The holiday season may still feel like it is far in the distance, but most studies show consumers start their holiday shopping in November – if not earlier. That means now is the time to start preparing your holiday marketing efforts.

To help, Facebook is releasing a wave of new tools aimed at assisting businesses with their holiday marketing. 

Customizable Story Templates

Facebook is releasing a number of customizable templates for ads in Facebook Stories, Instagram, and Messenger. 

The templates are simple, visually pleasing ways to showcase products and brands throughout the shopping season, with customizable backgrounds, music, and CTAs. 

These templates will be available this week.

Improvements to Instagram Direct and Messenger

Closer to the Holiday season, Facebook says it will be bringing a number of new features to Instagram Direct to improve communication between businesses and customers.

As the company says in the announcement:

“From fulfilling orders to keeping up with customer requests, we know staying on top of customer communications is important, so we also created new messaging tools like labels, search and folders to help businesses stay organized.”

Within the coming weeks, Facebook will also be launching an ‘instant replies’ which lets businesses create custom automatic responses for when they are not immediately available. 

These “away” messages can be useful for days when your business is closed or when no one will be available to respond to messages for a prolonged period of time. 

Along with these improvements, Facebook is also introducing a new ‘saved replies’ feature which will allow you to respond to common questions with pre-written responses.

Instagram is testing a new way to notify customers about the release of new products when launch day arrives with stylish stickers and push notifications. 

While the test is currently limited to a small number of brands selected as part of Instagram’s closed checkout beta, it would deliver a promising way to boost the profile of your product launches and improve early sales. 

As the company says in their announcement:

“We wanted to make it easier for people to discover and follow upcoming product launches from brands and creators they love.”

The feature works by letting users opt-in to receive reminders about upcoming products when they see early promotional materials. 

Come launch day, they can then be notified of the product release and even make the purchase without leaving the Instagram app. 

To accompany the new feature, Instagram also launched a new sticker which can be used in Stories to promote your latest products. 

Since the new feature is just in testing, it is hard to predict when or even if it will eventually reach all brands and advertisers. Still, it provides an insight into how Instagram is aiming to help brands keep their products in the front of customers’ minds.

Pinterest is changing things up in a major way for brands, with an all-new design for business profiles and an entirely new ad format.

New Business Profile Design

Pinterest’s new design for business profiles puts the focus directly on dynamic content and a central view of product pins. 

Specifically, brand profiles will now include:

A dedicated Shop tab for showing users your products directly within your profile

The ability to customize profile covers with either videos or images

A streamlines navigation system making it easier to access messaging features

‘Shop the Look’ Ads

Since the launch of ‘Shop the Look’ pins, retailers have been flocking to the organic posts to showcase a wide array of their products in a single image. 

Now, Pinterest is allowing these brands to turn these organic pins into shoppable ads which can promote up to 25 products at a time. 

When these ads first appear, users will see a showcase previewing up to four items, which can be expanded to show the rest. 

‘Shop the Look’ ads are expected to roll out to US advertisers in the next few months.

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.

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.

A new report shows that paid search ads are the fastest growing way to advertise online for retailers. 

According to the findings from eMarketer, retail advertisers in the US will spend a combined $13.12 billion on search ads in 2019, up more than 20% from last year. 

In 2020, it is projected that spending will grow even more, to $15.65 billion. 

While search engine advertising is an effective advertising method for most industries, the report suggests that retailers benefit more than other sectors due to specific tools and features. For example, it cites how search ads may appear in Google Maps and show local stock of specific products, which can help drive real-world traffic and sales. 

Based on their data, the report estimates that 46.3% of digital ad spend from retailers will be used on search engine advertising, compared to the industry average of 41.5%.

Similarly, this rate is expected to grow even more in 2020 to account for 47.3% of total retail digital ad spending:

“Retail overindexes on search because bottom-funnel search ads are essential for driving ecommerce, and Google Shopping ads have become a go-to ad product for retail advertisers. Conversion rates for retailers using Google Shopping ads range from 1.1% to 3.1%.”

Part of this growth may be attributed to new burgeoning opportunities outside of Google’s search ecosystem. For example, the report identifies Amazon search as a potential driving force for future retail advertising.

Google’s highly-anticipated “gallery ads”, which were first announced back in May at the Google Marketing Live conference, are rolling out to advertisers in beta. 

The ads are stylish, image-heavy carousels with up to 8 images which appear at the very top of search results. 

Each individual image can have its own unique caption and brands can include a call-to-action button at the end of the gallery.

In the announcement, Senthil Hariramasamy, Group Product Manager at Google Ads, says advertisers “can showcase your brand with lifestyle imagery and bring visual content forward to the results page, helping you connect with consumers before they visit your site.” 

With such a visible design and placement within search engines, these ad units will likely be highly competitive. They may be worth it, though, if they lead to similarly high results. 

The ads are available to all advertisers in 11 languages, including English, German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Swedish, and Polish.  

Importantly, you don’t have to create specific campaigns for your gallery ads. Instead, you can simply use the new format to create new ads within your existing campaigns.

App ads on Google’s ad network will soon be eligible to appear in some very high-profile places as the ad platform is expanding app ads to both Google’s Discover feed and within YouTube apps. 

Currently, app ads are shown across a wide variety of apps in Google’s display network, as well as the Play Store, Google search results, and in select areas of YouTube. 

With the latest announcement, however, these ads will soon be appearing in a few more areas which could be highly rewarding to advertisers. 

Google Discover

 

Starting this week, app campaigns running in the US will automatically be eligible to appear within users’ Discover feeds when they are identified as being potentially interested in your app. 

Currently, Google says the Discover feed (formerly known as just the Google Feed) connects more than 800 million people with targeted content every month. 

Over the next few months, similar ads within the Discover feed will also be available to those in Malaysia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and Indonesia. The company also said it hopes to make the app ads available to all markets before the end of the year. 

YouTube 

In the same announcement, Google revealed that app ads are now eligible to appear at the top of search results from YouTube’s mobile app. Within the next month, app ads will also start appearing as in-stream video ads while viewing other YouTube videos 

Along with these announcements, Google says it is exploring the possibility of allowing ads to also display ads while loading content for users:

“Our new app open ad format allows you to show ads to your users as they wait for your app to load. Designed to seamlessly integrate with your app’s branding, this format gives you new ways to earn revenue while creating a good user experience. Reach out to your account manager to get started with this format in alpha.”

Snapchat is launching a new advertising tool, called Instant Create, which promises to do all the heavy lifting of creating a Snapchat-optimized ad for you.

With the tool, you can create ads that can be published across the platform in just three steps:

  • Select an objective, such as web visits, app installs, or app visits
  • Enter your business website
  • Target your audience

From there all you have to do is review and publish your ad!

At the same time, Spachat has introduced an “Advanced Create” option which is intended to help generate multiple ad sets at a time. 

What Do The Ads Look Like?

As most of the process is automated, you may have some concerns about how your ad can be unique for your brand. 

With Instant Create, you can choose to upload your own images for your ad and work with the platform’s most popular ad template. Or, you can simply input your company’s website URL and the tool can pull photos directly from your website to fill your ad with. 

While the tool makes it easier than ever for brands with limited means to explore the idea of Snapchat advertising, brands with more experience advertising on social media will likely prefer the less restricted traditional ad creation tools.

Facebook is changing how videos and photos appear on mobile devices, with new aspect ratios for visual posts and less accompanying text in the mobile news feed. 

This means you’ll have to make some changes when optimizing for Facebook’s mobile news feed if you want everything to appear properly in your posts.

What’s Changing

In the past, images on Facebook were optimized for a taller 2:3 aspect ratio to a more square 4:5 aspect ratio. 

Anything taller than that will be cropped out in preview images within the news feed, only actually viewable to those who tap to see the full image. 

At the same time, the platform is reducing the lines of text accompanying these posts – going from 7 lines of text to just 3 lines. 

Anything longer than that will be hidden behind a prompt to show additional text. 

Both of these changes will be put into effect starting on August 19th, giving you a few weeks to make adjustments to your upcoming posts. 

According to a spokesperson from the company, the tweaks are “designed to simplify our formats and improve the consistency of our mobile experience.”

In turn, the company says the new post format will increase the impact of mobile ads and make it easier to use the same content across both Facebook and Instagram.