This Week in Marketing: Design Thinking, Changes to Google Search, New Facebook and Snapchat Features



This week, we look at how IBM is using design thinking to do better marketing, Facebook’s new Reactions feature, changes to Google Search, and new Snapchat features.

How Design Thinking Can Help Your Marketing

Melody Dunn, Chief Design Officer for IBM Commerce shares insights about how to improve marketing using design thinking. Dunn stressed the importance of focusing on the customer point of view, cross-discipline collaboration, agile methodologies, and the importance of taking risks in this Forbes article.

It’s another reminder for marketers to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about the customer.

Google Search Changes

No More Right Sidebar Ads

There are no longer any PPC ads on the right-hand side of the search engine results pages (SERPs). This puts more paid ads at the top of the SERPs, with potentially more space for organic search results. “In quantifying the impact of this, I should also add that the change is for desktop only, which accounts for less than half of searches,” said Larry Kim, founder of Wordstream, to Search Engine Watch. “So we’re talking 14.6%/2 = 7.3% of queries impacted. Basically, keep calm. This is a net positive for paid desktop search.”

No More Comparison Service

According to Engadget, Google is killing the tool Compare, which allowed people to compare offers from car insurance, mortgage lending, and credit card companies in the US and UK. Not many people used the tool and Google struggled to get companies onboard with Compare. With low adoption from companies, the tool didn’t yield useful results, driving users away. Compare will be completely phased out by March 23rd.

Google Mobile Amplified Pages

You may be seeing a little icon in search results with a lightning bolt and AMP – which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. An AMP page is a “stripped-down version of the mobile web which runs on a reinvented version of HTML.”

AMP is similar to Facebook’s Instant articles. Users will have faster mobile experiences and a potentially better experience accessing the mobile web in areas of bad cell reception. AMP pages can currently be seen at the top of Google search results, although Google will not say if AMP tags trigger better placement in search results.

“An AMP page is four times faster and 10 times less data. It’s instantaneous. It’s there right away. And that’s really powerful,” Richard Gingras, senior director of news and the project’s chief evangelist told Re/code. “This is, by far, the most active open source project we’ve ever been involved in.”

You can still use ad networks, but only with a few ad-buying tools, including, of course, Google’s. Restrictions on “header bidding” which lets publishers buy across several ad sources, means publishers will likely be going directly to Google more to run ads inside AMP.

Starting Feb. 24, any website on automatically supports AMP without any additional effort required. This will greatly increase the adoption of AMP, with 25% of the web running on WordPress, including major publishers such as Quartz, FiveThirtyEight, Fortune, and TechCruch.

Facebook Reactions

Facebook announced the launch of Reactions, an extension of the Like button that provides more ways to react to a post.

Facebook has been conducting global research with focus groups and surveys to determine which reactions to offer users, in addition to testing Reactions in a few markets for the past year, and has received positive feedback. This isn’t the “dislike” button that has been discussed on and off for a while now. However, it does give users the opportunity to react in a variety of ways besides the purely positive reaction of “like.”

“Everyone’s had one of these posts in News Feed where they’re like, I want to respond in some way, but ‘like’ doesn’t feel appropriate at all,” says Tom Alison, director of engineering for the News Feed.

The Verge notes that Reactions will be available for both individual and business pages, giving people the power to provide negative feedback to ads in the News Feed.

It will be interesting to see how people take to the new system. So far, Nolan, our front-end developer, doesn’t care for it. “My feed is a mess with emojis now.”

Kevin Shivley, the head of content marketing at Simply Measured, cautioned marketers not to get distracted measuring Facebook Reactions. “It’s something new to measure, and definitely more diverse than a tally of Likes, but I’d like you to strongly consider how you’ll actually use the insight you get from spending time and energy analyzing the types of reactions used. Will this help you drive more business from social? Will it help you gain a better understanding of your audience?”

This is a great reminder for marketers to not get caught in the weeds measuring for the sake of measuring. Marketers (like everyone), have finite resources. We have to decide what’s the best use of our time based on what will deliver the most value. Before you jump into measuring Reactions, think long and hard about whether this extra task will yield business value.

Snapchat On-Demand Geofilters + Special Birthday Snaps

On-demand geofilters are available to anyone who wants to pay Snapchat to create and use their own custom geofilters within a specific geographic area and timeframe.  Users can choose a space radius from 5,000 square feet to 5 million square feet, for a minimum of 30 minutes. Pricing starts at $5. Creators of on-demand geofilters will have access to metrics such as views and uses to measure performance. This will likely open the door for small to medium-sized businesses that want to reach their audiences on Snapchat.

Snapchat also launched Birthday Party, a new feature that lets users celebrate their birthday, and others’ birthdays with special Snapchat filters. A cake emoji next to friends’ usernames will give users the reminder of who to send birthday snaps to. Check out this post from the Verge to see a screenshot of what the filters look like.

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