As 2017 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time of year to reflect on all of the industry developments that took place and start planning for 2018. In December, the digital industry continued to roll out new options for improving customer experience and driving more sales during the peak holiday season. Meanwhile, the PR industry rounded up some of the best and worst campaigns from 2017, both of which provide valuable lessons for brands planning their 2018 strategies.

Continue reading to catch up on all the industry news you may have missed this month, and get a refresher on all the developments in 2017 with our monthly industry news roundups.

Social Media

Facebook Pages May Soon be Able to Send Automated Bulk Messages to Users

Facebook is working on a new feature that will allow business pages to send bulk, automated message blasts to those who’ve messaged their pages before. “Messenger Broadcast” is a new tool that brings together a subscription service the social network introduced earlier this year, which allows certain pages to message multiple users simultaneously, and its Broadcast API, which allows businesses to automate these blasts. The “Messenger Broadcast” is a self-serve option the social network is testing that may become available to all business pages on the social network.

YouTube Launches Its Own Take on Snapchat “Stories”

YouTube is launching its own Snapchat-esque feature called Reels, which will allow users to feature spliced-together, more casual video clips on their profiles. Unlike Snapchat and other social platforms with this feature, YouTube Reels will last longer than 24 hours and will support embedded links to full-length videos on its network. YouTube is following in the footsteps of Instagram, Facebook, and several other networks that have copied the signature Snapchat feature, and is part of an effort to make the network more social.

Edit Facebook Link Previews Again with Domain Verification

Earlier this year, Facebook announced it would be removing the option for users to edit the title, image, or description that automatically populates when sharing a link on the social network. The move came as means to prevent the spread of fake or misleading news on the network, but now publishers have the ability to verify their domain to gain access to this feature once again. To implement the domain verification, businesses have the option to add a DNS record to their website domain or upload an HTML file to their website’s coding.

Instagram Rolling Out Ability to Follow Hashtags, Native Regram Feature, and More

 December Highlights: What Mattered Most this Month in Digital Marketing & Other Industry News

Users have spotted Instagram testing a variety of new features. The social network recently introduced the ability to follow hashtags the same way users can follow accounts, plus the option to archive and highlight Stories to keep them displayed on their profile for longer than 24 hours. The network has also been seen testing a native “regram” feature, which will allow users to repost images or videos from within the app, as well as native sharing to WhatsApp and the ability to add animated GIFs to Instagram Stories.

Reddit Announces Integration with Brand Management Platform Sprinklr

Reddit announced it will partner with brand management platform Sprinklr to improve customer care within the forum. The partnership will allow businesses to offer better customer service on the platform by responding to conversations surrounding their goods or services, without ever having to leave the Sprinklr platform. The integration offers a great avenue for businesses to keep an eye on both positive and negative feedback on Reddit and respond accordingly.

Facebook Cracking Down on “Engagement Baiting”

December Highlights: What Mattered Most this Month in Digital Marketing & Other Industry News

Facebook has announced a new algorithm update that could put business and personal pages at risk for being demoted within the News Feed for “engagement baiting.” According to Facebook, “engagement baiting” can include asking fans to like, share, comment, or take another action on their post in hopes of reaching a greater audience. Following this update, brands should take caution with the language used in their posts or risk lower organic reach.

Facebook Ads Can Now Link to Brands’ WhatsApp Accounts

Facebook is introducing an option for brands with verified WhatsApp accounts to run ads on the social network that encourage users to contact them within the messaging platform. The WhatsApp-enabled ads will only be shown to Facebook users who have the messaging app installed on their phones, and ads with this feature will include a “Send Message” button with the WhatsApp logo to signify the app will open upon clicking the button.

 

Digital Marketing

Google AdWords Introduces Life Event Targeting for Graduation, Marriage, and Moving

Google has expanded the targeting options for its AdWords platform to include life event targeting. With the new option, advertisers can serve their ads to users who are approaching or recently experienced life events including graduation, marriage, or a move. The targeting is currently limited to Gmail or video campaigns only, but is expected to be highly effective.

Google Responds to Blog Bribing with Search Penalties Warning

Following a report that found leading news publications were accepting bribes for brand placement within articles, Google warned that these paid placements could result in organic search penalties. In a series of Tweets, a Google spokesperson said that the bribes were essentially the same as buying links to a website, and that the search platform would penalize any websites found taking part in this practice.

Bing Introduces Ability to Track Call Conversions from Bing Ads

Advertisers can now better measure the number of phone call conversions that came from their Bing Ads campaigns. The new feature will allow advertisers to import call conversion data to track how many call conversions can be attributed to their Bing campaigns. For businesses that deal with a high volume of phone call sales, this new feature could help better optimize ad campaigns based on call performance.

Google Tests “Purchases on Google” Shopping Ads on iOS Devices

Google has been seen testing a new feature that will allow users to purchase an item from a shopping ad directly within the search engine. Participating products are marked with “Easy checkout” badges and are currently only an option for mobile searchers. The new feature will allow users to forego any confusion that may come from visiting a website and complete their purchase without ever visiting the brand’s website.

Google AdWords Introduces Ad Targeting Using Phone Numbers, Home Addresses

Companies with more of an offline than online presence will appreciate Google’s newest AdWords feature, which allows advertisers to import phone numbers and home addresses of existing customers to create targeting audiences for their ads. Previously, AdWords users could only import customers’ email addresses to create potential audiences for their ads, but the new update expands on the existing Customer Match feature and makes it more accessible for brands without substantial customer email lists.

Google Increases Length of Search Results Snippets

Google is increasing the length of search result snippets, particularly meta descriptions that show beneath the title of a page or article within the search engine. While meta descriptions were previously limited to just 160 characters before being truncated in a search result, the new snippet will include room for almost 230 characters. The increase in description size offers additional territory for keywords, which may affect how the search engine ranks its organic listings going forward.

 

Public Relations

Lessons Learned from the 5 Biggest Brand Fails of 2017

Branding blusters are never fun for businesses big or small, but looking back at some of the most shocking and embarrassing mistakes that brands made in 2017 can shed some light on what not to do heading into the new year. Pepsi, Dove, and McDonald’s were just a few brands that caught major criticism for their advertisements, and all shared the same lesson: Don’t exploit consumers’ pain for an ad.

13 Brilliant Outdoor Ads that Stopped People in Their Tracks in 2017

December Highlights: What Mattered Most this Month in Digital Marketing & Other Industry News

Print isn’t dead! Check out some of the most creative and unique outdoor ads that garnered attention in 2017. Brands including Spotify and Delta made the list, with thought-provoking and interactive print ads that will inspire your own creative branding in 2018.

 

Industry News

Amazon Echo to Support Notifications, Personalize Apps Based on Users’ Voices

In a move to incentivize Alexa skills developers, Amazon announced that the Echo device now supports notifications that will alert users about updates and new content using lights and audio cues. Additionally, Amazon said that developers will soon have access to new technology that recognizes the individual voices of Echo users. The new feature will allow Alexa skills developers to incorporate unique experiences, such as personalized shopping lists or music selections, into their apps.

 

What did you think of the industry news from December? Let us know in the comments!

 

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