Twitter is launching a unique new ad unit which lets brands take over a section of the Explore tab – giving you massive reach with nearly every Twitter user.

The Explore tab is where users can find the latest trending topics and other popular Tweets, making it one of the most visited sections of the site.

In fact, Twitter users might recognize the Promoted Trend Spotlight ads as the same ad format used by Disney shortly before the launch of Disney+. The media giant was given early access to the ad format to help drive early awareness of their streaming platform.

Twitter Promoted Trend Spotlight Ad

While the ad format has now been expanded to all advertisers in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, and Thailand. However, running the ad still requires contacting a Twitter Partner to ensure consistently high-quality ads on such a prominent area of the site and manage scheduling.

When running a Promoted Trend Spotlight, all users who visit the Explore tab on a given day will see the ad on their first two visits to the tab. After those two visits, they can still see the ad in the standard Promoted Trend ad placement.

Based on their own early data, Twitter says the new ads are a powerful tool to get more attention to your ad and better drive awareness:

“[P]eople spent 26% more time looking at the Promoted Trend Spotlight as compared to the standard Promoted Trend unit. These longer dwell times generated impact throughout the funnel: from +113% higher ad recall and +18% higher brand consideration to +67% lift in stated likelihood to use a brand in the future. In addition, according to internal Twitter data, people were three times more likely to click through an ad in the Spotlight unit than the standard Promoted Trend.”

 

Since the launch of Siri (and arguably much longer), everyone has fantasized of the day when we would all be using voice assistants for nearly every task in our day-to-day lives. Based on the latest statistics from the past year, that day has come.

From Alexa to smart home appliances, modern consumers are finding themselves speaking to their devices more and more every day.

Of course, we haven’t quite hit the point where voice search has become as completely ubiquitous as using our smartphones for online tasks, but 2019 certainly marked a year when voice search devices went from a novelty to an everyday tool.

Voice Search is The Second Choice for Mobile Search

Remember how I said using voice assistants isn’t quite as common as using the mobile browsers on our smartphones? It isn’t far behind.

Data from early 2019 gathered by Perficient Digital show that voice search is the number two choice for making mobile searches, even above the built-in search box on most devices.

  1. Mobile browser
  2. Voice search
  3. Phone’s search box/window
  4. Search app
  5. Text a friend

Almost Half of People Use Voice Search

Similar findings in July from Adobe showed that nearly half of all consumers reported using voice search for “general web searches”.

Notably, the vast majority of respondents (85%) say they use their voice search tools directly from their smartphone, while only 39% reported using smart speakers.

Quick Answers are the Main Use For Voice Search

Out of all the ways people use their smartphones, the leading motivations are largely focused on taking immediate actionespecially with regards to shopping:

  1. Searching for a quick fact — 68%
  2. Asking for directions — 65%
  3. Searching for a business — 47%
  4. Researching a product or service — 44%t
  5. Making a shopping list — 39%

At Least 50 Million Homes Have Smart Speakers

Trying to project exactly how many smart speakers are in U.S. homes has been notoriously tricky. Some estimates have estimated that there were more than 118 million smart speakers in American homes, but others have suggested the real number could be much lower.

Still, nearly every analyst agrees that people tend to buy multiple smart speakers. This puts the estimate for the total number of homes with smart speakers much closer to 58 million.

Amazon Leads in Smart Speakers

When it comes to which smart speakers people are putting around their homes, Amazon is consistently in the lead, with around 75% of the U.S. market. In just Q3 of 2019, the company reportedly shipped at least three times as many smart speakers as Google – its closest competitor.

Siri and Google Assistant Are The Main Virtual Assistants

Meanwhile, since Amazon does not offer a smartphone, Apple and Siri largely dominate the field when it comes to using smart assistants on phones.

A report from Microsoft in April showed that both companies were neck-and-neck in smart assistant usage, followed by Alexa. Microsoft’s own Cortana came in fourth, only followed by “Other”.

The Takeaway

Smaller businesses have largely stayed away from optimizing specifically for voice search. After the tremendous growth in 2019, however, this is likely to change. Not only are a large number of consumers regularly using voice assistants, they are using them specifically to find and purchase products as soon as possible.

Snapchat is launching a new format for video ads called Extended Play Commercials which allows advertisers to run ads up to three minutes long.

The video ads are skippable after six seconds and will be shown as mid-roll ads – similar to how Snapchat handles shorter ads.

The goal behind Extended Play Commercials is to let advertisers tell longer, more engaging stories to users who are already actively engaged with the platform. As the company tells AdWeek, Snapchat believes these ads will help capture a greater share of the video ad market:

“The company believes the flexibility that extended play commercials provides to video advertisers will help it gain more share of the overall online video advertising market.“

While the new ad format is currently only available in closed beta, advertisers can request access by making a request through Ads Manager or contacting a Snapchat advertising representative.

David Router, Snapchat’s VP of Global Agency Partnerships, says the ads are a great way for advertisers to connect with shoppers this holiday season:

“We’re committed to building high-impact, long-form video ad formats, and extended play commercials are a great option for online video and TV buyers. Heading into the holidays, this format is a powerful new way to reach our Generation Z and millennial audience in Snapchat’s premium, brand safe Discover content.”

Chatbots are becoming a mainstay of everyday commerce, helping customers quickly connect with brands of all types and sizes and facilitate online sales.

According to a new study from Intercom, the automated messaging bots are also helping businesses save considerable amounts of money, with business leaders saving an average of $300,000 in 2019. However, the findings also reveal a disconnect between shoppers’ preferences and chatbot prevalence.

Notably the study found that 74% of customers surveyed expect to encounter chatbots on a website, though more than 85% of customers still prefer speaking with a human.

Although shoppers may not prefer chatbots, there are plenty of signs to suggest the bots are a uniquely powerful tool for driving sales. One prediction from Juniper Networks estimates the tool will drive more than $110 billion in retail sales by 2023.

The reason is that having a human available to respond to questions isn’t always feasible. Brands may not have the budget to have a receptionist or social media manager available at all times.

These bots help fill a needed gap in customer service, marketing, and sales simultaneously – leading to higher sell-through rates according to the Intercom study.

“Chatbots increased sales by an average of 67%, with 26% of all sales starting through a chatbot interaction,” the study found.

Facebook is using machine learning to launch a number of new personalization features for advertisers, as the company recently announced.

The goal is to make it easier for brands and advertisers to customize ads for their potential customers without having to create several distinct ads.

Dynamic Ad Formats and Ad Creative

When using Facebook’s Dynamic Ads, brands will be able to us the company’s machine learning model to predict a user’s ad format preference and deliver the best ad for their taste. This helps guarantee the best chance of catching users’ attention and driving clicks or conversions.

“The dynamic formats and ad creative solution aims to meet people where they are in the customer journey by delivering a personalized version of the ad to everyone who sees it,” Facebook said.

Multiple Optimized Text Options  In Single-Media Ads

The company has been testing a method for delivering responsive ads with multiple options for ad text, headlines, and descriptions for months, and is now officially launching the feature.

With this feature, advertisers can set a number of unique ad descriptions, headlines, or primary texts which are then selected by Facebook’s machine learning model based on users’ preferences.

Auto-Translated Ads

Lastly, the company announced that advertisers can select languages for their ad to be automatically translated into when using Ads Manager. By automatically,

As the company announced:

By using the “add languages” feature, advertisers can reach their international customers with messages in the local language quickly and efficiently. This helps advertisers save on resources to produce their own translations for key languages, while giving them controls to review and provide their own translations

Why It Matters

These features all work to speed up the process of creating ads for a wide range of users and audiences. Using signals directly from users, the company is able to deliver the best version of your ad for each user and create the best chance for your ads to convert every time they are shown.

Google says it will be rolling out a new ad extension aimed specifically at driving leads for your business in the coming weeks.

The ads look similar to typical search ads with a unique call-to-action. If a user clicks on that CTA, they are taken to a form which can be quickly pre-filled with contact information from their Google account or manually entered.

In the announcement, Google says lead form ad extensions can:

“Capture interest when potential customers are searching for your company, products, or services on Google. A fast, mobile-optimized experience makes form submission easy and eliminates the extra step of navigating to your mobile site lead form.”

Based on their own testing, Google says one advertiser improved their closing rate for sales leads by 20% by using lead form extensions.

While the feature is currently limited to beta testers, it will become available to all Google Ads advertisers in the next few weeks. However, the ad extensions will not be available for advertisers in a few select areas.

Lead form extensions will not be eligible for ads relating to:

  • Adult-oriented content
  • Alcohol-related content
  • Gambling-related content
  • Healthcare and medicines
  • Political content

For more information about lead ad extensions, check out Google’s new help center document here.

After nearly a year of testing, Facebook is finally launching search ad placements for all advertisers. That means anyone can now run ads within News Feed and Marketplace search results for any search with commercial intent – such as queries related to e-commerce or retail.

Currently, search ads only appear in results on mobile devices.

In the announcement, Facebook describes how the ads appear and function within search results, saying:

“The ads are designed to fit the experience on the given search results surface (Marketplace search or general search). They look similar to News Feed ads and have the same transparency and controls, including a “Sponsored” label so it’s clearly marked as paid placement.”

To have your ads appear in search results, advertisers can simply select “Automatic Placement” or the “Facebook Search Results” placement when creating or running News Feed ad campaigns.

Notably, advertisers will have little control over how the ads are targeted, aside from broad people-based targeting options. Instead, Facebook will target the ad based on a number of details including keywords, ad features, ad text, product category, and more.

Currently, the ads support three specific campaign objectives, including Product Sales, Conversions, and Traffic Objectives.

 

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.

Google is kicking off October – which just so happens to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month – by announcing three new ways for users to hide or delete their personal activity data when using Google products like Maps, YouTube, and Google Assistant. 

Incognito Mode For Maps

Incognito mode has been allowing people to browse the web while preventing data from being saved to their Google account or computer since 2008. Earlier this year, the company expanded the feature to YouTube, and soon it will be coming to Maps.

Once it is live, you’ll be able to quickly toggle incognito mode on and off by selecting it in the menu that appears when choosing accounts.

 

 

While the feature is coming to Android within the month, the company could only say it would be coming to iOS “soon”. 

Auto-Delete YouTube History

Google is also introducing a way for users to automatically delete their YouTube activity after a set amount of time. Specifically, you can select to keep data for 3 months, 18 months, or until you manually clear your history. 

A similar feature was introduced earlier this year for users’ location history and web activity and is expected to launch for YouTube this month. 

Managing Google Assistant Data

The search engine has introduced a way for people to control their Google Assistant activity using simple voice commands. 

For example, users could ask the Assistant to clear their history for the last week by saying “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week.”

 

This will be available to all Google Assistant users next week.

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.