Digital News – Facebook Messenger Ads, Dark Net & Audi pulls ad

IMG_2618 (1)There’s been no shortage of digital news in July, including Facebook rolling out ads in their Messenger App, the Australian Government trying to get Facebook and Google to help fight terrorism, the dark web has been infiltrated and Audi has run afoul in China.

Over the last couple of months, Facebook has been testing ads within the Messenger Chat App. Australia and Thailand were the test markets and now the service is slowly being rolled out to Facebook’s 1.2 billion Messenger users. In a blog post, Facebook said ‘After promising tests in Australia and Thailand, we’re expanding the beta further. We’ll now offer businesses around the world a way to use Facebook targeting to extend their reach to people in Messenger’.

With ad revenue expected to drop this year from ads placed in Facebook’s news feed, the company has been slowly diversifying its ad options. The good thing for users is that the ads only appear on the Messenger home screen and not within chat threads, see image. There’s always the option in the future for Facebook to read chat threads and present ads based on the conversation. But I would say that is a long way off. The good thing is you can encrypt Messenger chats by clicking on the secret button, click here for more info.

For brands, advertising within Messenger is a great option to reach an engaged and targeted audience. I expect the time spent on newsfeed is dropping with more people having private chats via Messenger, WhatsApp and other chat apps. When you think about it, Gmail and Hotmail have been running ads in their emails for years, so Facebook running ads in Messenger is a natural progression.

Last week the Australian Government called on Facebook and Google to decrypt messages to help support law enforcement in the fight against organised crime, paedophile investigations and terrorism. The challenge with decrypting messages is that it potentially opens it up to criminals to infiltrate. Google and Facebook claim they already provide the police and government with the requested info where possible, but they’re going to continue to protect the privacy of encrypted messages. Government’s around the world have been pressuring Facebook and Google with similar rhetoric to no avail.

Sticking with the darker side of the net, US authorities claimed to have smashed the illegal trade of firearms and drugs with the recent closures of the dark web marketplaces AlphaBay and Hansa. These sites replaced the overpublicized Silk Road website that was shut-down in 2013. Visitors were able to browse these dark websites anonymously and used digital currencies (Bitcoin) to make purchases. These aren’t small sites with 250,000 listings on AlphaBay, and 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors. It’s amazing these sites weren’t closed down earlier.

Finally, from China, Audi has pulled its TVC after complaints that the ad compared women to used cars. I have to agree, the ad is in poor taste.

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The Week’s Digital Highlights – 30 June

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.59.22 pmWith the South East of Australia in the midst of winter, our attention turns to Europe where things are heating up for Google. The search engine was hit with a record Euro fine for anti-competitive behaviour totally 2.42-billion-euro ($3.57 billion AUD) for abusing its market dominance. Google has been accused of prioritising their Google Shopping ads at the top of Google search results over their competitors.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager described the action as “illegal under EU antitrust rules“. EU regulators took action after receiving scores of complaints from rivals including Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK price comparison site Foundem and News Corp. Competitors complained Google was manipulating results to benefit their shopping ads. In response, Google stated that online shoppers want to find products quickly and easily, and their Google shopping ads provided this service.

Google Shopping offers users a quick selection of the best prices for a particular product, advertisers pay to be featured in the results. Competitors, including comparison sites which offer a similar service, were claiming their website listings are being pushed all the way down to page four of the search results. As we know the majority of Google search users don’t click past the first page of results. Google’s ego has taken a battering over the allegations and is fighting the charges.

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 10.00.04 pmThe other digital news to grab my attention this week was Facebook’s continued push into live TV streaming. Facebook has signed an agreement with Fox Sports in America to broadcast live Champions League Football (soccer) games next season.

Soccer is the most watched sport on Facebook. Last year 3.7 million users tuned in to watch a Wayne Rooney-sponsored charity match. The recent Champions League final attracted 34 million people who had 98 million Facebook interactions. These numbers are pretty impressive, but it would be good to understand how long users viewed the videos. What is surprising is that I thought NBA or NFL would have larger audiences on Facebook than football. Amazon’s Prime is live streaming Thursday night NFL games next season. They paid $50 million for 10 games, which was five times more than what Twitter paid last season.

Last week I wrote about how Snap and Facebook are becoming more aggressive with their live TV streaming services. The above news by Facebook is more proof that social media websites are becoming media channels. It will be interesting to see if users will embrace watching live TV on Facebook, Snap and YouTube in the same way people use Netflix and Amazon Prime.