In February, social media platforms stole the show for digital news, with the rollout of numerous features focused on user experience; however, in March, Facebook saw similar coverage – but not for good reason. Following news that a third-party data analytics company gained data on millions of Facebook users and used that data to inform the 2016 presidential election advertising targeting, the social network experienced wide backlash from users. While Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg released a formal apology, the social network continues to face lawsuits, accusations, and even an ongoing #DeleteFacebook boycott. While the social network previously planned to release a smart speaker this coming May, that development has also been delayed given the circumstances and possibilities for further surveillance accusations.

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to dominate and expand beyond eCommerce, with additional company acquisitions and even more Prime Member perks announced. In March, Amazon announced that it would be offering Prime members in select cities free, two-hour delivery on Whole Foods orders, as well as offering 5% back on Whole Foods purchases to Amazon Prime members with Amazon credit cards. Additionally, the company announced its newest acquisition of the doorbell company Ring, further positioning Amazon to offer a variety of perks, including safely delivering packages inside Prime members’ homes.

Continue reading to catch up on all the news you may have missed in March!

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

Social Media

Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes for Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal

Mark Zuckerberg has released an official apology following news that data mining and analytics company Cambridge Analytica gained data on more than 50 million Facebook users and used that data to inform President Donald Trump and others’ election ad targeting. The analytics company Cambridge Analytica reportedly purchased detailed user data including call logs, text messages, and contacts thanks to generous data-sharing policies Facebook app developers enjoyed back in 2014. In his apology, Zuckerberg admitted that the scandal was “a breach of trust” and that the social network has “a responsibility to protect your data,” but the fallout has been severe. Following the news, the social network’s share price fell by $50 billion, not to mention that several lawsuits were filed, government employees are being questioned, and a #DeleteFacebook boycott campaign is gaining momentum online.

Twitter Introduces New “Bookmark” Tweet Feature

Twitter is introducing a new feature that will allow users to save or Bookmark tweets as an alternative to liking or retweeting a post. The option introduces an easy way for users to access articles, videos or photos previously found on the network, and will be stored in a dedicated bookmarks folder within their profile. Given the nature of a Tweet’s short lifespan, the highly-requested option to save or bookmark features is sure to be well received.

YouTube Introduces New Live Video Features

YouTube is rolling out new features for its live video offering, including chat replay, automatic English captions, location tags, and a native If This Then That (IFTTT) integration to enable a monetizing tool called Super Chat. Now, when viewers watch a video that was recorded live, the chat that appeared during the original broadcast will replay alongside the video. Additionally, the Super Chat monetization tool will allow viewers to pay to have their video comments highlighted in the chat stream and will be incorporated through an IFTTT partnership.

Google to Introduce Green Screen Option for YouTube Stories

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

Google announced that it’s working on developing software that will enable YouTube Stories users to replace the background of their videos with a variety of preset backgrounds, replicating the feel of a green screen. The feature is currently being tested for YouTube Stories, the social network’s version of the popular Snapchat-like videos that disappear after 24 hours, which have also been adapted in Instagram and Facebook. The green screen option is typically an advanced video editing feature, but the new development signifies significant advances in AI on social media.

Facebook Ends the Explore Feed Experiment for Good

Facebook announced it will be ending the Explore feed, a second News Feed it was testing that focused on separating posts from friends and family members from publishers and public figures. Facebook began testing a second News Feed in October 2017, but after just four months of testing, it announced that it would not be rolling out the feature and would be cancelling all future testing. According to the social network, initial testing showed that users did not find the separate feeds beneficial and, in fact, it made it more difficult for users to access important information.

Snapchat Bulks Up Ads and Analytics Tools

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

Snapchat is rolling out several new advertising options that will help businesses better target and measure their results from ads on the social network. Among the new targeting options rolling out is the ability to target an ad based on a radius around a specific geographic point or location, such as a beach, a movie theater, or a university. Additionally, Snapchat is introducing foot traffic insights analytics for advertisers with brick-and-mortar locations to help them better measure the impact of online-to-offline conversions, as well as provide valuable insights into consumer demographics.

Facebook Removes Option to Target Ads Based on a User’s Relationship Preference

In a that went without any formal announcement, Facebook quietly removed the option for advertisers to target ads based on a user’s relationship preference. Previously, the Facebook Ads Manager allowed advertisers to target users who marked their relationship preference as interested in men, women, or both; however, the feature was removed without notice in March. A Facebook representative told reporters that the move came after receiving feedback from their community and outside experts who recommended the removal of the option. The update poses a unique challenge for marketers, who may run into more difficulty being able to properly target their ideal audiences without the option to target based on sexual preference.

Digital Marketing

Google Image Search Adding Image Captions

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

In an effort to add more context to image results, Google announced that it will soon start displaying a caption for images in mobile Google Image search results. According to the search engine, the captions will appear beneath the image and the text of the caption will be pulled from the title of the page featuring the image.

Other Industry News

Apple Is Buying the ‘Netflix of Magazines’

Apple is buying a magazine subscription service called Texture, which has been described as the “Netflix of Magazines” for its ability to let readers access more than 200 magazines for a monthly fee. According to Apple, the acquisition stems from their commitment to quality journalism from trusted sources. The move comes at a time when the publishing industry is being shaken by fake news accusations and Facebook’s algorithm updates, which are focused on prioritizing personal connections over brands.

Amazon Soon to be Delivering Packages Inside Homes After Doorbell Company Acquisition

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

After announcing that it will begin offering a program where it will deliver packages into the homes of Prime members, Amazon has acquired the doorbell company Ring. The acquisition builds on the existing Amazon Key program, where Prime members with accompanying “smart” locks could allow delivery people into their homes to securely deliver packages. Now, the Ring acquisition not only sets the scene for more safe deliveries, but also opens many more “doors” for options including full-service grocery delivery, and even meal preparation services.

Amazon Announces Free Whole Foods Deliveries for Prime Members

Following the purchase of grocery chain Whole Foods, Amazon announced that Prime Members will be eligible for free, two-hour deliveries on orders of $35 from the store. Nearly all Whole Foods items, including alcoholic beverages, have been added to Amazon for easy ordering and delivery, but the new option provides a higher level of convenience. The option is currently only available to Prime Members in four cities – Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach – but it’s expected to expand to the rest of the country later this year.

Amazon Prime Members to Receive 5% Back on Whole Foods Purchases

Shortly after expanding into the supermarket industry, Amazon is introducing a loyalty perks program to Prime members who shop at Whole Foods. With the new program, Amazon Prime members who use the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa while shopping at Whole Foods will now get 5% back on their purchases. Consumers who have the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card, but aren’t Prime Members, can still enjoy 3% back when shopping at Whole Foods.

Facebook Postpones Release of Smart Speaker Amid Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal

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

In January, we reported that Facebook had its own smart speaker in the works in an effort to compete with the Google Home and Amazon Echo devices; however, following news of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, the social network has delayed its release. Originally planned to be revealed at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in May, the delay comes as the data analytics scandal has caused public outrage concerning the company and its data surveillance. The delay is a smart move, seeing as the smart speaker could potentially be accused of surveillance, since reports in the data scandal revealed that Facebook collected data including call logs, text messaging data, and contact numbers. Taking its place at the conference, Facebook is expected to introduce new, restricted rules around the information it can collect from users, as well as information third parties can collect from the platform.

Snapchat Introducing New Versions of Smartglasses

Snapchat is planning to release two new versions of its “smart” glasses just two years after its initial glasses were released. The original smart glasses, called Spectacles, weren’t well received, despite initial buzz about the integration. The original glasses were designed to simply give owners the option to access the Internet using their glasses; however, Spectacles 2.0 will get a complete overhaul including GPS and two new cameras to view videos in 3D. Spectacles 2.0 are expected to be available to the public in the fall of 2018.

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