For the longest time, the conventional wisdom has held that Facebook is where people spend the majority of their screen time while using apps. According to a new report from App Annie, however, that has shifted over the past year.

For the first time ever, TikTok has taken the lead as the social app with the longest time spent per user.

Year-over-year, TikTok has leapt 325% in time spent, officially knocking Facebook out of the top spot.

Notably, this does not necessarily mean people are spending less time on Facebook. In fact, nearly every app in every market included in the report has seen increases in the time spent on their platform – likely due to the Coronavirus and social distancing measures.

Still, TikTok’s growth over the past year far outpaced any other platform, allowing it to take the lead compared to any other social app.

With this in mind, it is not a surprise to see that TikTok also took the top spot as the #1 breakout app of 2020 based on monthly active user growth.

Another key finding is that TikTok has risen to the #2 non-gaming apps when it comes to consumer spending. In addition to the traditional advertising services TikTok offers, it brings in additional revenue with purchasable digital goods. Surprisingly, this appears to have been a hit with users, contributing to a swell of revenue.

While this may be one of the most important takeaways from the report for brands trying to keep up with shifting audiences, the report also includes a few other interesting findings:

Mobile Adoption Leaps Forward

Based on App Annie’s data, mobile adoption has leapt forward by 2-3 years over the past year. Nearly every metric related to mobile use spiked.

This includes a 7% year-over-year increase in mobile app downloads, an 8%, which translates to 218 billion app downloads. 

This year also marks the first time Americans have spent more time on their mobile devices than they have spent watching TV. People spent 8% more time on their mobile devices compared to TVs (4 hours a day on mobile vs 3.7 hours watching TV).

People Watch 4x More YouTube Than Netflix

Based on app usage, YouTube is the unquestioned leader in video streaming. The app received more than 4x the time spent on the app per user compared to any other platform. Even Netflix was miles behind Google’s video platform.

Every month, the average user watches 23 hours of content on YouTube, compared to just 5.7 hours of Netflix shows or movies. This makes it clear that YouTube is the platform to focus on if you want to get video content in front of your target audience, whether it takes the form of advertisements or regular content.

YouTube has created an entirely new type of search results which makes it easier to find videos when browsing using hashtags. 

This isn’t YouTube’s first take at using hashtags to find new videos. The company introduced the feature way over two years ago and has been trying to integrate the feature into its main feed. 

Unfortunately, the result has always been pretty hit or miss because the search results would also include videos which didn’t include the hashtag. 

Now, YouTube has updated the feature with dedicated search results pages for hashtags, which only contain media tagged with those specific hashtags. 

For example, here’s a version of the #SEO search results captured by Matt Southern over at Search Engine Journal:

Along with directly typing the hashtag into search results, users can also click hashtags included in videos to continue browsing the related topic. 

Use Hashtags To Find Your Niche

One aspect of this which can be very helpful to businesses and marketers is the prominent count of how often a particular hashtag has been used. Along with the total number of videos including the hashtag, you can also see how many channels have published videos on that topic. 

That means you can easily gauge how competitive a hashtag’s search results might be and scope out tags which haven’t been overdone. 

This means you can cut out the competition and become the prime source for discussion, news, and products or services related to your niche.

Why Does YouTube Use Hashtags?

Since their introduction, hashtags have been a bit of a curiosity on YouTube. On other social networks, hashtags are typically used to find the latest content relating to popular or trending topics. The nature of YouTube content, however, makes this a harder sell.

With this in mind, YouTube is still struggling to cement exactly why users should opt for using hashtags over more defined search terms when searching the site. 

Still, the revamped search results pages are a step in the right direction, creating a more central hub for videos on the topics you are interested in.

YouTube announced a pretty big change to how it manages ads for longer videos across the platform. Effective immediately, the video streaming platform is turning post-roll ads on by default for all monetized videos that run over 10 minutes long.

This means any video over that length will automatically include these ads, unless you explicitly opt-out. 

The news came as part of the first news update of 2021 from YouTube’s Creator Insider channel. 

In the video, a YouTube representative tells creators:

“For monetizing creators, any videos over 10 minutes in length will automatically have post-roll ads turned on by default.”

What Are Post-Roll Ads?

When it comes to online videos and video advertising, there are essentially three different types of ads: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. 

Pre-roll ads run before your video ever starts. Mid-roll ads interrupt your content, similar to TV commercials appearing in the middle of your favorite show. Post-roll ads run after your video has completed. 

The obvious benefit to post-roll ads is that they are the least intrusive to the viewing experience. The viewer loses nothing by moving on to a different video.

Importantly, for any type of ad to be shown on your videos, you must have applied for and been accepted to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). 

How This Might Affect You

With this change, all types of ads are now turned on by default. That means viewers will be shown ads before, during, and after your video.

Even if it is a 20-minute long video or longer, that can add up to be a whole lot of advertising for online audiences. 

This can cause burnout or frustration, potentially pushing viewers away from your channel over time. 

On their own, there is nothing inherently wrong with including post-roll ads on your videos. They may even become the preferred ad placement for many content creators. 

However, this change makes it more important than ever to strategically manage where ads will appear on your videos and take more active control of your advertising settings. 

If you’d like to find out more about post-roll ads or YouTube’s new ad policy, check out the Creator Insider video below:

Facebook is launching a massive overhaul of business and influencer Pages, including new features and tools to better connect with your customers and drive conversions. 

For influencers or individual entrepreneurs, the biggest change will likely be how Facebook displays your audience size. Instead of showing the total number of likes your page has, you will see your follower count.

While some might be frustrated to seemingly have their audience shrink suddenly, most agree that a Page’s follower count is a more important and informative metric. This is because your follower count tallies everyone who is actually receiving your posts or updates. Likes, on the other hand, include people who may have opted-out at some point in the past and don’t see anything your share. 

As for Business Pages, there are a number of new things you might be interested in. 

New Facebook Page Features and Tools

In the announcement, Facebook highlights five new features being introduced to Pages:

  • Dedicated News Feed
  • Easy navigation
  • Updated task-based admin controls
  • Actionable insights 
  • Safety and integrity features

Dedicated News Feeds

In the past, News Feeds were exclusively available to individual users, making it difficult to keep your public and private interests separate. Now, you have an entire feed specifically for your Page, so you can easily discover the latest news and trends from your community and business peers.

Additionally, Pages are being tweaked to showcase connections with other major influencers. If any public figures comment on your content, their interactions will get bumped to the top of your comment section. 

Easy Navigation

Another step towards making it easier to swap between your personal profile and Pages on the go is a redesigned navigation menu. 

By tapping the three-line icon on the bottom left of the main navigation menu, you can quickly select between your personal profile and content or features specifically related to your Page. 

Updated Task-Based Admin Controls

Facebook is making it easier to achieve your goals with specific admin control based on tasks. 

Now, you can assign a user a task and grant them specific levels of access to manage that task. 

For example, an individual can be granted access to tools specifically for Insights, Ads, Content, or Community Activity & Messages.

Actionable Insights

Facebook says it is bringing pages more actionable insights and more relevant notifications, though it provides no details about how this is being achieved. 

What we do know, from a new help page update, is that “Updated insights will help you understand your audience and how your content performs.”

Safety and Integrity Features

Lastly, Facebook is continuing its efforts to create a positive environment to connect with your fans and customers with new tools to identify spammy, hateful, or violent content. The platform says it is also working to crack down on impersonation, which has been a widespread issue recently across Facebook. 

For more information about the overhaul to Pages, read the full announcement here or explore the new help page.

When Google releases a major algorithm update, it can take weeks or months to fully understand the effect. Google itself tends to be tight-lipped about the updates, preferring to point website owners and businesses to its general webmaster guidelines for advice on an update. 

Because of all this, we are just starting to grasp what Google’s recent algorithm updates did to search engines. One thing that has become quickly apparent, though, is that one of the biggest losers from Google’s 2020 algorithm updates has consistently been online piracy. 

This is most clear in a new end-of-year report from TorrentFreak and piracy tracking company MUSO

How Google’s Algorithm Updates Affected Digital Piracy

Overall, the analysis shows that site traffic to piracy sites from search engines has fallen by nearly a third from December 2019 to November 2020. Notably, the two big periods leading to this loss of traffic line up perfectly with Google’s algorithm updates earlier this year. 

In January 2020, piracy traffic began dwindling shortly after the January 13th core update. 

After experiencing a short uptick at the start of the COVID pandemic in March, the May 4th core update then hit online pirates even harder, sending piracy traffic plummeting. 

Early indications from the public and some analysts suggest the December 2020 core update continued this trend, though it is too early to know for sure. 

Interestingly, TorrentFreak and MUSO say they corroborated the findings of their report with operators of one of the largest torrent websites online:

“To confirm our findings we spoke to the operator of one of the largest torrent sites, who prefers to remain anonymous. Without sharing our findings, he reported a 35% decline in Google traffic over the past year, which is in line with MUSO’s data.”

Is Google Completely Responsible?

It should be noted that while Google’s algorithm updates likely played a large role in the decline of search traffic to piracy sites, other factors almost certainly contributed as well. 

TorrentFreak’s report shows that direct traffic to piracy-related sites experienced a gradual 10% decline over the course of the year. This may suggest overall interest in pirating content may have fallen somewhat on its own. 

Additionally, 2020 was a unique year with less content coming out than usual. The COVID pandemic disrupted pretty much every industry, including creative industries. Music releases were pushed back or cancelled as it became difficult to safely record in studios. The closing of theaters led to the delay of many major movies, and TV creators had to completely rework how they wrote and filmed their shows. 

With less content from major studios and artists, it is highly likely users just had less available content that they were interested in pirating. 

Why This Matters

The good news is that the vast majority of business-related websites have absolutely nothing to do with online piracy and therefore should be safe from these effects of Google’s most recent algorithm updates. 

The less good news is that Google’s core algorithm updates are designed to impact a huge portion of websites around the globe, and certainly had impacts outside the realm of digital piracy. 

Still, we felt it important to highlight a real-world way a major Google algorithm update can impact an entire industry on a wide-scale within search results. 

Ultimately, the takeaway for most website owners is that keeping an eye on your analytics is essential.

If you are watching, you can respond to major shifts like this with new strategies, optimization, and even ask Google to recrawl your site. If you aren’t monitoring your analytics, however, you could lose a huge chunk of your traffic from potential customers with no idea why.