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.

Instagram will start testing the removal of “Like” counts in the US as early as this week, the company’s CEO announced recently.

 

The company has already been testing eliminating the “Like” counts from view for users in Canada, Brazil, Japan, and Australia. However, this is the first time they will be testing the concept for American users.

Notably, in these tests, Instagram has not totally removed the presence of Likes or the ability to view your total likes. Instead, the site has hidden the total number of Likes from other users viewing a person’s post on desktop or viewing a person’s profile. This makes it so that only account owners can view the number of Likes a post receives.

If Instagram proceeds to remove Likes entirely from public view, it could have a significant impact to how users interact with content and how online success is measured.

For instance, influencers and marketers will likely stop relying on Likes as a measure of their posts success. Instead, they might shift to other, deeper engagement metrics such as clicks, comments, or shares.

For now, Instagram is just testing removing likes. Given that they have slowly been expanding this feature around the world, however, it seems likely that the platform is seriously considering hiding your Likes from public view for good.

Pinterest has released its yearly Halloween report for 2019, detailing what costumes, content, and creepy festivities are getting the most attention leading up to the big day. 

Pinterest is one of the most popular social platforms for Halloween content ahead of the holiday, with tens of millions of Halloween-related boards available. 

For the report, the company analyzed searches across its platform throughout the past year. 

While it covers the obvious inclusions like costume and makeup ideas, the report also reveals a wide range of Halloween-themed ideas, including searches related to tattoos, wedding, games, and more. 

Top Costumes for Those Identifying as Female

  • Powerpuff Girls
  • Pirate
  • Circus
  • Stranger Things
  • Alien
  • Mermaid
  • Harley Quinn
  • 80’s costume
  • Poison Ivy
  • Alice in Wonderland

Top Costumes for Those Identifying as Male

  • Superhero
  • Viking
  • Spider-Man
  • Joker
  • Jedi
  • Animal
  • Circus
  • Pirate
  • Mad Max
  • Robot

Top Trending Singles Costumes

  • Alien (+659%)
  • Gwen Stacy from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (+446%)
  • Elton John (+442%)
  • Space Cowboy (+359%)
  • Freddie Mercury (+145%)

Top Trending Costumes for Pairs

  • Lilo and Stitch (+1205%)
  • Timon and Pumba (+154%)
  • Woody and Bo Peep (+836%)
  • Velma and Daphne (+274%)
  • Pulp Fiction Couples Costume (+384%)

Top Trending Group Costumes 

  • Stranger Things (+653%)
  • The Powerpuff Girls (+379%)
  • The Lion King (+283%)
  • Alassin family costumes (+176%)
  • Toy Story (+151%)

See more from the report, including the most popular searches for Halloween-themed makeup, party, and snack ideas here.

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.

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.

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.