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General News

In Case You Missed It: Instagram Adds In-App Checkout, Facebook Agrees to Change Targeting System, and more

Instagram Adds In-App Checkout for Brands

Instagram has added a “Checkout on Instagram” button on the product page for certain retailers, allowing customers to purchase items without ever leaving the Instagram app. Checkout is currently being viewed as an attempt to challenge Amazon, which is taking a larger share of the digital advertising market.

Currently, more than 130 million Instagram users click products in shoppable posts each month, according to Instagram. Keeping them within the app for the entire purchase experience would be a boon to the social media platform. Instagram will also send shipment and delivery notifications within the app.

Checkout is currently in a closed beta stage for a limited but growing list of retailers and Instagram users within the U.S. Brands currently allowed to use the Checkout button include Adidas, Burberry, Dior, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Nike, Prada, Uniqlo, Warby Parker, and more.

For the full list of participating retailers and other details, see Instagram’s announcement.

Facebook Agrees to Change Discriminatory Ad Targeting System

Facebook settled a series of anti-discrimination charges leading to sweeping civil rights changes at the tech giant that will deter discrimination in the social media platform’s credit, employment and housing advertising.

The cases began in late 2016 when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged Facebook’s ad targeting system because it allowed companies to exclude people from seeing ads based on their race, sex, age and other protected federal and state civil rights classifications. The cases eventually involved the Communications Workers of America, job seekers, consumers, fair housing advocates, Outten & Golden LLP, and civil rights organizations in addition to the ACLU.

Under the settlement, Facebook will take action to prevent advertisers from illegally discriminating against Facebook, Instagram and Messenger users in targeting employment, housing or credit ads. Among the terms agreed to in the settlement, Facebook will set up a separate portal for credit, employment and housing ads that limists the targeting options to avoid discriminatory practices. Advertisers will also not be able to use factors such as age, gender or ZIP code when creating lookalike audiences for ad targeting.

For more details, see the ACLU’s article on the history of the case and who it affected. Full details of the legal settlement can be found here.

Twitter’s New “Timing Is Everything”

Twitter has introduced a new insights tool for video tweets. It utilizes user engagement to determine the best day and time to tweet videos. Called “Timing Is Everything,” the tool took months to build. The goal is offer Twitter users more actionable data.

Timing Is Everything shows historical data about when an aggregate audience are  on Twitter watching and interacting with video. Once the user selects the best time to publish content, the tweet can be scheduled directly from the Timing Is Everything insights panel.

Even though the new insights tool is supposed to provide better results, Twitter is still advising users to tweet throughout the day, even if it’s not an opportune moment according to the tool.

The new feature can be found in the Analytics dropdown menu. Go to Media Studio and select insights.

Check out Twitter’s official announcement.

Internet Archive Will Save Google+ Public Posts

With the closure of Google+ looming, the Internet Archive announced that it will be saving Google+ public posts via the Wayback Machine for historical purposes. Posts that were limited to a specific audience cannot and will not be preserved.

For more information, see the announcement on Reddit.

Google Showing Images in Snippets More Often

Google has again increased the number of search results that have an image thumbnail – by some analysts, dramatically so. This isn’t technically new. Google has been periodically increasing the number of images in SERP results. As of March 7 though, it appears to have increased by 40% again so that about 67% of page one mobile SERP results have an image.

While results without thumbnails show next to the image results, studies show that people are more likely to click the result with an image than those without. Also, while previously results would only show a max of four image results, that appears to have been boosted to five. This analysis is based on averages since some searches may have less.

RankRanger has a more thorough analysis of the change. Eric Hedekar of Moz also confirmed having seen the same trend.

YouTube Hires NBC Universal Executive

Lori Conkling is YouTube’s new global head of partnerships for YouTubeTV and Google Fiber after a six year stint at NBC Universal as executive vice president of strategy and business development with a digital focus. Conkling will oversee lead program and packaging strategies, and negotiating content deals.

Prior to NBC Universal, Conkling worked for the Walt Disney Company, Lifetime Networks and A&E Networks. Conkling heavily involved in the launch of ESPNU, the college sports network, while at Disney. Conkling’s new appointment comes shortly after the nationwide expansion of YouTubeTV, which began in April 2016 in just five markets.

YouTubeTV competes with both TV providers, whether cable or satellite, and subscription services like Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, FuboTV and more.

For more information on Conkling’s background, see the announcement in Variety.

Twitter Hires Google Exec

Twitter has announced the selection of Doug Brodman to be its new U.S. agency development director where he will lead the division that works with large agencies to create programming and content for Twitter. The position was previously held by Stephanie Prager, who has been promoted to Twitter’s head of global agency development. Brodman will report to Prager.

Brodman comes to Twitter after spending five years on Google’s U.S. agency team. There, Brodman developed partnerships between large American media agencies and Fortune 100 brands.

YouTube to Offer Fact Checking

YouTube is planning a worldwide expansion of a fact-check box for search results that it has been testing in India. The fact-check box will appear in the results for topics that prone to distortion.

A YouTube spokesperson said about the change, “As part of our ongoing efforts to build a better news experience on YouTube, we are expanding our information panels to bring fact checks from eligible publishers to YouTube.”

YouTube is working with third-party verified fact checkers for the new feature. The plan is for the fact-check panels to debunk the lies by linking to information from those fact-checking sites. The fact-checking partners frequently rely on schema.org to pull in data. However, the videos with the erroneous information will still appear in the search results, which means the fact-checking panels will function more as a warning than a replacement.

YouTube says it cannot remove misinformation unless it also violates its community guidelines. That said, YouTube routinely changes and updates its Terms of Service so it could change them to allow such a change, but doing so would put the onus of determining what is true and isn’t onto YouTube itself. YouTube believes adding the fact check panel will deter the spread of lies and misinformation, though nothing will prevent people from clicking through to the bad informations.

For more information, see the CBS News report.

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