This week in social media news, Twitter is developing a subscription service, Instagram could potentially overtake Twitter as a news source, a Twitter study reveals a mix of ad formats improves brand metrics, YouTube makes videos longer than eight minutes eligible for monetization, civil rights groups criticize Facebook for taking its hate speech efforts lightly and more.

Twitter Is Developing A Subscription Service

According to a job listing, Twitter is recruiting an engineer for its newly formed internal team “Gryphon,” which is “building a subscription platform,” as reported by The Verge.

Why it matters: A subscription service would be a first for Twitter and potentially offer users exclusive content for a monthly fee diversifying its revenue stream.

The details: As per the job posting, Gryphon is “a team of web engineers who are closely collaborating with the Payments team and the team.” The group’s goal, the job listing adds, is to create a subscription platform that can be reused by other teams in the future.

Instagram To Outpace Twitter As A News Source

New data from Reuters Digital News Report found that Instagram is increasingly becoming a destination for news and could potentially overtake Twitter, eMarketer reports.

Why it matters: If Instagram users begin to interact with more controversial or politically charged news content, advertisers will have to be cautious about brand safety.

The details: The research shows that 11 percent of respondents across 12 countries said they use Instagram for news, compared to the 12 percent who use Twitter for news. Twelve percent of adults in the US specifically said they used Instagram for COVID-related news in April.

Twitter Study Shows Multiple Ad Formats Boost Key Metrics

A new study conducted by Twitter, Magna and IPG Media Lab among 4,000 Twitter users found that diverse ad formats increase consumers’ research intent sixfold and purchase intent twofold.

Why it matters: The findings come on the heels of Twitter’s earnings report, in which the company reported $682 million in Q1 ad sales and said it would not provide guidance for Q2 due to COVID-19.

The details: The results show that Twitter’s “first view” ad format that appears at the head of the content feed on its mobile app is 27 percent more cost-efficient at influencing purchase intent than other ads that appear first. In addition, Twitter’s pre-roll ads lead to an eight percent lift in product awareness and research intent, while its promoted video ads improve viewer perceptions of brand quality nine percent and cultural associations 18 percent.

YouTube Expands Eligibility For Mid-Roll Ads To Shorter Videos

YouTube has announced that starting in late July, videos longer than eight minutes will be eligible for ads shown in the middle of the video. Up until now, only videos that were 10 minutes or longer were eligible for monetization.

Why it matters: The update comes as YouTube’s advertising rates declined by about 50 percent since early February, as reported by OneZero.

The details: YouTube is turning on mid-roll ads for all eligible eight-minute or longer videos, including those videos where a creator may have opted out of mid-roll ads. Creators will ultimately have the final say as YouTube is giving them the option to turn mid-roll ads off if they choose.

After Meeting, Civil Rights Groups Criticize Facebook For Taking Hate Speech Efforts Lightly

According to the Los Angeles Times, after meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, civil rights organizations say Facebook hasn’t taken seriously demands to update its policy around hate speech and misinformation as the advertising boycott against Facebook swells.

Why it matters: Hundreds of brands including REI, Verizon and Coca-Cola announced they will stop advertising on Facebook and/or Instagram during the month of July as part of #StopHateforProfit, a boycott led by civil rights groups.

The details: On Tuesday, civil rights groups engaged in a virtual one-hour forum with top Facebook executives to understand how the platform plans to update its policies around misinformation and hate speech. In a statement after the meeting, co-chief executive officer of Free Press, Jessica González said that the executives didn’t “commit to a timeline,” but instead “delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the organizers of the advertising boycott, told reporters, “Today we saw little and heard just about nothing. The company is functionally flawed.”

Instagram Rolls Out Pinned Comments Feature To All Users

Instagram is rolling out a new feature that enables users to pin up to three comments to the top of their feed post, according to Instagram VP of product, Vishal Shah.

Why it matters: The feature comes after Instagram announced in May it was testing various features meant to give users more control over their Instagram interactions. The pinned comment feature in particular could be Facebook’s way of compensating for its shortcomings in curbing hate speech on Facebook.

The details: As per Shah’s tweet:

Google Introduces New Tools To Help Improve Ad Campaign Performance

Google is adding new tools to manage campaigns on the go, discover keyword and targeting recommendations based on evolving search trends and provide more transparency on how its automated Smart Bidding process works.

Why it matters: The new features will help advertisers identify major shifts in consumer behavior during the pandemic.

The details: First, Google is highlighting the value of its Recommendations page to pivot quickly. Though not new, the feature includes more than 16 million keyword recommendations based on market trends. Google says it will roll out recommendations to Google Ads Editor as well as Google Ads API to help advertisers act on recommendations at scale.

Next, Google is implementing Performance Planner, a tool that estimates clicks, conversions and conversion values based on varying spend levels, into Display and App campaigns. The tool was previously only available for Search and Shopping campaigns.

Lastly, advertisers will soon be able to create, monitor and manage portfolio bid strategies across accounts in a single portfolio, as well as understand how their strategies are working via new bid-strategy reports.

In the coming months, Google also plans to provide explanations on how Smart Bidding campaigns work including causes of clicks, impressions and conversions to change.

TikTok Launches Self-Serve Ad Platform

TikTok is launching self-serve ad tools designed to support small and mid-size businesses worldwide.

Why it matters: TikTok’s move to ramp up advertising follows a tumultuous few weeks for the app as it was recently banned in India, its largest market and where it has invested more than $1 billion to build a user base. As a result, it could lose as much as $6 billion. Now, TikTok is leaving Hong Kong after China imposed a controversial national security law there.

The details: With TikTok’s self-serve ad platform, businesses can adjust their spending at any time, choose who to target and use a suite of creative tools to customize campaigns.

TikTok is also rolling out business accounts, which will include a website link and a contact button.

As part of its global “Back-to-Business” program, TikTok committed $100 million in advertising credits to help small and medium-sized brands promote themselves. Both existing brands and new ones are eligible to apply for a one-time free ad credit of up to $300 that must be used by the end of the year. TikTok says it will match any additional spending beyond the $300 credit up to $2,000.

YouTube Clarifies How Its Algorithm Factors In Click-Through Rate

In a new video posted to the Creator Insider channel from the group’s technical team, YouTube product managers Patricia and Rachel explain what role click-through rate (CTR) and average viewer duration (AVD) play in video distribution and performance to clarify how videos get discovered.

Why it matters: The video comes after YouTube introduced its new forthcoming analytics insights display, which will show creators their average CTR and AVD to help them understand how their videos are performing.

The details: The managers explain that sometimes a video with the highest views has the lowest CTR because YouTube shows high distribution videos to a broader audience, one that is less familiar with your work, resulting in lower CTR. To account for this discrepancy when measuring performance, the managers suggest analyzing all available metrics and to keep an eye out for A/B thumbnail testing, which it hopes to have in the long term.

On whether YouTube’s algorithm compares AVD for videos that vary in length, the managers explain: 

“In discovery, we actually look at both relative and absolute watch time, those are both meaningful signals and how your videos are going to be recommended. You would still need to do some cross-referencing, even if we swapped out ‘average view duration’ for ‘average percentage viewed’, because it’s easier for short videos to hit a really high amount of average percentage watched. We can only focus creators on so many metrics, and we chose average view duration because how much time somebody spends with you in your content is a really strong indicator of interest. That being said, we want videos of all lengths to succeed on YouTube, and get discovered.”

Because CTR and AVD don’t always paint the whole picture, the managers say to keep in mind the large competition for audience, that some topics are more popular and that some topics will perform better during certain times of the year.

Twitter Tests A Collaborative Feature For Fleets

Twitter is testing functionality for Fleets, its version of Instagram stories, that would merge two users into a single stream, as spotted by Amrith Shanbhag and confirmed by Twitter.

Why it matters: Instagram has a co-streaming feature for live stories that produces a similar effect, but Twitter seems to be the first company testing a collaborative feature for stories.

The details: As shown in Shanbhag’s post, Twitter’s collaborative feature for Fleets would merge two contributors to create a dual bubble, similar to how it’s displayed on Instagram’s stories bar when two users go live together. Tapping the dual bubble would display the two users’ collaborative Fleet.

As per Twitter:

“We are testing something new for some people using Fleets in Brazil so they can Fleet with another account and everyone can see their conversation for 24 hours. We are trying this to understand how people might use this new way of having conversations in Fleets, as part of our bigger efforts to better serve the public conversation and encourage people to share fleeting thoughts.”

Twitter is currently rolling out Fleets to users in India, South Korea, Italy and Brazil.