Bonded Bitesize – Bringing you your midweek roundup of the latest in digital and media.
Stay connected with recent updates from Google, Meta, Twitter & many more!
TikTok accused of misusing ‘heating’ button to artificially boost influencers and brands view counts
According to internal documents revealed to Forbes, TikTok employees frequently engage in ‘heating’ - manually boosting videos in the For You feed to achieve a certain number of views. Sources have claimed that employees use this tool to attract influencers and brands that it wants to work with, as well as boosting their own content and that of family and friends. Skewing the metrics in this way could be problematic for brands investing in partnerships and collaborations with influencers or channels who may not have as large an audience as it appears on TikTok.
Instagram has rolled out a ‘Quiet Mode’ to help users focus and set boundaries with their social media usage
Instagram’s new ‘Quiet Mode’ turns off notifications to allow users to take time away from the app to focus. Whilst on this mode, account statuses are changed to muted, and automatic replies are sent to Direct Messages to let others know that the account is in Quiet Mode. In addition, teens will be prompted to enable Quiet Mode when they spend a specific amount of time on Instagram late at night. The platform is also introducing updated parental supervision, expanding their Hidden Words feature and giving users more control over the recommended content that they see.
Amazon is ending AmazonSmile, its charity donation program, amid significant layoffs
Having recently cut 18’000 jobs, it appears Amazon is looking for more ways to save money - and has announced it is ending AmazonSmile, its charity donation program that redirected 0.5% of product costs to eligible charities. The company claims that the program has not grown to have the impact that it had hoped, and had spread itself too thinly across its many eligible organisations. Despite these claims, the program had contributed $400 million in donations to charities since 2013, whilst the companies overall market capitalisation still remains estimated at an impressive $974 billion.
YouTube is enabling creators to customise thumbnails for Shorts videos, as well as launching new analytics data
In their latest Creator Insider video, YouTube announced an update that will allow creators to customise thumbnails for YouTube Shorts with a selected frame of the clip. This is currently only available on Android devices, with an IOS version in the works. In addition, YouTube is launching more detailed analytics data which will give creators a breakdown of subscribers gained by content type, and information about the content that their audience is watching across formats - such as videos, Shorts and livestreams.
Twitter appears to have cut off access to third-party apps, causing a stir in the tech community
In another controversial move, Twitter appears to have cut off access to third-party apps like Twitterrific and Tweetbot without warning. Although Twitter has not released an official statement confirming this, internal Slack messages suggest that the change is intentional. Third-party apps do drive less ad revenue to Twitter by allowing users to bypass the platform, and blocking the use of them may also encourage more users to subscribe to Twitter Blue, which isn’t available on most third-party apps. However the abrupt move has damaged relationships with developers and users alike.
Meta is expanding the testing of its end-to-end messaging encryption to more users on Messenger, despite legal concerns
As part of its plan to fully integrate encryption into their roster of messaging apps, Meta is moving onto the next stage of full encryption for users on Messenger. End-to-end encryption will provide more security and privacy for users as well as enable cross-platform functionality within messaging - as part of Metas plan to integrate its messaging tools on Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Home Affair Secretary, Priti Patel, has called on Meta to reconsider its plans for end-to-end encryption, as it will make it harder for the police to investigate and prevent child abuse.
Google has rolled out Performance Max Experiments, letting advertisers test changes before making them permanently
Google’s recent update to Performance Max allows advertisers to test campaign changes, and monitor the results before applying them permanently. This highly awaited feature is available in Google Ad accounts, and also works for older campaign types - letting advertisers control the start and end date of their experiment, as well as test it against comparable campaigns.
YouTubeTV is rolling out updates to its Live Guide and Library to give users more control, and make it easier to find content
In another push of YouTube TV, the platform has announced that it is rolling out changes to its Live Guide to make it easier to use, and more informative for users. A new condensed grid means that users can scroll less to find their favourite TV shows and films in an effort to curb decision fatigue. The Library has also been upgraded with improved filters and organisational tools that help users manage their content better. Such as with the new ‘Catch up with your favourites:’ shelf, and having fewer steps to record content.
Twitter has updated the display of the Bookmark option in a bid to encourage its use, also claiming that Bookmarks count as partial likes
Twitter has updated the user interface of the bookmark option, which Musk previously tweeted was hidden by ‘obscure UI’. In the update, the bookmark button has been added to the tab when a Tweet is expanded. Musk also described the bookmark as a ‘quiet-like’ and will increase the like counter of a tweet.
Instagram chief says photos will have more of a focus in the app again in 2023, after heavy push of video content
In a Q&A on his Instagram Stories, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, told his followers that the platform had focused too much on video content in 2022, and that this year the focus will be more balanced between photos and videos. Many users will be pleased to hear this after the app was heavily criticised for losing its way and trying to become too much like TikTok.
Bing is testing topic refinement options in their Search bar, very similar to Google’s recent addition
Following on from Google’s launch of search bar refinement topics, Microsoft Bing now appears to be testing refinement options of their own - even having the same ‘+ topic’ layout as Googles. These refinements are designed to help users quickly, and easily, build their search queries to find the most relevant results.
YouTube is testing a new hub for free, ad-supported (FAST) streaming channels
YouTube is running a test with select U.S. viewers of a dedicated hub for free, ad-supported streaming channels (FAST). The platform is reportedly in talks with various entertainment companies about featuring titles in the new hub, as well as testing different content suppliers. The hub could be launched later this year.
Meta is updating the terminology for Accounts Reached within Ad Campaigns to align with Accounts Center
Meta has announced an update to the terminology it uses to display performance metrics - now referring to ‘Accounts Centre accounts’ as opposed to individual ‘people’. This change will affect use within Ads Manager, Ads Help Center, Ads Reporting, Commerce Insights and Instagram Insights. Whilst a minor update, the impacts could be relevant within your ad reporting. Meta explains, “our calculation for these metrics is not changing…For example, if a person has one Facebook account and one Instagram account that are linked, they will be counted as one Accounts Center account”. Find out more about how this update could affect you here.
Twitter is inviting businesses to sign up for its upcoming ‘Verification for Organisations’ subscription offering
Formerly known as ‘Blue for Business’, Twitter's new business verification is now allowing sign ups for the waitlist. With a subscription businesses will receive business accounts and affiliation badges through Twitter's self-serve portal. New gold checkmarks are being used for brands and businesses with the current blue ticks set to be removed from legacy accounts. It isn’t yet known how much this tier will cost businesses, or what else the subscription offering will come with.
Google’s Clock app now lets users record their own voice notes to use in their alarm songs
As well as being able to set a song as your alarm, Google’s Clock app also lets users record a voice clip to be used to wake them up in the morning. This is available on the latest version of the app, and currently only works on Pixel phones and devices. We think we’ll give this one a miss..!