from new customers”, or to increase the conversion value when a conversion happens from a new customer. This has particularly exciting implications for Target ROAS strategies, wherein the platform optimises towards total generated revenue; the increased value of new customers means they’ll be prioritised. The feature is also relevant from a reporting perspective, as a New Customer column is now available in the user interface.
Provided you have the capacity to track current converters (and Google Ads’ own conversion pixel should provide this for you), the feature can be enabled in a few steps. Simply head to the Conversion menu and click on the ‘Set up’ option in the ‘Customer Acquisition’ custom goal. From there, select the list of current customers, and assign (if desired) a number to increase conversion value by.
AI is full speed ahead despite concerns from tech leaders
Since ChatGPT launched last November, AI has been on the forefront of everyone’s minds, with everyone trying to stay ahead of the curve.
Bing has launched their new AI tool on Microsoft edge. The integration of OpenAI’s technology has put Bing in a stronger position to compete with Google, who dominate the $120 billion search market. Page visits are up by 15.8% and app downloads have increased by eight times globally. And they aren’t stopping there, either – last week image creator was launched into the chat experience, making it the first and only browser that has a fully integrated AI-powered image generator. We expect use of Bing to continue to grow in the next couple of months.
Access to Google’s AI tool Bard has now opened to US and UK users, it follows a research large language model (LLM) which develops the more it is used. It got off to a shaky start last month after Google was called out for posting factually incorrect information provided by Bard, causing Alphabet Inc to lose $100 billion in market share. Google are quick to point out that these platforms aren’t without their errors and can often present misleading information as fact. This poses important questions about how information is consumed and potential biases that may be presented by LLMs.
The advancement of AI has caused concern for some, with Elon Musk and other tech leaders calling for a pause on the development of AI technology for six months to allow time to assess the risks it involves. The letter published by Future of Life Institute brings some interesting concerns to the table; that powerful AI systems are being developed with little thought on what impact they will have on the world, and the risks they pose to spreading harmful propaganda.
Companies such as Expedia, OpenTable and Spotify are partnering with ChatGPT via plugins to make it easier for consumers to carry out tasks on their platforms. This gives them an edge over their competitors, with customers able to book travel, reserve restaurant tables and order shopping via a chat function. We’re also seeing this impact marketers, with Zapier being one of the third parties taking up this function. Here, ChatGPT will carry out many of the manual tasks, automating work for the user, saving them time and effort.
In the next couple of months, we expect to see AI featuring a lot more in our newsroom, especially as new software develops, so watch this space!