My Five #394

Fascinating stats about online behaviour and the impact of coronavirus on global advertising, trouble for Facebook, Bing guidelines and a bear cub that raided the cookie jar.

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Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.

This week’s My Five is by Joe.

1. Online Nation Report

Ofcom’s Online Nation report was an interesting read for me this week. The annual report is a smorgasbord of internet-related stats that explores what people are doing online and what they think of their online experiences.

Some key standouts for me this year:

  • 81% of measured time online was on a mobile device (Sept 2019)
    • I know that people have been declaring the year of mobile for what feels like decades, but that really is a huge percentage. Only 4% of people claim to only go online on a computer
  • 13% of adults claim that they never go online
    • This figure has been very steady since 2014, but it still feels incredible that one in ten adults do not access the internet at all
  • Over a third of measured online time in Sept 2019 was spent on a Google or Facebook property
    • That is a staggering level of dominance, although the impact of coronavirus has recently created new winners, e.g. TikTok increased its reach from 5.4 to 12.9 million users between January and April 2020 and Zoom saw an eye-watering growth from 659k users to 13million in the same period
  • 3/4 of all 5-15yr olds played online gaming at some point in 2019
    • If my own children are a barometer, I would expect to see this figure rise yet further due to the social exclusion imposed by the Covid lockdown. Much as I hate seeing them glued to a screen, there is no doubt that multi-player online games have kept them chatting with their school friends
  • The internet is a communication enabler
    • In what is an obvious challenge to the traditional telephone, it is interesting to see that 73% of UK adult internet users used online text messages, 54% used online voice calls, 35% used video calls and 55% used emails at least weekly. Again, I would expect these figures to skyrocket in next year’s report thanks to the lockdown

It is quite a big, but fascinating, read and worth a look if you have some time.

2. A $96.4 billion hit?

There can be no doubt that the full impact of coronavirus will not be known for some time, but that we can be confident that it will be seismic. I am afraid to say that it will not be pretty.

I found an interesting report from Visual Capitalist this week that starts to fill in some of the detail in terms of the impact on the advertising industry across the globe. Rather than a predicted 7.1% growth in 2020, the forecast is now an 8.1% contraction, which represents a $96.4 billion change of fortunes.

Every single advertising medium is going to fall well short of the forecast, but online advertising is weathering the storm better than ‘traditional’ media and most online advertising channels are expected to grow this year. That is no real surprise but the visualisation of the relative impact is quite striking, e.g. social media’s forecast growth in 2020 of 9.8% is far healthier (despite a pre-covid forecast of 20% growth) than the horrendous 31.6% drop in cinema advertising (which had been forecast to grow by 5%).

Certainly some chilling numbers that, coupled with this week’s job loss announcement, paint a fairly bleak picture. The question that we cannot yet answer is whether COVID-19 has simply accelerated the inevitable shift to digital, or whether the pain for traditional media will prove to be a temporary blip.

3. Temporary wokism or a serious problem for Facebook?

If, like me, you have decided to give the news a wide berth in recent weeks, you will have hopefully been feeling a lot better about the state of our planet.  I very much doubt, however, that you will have escaped the momentum of Black Lives Matter and the various spin-off campaigns that are being launched across the globe.

Stop Hate For Profit

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign is one of the recent movements to use boycott as a political tool and is encouraging advertisers to cease all activity on Facebook. Some big advertisers have jumped on this train and Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth plunged by $6bn as Facebook’s share price slipped by 8%.  Zuckerberg has fought back and suggested that it isn’t a major problem, but it does feel as though the perceived absence of a moral code at Facebook could prove to be very costly in the longer term.

I am on the fence on this one. There can be no doubt that wokism is very much on-trend and passions are running high. Some advertisers are likely to feel pressure to join the boycott as a result of the fear of damage to their own brand if they are judged to be guilty by association with the big, bad Facebook. Most of those that have joined the movement have, however, only committed to a month’s absence and Facebook enjoys a wide advertising base with thousands of smaller businesses that rely on the social media giant, so I suspect that Zuckerberg is correct that it is a reputational issue rather than a financial one.

Arrogance on that front could spell further pain though and there can be no doubt that they will be under huge pressure to improve the way in which they monitor certain content on the platform.

4. How to rank on Bing

Just as Google publish webmaster guidelines, Bing has always had offered advice on how to create a good website and what factors to consider if you want to help search engines understand your site.

Until now, I think it is fair to say that Google’s content was more helpful and certainly more transparent in terms of giving more explicit clues about what they are looking for and how they rank pages. The good news is that Bing’s webmaster guidelines have been updated and now offer a lot more visibility regarding how the search engine ranks content.

The main ranking factors that you need to be aware of are relevance, quality / credibility, user engagement, freshness, location and page load time. In terms of what to avoid, the main examples of what content is likely to be demoted are scraped content, automatically generated content, affiliate programs without sufficient value and any malicious behaviour that may cause harm / offence.

Interestingly, the guidelines make a point about not prioritising Microsoft products and services within its search results. A bit of a swipe at Google by any chance?

You should not expect a tidal wave of traffic from Bing, but I think the updated webmaster content is a good read and helpful to understand the basics of how to create a search engine friendly website, so worth a read.

5. And finally…

As I mentioned above, news bulletins have become fairly depressing in recent months and it is hard to avoid a degree of gloom when compiling a My Five.

I was therefore over the moon to find the lovely story of a family rescuing a bear cub that had managed to get its head stuck in a jar. A simple, but heartwarming, example of compassion and love for one another:

There is hope!

Have a great weekend.

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