40% Of Gen Z Choose Social Media For Search Over Google

This week in social media news, Google’s top search engineer admits the company can’t convince nearly half of Gen Z that it is good at its main value prop—search.

Why it matters:

Gen Z, famed for its trust issues with everything from the media to government to big business, has a keen awareness of who is behind the data that they find when they type in a search term. For nearly 40% of Gen Z, according to Google’s SVP, Prabhakar Raghavan – SVP, Search, Assistant & Ads, Google’s powerful algorithms offer them results that they believe are anything but organic. As an alternative, Gen Z is going old school—turning to user-generated content on TikTok to find everything from advice on restaurants to answers to life’s big questions.

The details: 

Rabhakan, a world-renown computer scientist, who literally wrote a textbook on optimizing search algorithms, is apparently really good at his job – so good Google paid him $55 million in salary and stock last year to share his insights and help them remain a nation-state-sized actor in the digital ecosystem. So Gen Z’s disdain for all of that engineering genius and fine-tuned search results is not likely because Google did not actually work for them when they need to find something, but because they don’t care if it works or not. 

Gen Z consumers are searching – but not necessarily the way other groups do. They tend to use more long-tail search terms than any other generation, according to a recent report by HubSpot, and that means they have specific ideas about the results that they want – they don’t want cluttered results or generalized information.

Big Picture:

To wit, Gen Z is actually very interested in good quality search results – and tends to be open to new things to buy or experience.

According to recent research from Salesforce, Gen Z is the most likely to want to hear about new products and services (56%), and the most interested in sponsored digital experiences from brands (76%). 

Gen Z consumers are values and belief-driven—some 70% will always fact-check what brands say in ads and will unfollow them if they spot a lie, according to recent research from Edelman. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z is the least likely to trust brands (only 42% do, according to Salesforce). That’s a missed opportunity for brands, media companies, and Google. What makes Gen Z trust search results – and by extension – ads? A recent survey showed that 65% of Gen Z consumers trusted recommendations from friends and family more than any other influence – groups that are often found on social media. 

Bottom line:

Gen Z consumers prefer hearing from peers, even strangers on YouTube and TikTok, to trusting a faceless algorithm to deliver insights that are peppered with sponsored content and results when it comes to how they should spend their money or time. Part of the issue may be trust: Gen Z’s issues may be rooted in their need to trust what they’re seeing – and how likely an entity is to fudge the results.

While Gen Z is more than twice as likely to engage with a brand that is recommended by an influencer than other groups, information (including ads) that answers a specific question or need in a way that is clear and truthful – just like a friend or family member would – sees the highest level of engagement from Gen Z consumers.

TikTok Launches Program To Help SMBs Achieve Their Business Goals

This week in social media news, TikTok launches a six-week program to help small businesses grow on the app, YouTube rolls out updated analytics in Shorts, Instagram tests a Live Producer tool and more. 

TikTok Launches Six-Week Program To Help Small Brands Drive Results

TikTok is launching a new multi-channel educational program called Follow Me to help small and medium businesses build community on TikTok and achieve their business goals.

Why it matters: TikTok says it’s heard from several small businesses that the app helped them launch or build their business, with some saying it helped them survive the darkest days of the pandemic.

TikTok recently partnered with Hello Alice to survey 7,000 small businesses and 43 percent of owners said they’re now likely to join TikTok because they’ve heard reports of efficacy from fellow business owners. The survey also found that at 67 percent, TikTok gets top marks as a storytelling platform.

The details: TikTok’s Follow Me program will offer businesses a six-week email series that will outline different learning roadmaps based on visitors’ goals and best practices for running their first-ever TikTok campaign and integrating their brand’s story into their videos. 

This will include a guide to setting up a free business account, access to the creative center for content inspiration and insights into how TikTok’s ads manager and promotion features can be leveraged to further reinforce campaign outcomes.

Participating brands will learn the latest tips from TikTok’s small business ambassadors, Cassie Sorensen, owner and founder of Tassel Amor and Jacob Zander, owner and founder of Feel Your Soul. Cassie and Jacob will share their TikTok journeys and provide tips on how to best tap into the power of community and entertainment to drive real business results.

YouTube Updates Analytics For Shorts

YouTube has made some changes to its Shorts analytics and added comparative audience tools in the performance stats section, as announced in its latest Creator Insider video.

Why it matters: As of now, updates primarily benefit creators and brands looking to maximize their engagement but advertisers may soon be able to throw ad money at Shorts. During its Q1 earnings call, YouTube chief financial officer Ruth Porat said:

“We are experiencing a slight headwind to revenue growth as Shorts viewership grows as a percentage of total YouTube time. We are testing monetization on shorts, and early advertiser feedback and results are encouraging,” she said, adding that the team is working on closing the gap with traditional YouTube ads over time.

The details: YouTube has updated the visual display of its Shorts data with the inclusion of more specific stats.

The platform is also adding more advanced audience behavior data into YouTube Studio to help creators and brands better understand how their audience is discovering their channel.

Instagram Tests Live Producer Tool To Enable Desktop Streaming

In an effort to provide more opportunities to its creators, Instagram is testing a new Live Producer tool that’ll enable in-app broadcasters to go live using streaming software such as such as OBS, Streamyard and Streamlabs.

Why it matters: Livestreaming has become an increasingly popular way of consuming online content. Research from Livestream shows that 80 percent of consumers would prefer watching a brand’s live video to reading their blog post. So Instagram’s tool in testing could be a major game-changer for brands and creators aiming to create more polished, organized livestreams.

The details: Instagram says that you can view, share and download your completed broadcast within the Live Archive but that you can only share and download a completed live video from within the Live Archive if you have it enabled. The Live Archive can be accessed on Instagram mobile from your profile.

The tool is currently only available to a small pool of beta users, Instagram told TechCrunch

Meta And Google’s Ad Spend Projected To Dip Below 50% In 2023

By Insider Intelligence’s estimates, Meta and Google’s ad spend duopoly will dip below 50 percent to 48.7 percent in 2023 amid rising competition from TikTok.

Why it matters: The increase in the number of companies vying for total ad spend is reducing the share Meta and Google enjoyed for so long, with Walmart and Apple trying to secure a larger share of the ad spend market. Walmart is one of nine new platforms that’s expected to have a billion-dollar advertising business by next year. The other eight include Spotify, Roku, Snapchat, Instacart, Pluto TV, Yelp, IAC and Tubi.

The details: Meta and Google’s ad share will decline even further to 47.7 percent by 2024, according to Insider Intelligence.

TikTok Launches New Brand Safety Solution

TikTok is hoping to help brands better manage the environment where their ads show up with a new brand safety solution. The TikTok Inventory Filter will give advertisers more control over the content that appears adjacent to their in-feed ads on the For You page.

Why it matters: As TikTok notes:

”TikTok’s Community Guidelines are built with the safety of all of our users in mind, though sometimes content that is not violative still might not resonate with a particular brand’s identity. For example, a family-oriented brand might not want to appear next to videos containing even mild or comedic violence, whereas an advertiser promoting an action movie could benefit from showing up in that environment.”

“Enter the TikTok Inventory Filter, a proprietary solution embedded directly in the TikTok Ads Manager, that empowers advertisers with more control over where their ads appear on TikTok.”

The details: TikTok says that while all content on its app goes through careful moderation, the TikTok Inventory Filter offers additional layers of content filtration to help brands achieve their own unique goals by choosing the type of user-generated content (UGC) they’d like adjacent to their branded content.

Powered by advanced machine learning technology, the brand safety solution offers advertisers three distinct types of video inventory—full, standard and limited—which are informed by TikTok’s own policies and the industry-standard GARM Brand Safety Floor and Brand Suitability Framework. Brands can choose their desired tier within the TikTok ads manager when setting up a campaign.

The filter is now available in 25 countries and in more than 15 languages.

TikTok Reportedly Drops Plans To Expand Live Ecommerce After UK Launch Falls Flat

This week in social media news, TikTok is reportedly axing the expansion of its live ecommerce initiative, Snapchat launches a paid subscription and Instagram updates its Reels offerings for brands.

TikTok Axes Expansion Of Live Ecommerce After UK Launch Falls Flat

TikTok is dropping its plans to expand TikTok Shop, its live ecommerce initiative, in the US and other parts of Europe, according to the Financial Times and as reported by TechCrunch. After launching it in the UK last year for the first time outside Asia, the venture struggled to gain traction with shoppers and suffered from internal problems.

Why it matters: The change may suggest TikTok prematurely introduced livestream shopping in the UK and that US advertisers may not be able to advertise as hoped on the booming app. Nevertheless, as TikTok scales back its efforts in the US, it’s still doubling down on in-app shopping–it’s currently testing a dedicated Shop feed tab in Indonesia, according to TechCrunch.

The details: TikTok reportedly planned to launch TikTok Shop in France, Germany, Italy and Spain in the first half of this year and then in the US in the second half.

But people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that the expansion was nixed after influencers dropped out of the project in the UK and that many TikTok Shop livestreams in the UK saw poor sales despite efforts to encourage brands and influencers to sell through the app.

Instagram Adds In-Feed Recommendations, Expands Reels Templates

Instagram has updated and expanded a few of its Reels tools to help brands create more immersive videos and get discovered by users who don’t follow them yet.

Why it matters: According to Instagram, 90 percent of accounts follow at least once business. To help these brands attract users and give them a reason to spend less on TikTok, Instagram continues to expand its Reels offerings. In addition to these new updates, the platform published an in-depth guide that includes best practices for scaling small businesses.

The details: Instagram says it’s testing several new ways to make a full-screen feed front and center. It’s also starting to recommend businesses’ content to people who don’t follow them yet. To do so, it uses a few signals to determine what accounts to display including posts people have previously engaged with, other people they follow and their interactions in the app.

As users spend 20 percent of their time on Instagram viewing Reels, the app is focused on making tools that help create immersive, shareable videos. For example, it’s expanding access to Templates, the function that allows users to borrow from the structure of another Reel and use it as a starting point. 

Next, it’s expanding the time limit of Reels to 90 seconds. It’s also launching Audio Import, which allows you to take audio from any video in your camera roll and use it in a Reel.

Lastly, it’s adding stickers–like its poll, emoji slider and quiz–to Reels for more ways to inspire interaction.

Snapchat Launches Subscription With Exclusive, Early Access Features

Snapchat now offers a subscription called Snapchat Plus. Priced a $3.99, it’s tailored toward “the people who spend most of their time communicating with their closest friends on Snap,” the company’s senior vice president of product, Jacob Andreou, told The Verge.

Why it matters: This marks Snap’s first real attempt at bringing in money outside of advertising but Andreou tells The Verge there aren’t expectations for the subscription to become a “material new revenue source.” When asked if the paid tier would one day let people pay to turn off ads in the app, Andreou said that “ads are going to be at the core of our business model for the long term.”

The details: In addition to giving users the ability to unlock exclusive and early access features, Snapchat Plus lets subscribers change the style of the app’s icon, see who rewatched a story and pin one of their friends to the top of a chat history as a “BFF.”

The subscription is being released in Snap’s top markets: the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

VidCon: Instagram, Facebook Won’t Take A Commission From Creators Until 2024

After ViacomCBS canceled VidCon two years in a row due to concerns about the ongoing COVID pandemic, the event has returned to the Anaheim Convention Center in California this week. For the first time ever, organizers are offering fans digital access to the event. Ahead, a round-up of the latest happenings and announcements from major social media attendees including YouTube, Meta and this year’s title sponsor TikTok.

TikTok Announces VidCon Programming

This year, VidCon title sponsor TikTok is offering a slate of creator-focused panels and sessions including the industry keynote, which was hosted by TikTok creator James Henry on Thursday, June 23.  

Why it matters: YouTube was VidCon’s title sponsor since 2013 but TikTok managed to nab that role from the platform as it continues to grow. In a first, TikTok will surpass YouTube in terms of time spent by their respective adult users in the US, according to eMarketer.

The details: TikTok’s VidCon programming includes panels from some of its top creators who will speak about creating authentic content, the platform’s impact on music and entertainment, tips for building a brand with lessons from small businesses, an overview of brands that are winning on the app and advice for parents whose teens have found success on TikTok.

TikTok chief operating officer Vanessa Pappas will also be there to welcome guest creators who will share their TikTok origin stories including Joanne Molinaro (@thekoreanvegan), Leo González (@leogonzall), Zachariah Porter (@zzzachariah), Soy (@foodwithsoy), Keara ‘Queen Keke’ Wilson (@keke.janajah) and Tony Weaver, Jr. (@tonyweaverjr). Kirby (@singkirbysing) will make a special virtual appearance and to close out the event, artist Tai Verdes (@taiverdes) will take to the stage for a special performance.

Instagram, Facebook Won’t Take A Commission From Creators Until 2024

Instagram and Facebook will delay taking a portion of creators’ revenues until 2024—one year after it originally planned to start, Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced ahead of VidCon.

Why it matters: This delay will attract more creators to Instagram and Facebook as Meta faces ongoing competition from rivals like YouTube and TikTok. For every 1,000 ad views, advertisers pay a certain rate to YouTube and the platform takes 45 percent of the creators’ revenue whereas TikTok keeps 50 percent of eligible creators’ revenue. At one point, Zuckerberg said Facebook would take less than 30 percent from creators. 

The details: One day before it heads to VidCon where it was expected to promote its Reels and virtual reality offerings to attendees, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that Meta’s social platforms will delay taking a commission from creator offerings like paid events, badges, fan subscriptions and Meta’s newsletter platform Bulletin until 2024 with the intention of enticing more creators. 

In another effort to expand their creator base, Instagram and Facebook will expand their Reels bonus program to more creators and offer them the opportunity to monetize short-form videos on both platforms. Instagram is also competing with one of TikTok’s newest features by testing a creator marketplace that allows brands and creators to collaborate on sponsorships and other business opportunities.

YouTube Shorts Launches Creator-Focused Snack Challenge For VidCon Fans

Ahead of VidCon, YouTube Shorts enlisted 18 of its top creators to customize snacks in fun branded packaging that event attendees can win.

Why it matters: YouTube, which lost its standing as VidCon title sponsor to TikTok this year, is capitalizing on its creators’ popularity to generate hype ahead of the event. The customized snacks are only available to guests at VidCon or those who participate in the Shorts challenge onsite at VidCon.

The details: YouTube Shorts’ snack challenge offers VidCon guests and fans the chance to eat their favorite creators’ snacks, including Ben of the Week’s Explosive Beanz, Miki Rai’s Good Morning Besties Bars and MrBeast’s Chocolate Bar. 

Among the treats is Ben of the Week’s Explosive Beanz—perfect for the creator who’s best known for a viral video in which he pretended to burn his house down by microwaving a can of beans, which he then sang a song about. The wasabi-rubbed dried beans are reportedly so hot they’ll “burn your…house down.”

With over 900,000 subscribers to cheer her on, nurse and YouTuber Sofie Dossi begins every video with a delightful, “Good morning, besties!” So naturally, she went with the Good Morning Besties Bars, cheesecake-flavored breakfast bars made with oats, dried cherries and honey.

MrBeast is on a mission to change the way the world snacks, so in January 2022, he launched his own chocolate bar company called Feastables. And as part of his YouTube Shorts’ snack challenge, the platform is offering a limited-edition bar made with just four ingredients. In line with the YouTube star’s popularity, Feastables sold over 1 million chocolate bars within the first 72 hours of launch and apparently sold over $10 million worth of the treats as of May 2022.

Social Media News Roundup: Cannes Lions Festival Edition

This week in social media news from the Cannes Lions Festival, YouTube releases its 2022 Culture & Trends Report, Meta debuts two new Horizon Worlds, Snapchat and British Vogue unveil an AR exhibition and more.

YouTube Finds Gen Z Prefer Personally Relevant Content More Than Viral Content

According to YouTube’s 2022 Culture & Trends Report—which the platform released at the Cannes Lions Festival and includes an analysis of hundreds of trends and Ipsos surveys worldwide—pop culture is becoming more individualized as indicated by 65 percent of Gen Z who agree that content that’s personally relevant to them is more important than content that goes viral. In addition, 78 percent of people agree that they use YouTube because it serves them with content that’s personally relevant to them.

Why it matters: Pop culture is morphing into internet culture and YouTube says three main things are driving its evolution. First, that fan communities that once used to be a side effect of entertainment are now central to the entertainment experience. Second, the production and consumption of remixable content like memes is a key way young generations are participating in pop culture. And third, comforting and nostalgic content has become increasingly valuable for young viewers.

The details: Here’s a list of key findings from YouTube’s report:

  • 85 percent of Gen Z have posted video content online
  • 55 percent of Gen Z agree that they watch content no one they know personally is interested in
  • 61 percent of Gen Z agree that they would describe themselves as a really big or super fan of someone or something
  • 63 percent of Gen Z followed one or more meme accounts in the past 12 months
  • 59 percent of Gen Z agree that they use short-form video apps to discover things that they then watch longer versions of
  • 90 percent of Gen Z have watched a video that helped them feel like they were in a different place
  • 83 percent of Gen Z have used YouTube to watch soothing content that helps them relax
  • 69 percent of Gen Z agree they often find themselves returning to creators or content that feels comforting to them
  • 82 percent of Gen Z have used YouTube to watch content in order to feel nostalgic
  • 53 percent of Gen Z agree that online horror content appeals to them

Meta Debuts Two New Horizon Worlds At Cannes

Meta returned to the Cannes Lions Festival to showcase its shift from mobile to the metaverse and reveal two new Meta Horizon Worlds— MINIVerse in collaboration with BMW’s brand MINI and Fender’s Stratoverse in partnership with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.

Why it matters: Meta’s new worlds are prime examples of how brands are taking their first steps into the metaverse.

The details: MINI’s MINIVerse, the brand’s first foray into the metaverse, offers four drivers the opportunity to race customizable MINI go-karts on a gravity-defying track.

The Fender Stratosphere Horizon World is a guitar-shaped island hovering high in the sky and features a first-of-its-kind co-play audio experience that allows visitors to create original music riffs. They can also go on a virtual scavenger hunt for chords that can be used to create special combinations of music.

The new Meta Horizon Worlds by MINI and Fender, which were created in collaboration with Meta’s Creative Shop, are available to all US, Canada and UK Meta Quest 2 Headset users. Visitors of the company’s Cannes headquarters at Meta Beach are also able to experience the brands’ worlds as part of the Meta Horizon Worlds Pavilion demos.

Twitter Creates A Sales Channel App For Shopify

Through Twitter and Shopify’s new partnership, which was announced at the Cannes Lions Festival, all US Shopify merchants will be able to quickly tap into Twitter to drive their customers to purchase.

Why it matters: According to Twitter, there were 6.5 billion Tweets mentioning businesses globally in 2021. For shoppers who are already engaged in conversations about businesses and products, the social platform’s Shopify partnership will bring more of their favorite products directly onto Twitter for them to browse and buy.

The details: Twitter built a sales channel app, available in Shopify’s App Store and the Shopify admin, through which merchants can:

  • Onboard to Twitter shopping manager: With a few clicks, merchants can connect their Twitter account to their Shopify admin and onboard onto Twitter’s Shopping Manager, which is the entry point to Twitter’s suite of Twitter Shopping tools where merchants can access and manage its shopping features.
  • Automatically sync their inventory: Twitter’s sales channel app regularly syncs with Shopify merchants’ product catalogs, so they don’t need to manually update product information on the social platform. As their Shopify catalog changes, so does the catalog in their Twitter Shopping Manager.
  • Highlight their products: Merchants can showcase their products on their Twitter profile with the Shop Spotlight or Twitter Shops to build brand awareness, drive product discovery and reach customers for free. When they’re ready to buy, shoppers can checkout on the merchant’s website. Starting today, Twitter is also expanding beyond the beta testing phase for Shop Spotlight and Twitter Shops and making both features available to all merchants in the US.

Snapchat, British Vogue Debut Interactive AR Fashion Exhibition At Cannes

In partnership with British Vogue, Snapchat created an augmented reality exhibition on display at the Cannes Lions Festival where visitors can immerse themselves in high fashion designs from seven of the world’s leading fashion brands and designers. With the goal of demonstrating how physical fashion can be enhanced through interactive custom Snapchat lenses, “Vogue x Snapchat: Redefining the Body” showcases pieces by Dior, Gucci, Balenciaga, Kenneth Ize, Richard Quinn, Stella McCartney and Versace. 

Why it matters: The activation—developed in collaboration with Arcadia, Atomic Digital Design and Snap’s newly established Paris AR studio—will allow millions of Snapchatters worldwide to engage with the exhibition from the comfort of their own homes. Plus, for many, it presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “wear” high-fashion designer pieces. It’s through the exhibition’s display of this new technology that Snap hopes to introduce “new levels of accessibility, creativity and expression to the fashion and design world,” the platform’s chief executive Evan Spiegel said. 

The details: Curated by British Vogue editor in chief and Vogue European editorial director Edward Enninful, the “Vogue x Snapchat: Redefining the Body” exhibition features an AR try-on experience in which visitors can immerse themselves in the designers’ creative visions while strolling through unique virtual rooms.

Using Snap’s landmarker technology, the facade of the exhibition was digitally wrapped in a way that visitors can view via a custom landmarker in the Snap Map. Snapchatters who weren’t able to attend Cannes can engage with the exhibition via global lenses in Lens Carousel or via the “Dress Up” tab in Lens Explorer.

Snap and British Vogue also partnered with DressX on a capsule collection that includes exclusive Vogue x Snapchat merchandise and will be available at the exhibition in Cannes and via the DressX site.

Pinterest Debuts New Ad Format For Its Idea Pins

This week in social media news, Pinterest launches a new ad format called Idea ads, Twitter will let businesses display location, hours and contact info on their profiles, YouTube Shorts now reaches 1.5 billion monthly users and more.

Pinterest Introduces New Video And Image-Driven Idea Ads 

Pinterest has launched a new ad format called Idea ads, which will enable advertisers to showcase a brand’s website, get step-by-step breakdowns, view ingredients lists and more. Similarly, Pinterest’s new “Idea ads with paid partnership” enables Pinterest creators to partner with brands for interactive storytelling. In the same blog, Pinterest announced a new paid partnership tool for creators, allowing them to tag brand partners in their content. 

Why it matters: Pinterest’s new Idea ads are an expansion of its TikTok-like Idea Pins, a multi-page video format it launched in May 2021. According to the platform, people who saw Idea ads were 59 percent more likely to recall that brand. And brands that worked with creators saw 38 percent higher brand awareness and 37 percent higher Pin awareness.

Globally, brands and advertisers are witnessing increased traffic to their business from “Idea ads with paid partnership,” including Gatorade and Scotch in the US, and M.A.C. Cosmetics Australia, says Pinterest.

The details: Available in 30 countries worldwide, the new Idea ad format offers multi-page, fullscreen storytelling where advertisers can showcase their ideas in action. 

And through the new paid partnership tool, creators will be able to showcase sponsored deals by tagging brand partners directly in their content. 

Twitter Allows Local Businesses To Display Location, Contact Info

Twitter has launched a new feature called Location Spotlight that will allow brick-and-mortar businesses with professional accounts to display on their profile a contact card detailing their location, hours and additional contact methods.

Why it matters: The new feature makes Twitter more of a one-stop shop for consumers researching brands, products and services by allowing stores to display the sort of information that users normally go to Google for. 

The details: Offered in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia, Twitter’s Location Spotlight is available for Twitter Professional account users and appears on a business’ profile. 

Users that tap on the location can get directions to the business through a third-party mapping app like Google Maps. The new feature is similar to business info cards on Google Maps and was released on the heels of Twitter’s launch of multiple commerce-related functions such as virtual storefronts and product drops.

YouTube Shorts Attracts 1.5 Billion Monthly Users

Over 1.5 billion people are now watching YouTube Shorts monthly, reports The Verge.

Why it matters: YouTube has been making attempts to compete with TikTok in several ways, including offering some creators as much as $10,000 per month when they make popular videos, depending on engagement and viewers’ locations. 

As more YouTube users venture to Shorts rather than long-form videos, monetization and ad revenue have become an issue. In May, the platform began rolling out ads on Shorts worldwide but it wasn’t sharing ad revenue with creators at the time.

The details: After roughly two years of YouTube offering cash bonuses and expanding features to compete with TikTok, 1.5 billion viewers are watching short-form videos on Shorts. In total, about 2 billion logged-in users visit the platform every month while Shorts experienced 30 billion views per day, as of April.

Meta To Roll Out Social Hangout Hub, Horizon Home, To Quest 2 Headsets

Horizon Home, a custom social hub where you can socialize with friends and watch videos before jumping into an experience, is coming to the Quest 2 headset, Meta founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced.

Why it matters: Up until now, the Quest 2 didn’t offer a straightforward, dedicated way to socialize and required users to do things like join a party or play games to hang with their friends. The Horizon Home update provides a new way of socializing online in the world of virtual reality (VR).

The details: Demoed by Mark Zuckerberg and free climber Alex Honnold, the Horizon Home update allows users to choose a home—such as a space station or patio overlooking a mountain range—where they “wake up” after first putting on their headset. 

Users will also be able to upload their own environments to call home. Rather than free locomotion, the new feature utilizes hotspot locomotion to reduce the likelihood of users’ VR avatars colliding with one another.

“Party leaders can unilaterally remove guests from both the Party and Meta Horizon Home,” a Meta spokesperson told TechCrunch. In addition, any user can use the system-level block option or submit a report while guests can exit a social situation in one click to instantly disconnect from voice chat and the general environment.

How To Create More Effective Ads According To Snapchat’s Brand Lift Study

This week in social media news, Snapchat shares brand-building tips, Meta says it’s developing a privacy-safe ad product, YouTube’s new feature lets users connect their TV to their phone and more.

Snapchat’s New Guide Shares How To Build Brand And Create More Effective Ads

Snapchat partnered with Kantar to deconstruct brand lift studies and offer insights on how variables like ad format, frequency and creative features drove lift across key brand performance metrics. Among three more key findings, the research shows that the best way to plan a Snapchat campaign starts with leveraging multiple ad formats on the platform.

Why it matters: As the digital ad industry recovers from changes to Apple’s Identifier For Advertisers and coping with ad tracking regulations, Snapchat hopes to guide marketers activating their first branding campaign on the platform. To do so, it identified four patterns across these outputs.

The details: Snapchat utilized Kantar’s Balanced Attribution product to study 52 campaigns, which included more than 50,000 respondents and 630,000 Snapchat ad exposures in the US, Saudi Arabia, France and Australia. The four patterns it identified include:

  1. Contributors to Success: Snap says to remember that a campaign’s performance isn’t dependent on a single factor such as creative or frequency.
  2. Higher Budget = More Camera Ads: To increase your Snapchat campaign’s performance, the app suggests leveraging multiple ad formats, including content and camera ads. The study found that the reallocation of budget towards Camera Ads maximized lifts in intent and helped build differentiated frequency and incremental reach.
  3. More Creative = Better Results: An exposure that delivers the same message in a different way compared to other creatives in the mix helps with incremental reach and building differentiated frequency, the data found.
  4. Room for Higher Frequencies: A frequency of 4x per week drove roughly 75 percent of total possible intent lift, with the model predicting total saturation at 8x per week. 

LinkedIn Publishes Transparency Report For The Second Half Of 2021

LinkedIn has released its semi-annual Transparency Report, which addresses its responses to professional community policy violations and government requests for member data and content removal in the second half of 2021.

Why it matters: As of 2022, LinkedIn has more than 830 million members and over 58 million registered companies in 200 countries and regions worldwide, according to its About Us. Like it is for all social media platforms, it’s imperative to LinkedIn’s ongoing growth that it responds to fake accounts, misinformation and other policy violations before they impact or drive away users. 

The details: Though most of its content was constructive, LinkedIn witnessed a greater amount of misinformation, fake accounts and other abusive content and behavior. The rise in the amount of misinformation could be attributed to the company’s enhanced automated defense system, which blocked 96 percent of all fake accounts it stopped during the July to December 2021 period. Of the spam or scam content removed in this period, the platform’s automated defenses stopped 99.1 percent and its teams manually removed the rest. Read the full report here.

YouTube Now Lets Users Connect Their TV To iOS Or Android Phone 

YouTube is rolling out a new feature that lets users effortlessly connect their TV to their iOS or Android phone, head of design for YouTube on TV, Brynn Evans, announced in a blog

Why it matters: As of 2022, every single day viewers are watching an average of more than 700 million hours of YouTube content on TV. This growing number challenges the platform’s design team to keep the experience simple, streamlined and intuitive, according to Evans. The function comes 12 years after the YouTube app for TV screens first launched.

The details: YouTube found that more than 80 percent of people report using another digital device while watching TV, sometimes even watching the same video on TV and on mobile while engaging with it only on the latter. 

Given remote controls are difficult to use when controlling YouTube on TV and most TVs don’t have a built-in web browser, YouTube decided to launch a feature that lets users connect their TV to their iOS or Android phone so that videos can be engaged with (i.e., liked, shared, commented on, etc.) directly.

To try this, your phone and TV must be signed in to the same YouTube account. Open the YouTube app on TV, then open the YouTube app on your phone and click “Connect” on the prompt that automatically pops up. Now your phone will be synchronized to the TV.

YouTube says it’s starting to test new designs for its video watch page to help incorporate more uniquely YouTube features–like browsing and shopping for products featured in videos–directly to the big screen to help viewers decide when to pick up their phone and engage.

TikTok’s Creative Center Platform Gives Marketers Key Insights

According to Social Media Today, TikTok has added new insights to its evolving Creative Center platform, about trending hashtags, regional performance stats, key influencers and more. Catch a glimpse here.

Why it matters: The new data offers marketers critical research value as they continue to master TikTok advertising. It also marks TikTok’s larger effort to attract ad dollars as the app is projected to grow its net ad revenue in the US to $5.96 billion in 2022, up 184 percent year-over-year, per eMarketer.

The details: Using the new insights, creators and marketers can research trending hashtags by region and the top influencers aligned with each. This adds to the TikTok Creative Center’s current offerings, including an Ad Library that shows the top-performing ads on TikTok. The new update comes on the heels of the app’s launch of its interactive insights platform in May, which allows marketers and influencers to engage with an array of filters to discover key data points on their target markets.

Facebook Is Developing A “Privacy-Safe” Ad Product

As privacy changes limit its targeting capabilities, Meta’s Facebook is in the early stages of developing a “basic ads” product that won’t depend on users’ anonymized personal information, reports Business Insider.

Why it matters: After reporting its first quarterly decline in active users in Q4 2021, Meta is in the midst of navigating a future in which users’ personal info is no longer freely accessible. To sustain its primary source of revenue, the company is attempting to offer ads that deliver scale while also being able to overcome data regulations like The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

According to an analysis by data management company Lotame, Apple’s privacy changes would cause a $12.8 billion hit to Meta’s revenue in 2022. Google also intends on instituting changes that would limit advertisers’ targeting ability.  

The details: Facebook’s new product—which is expected to be tested in the US after it launches in the European Union—targets brand advertisers attempting to build awareness and shape perception of products. It would be measured by basic metrics such as engagement and video views, according to Business Insider.

Meta is under pressure to compete with rapidly growing TikTok, which has been a beneficiary of Facebook’s ad challenges. TikTok has been testing capabilities like retargeting campaigns with advertisers, according to anonymous ad buyers interviewed by Business Insider. If TikTok can prove that retargeting is driving performance, brands will likely move more marketing dollars from Facebook to TikTok. 

Meta Adds New Creative Tools And Features To Reels

Meta recently announced new Facebook and Instagram Reels creative tools and features—including poll, quiz and emoji slider stickers—to help creators bring their ideas to fruition, get discovered and grow their audiences.

Why it matters: Many of the new tools Meta launched are copycats of those TikTok already offers creators. For example, the new suggested Reels feature is similar to TikTok’s “For You” page while Meta’s new Sound Sync feature is just like TikTok’s auto-sync video option as both let you automatically sync your video clips to the beat of a song.

The details: Among the new tools coming to Facebook Reels include the ability to:

  • Create, edit and schedule Facebook Reels on desktop.
  • Clip videos on desktop, making it easier for creators who publish long-form, recorded or live videos—and video game creators who want to generate short-form Reels directly from their Live content—to test different formats.
  • Narrate videos and use Sound Sync to automatically sync video clips to a song’s beat. The platform will also have a text-to-speech digital voice to read text.

Among the new tools coming to Instagram Reels include the ability to:

  • Extend videos to 90 seconds.
  • Interact with audiences using poll, quiz and emoji slider stickers.
  • Import original audio directly within Instagram Reels.
  • Use new templates to create reels using the same structure as another creator’s Reel.

Getting discovered and expanding reach will be further supported by Meta’s new suggested Reels in Feed feature, which will be rolling out globally. In addition, creators on Instagram will now have the opportunity to recommend their Reels on Facebook to expand their content’s reach. 

Pinterest Launches “We Belong Here” Campaign For Pride Month

Pinterest is celebrating Pride Month with new opportunities for LGBTQ+ creators, including the expansion of its Creator Fund to two new countries and reduced barriers of entry for these creators to reach new audiences on the platform.

Why it matters: As the platform notes, Pinterest continues to be a forum where all communities go to explore identities, be their authentic selves, build community and find ways to commemorate life’s moments. According to Pinterest, global searches around gender expression, seeking support and creating belonging are trending as searches for “gender identity” are up 55 percent, “genderfluid aesthetic” up 100 percent and “LGBT support” up 300 percent. 

The details: Pinterest has recognized the importance of remaining an inclusive space and as part of Pride Month is expanding its Creator Fund to the UK and Brazil. For this first cohort, the UK will focus on fashion and beauty creators while Brazil will combine creators from the food, beauty, fashion and decor categories. 

To ensure the creativity that comes from LGBTQIA+ creators is not overlooked, the Creator Fund will also reduce barriers of entry for them to inspire more creativity. During training, creators will learn current and relevant Pinner searches such as rainbow peekaboo hair (up 3x) or pride makeup ideas (up 2x). The goal for the Creator Fund, Pinterest notes, is to foster talent through financial and educational support.

Over the next few weeks, when Pinners globally search for terms related to “Pride” on Pinterest, they’ll see a landing page on Today’s Inspiration with the theme of Pinterest’s 2022 campaign, “We Belong Here,” that will lead them to Pride-focused boards and articles on celebrating belonging. 

Snapchat Expands Dynamic Ads To Serve Hotels, Airlines And Online Travel Agencies

This week in social media news, Snapchat launches Dynamic Travel Ads, TikTok will surpass YouTube in user time spent for the first time, YouTube is rolling out Shorts ad globally and more.

Snapchat Debuts Dynamic Travel Ads As Travel Picks Up

As COVID-19 restrictions worldwide ease up, travel is back on the menu. That’s likely why Snapchat is expanding its Dynamic Ads to specifically serve hotels, airlines, tours and online travel agencies after seeing strong adoption with the ads’ beta launch last year.

Why it matters: According to Snap, 76 percent of its users in the US are making plans to or already have returned to their pre-pandemic behaviors and millennials and Gen Z Snapchatters are 37 percent more likely to book travel after seeing an advertisement. In addition, a GlobalWebIndex study shows that Snapchatters are more likely to travel than users of other platforms.

The details: This marks Snap’s first category expansion outside of ecommerce within its current Dynamic Ads offerings. The solution builds on some of Snap’s Location features that are core to user experience. These include Location Data, Snap Map—which 70 percent of Snapchatters use because they like to see where their best friends are—and Places, which live on the Snap Map and feature Stories, hours, reviews and delivery options for local businesses.

The appeal of Dynamic Travel Ads for marketers is they offer advanced audience targeting based on a Snapchatter’s travel intent. These ads also offer locally-relevant campaign delivery to serve hotels and airlines based on popularity backed by Snap’s visitation data. Lastly, the customized catalog setup is built to meet travel advertisers’ needs with relevant product feed attributes that are specific to these businesses.

Snap says Booking.com used the Dynamic Travel Ads to dynamically pull images directly from their product catalog and serve user ads with locally relevant listings based on products they had already viewed. Doing so resulted in a 20 percent lower cost per purchase than other US advertisers.

Etihad Airways also saw success with Dynamic Travel Ads in trying to ensure relevance in the competitive market. Using Snap’s prospecting solution, it was able to reduce its cost per flight search by 4x and saw a 307 percent increase in ROAS and a 76 percent decrease in cost per purchase, compared to their non-dynamic campaigns.

In A First, TikTok Will Surpass YouTube In User Time Spent

This year, TikTok will beat YouTube in terms of time spent by their respective adult users in the US, according to eMarketer.

Why it matters: This marks the first time in history TikTok will beat YouTube by this metric. The milestone comes on the heels of TikTok’s video length limit expansion from three minutes to 10 minutes as well as a new revenue sharing program similar to YouTube’s. It’s also worth noting that in 2018, TikTok surpassed Instagram and a year later, Facebook.

The details: Based on eMarketer’s data, TikTok will see 45.8 minutes per day from its average adult users while YouTube will see 45.6 minutes. As the firm notes, TikTok’s user time spent hasn’t declined as pandemic trends level out.

TikTok Partners With Hootsuite, Emplifi To Help Brands Reach Users More Easily

TikTok is adding new content partners to its Marketing Partner Program, the app confirmed to TechCrunch. The expansion—which will see the addition of Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Sprinklr, Emplifi, Dash Hudson, Khoros, Brandwatch and Later to TikTok’s program—will allow marketers to manage their TikTok accounts without leaving their third-party content marketing platforms.

Why it matters: The expansion is part of TikTok’s larger effort to attract advertisers and educate them on ways to reach users on the app. Last month, it launched a five-week program called Creative Agency Partnerships University designed to help agencies become TikTok experts. And ahead of its NewFronts presentation to advertisers last month, it launched TikTok Pulse, a contextual ad solution that ensures brands’ ads are placed next to the top 4 percent of all videos on TikTok.

The details: TikTok tells TechCrunch that through this new integration, marketers can now manage and optimize their content campaigns directly through these third-party platforms, track profile and video metrics in real-time, compare performance to other platforms and track conversations happening in the comments section of their videos.

YouTube Shorts Ads Roll Out Globally

Google is gradually rolling out ads in YouTube Shorts around the world, the company announced during its Marketing Live event this week. Starting today, marketers’ video action campaigns and app campaigns will automatically scale to YouTube Shorts.

Why it matters: According to Google, YouTube Shorts now averages over 30 billion daily views—four times as many as a year ago. YouTube is betting big on the function as it launched a $100 million Shorts creator fund last year and says that over 40 percent of creators who received payment from the fund last year weren’t previously monetizing their YouTube content. 

The details: Later this year, advertisers will be able to connect their product feed to their campaign and make video ads on YouTube Shorts more shoppable, Google said in a blog.

TikTok Shares Key Stats On Utilizing ‘Always Engaged’ Strategy 

TikTok users prefer brands that demonstrate they understand how to create and use the platform, according to a new set of stats and best practices the app shared on how utilizing an “always engaged” strategy drives brand impact. 

Why it matters: According to TikTok’s research, 79 percent of its users prefer brands that show they understand how to create for the platform. To demonstrate this understanding, TikTok says creators—who are “deeply trusted” by the TikTok community—are the best way for brands to meet audiences where they are. Thirty-three percent of TikTok users say that TikTok inspired them to buy something recommended by a creator on the platform.

The details: TikTok says an “always engaged” strategy is an integrated approach that utilizes organic, paid and creators. Using all three, it notes, will increase in brand love, recall and resonance. Here are TikTok’s key findings:

  • Top of mind awareness soars 173 percent after two exposures to a brand’s content on TikTok
  • Organic content is 20 percent more likable after viewing a paid ad
  • Organic content has a 27 percent increase in brand recall when viewers see organic before paid
  • Organic content is 18 percent more relevant after viewing a paid ad
  • TikTok saw a 2x increase globally in ROAS when that participation occurred, and that 2x ROAS amplified all paid efforts

Twitter Launches Spaces Dedicated To Super Follows

This week in social media news, Twitter debuts Spaces dedicated to Super Follows, Snapchat and eBay announce a new shopping integration and Apple promotes mobile data protection features in a new ad spot.

Twitter’s Debuts New Super Follows-Only Spaces

Twitter has expanded its live audio offering, Spaces, to Super Follows, its paid subscription service that gives users access to bonus content from their favorite creators and influencers.

Why it matters: The new Super Follows-only Spaces could help popular Twitter influencers grow their user base by engaging fans with exclusive audio content. Though not all users can access Super Follows yet, the ones that can get to decide on a monthly subscription rate between $3 to $10 a month.

According to its most recent earnings report, Twitter brought in $94 million from subscriptions and other revenue (including data licensing) in the period, a decrease of 31 percent year-over-year.

The details: Super Follows-only Spaces give users bonus content and extra perks. Within the app, the new feature takes on a different color palette for the Spaces link while a note above describes it as a “Super Follows only” broadcast.

Snapchat Announces New eBay Shopping Integration

More than 142 million buyers shop on eBay globally and now Snapchat is looking to target some of that audience on its app. The platform announced a new shopping integration that lets Snap users share eBay listings with their friends right into Snaps using the Snap Camera on Android and iOS.

Why it matters: Snap’s new eBay integration comes on the heels of younger generations buying upcycled products more frequently and prioritizing climate change and sustainability. eBay has bolstered its efforts to reach these conscious shoppers recently—in 2020 it launched a sneaker authentication service that verifies shoes sold on the platform match what their listings claim and expanded the service to include handbags in the summer of last year.

The details: To access the new Snapchat feature, users have to open their eBay app and select their listing then tap the “Share” icon and the “Snapchat” option. This will automatically open the Snapchat Camera with the automated eBay sticker. From there, users can create an original Snap with the eBay sticker and add design touches using Snap’s creative tools.

When a user sends a Snap that includes an eBay sticker to their story or directly to friends, the recipient or viewer will be able to tap the eBay sticker to jump back to the listing in the eBay app.

Apple’s New Pro-Privacy Ad Aims To Assuage User Concerns About Selling Of Personal Data

With a new ad campaign spotlighting how the data broker industry trades in mobile users’ personal data, Apple is hoping to raise awareness around its features aimed at protecting personal data, like its app tracking transparency option and mail privacy protection feature.

Why it matters:  According to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, 81 percent of the public say that the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits. When asked whether they think their personal data is less secure, more secure or about the same as it was five years ago, 70 percent of adults say their personal data is less secure. Only 6 percent report that they believe their data is more secure today than it was in the past.

While Apple’s pro-privacy stance and features might mitigate users’ concerns about being tracked, tech giants and developers who rely on tracking and ads to monetize free apps take a hit each time a user clicks the “Ask app not to track” button their iPhone.

The details: In Apple’s new 90-second spot, which will run across 24 countries this summer on broadcast and social media, a shopper in a record store stumbles upon an auction where data brokers are bidding on her personal data, including her read emails, drugstore purchases, location data, transaction data, browser history and more—until she looks down at her iPhone to click the “Ask app not to track” button and enable the email privacy protection feature. Then the entire auction and quirky cast of bidders instantly disappear. The spot concludes with: “It’s your data. iPhone helps keep it that way. Privacy. That’s iPhone.”

Instagram Launches Digital Collectibles Feature

This week in social media news, Instagram tests a digital collectibles feature, YouTube receives MRC brand safety distinction for a second year, TikTok launches a new target market insights tool and more.

Instagram Tests Digital Collectibles With Creators

Starting this week, select Instagram creators and collectors can share digital collectibles they’ve created or bought on the platform thanks to a new feature the platform is testing.

Why it matters: Creators have started leveraging technologies like NFTs to take more control over their work and monetization avenues. That’s one reason Meta says it’s introducing the digital collectibles feature.

It also explained:

“It’s critical that our early efforts in this space empower diverse voices and that underrepresented groups have access to emerging digital assets like NFTs. By building support for NFTs, we aim to improve accessibility, lower barriers to entry, and help make the NFT space more inclusive to all communities. It is also important that we keep Instagram a safe and enjoyable place for everyone.”

The details: Here’s how Instagram’s digital collectibles feature works. Once connected to a digital wallet, creators can choose which NFTs from their wallet they’d like to share on Instagram. When they post the collectible, it’ll have a shimmer effect and can display public information like a description of the NFT. This post will be visible on their profile. The creator and collector can be automatically attributed in the digital collectible post.

Instagram says it collects and organizes public data from open blockchains like Ethereum to provide this new feature. From this public blockchain data, it can only identify which collectibles belong to collectors and creators when they connect their third-party wallets to Instagram.

At launch, the blockchains that will be supported are Ethereum and Polygon, with Flow and Solana coming soon. The third-party wallets compatible for use will include Rainbow, MetaMask and Trust Wallet, with Coinbase Wallet, Dapper and Phantom coming soon. There will be no fees associated with posting or sharing a digital collectible on Instagram.

The digital collectibles feature will open up to more creators soon, but for now only these accounts have access to it: @adambombsquad, @bluethegreat, @bossbeautiesnft, @c.syresmith, @cynthiaerivo, @garyvee, @jenstark, @justmaiko, @maliha_z_art, @misshattan, @nopattern, @oseanworld, @paigebueckers, @phiawilson, @swopes and @yungjake.

YouTube Receives MRC Brand Safety Distinction For Second Year

For the second year, the Media Rating Council (MRC) has given YouTube content-level brand safety accreditation, the platform announced on the Google Ads & Commerce blog.

Why it matters:  Last year, YouTube became the first digital platform to receive content-level brand safety accreditation from the MRC. This second accreditation makes YouTube the only platform to hold this distinction, which builds on its commitment to remaining at least 99 percent effective at ensuring brand safety of ad placements on YouTube, in accordance with industry standards.

Over the past two years, YouTube says it’s worked directly with advertisers and agencies to better understand their needs and develop a set of best practices like anchoring on YouTube’s inventory modes and reassessing whether they should exclude certain kinds of content. When advertisers knew how to better navigate the platform’s suitability controls, they experienced performance benefits ranging from increased reach and view-through rates to decreased cost-per-view, according to YouTube.

The details: As part of this accreditation, the MRC extensively audited YouTube’s content review systems, including the machine learning technology that analyzes content uploaded to the platform and the policies that determine which videos on YouTube are eligible to run ads.

The MRC auditors also met with YouTube’s brand safety personnel on-site to review its processes and dug into how it protects its global community. This included its procedures for evaluating content across different languages.

The accreditation also recognized YouTube’s advertiser safety error rate, a metric authorized by the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) which evaluates the total percentage of ad impressions that run across violative content.

YouTube says it’s now using these best practices and customer feedback to evolve its suitability offering, which will include intuitive controls, more consistency across all Google inventory and clarity on how controls may impact ad campaigns.

TikTok Launches Interactive Audience Insights Tool

TikTok has a new target market insights tool that includes several filters to help you get to know the TikTok community’s behavior, interests and how they connect and feel about brands.

Why it matters: The interactive tool provides marketing insights from around the world, which will be useful for brands looking to understand and tap into key trends in certain locations around major events and holidays.

The details: For example, using the tool marketers can learn more about Gen Z trends around Black Friday 2021 for a specific industry as they relate to advertising, creators or people.

On the tool’s landing page, TikTok lists several findings regarding user behavior worldwide. For example, Gen X TikTok users are 3.3 times more likely than other platform users to make a tutorial about a product after buying it. And in the US, millennial TikTok users are 1.8 times more likely to comment on a brand post after buying a product.

YouTube Adds Green Screen Feature To Shorts

YouTube has launched a new TikTok-style Green Screen tool that lets creators use a 60-second video segment from any eligible YouTube or YouTube Shorts video as the background for their own Shorts video.

Why it matters: The video effect is another sign of other social platforms copying TikTok, where users often leverage the Green Screen feature to provide commentary on each other’s videos.

But as TechCrunch points out, in Shorts’ case, the original video creator isn’t necessarily a Shorts creator and they may only create long-form content for YouTube proper.

The details: The platform says that on iOS YouTube creators can also use the Green Screen tool in the Shorts camera to choose any photo or video from their device gallery as the background.

YouTube’s new Green Screen tool is rolling out on iOS today and will come to Android soon.

Meta’s New Cambria Headset Will Enable Next-Level AR Experiences

During Meta’s Cambria headset showcase, Mark Zuckerberg previewed a new augmented reality (AR) experience powered by Meta’s Presence Platform, which enables developers to produce experiences that fuse virtual content with the real world.

Why it matters: Current Quest headsets don’t allow users to interact in full-color experience but Meta’s new Cambria headset—slated to launch later this year—includes improved external cameras that enable them to operate as both a VR and AR device.

The details: In this 60-second spot, Meta highlights Cambria’s AR and VR abilities in creating a new dimension of gameplay.

Currently, the Quest 2, now called Meta Quest 2, can “see through” and show the outside world but in a grainy black and white video feed. The Quest 2 overlays some VR with this feed, like room boundaries, creating a form of mixed reality. But Cambria’s improved external cameras will capture passthrough color video, displaying it on the headset’s internal display.