Google is making it easier to find the most important information in YouTube videos for users by including timestamps in search results. 

The feature has been in testing for the better part of a year but has officially been announced this week.

As the company explains:

“Videos aren’t skimmable like text, meaning it can be easy to overlook video content altogether.

Now, just live we’ve worked to make other types of information more easily accessible, we’re developing new ways to understand and organize video content in Search to make it more useful for you.”

The feature is already rolling out, but video publishers will need to take a couple quick and easy steps to ensure the timestamps will appear when their videos show up in search results.

How To Add Timestamps To Your YouTube Videos In Search Results

The good news is there is absolutely no coding or complex technical knowledge needed to provide Google with the information necessary to include relevant timestamps. 

All you have to do is provide a simple list of timestamps and what they relate to within the description section of your videos. For example:

00:05 – Intro

01:30 – Step 1

02:15 – Step 2

03:40 – Step 3

05:00 – Conclusion

Notably, Google is extending this feature to non-YouTube videos as well. However, the process requires a bit more work to properly mark-up. To start the process of adding timestamps to non-YouTube videos, Google asks you to fill out this form. Afterward, they will provide you with the necessary information for marking-up your videos.

For the first time, Facebook is giving you a way to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time without the use of a third-party tool or app. 

The new functionality, available to all business accounts through Facebook’s Creator Studio, allows you to plan your Instagram pictur updates and IGTV videos up to six months in advance. 

The new feature also opens scheduled posts to the full abilities of Instagram. With most third-party tools, users are frequently limited to just one image per post and few offer support for IGTV videos. 

How To Gain Access To Scheduled Instagram Posts

You still have to meet a few requirements to be able to start scheduling your Instagram updates. Specifically, you need to:

  • Have a Facebook Business account
  • Have an Instagram business or creator account
  • Have linked your Instagram account to your Facebook page

Once all that is in order, you can start scheduling your posts through the Facebook Creator Studio by clicking the Instagram logo at the top of this page. 

It should be fairly obvious, but the new feature does not allow for the scheduling of Instagram Stories ahead of time. This makes sense, as those posts are specifically intended to capture a moment in time. If you begin scheduling those posts days or weeks ahead of time, it would lose the authenticity that makes Stories so engaging.

Microsoft is expanding its responsive search ads beta to all advertisers.

Responsive search ads are an increasingly popular way to automatically tailor your ads for the specific needs of individual customers. 

Essentially, the advertiser can create a number of combinations for both headlines and descriptions within a single campaign, which the ad platform then selects based on a specific search query. 

In the case of Microsoft’s responsive search ads, advertisers can provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. When shown, the ads can display up to 3 titles and 2 descriptions. 

After the campaign has run for long enough to gather data, Microsoft will also select the top-performing ad combinations in a report for advertisers, while underperforming combinations will be shown less often or not at all. 

The company says responsive search ads can benefit brands in a number of ways, including:

  • Reducing bulky operations and saving time
  • Serving the right message to the right user at the right time
  • Improving overall ad performance

To ensure the best performance using responsive search ads, Microsoft recommends following these tips:

  • Create responsive search ads in the same campaigns with your current expanded text ads.
  • Provide at least 8-10 unique headlines and at least 2 distinct descriptions with a clear call-to-action message.
  • Review performance regularly.
  • Pinning a headline or description will ensure it’s displayed in the desired position.

All you have to do to join the beta is fill out a short form available here.

New research from Yext and Forbes reinforces just how important it is to keep the information on search engine results relevant to your business accurate and up-to-date. 

The findings from more than 500 US consumers indicates that people automatically assume only half of the information they see in search results is accurate. Additionally, those consumers then hold the brands responsible for any inaccurate information about them, even when it appears outside of your official channels.

The study also revealed a few more bits of interesting information:

  • 57% of respondents say they bypass search and visit a brand’s official website first because they believe the information there will be more complete and accurate.
  • 50% of consumers regularly turn to third-party sites and apps to find information about brands.
  • 48% of those surveyed said a brand’s website is their most trusted source of information.
  • 47% say they are more likely to trust a third-party site over a brand’s website.
  • 20% of current and new customers trust social media to deliver accurate brand information.
  • 28% of consumers avoid buying a brand’s product after seeing inaccurate information.

Marc Ferrentino, Chief Strategy Officer of Yext elaborated on the findings, saying:

”Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate — and they hold brands responsible to ensure this is the case.

… there is a significant opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition through verification on and off of their own websites.”

You can download the full report here.

YouTube has ramped up its efforts to remove harmful content over the last quarter, as a new report shows the company removing over 100,000 individual videos. 

That is nearly 5 times the number of videos removed in the first quarter of the year, reflecting a big shift in activity following a new hate speech policy introduced in June. 

Additionally, the company says it has removed over 17,000 channels and 500 million comments in Q2. 

Notably, YouTube says a large amount of the harmful content is flagged using machine learning technology to remove the content before it is ever seen by actual users. According to the company’s data, more than 87% of the videos removed in Q2 were first flagged by YouTube’s automatic systems. 

The report also mentions that an update to YouTube’s spam detection tools has driven a 50% increase in the number of channels removed for violating the platform’s spam guidelines. 

YouTube says the report is only the first in a four-part series which will cover the company’s guiding principles:

  • Remove content that violates policies
  • Raise up authoritative voices
  • Reward eligible creators
  • Reduce the spread of borderline content

As such, you can expect to see more details about how YouTube is working to curate the best platform possible in the near future.

A new large-scale international study from Google shows that shoppers are increasingly using online videos to help make purchasing decisions. 

Specifically, the study – which used a mix of surveys and in-person interviews – found that more than half (55%) of consumers regularly use online videos as part of their shopping research. 

As the company says in its article:

“For more and more shoppers, video is becoming indispensable when they’re ready to buy. In fact, more than 55% of shoppers globally say they use online video while actually shopping in-store.”

Google’s Recommended Strategies For Using Video

Within the article about the report, Google also suggests a few ways brands can use videos to influence online shoppers:

Video Shopping List

One of the most surprising findings of the study is that many consumers are replacing traditional shopping lists with a video. 

“If I go to a store and forget what I need, I pull up the video to see the ingredients. I pull to the side, watch the video, and get what I need,” said one person interviewed. 

Getting Informed and Feeling Confident

For more technical fields or issues, such as finances or repairing complicated machines, videos can be an invaluable way to help shoppers feel more confident about their purchases. 

“YouTube has taught me that I’m capable of doing what I didn’t know I could do,” explained one consumer.

Video Reviews Can Be The Tie-Breaker

Video reviews are one of the most trusted forms of online reviews and are a popular reference point when making purchasing decisions. The wide variety of video reviews out there give people the ability to focus on the features they care most about and see which products will perform best for their needs. 

As one shopper told interviewers, “While I was in Home Depot the other day, I was on YouTube looking up drill sets to see which one was better and which one burned out quicker through stress tests.”

What This Means For Brands

It’s no big surprise that online shoppers are increasingly using videos to influence their shopping decisions. What is surprising is when and where they are referencing these videos and how they are actively using the videos within the shopping process. 

The biggest recommendation from the study is that you “think of ways your brand can show up to meet these in-the-moment needs, whether it’s through ads that spark ideas and inspiration or through more in-depth content to answer questions and help people along their path to purchase.”

If your brand has a LinkedIn page, you are undoubtedly trying to amass followers to grow your company’s profile and expand your reach. 

Now, you can learn from the best. LinkedIn revealed the top 10 most followed pages across the platform this week, along with some added insight into why these pages have been so popular. 

The Top 10

  1. TED Conferences (12.5M followers): Few pages so completely sum up LinkedIn’s audience like TED Conferences, where business leaders share insight, motivation, and inspiration to other professionals. Specifically, the page consistently shares a mix of videos, articles, and images all aimed at business professionals. 
  2. Google (12.1M followers): While Google’s name recognition can’t be ignored, the brand keeps users engaged with its page through steady new content centered on themes of corporate social responsibility, innovation, and by prioritizing the real people behind the scenes at the company. 
  3. Amazon (8.6M followers): This shopping giant places a heavy emphasis on its employees, including frequent videos and articles highlighting the stories of their workers. In this vein, the company also shares inside looks at its company events, and even offers professional advice like job interview tips.
  4. LinkedIn (8.2M followers): Unsurprisingly, the platform’s own page is high in the rankings. Still, the page strives to keep users interacting with their company page through regular content aimed at a wide audience of business professionals, employers, and job-hunters.
  5. Microsoft (7.8M followers): Microsoft doesn’t just use its page to publish branded content about its latest events and products. It also helps share outside content from other business leaders, and promote content created by its employees.
  6. IBM (6.4M followers): IBM takes an appropriately tech-focused angle, but with a distinctly personal edge. The company promotes diversity and inclusion by promoting employees in the news, as well as highlighting its latest innovations in AI, cloud computing, and blockchain.
  7. Unilever (6.2M followers): Curious how this relatively low-profile consumer goods company has gotten this high on the list? Just scroll through their page. You’ll find tons of high-quality, concise content including short videos with clear messages that can be understood even without audio. 
  8. Nestlé (6.0M followers): While Nestlé does create and share content aimed at a wide-swath of business professionals, the main locus of its LinkedIn page is driven by recruiting and hiring workers interested in pioneering the “future of food.”
  9. Accenture (4.4M followers): This multinational marketing firm has grown a massive audience through a steady feed of high-quality content including short videos and business-centric podcasts.
  10. Facebook (4.4M followers): Similar to Nestlé’s page, Facebook uses its presence on LinkedIn to drive recruitment with content focused on career development and professional opportunity. 

What You Can Learn

While these pages cover a wide range of industries and content strategies, there are a few clear commonalities across the most followed pages on LinkedIn:

  • All of these pages create and share original video content.
  • They also use a significant amount of their content to highlight socially responsible initiatives and company values. 
  • Many of these pages put the spotlight on their own employees and their unique stories or talents. 

If you’ve been trying to grow your follower count on LinkedIn, you can definitely take a few pointers from these leaders on the platform.

In a post to the company’s business-focused blog, Twitter revealed this week that Tweets including videos generate 10-times the engagement compared to posts without video.  

Most importantly, the pot highlights the fact that you don’t need a Hollywood-sized budget or cutting-edge cameras and microphone to attract this level of engagement. You just need an average smartphone. 

“Your phone is a fully capable multimedia studio in your pocket, giving you everything you need to create compelling content on the go.”

To help get you started, the company also provided a few ideas to spark your creative side. 

GIF It Up

Using existing GIFs you’ve found around the internet can be a tempting way to connect with your audience and show your pop-culture savviness. Instead, however, Twitter recommends creating your own, original GIFs.

Creating GIFs is also easier to do than most people realize. There are countless apps available for Android devices to help you create GIFs, but iOS users have it even easier. The iPhone’s Photos app includes a built-in GIF mode which can convert any video into a GIF. 

If you need more motivation to start using GIFs more often, Twitter also says tweets with GIFs generate up to 55% more engagement than those without. 

Record Your Screen

Another feature included in most phones is the ability to record your own screen and turn it into content. 

This is especially useful for more technical how-to’s or guides, though you can also find ways to show off your online shopping process, highlight your products, or easily turn a photo slideshow into a video. 

Use Stop Motion

via GIPHY

On the note of image-based slideshows, another type of video content you can easily create with your phone is a short stop motion video. 

If you aren’t familiar with the term, stop motion is the very foundation for all animation. The process simply includes taking a series of photos and playing them quickly enough to show action or movement. 

On your phone, the process is typically as easy as taking a photo, moving your position or the object you are photographing slightly, and taking another photo. Then, repeat. .

You can use these ideas to get started making stop motion videos to share:

  • Move the camera around the object
  • Keep the camera on a tripod and move the object instead
  • Add details to the object like drawings or text
  • Take the object apart to show how the parts fit together

For more tips on creating videos, check out Twitter’s best practices for videos.

It is no secret that our relationship with telephones and marketing calls has drastically changed over the past 5 years. There are mountains of anecdotal evidence that the vast majority of people have stopped answering phone calls from numbers they don’t know – even in the B2B space. 

However, it has been surprisingly hard to find reputable data on the matter, until now. This week, Zipwhip published a new survey which provides some insight into exactly how effective (or ineffective) cold-calling, outcalls and other forms of marketing calls are in 2019. 

People Aren’t Answering Calls

Unsurprisingly, the findings are not particularly positive for phone-based marketing or sales. The survey showed that more than 85% of people say they ignore phone calls from unknown numbers “often” or “very often”. 

What might surprise you, however, are the reasons why so many people are avoiding phone calls. 

The most obvious contributing factor would be the rise of robocalls over the past decade, with nearly half of all mobile calls in the U.S. this year predicted to come from mobile-phone spam. 

Despite several efforts to slow the tidal wave of phone spam, the FCC still says the best way to avoid these spam calls is “don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.”

Still, respondents to the survey cited several other reasons they prefer other forms of communication.

The reasons vary, but they all come back to a few central issues – talking on the phone is public, time-consuming, and disruptive.

In fact, when asked directly “how often do you find calls to be disruptive”, less than 4% of respondents said calls were never disruptive. The breakdown of answers was:

  • Always — 27.69%
  • Sometimes — 68.5%
  • Never — 3.65%

What This Means For Your Business

If you feel like your cold calls have been less effective in driving leads, you aren’t alone. As Zipwhip’s findings show, just getting people to answer unsolicited calls can be a big ask for today’s consumers and businesses. 

However, there is still one essential way phone calls should be a part of your business operations. Consumers may not like unsolicited calls, but they still widely agree that calls are the preferred way to contact local businesses or receive customer service for issues they are facing. 

When it comes to outbound marketing, phones are quickly becoming a pariah and those who refuse to adapt to the latest methods of contacting cold prospects will likely get left behind with the spam callers.

Twitter is launching a new video ad option which allows advertisers to create and run short video ads (under 15 seconds) and only be charged if the ad is viewed for at least six seconds. 

The company describes the new ad unit as a “flexible option for advertisers who care about the completed view metric, but are ready to lean into the mobile-first paradigm and develop short-form assets optimized for in-feed viewing.”

What You Should Know

The new ads are similar to YouTube’s short bumper ads which typically run before pieces of content or as an ad-break during videos. As such, the ad is believed to be highly effective for driving high view rates.

For example, Alice Oliveira, the CSB Brazil marketing director for Dell, says “this six-second video ad solution, paired with compelling creative, increased our view rate by over 22%.”

Oliveira and Dell were one of the select few given early access to the ad bid option. 

Last Notes

  • The new video ad option began rolling out on Monday and is expected to be live by the end of the week. 
  • It is available for Promoted Video, In-Stream Video Sponsorships, and In-Stream Video Ads that are 15-seconds long or less.
  • Instagram considers a video to be viewable if at least 50% of its pixels are on-screen.