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Consumers are cutting back; Will TikTok be banned? More AI chat integrations announced; Google updates to know about; Best ads of the week & more

Welcome to this week’s Digital Discovery (Based on last week!). Each week we cover the latest developments and everything you need to know in the world of digital marketing.

This week we cover:

  • Barclays data shows consumers cutting back on non-essentials
  • Is TikTok closer to being banned in the US with new RESTRICT Act?
  • Brave Search and DuckDuckGo add AI features
  • Snapchat introduces customised chatbot ‘My AI’
  • LinkedIn launches ‘Collaborative Articles’ with AI-powered prompts
  • Bing reaches 100M daily active users
  • Google expands Local Services Ads to over 70 new businesses
  • Google launches Performance Max for travel goals
  • Google SEO Office Hours – March 2023
  • Google February product reviews update more volatile
  • Google launches new Google Trends portal

Plus we look at some of the best ads discovered and look ahead at key content dates coming up.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this newsletter and follow me on LinkedIn.

Ok, let’s dive into this week’s update…

Barclays data shows consumers cutting back on non-essentials to cope with rising living costs

According to Barclays’ data, consumers are adjusting to the cost of living by reducing their spending on dining out and clothing.

The data reveals that two distinct groups have emerged in response to the cost-of-living crisis. The first group consists of individuals who retained their jobs during the pandemic and managed to accumulate savings to help them cope with the increased costs. This group is cutting back on non-essential items.

The second group is unable to alleviate the impact of rising costs by reducing their spending on non-essential items. Despite being employed, they lack the means to adapt to the current cost of living crisis.

Barclays CEO Matt Hammerstein says “Those fortunate enough to have built up a buffer have been able to accommodate rising living costs more comfortably, with many making reasonable lifestyle adjustments to stay ahead,”

Why is this important? As marketers we need to be aware of the macro-environment. What is going on outside of your business that impacts you. This data shows that many consumers will be cutting back on premium luxuries and some consumers will be struggling to spend at all. We’re living through a time of high-price sensitivities so marketers must be aware of this when planning upcoming promotional material. The latest Dominos ‘Price Slice’ campaign springs to mind.

Is TikTok closer to being banned in the US with new RESTRICT Act?

TikTok continues to face a potential ban in the United States over data privacy and security concerns.

The renewed focus on a potential ban comes from the emergence of the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of senators.

The proposed legislation comes at a time when the US government is already scrutinising Chinese tech companies such as TikTok, over concerns that they could potentially provide Chinese authorities with access to US user data. The RESTRICT Act would provide the US government with additional tools to regulate Chinese (And Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela) tech companies and address concerns about national security risks.

TikTok has taken steps to address these concerns, including the establishment of a US data centre and partnering with third-party cybersecurity firms to ensure the security of user data. However, these measures have not alleviated concerns among some lawmakers and regulators.

A ban on TikTok could be difficult to enforce, given the app’s popularity and widespread use among US consumers. Nevertheless, lawmakers are continuing to push for increased scrutiny of the app, and it is possible that further regulatory action could be taken in the future.

Brave Search and DuckDuckGo add AI features to improve search experience.

Two privacy-focused search engines, Brave Search and DuckDuckGo, have announced new features aimed at improving the user experience through artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Brave Search, which was launched last year by privacy-focused browser maker Brave, has announced the release of a new summarizer feature. The summarizer uses AI technology to provide concise summaries of long articles, enabling users to quickly get the gist of a piece without having to read the entire thing.

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According to Brave, the summarizer is powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model, which uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand and summarize the content of an article. The feature is now available to all Brave Search users.

Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo, which has been providing private search services since 2008, has also entered the AI race with its new DuckAssist feature. DuckAssist operates as a new type of Instant Answer in search results. It uses natural language technology from OpenAI and Anthropic to scan sources like Wikipedia and Britannica to provide users with more accurate and direct answers.

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Both Brave Search and DuckDuckGo have been gaining traction in recent years as users become increasingly concerned about online privacy and the data collection practices of traditional search engines such as Google. These new AI-powered features could help to further differentiate the two privacy-focused search engines from their larger competitors.

As the use of AI technology in search engines continues to grow, it will be interesting to see how other players in the industry respond and whether privacy-focused search engines will continue to be able to compete with the larger players.

Snapchat introduces customised chatbot ‘My AI’ powered by OpenAI’s GPT technology

Snapchat has announced the launch of its new chatbot called “My AI,” which uses the latest version of OpenAI’s GPT technology. My AI has been specifically customised for Snapchat and is available as an experimental feature for Snapchat+ subscribers in the US.

According to Snapchat, My AI has a wide range of functionalities and can help users in various ways. It can recommend birthday gift ideas for friends, plan a hiking trip for a long weekend, suggest a recipe for dinner, or even write a haiku about cheese for cheese-loving pals. Users can customise My AI by giving it a name and choosing a wallpaper for their chat.

 

LinkedIn launches ‘Collaborative Articles’ with AI-powered prompts

LinkedIn has announced the launch of its new feature, Collaborative Articles, which AI prompts to encourage users to share knowledge and insights. Collaborating on an article can showcase expertise and build professional reputation. It generates networking opportunities and can grow personal brand. The platform incentivises contributions with a new Community Top Voice badge for consistently producing insightful content.

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Bing reaches 100M daily active users

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has reached 100 million daily active users, with roughly one third being new to Bing.

The modest boast was announced by Microsoft in a recent blog post.

For those using Google Ads, it could be time to trial your campaigns with Microsoft as well.

ADS OF THE WEEK

Guinness – Holding out for a ZERO

Guinness is set to launch its largest responsible drinking campaign for its non-alcoholic beer in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.

I buy these – they’re great!

Think – Is Pushing It Worth It

Powerful advert targeted at younger drivers

 

Google expands Local Services Ads to over 70 new businesses

Google has announced the expansion of Local Services Ads to more than 70 new businesses, including house cleaning, plumbing, and electrical services.

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Local Services Ads are pay-per-lead advertisements that appear at the top of search results when someone searches for a service provider in their area. These ads feature the business’s name, contact information, and reviews from past customers. When someone clicks on the ad, they are directed to the business’s website or phone number.

According to Google, businesses that use Local Services Ads receive 13% more leads on average than those that don’t. Local Services Ads also come with a Google Guarantee, which means that if a customer is not satisfied with the work provided by the business, Google may refund the cost of the service up to a certain amount.

To use Local Services Ads, businesses must pass a background check and provide proof of insurance and licensing. They must also be located in a supported area and offer services that are covered by the program.

Google launches Performance Max for travel goals

Google has launched Performance Max for travel goals, a new advertising feature that allows hotels to create ads in multiple formats and reach more travellers across different Google channels and inventory, including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps.

Advertisers can choose up to 100 hotel properties with different locations, images, and messages using the hotel picker tool during campaign setup. The feature tracks and shares campaign performance for each location separately, enabling hotels to determine what’s working and view traffic by hotel property to better understand demand across different locations.

The new AI-powered campaign will also include a new ‘Hotel Ads’ feature later this year.

Google SEO Office Hours – March 2023

The video and transcript are now available for the March 2023 edition of the Google SEO Office Hours.

Transcript here: https://developers.google.com/search/help/office-hours/2023/march

SEOs should scan these sessions regularly for key nuggets of information from Google’s John Mueller.

 

Google February product reviews update more volatile

According to data from Semrush and Rank Ranger, the Google product reviews update in February 2023 was more volatile compared to previous updates. The update finished on March 7th and was the sixth product reviews update.

If your website features product review content, it’s advisable to check your rankings to determine if you were affected. You should also consider putting more effort and detail into your product review content to ensure that it is unique and stands out from the competition on the web in the long run.

 

Google launches new Google Trends portal

Google has launched a redesigned Google Trends portal that boasts a fresh new look. The update features real-time trends on the homepage, which are refreshed hourly and accompanied by direct links to news articles from publishers.

Google Trends can be a valuable resource for SEOs, marketers and content creators to discover popular online topics and generate content ideas.

KEY CONTENT DATES

March

  • 01 March 2023: St David’s Day, Zero Discrimination Day
  • 02 March 2023: World Book Day
  • 03 March 2023: World Hearing Day, World Wildlife Day, National Employee Appreciation Day, National Day of Unplugging (sundown-to-sundown 3rd-4th)
  • 04 March 2023: National Grammar Day
  • 06 March 2023: National Oreo Cookie Day, British Pie Week (6th-12th) Begins
  • 07 March 2023: Holi
  • 08 March 2023: International Women’s Day, National Proofreading Day, National No Smoking Day
  • 09 March 2023: International School Meals Day, World Kidney Day
  • 10 March 2023: National Pack Your Lunch Day
  • 11 March 2023: World Plumbing Day, National Worship of Tools Day
  • 12 March 2023: 95th Academy Awards
  • 13 March 2023: National Napping Day
  • 14 March 2023: Pi Day
  • 15 March 2023: World Contact Day, World Consumer Rights Day
  • 17 March 2023: St. Patrick’s Day, Red Nose Day, World Sleep Day
  • 18 March 2023: Global Recycling Day, National Awkward Moments Day
  • 19 March 2023: Mother’s Day (UK), National Let’s Laugh Day
  • 20 March 2023: First Day of Spring, International Day of Happiness, World Storytelling Day, World Oral Health Day
  • 21 March 2023: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Poetry Day
  • 22 March 2023: Ramadan Begins, World Water Day
  • 23 March 2023: World Meteorological Day, National Puppy Day
  • 25 March 2023: International Waffle Day, Wear a Hat Day (UK), Earth Hour Day
  • 26 March 2023: Purple Day (Epilepsy Awareness Day), BST starts
  • 30 March 2023: National Doctor’s Day
  • 31 March 2023: World Backup Day

Thanks for reading!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s newsletter and found it useful.

Please follow me and subscribe to my Digital Discovery newsletter. I’ll be posting each week about the digital marketing stories that matter.

See you next week.

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