My Five #441

A range of new features for Facebook and Instagram, Google reassess its cookie policy and the British public shows its inner child, all in this week’s My Five.

You are reading: My Five #441

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 Will.

1. Facebook launches new ecommerce features

This week Facebook announced that new features aimed at helping drive sales for retailers will be coming to Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. It’s becoming extremely common for customers to use one of Facebook’s platforms to help them find new products. This is highlighted by the fact that 74% of users surveyed by Facebook use their platforms to discover new brands or products. In light of that, Facebook has introduced four new ways to help customers purchase and discover products through their apps:

  • Making shops available in more places – Once a shop is set up with Facebook it will be eligible to appear within Instagram and Facebook’s Shop tab, making it easier for users to find them. Furthermore, businesses in certain countries will be able to showcase their Shop on WhatsApp, allowing users to browse their products, find out more, and chat about items before purchasing.
  • Introducing customers reviews to Instagram – Over the next few months, Instagram will be expanding its rating and review capabilities, allowing users to find out more information before purchasing. This will include the opportunity to view photos and videos from other customers.
  • Personalised shopping ads – For many customers, their shopping journey starts with personalised ads and Facebook wants to build upon this. Shops ads solutions will provide a unique experience based upon an individual’s shopping preferences. One feature that is being tested is taking users to where they are most likely to make a purchase, all based on their shopping behaviour. This could be the business’s website or a collection of products from a shop.
  • Expanded use of AR – The use of AR brings the experience of shopping in a store to users who are shopping online. Customers will now be able to try products virtually through the use of AR, helping them make an informed decision before buying. This is currently being rolled out to beauty brands but will be available to other sectors shortly.

2. Google keeps its hands on the cookie jar

Following Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) update, which is resulting in users opting out of data tracking, Google has delayed its rollout of a similar update. Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative was due to be rolled out early next year but has been delayed until 2023, at the earliest. This initiative was brought in to phase out support for third-party cookies on Chrome, allowing users to browse online without worrying about what personal information is being collected.

The decision to delay the initiative was explained by Google:

“We plan to continue to work with the web community to create more private approaches to key areas, including ad measurement, delivering relevant ads and content, and fraud detection. Today, Chrome and others have offered more than 30 proposals, and four of those proposals are available in origin trials. For Chrome, specifically, our goal is to have the key technologies deployed by late 2022 for the developer community to start adopting them. Subject to our engagement with the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and in line with the commitments we have offered, Chrome could then phase out third-party cookies over a three month period, starting in mid-2023 and ending in late 2023.”

For marketers the decision to stop supporting cookies presented some serious issues, however, this delay provides a bit of breathing room to get everything in line.

3. Instagram expands its desktop app

After spending so long focusing on its mobile offering, Instagram is starting to consider letting users post from their desktop. Earlier this week Twitter users started to notice that Instagram is testing the facility to create and publish posts from their computer.

It’s believed that this decision was born off the back of the pandemic with an increase in people using Instagram from their desktop as opposed to their phones. As someone who has used managed Instagram profiles for various clients, I must admit this is a very welcome update. Instagram was always more awkward to manage as most features are either not available or much easier when on the app. The more control Instagram allows users to have from their computer the better in my opinion.

4. Google display advertising under investigation

A formal antitrust investigation has been opened by the European Commission to assess whether Google is favouring its own online display advertising technology over competitors. The aim of the investigation is to explore whether Google is currently limiting access to user data to their competitors.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager explains in a statement:

“Online advertising services are at the heart of how Google and publishers monetise their online services. Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising. We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack.”

Vestager continues:

“We will also be looking at Google’s policies on user tracking to make sure they are in line with fair competition.“

This investigation is extremely important as Reuters highlighted, Google made $147 billion in revenue from online ads last year, with 16% of this coming from its display or network businesses.

5. I’m looking for a Mr Ben Dover

So this technically happened just over a week ago but to be honest it’s just too good to be left out.

Since its launch on June 13, GB News has had what many might describe as a ‘memorable’ first few weeks on air. While the new news channel may not have been a hit with many of the British public, it’s always great to see people’s childish side come out.

No matter how old you are a well-executed prank will always be funny.

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