Meet The Google Reviews That Won't Die

Great news for brands who use Instagram influencers... How HBO got the consent of thousands to text them ads every day... And what's next for one the biggest SEO tools now that it just got bought out.

Meet The Google Reviews That Won't Die

Imagine you run a business, and you've pissed off a customer. Then, the next day, that customer shows up and pickets outside your business. And the next day. And every day for two years.

That's essentially what's happening to one contractor right now on Google My Business, and Google says it won't do anything about it.

The company does repairs on foundations, and one past customer posted this, two years ago:

The commercial is a lie. They do not honor what they say. There [sic] actions do not line up with there [sic] mission. They do not follow through on commitments. They do not respect your property. They lie to your face. They are not accountable. Months of frustration. Left with no resolve. Messed up floors, crack walls, no vapor barrier and no insulation. THAT'S NOT WORLD CLASS SERVICE!

The business owner replied with a fairly good response, but then this angry customer came back to his review and edited it.

By making an edit in the review, it popped that review back up to the top of the business's review section on their profile. 

What was that edit? Actually, it was completely non-consequential — he added a period.

But that was enough to move his negative review on top.

Then, he did it again. And again. And has done this every few days for two years now. Always editing one tiny thing, like removing a space or adding a letter. Always forcing his review to be the first.

So you'd think that this would be something Google could just remove.

Joy Hawkins, who runs the Sterling Sky SEO agency, checked into it for this fellow. Turns out, no — Google won't do anything. They told her this kind of manipulation doesn't violate their guidelines. 

So, as always, beware the angry customer.

[original forum post]

People Like Podcast Ads More Than TV Ads

Some new research from Spotify and Magna has found that podcast ads are likely to do better than television ads.

43% of those polled in their study say they’re receptive to podcast ads. That compares to only 17% who said the same of TV ads. Part of this, the researchers say, was because of COVID — most people reporting screen fatigue, and 42% said that's why they're listening to more digital audio content.

(Let's not forget this was a Spotify-funded study, so it's not like they don't have a dog in this race.)

In terms of content consumption, both mediums were on par:

  • 60% of podcast listeners listen to a new episode of their favorite podcast within a day — that's about the same as TV... 58% of viewers watch a new episode of their favorite TV show in the same time span.

  • 75% frequently relisten to podcast episodes, which mirrors the 74% who rewatch their favorite TV shows.

The study polled 3,000 Americans who had listened to digital audio or watched digital video in the past 24 hours.

Instagram Updates Branded Content Tools

Some nice additions on Instagram for brands that work with influencers.

They've updated the Branded Content tools.

First, influencers can now tag up to two brands in a single piece of Branded Content. So if you've got a second brand, or you're partnering with a charity or something like that.

Each of the two brands will be able to see the other before approving the content.

Creators can now post branded content prior to brand approval, although if they do that, the brand name won't appear in the "Paid partnership" label on the ad.

And finally, brands can now see more insights — Reels and Lives data will be available as of Monday. They recently added these for the base accounts; this is opening it up to the brand partners who are tagged in influencer posts.

These changes aren't there now, but will be in the coming weeks.

New YouTube Insights

Speaking of more data, YouTube is adding more insights on how users engage with content.

The updates are:

  • More data about channel memberships

  • More data on mobile specifically

  • Clearer information about video performance

  • Insight into revenue changes

  • Engagement metrics for YouTube posts


HBO's New 'Text Spam' Promotion

Who among us hasn't thought — at least once — how do I get our audience to agree to let us text marketing messages to their phone every day?

Come on, you in the back... yes, you too.

One brand has found a way to do that — HBO Max has partnered with a text messaging platform Community to promote its reboot of "Gossip Girl."

If you text anything to 917-809-4277, you'll get this message back:

Hello there, follower. I'm guessing you want to get blasts on the scandalous lives of New York's elite. Well, who am I to keep you out of the loop? Click the link to the be added to my inner circle.

(Yes, they have a typo in it.)

When you tap the link, it takes you to a form which asks for the user's full name, gender identity, birthday, city, and email address.

(Wow. Three cheers for first-party data!)

Anyway, apparently people who do that will get exclusive "Gossip Girl" content up until the show's launch in July. You can also call that number to hear the voice of a show character.

The company they partnered with to make this all happen is called Community.

Quoting MarketingDive:

TV producers often promote shows via in-person events, such as through experiential marketing and conventions like Comic-Con, but given that the pandemic made these efforts impossible, networks and streaming services have had to go virtual to reach consumers in their homes. 

Originally a platform for celebrities to chat with fans, Community has recently started using its SMS-at-scale capabilities to engage with fans of TV shows. The platform in February teamed with Showtime to promote the final season of "Shameless" by letting audiences join a group chat with the show's main characters.

HBO Max will also soon have a new owner — AT&T is selling WarnerMedia to Discovery for $43 billion.

TikTok Wants to Store Your Voice and Face

So, this is a little creepy. Earlier this week, TikTok quietly made a change to its U.S. privacy policy.

They added a section which gives them permission to "collect biometric identifiers and biometric information” from its users’ content. This includes things like “faceprints and voiceprints.”

Techcrunch reached out to them to ask what product developments made the addition of voice and face data necessary, but TikTok wouldn't say.

Now, this could be legal language to permit training on their augmented reality filters, or maybe they needed this text to let the app auto-caption things, but it seems like an odd phrasing if it's those.

Quoting TechCrunch:

The biometric disclosure comes at a time when TikTok has been working to regain the trust of some U.S. users...

It said it has never shared TikTok user data with the Chinese government nor censored content, despite being owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. And it said it would never do so, if asked...

In the grand scheme of things, TikTok still has plenty of data on its users, their content and their devices, even without biometric data.

For example, TikTok policy already stated it automatically collects information about users’ devices, including location data based on your SIM card and IP addresses and GPS... the app and file names on your device, battery state, your keystroke patterns and rhythms.... plus the text, images and video found in the device’s clipboard.

I actually just checked Location Settings in my iPhone and there isn't an option to turn off Location detection for the app. It doesn't even list it.

Google No Longer Supports Business Short Names

A couple of years ago, Google My Business let businesses create shortlinks for their profiles — so, like or something like that.

Today, Google announced it will no longer allow businesses to create or edit their short names. Your existing one will work. It'll just be locked that way until eternity — or a new policy change, whichever comes first.

SEO Tool Moz Gets Acquired

The popular SEO tool has been acquired by iContact — iContact, in turn, owned by the publicly traded company J2 Global.

iContact started 18 years ago. It has about 300 employees now. You may know it through its front-facing brands like Campaigner and Kickbox.

The price wasn't disclosed. This comes after competing tool SEMrush went public a couple of months ago.