4,600 Research Studies vs. 1 TikTok'er

There's a reason your brand's Instagram Stories ads are glitching out... New data shows TikTok's strength in brand awareness... Why did Google stop delivering ads this week?... And much more.

FRIDAY QUIZ: Will "Related Links" Hurt Your SEO?

When it comes to SEO, one of the things Google's search algorithm likes is stability — pages at the same URL, content that doesn't change.

So what about if your company's product pages all have that Related Products section at the bottom of every page? You know, the widget that always changes because it's randomly picking something from your catalog.

What effect does having a Related Products or Related Posts section have on your ranking in Google?

The answer, later in today's issue.

MEDIA BUYING: Is TikTok the New King of Brand Awareness?

They hooked them up to a heart-rate monitor. An eye tracker. Electrodermal receptors. All in an attempt to learn what happens when people watch ads on TikTok.

The study was conducted by neuromarketing research firm MediaScience — TikTok underwrote the research. They wanted to get deeper insights into ad response than a platform dashboard could offer.

There were 343 people in the test who had basically free reign on their phones — they could scroll through their TikTok feed as they normally would, or even check out competing apps.

Here’s what they found:

First, brand recall for TikTok ads were particularly strong. Quoting the study:

Brand recall increases the longer an ad is watched, but ads on TikTok see strong brand recall regardless of view duration. An ad on screen 6 seconds or less still delivered 38% of the recall compared to ads viewed 20 seconds or more.

Regardless of how long an ad stays on screen, TikTok draws early attention and physiological engagement in the first few seconds. In other words, ads on TikTok take less time to make an impact with their audience than similar ads on other platforms.

Again, let's not forget TikTok foot the bill for the research, but it did come from a reputable firm.

It also found that response and engagement rates are generally higher than the other three platforms tested against, which the study didn't name but almost certainly included Facebook and Instagram.

SEARCH ADS: New Business Attributes for Bing Ads

Microsoft has launched 32 new business attributes that you can apply to your Bing search ads.

They all fall into the categories of inclusion, environmental, community/social responsibility and accessibility.


  • Vegan

  • LGBTQI+-friendly

  • Unisex

  • Allergy-friendly

  • Pet-friendly

  • Family-friendly

  • Kosher

  • Halal

  • Alcohol-free

  • Gluten-free

  • Vegetarian


  • Eco-friendly

  • Carbon-neutral

  • Sustainable

  • Carbon-negative

Community/social responsibility:

  • Cruelty-free

  • Non-profit

  • Supports a cure

  • Local business

  • Small business

  • Family-owned

  • Minority-owned

  • Black-owned

  • Supports disease research

  • LGBTQI+-owned


  • Wheelchair accessible

  • Visual assistance

  • Hearing assistance

  • Mobility assistance

  • Touchless pickup

  • No-contact delivery

  • Web accessibility

To add them to your ads, go to All campaigns, then Settings, then check the labels you want to apply to your account, and hit Save.

INSTAGRAM: Silent Mode — Bug or Feature?

If you've noticed some audio issues with your brand's Instagram Stories, we might know what's going on.

Since the release of Apple’s iOS 15 update, some users have reported audio glitches on Instagram.

The glitch mutes the audio of Instagram Stories when the iPhone's ringer switch is set to silent. And while you might think that's the way it should work, it's not. That switch is meant to silence system sounds, like the phone ringer or text notifications — not audio from apps.

Facebook says they're aware of it, and working on a fix.

SEARCH ADS: Google Ads Bug

Speaking of bugs, if you were poring over your Google Ads reports and noticed a big dropoff Wednesday of this week, that wasn't a reporting error — your ads really did turn off for a period of time.

Google has confirmed it had an "account outage issue" that resulted in some ads to stop serving for a couple of hours Wednesday afternoon.

Google says it wasn't you, it was them, and they've fixed it.


Back to the Friday quiz — will having a Related Products or Related Posts section on your page that's always changing hurt your Google SEO?

This week, we got a sort-of answer from Google's John Mueller.

He tweeted:

From an SEO point of view, these links give more context and they make it easier to crawl the website. Usually they don't change all the time, but that wouldn't be terrible (just makes tracking/debugging harder).


In other words, there are probably bigger issues you need to focus on than that block.

Your company can sponsor a full month of the Friday quiz for less than $100. Go to todayindigital.com/ads or tap the link in the episode notes.

ACADEMIA: Thousands of Studies Thwarted by TikTok’er

A 25-year-old American TikTok’er named Sarah is being blamed as the reason thousands of scientific studies had to toss out weeks of data.

Sarah made the video earlier in the summer; it was the start of a series on side hustles you can do to make some quick cash. One of her recommendations: the web site Prolific.co — a tool used by scientists to conduct behavioral research.

Like much of academic research, many of the studies on the platform paid a small amount of money for participation.

Her video resulted in the site being flooded with people responding to those studies. Which you'd think would be a good thing, right?

Problem is, suddenly almost all of the new completions were being done by young American women — massively skewing the demographic sample. The site apparently didn't have any screening tools in place to make sure that it got representative population samples.

The research site said about 4,600 studies were disrupted by the TikTok video.

And finally, a programming note.

We have been putting out daily episodes of this newsletter and podcast for the last two-plus years, mostly without a break. (Though to be honest, that's less about my work ethic, and more about the fact that COVID has cancelled two of our family's holiday plans so far.)

But — next week, I’m off on a real holiday!

My wife and I are going to attempt camping again. We're in British Columbia, so — like everyone here, when we were first dating, we told the other person we really liked camping. Because, that's what you say. We actually did go camping together back then, and it became clear neither of us were at all prepared.

But a decade has passed, I feel like we're probably real adults now, we have proper gear, and we aren't trying to impress each other any more with any rustic survival skills. No, we're bringing the duvet.

What that means for the newsletter and podcast, though, is — barring any earth-shattering developments in our industry, no episodes or newsletter issues next week.

Normally, someone from our agency team would take over, but I got the holiday schedule kind of messed up, and they need to stick to our regular client load.

As you might know, we are hiring an associate producer who — in addition to production support, would also backfill me when I'm out sick or on holidays. But we still haven't made a final decision on that role, so it's a week off.

Our Slack and Discord communities will still be active — and when I'm back we have some big plans for 2022 to share with you, as I mentioned some of those plans include moving our Slack community into a paid community, but if you get in there now, you'll be grandfathered in for free, for life. That's at TodayInDigital.com/slack.

Today in Digital Marketing is produced by engageQ digital on the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw first nation on beautiful Vancouver Island. Production support and fact checking by Sarah Guild. Theme composer Mark Blevis is the syncopated downbeat in a jazz song that comes out of nowhere. Podcast music licensing by Source Audio

I'm Tod Maffin, have a restful weekend, and I'll be back a week Monday (October 4th).