Why Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling

The Facebook bugs continue... Why TikTok wants to compete with Amazon... A change to Google Shopping... and why social platforms may make Irish eyes stop smiling.

FACEBOOK: The Great Crash Continues

We start with some breaking news — Facebook this afternoon reported it is experiencing another outage, though this one appears to be more limited than the Great Crash earlier in the week.

 Shockingly, Facebook (a company TOTALLY revered internationally for its Nobel prize-winning commitment to honesty and transparency, guys!) did not say exactly what was broken.

On the user side, some people reported that Instagram refreshes are getting errors.

On the ads side, I'm seeing reports that Facebook isn't spending anything on ads — like, there's no distribution at all. Other people are seeing it come in spikes. Some people weren't able to upload videos to the business manager. This seems to have all happened around 12pm Pacific. 

At our deadline, it appeared to be settling back into place, but — to be safe, pull that bottle of gin out of your desk and go check your campaigns.

FRIDAY QUIZ: Videos on Landing Pages?

You've heard the advice — video is everything. But how much is everything, exactly?

Today's Friday quiz: 

How much of a conversion lift can you expect on landing pages with video, compared to pages without?

  • 10% lift

  • 50% lift

  • No change at all

  • Will adding video to a landing page actually hurt your conversion rate?

The answer, later in the issue.

GOVERNANCE: Will Companies Drop Their Irish "Headquarters"?

If you've ever looked closely at a receipt from Google, or Apple, or Facebook — you may have noticed they listed their corporate offices as being in Ireland. When, I think everybody knows, they're based in the U.S.

Why Ireland? Avoiding taxes, of course. For decades, Ireland's low corporate tax rate has attracted many large companies. More than 800 American companies are masquerading as Irish. Here's how the pieces usually fit together: Companies will create a separate subsidiary, register that subsidiary in Ireland, then license their intellectual property to the subsidiary, on which it pays royalties. 

It's not all on paper, though. The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland says 180,000 people are employed there thanks to these schemes.

That may change soon.

Yesterday, the government there announced it would would join an international agreement that sets the minimum corporate tax rate at 15%. Currently, it's 12.5%. That might not seem like a big increase, but with the dollar values usually involved here, that's billions.

It's expected it will take effect in 2023.

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TIKTOK: Stop Letting Your 62-Year-Old CEO Pick Your Sounds

TikTok is adding six certified Sound Partners which can help brands create custom audio for their videos.

This is in addition to their Commercial Music Library — a pool of over 150,000 pre-cleared, royalty-free tracks.

TikTok’s new sound partners will offer solutions within two sub-specialties – ‘Custom Sound’ and ‘Subscription Sound’.

  • Custom Sound partners, including KARM, MassiveMusic and The Elements, will be able to create tracks aimed at sparking community engagement. 

  • Subscription Sound partners will offer monthly, yearly, or project-based licensing plans. Partners in this category include Epidemic Sound, SongTradr and UnitedMasters.

SocialMediaToday said it was a welcome addition, especially given that many brands try to go it on their own with what their executives think is cool and trending.

Quoting their piece today:

...that does also come with a level of risk. If you end up using the wrong audio, in an attempt to create your own trend, you could fall into ‘How do you do, fellow kids’ territory, which could see your brand lambasted in responses, both on and off the app.

Which may be more reason to lean on these official partner brands, utilizing their platform expertise to help avoid missteps, while also aligning with key trends.

CLEVER CAMPAIGNS: The Longest of Video Ads

Here's a YouTube ad campaign the brand doesn't expect you to watch. At least, not completely.

The organic-foods advocacy group Organic Voices has created three videos, which it calls the “The World’s Most Skippable Ads."

One of them is a woman in a studio kitchen, adding chemicals into a bowl of flour and stirring...

But the main one clocks in at 6 hours and 47 minutes long — it's called “The World’s Most Skippable Cake Decorating Video" and shows a cake artist hand-decorating 31 separate cake tops with  the names of more than 700 chemicals.

The group says those are the most common chemicals found in conventional food processing and manufacturing.

And the final — called “The World’s Most Skippable ASMR Video” is this:

 The campaign is running on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

BUGS: Facebook Events Manager Coming Back Online

Facebook has confirmed what we'd reported yesterday — that part of their pixel platform was broken after the big crash earlier this week.

From the company's statement:

Users were not able to view their pixel info in Events Manager...

This issue only affected the loading of pixel info in Events Manager, and did not affect the functionality of the pixel. Ads delivery, billing, and reporting were not impacted.

I should report that's at odds with many anecdotal reports I saw earlier in the week, saying that the pixel's functionality was indeed broken.

Regardless, they say it's been fixed and claim it wasn't related to the global outage. Rather — and who other than Facebook could be as ballsy as this — they said 'Naw, it was all totally planned guys!'

Yeah, they say this was just part of how they decided to sunset the previous Marketing API.

Come on, Facebook. Do you really want us to believe your planning for sunsetting perhaps the single most important advertising tool on your platform was to make it not function for two days?!

Oh, and they went out of their way to say no refunds will be available for this issue because ads delivery was not impacted. This, too, is refuted by anecdotal reports from advertisers.

TIKTOK: Here Comes the Shopping Platform

TikTok's parent company ByteDance is said to be gearing up to launch an international shopping platform — I don't mean just e-commerce abilities in-app; they already launched mobile payment service in January.

No, they plan to compete directly with AliExpress and Amazon.

The company didn't confirm this, but Business Insider said it's making the call after seeing dozens of recent job postings about the technology from the company.

We also don't know if this will be a separate web site or be integrated into TikTok. I suspect the good money is on both.

E-COMM: One Feed for All Your Google Merchant Countries

Late yesterday, Google announced you now only need one feed to distribute your products to Google Merchant Center — regardless of how many countries you support. 

Until now, you had to send them a feed to show in one of two country groups — essentially merging the country groups into one global list.

Also, quoting SERoundtable.com:

If you are using the shipping attribute to target additional countries, your products may start showing in additional countries. In addition to allowing you to specify shipping costs at an individual product level, the shipping attribute also allows you to specify countries where individual products should be shown. Some merchants currently have configured shipping attribute settings for one or more products indicating they want to show them in countries in both Group A and Group B. If this applies to your product data, with the upcoming change, those products will start showing in countries across both groups, when previously they only showed in one of the groups. If these products are included in a Shopping campaign in Google Ads, this may impact your campaign traffic. If you don't want your products to show in these countries, please update your shipping attribute information and/or location targeting in Google Ads.

YOUTUBE: Live Captioning Coming

A nice change is coming to your brand's future YouTube livestreams — soon, they'll be providing  automatic live captions to all channels, meaning people can read what's being spoken at about the same time the words are said.

Until now, this was only in beta for a handful of larger channels.

You will be able to disable it if you want in the live control room — but that'll be on a per-stream basis, not channel-wide. Also, it's English only for now.

And there's a new Admin Role called the Subtitle role. People assigned this level will be able to delegate the creation of captions or subtitles to someone that they trust.

The Friday Quiz: Answer

Back to the Friday Quiz: How much of a conversion lift can you expect on landing pages with video, compared to pages without?

Your options were:

  • 10% lift

  • 50% lift

  • No change at all

  • Would adding video to a landing page actually hurt your conversion rate?

The answer — the latter!

Recent research from Unbounce finds landing pages with embedded video had a lower median conversion rate compared with pages with no video.

Landing pages where the video was used in the background recorded only a marginally higher median conversion rate.

The report was based on an analysis of 35,000 form and click landing pages hosted at Unbounce.

A New News Feed App That Lets You… never mind it’s gone now.

And finally, some clever programmer has made an interesting tool called Unfollow Everything. It lets  users essentially delete their Facebook News Feed by, well, unfollowing everything, in one click.

In a recent article for Slate, the developer said:

I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.

He says the tool is being used by Swiss researchers to study how the News Feed affects people's happiness.

Or at least was.

Facebook has now kicked this developer off Facebook entirely. They've also sent him a cease and desist, forcing him to delete his app. And removed his developer account. And deleted his personal Instagram account. Reporting from The Verge says this is a lifetime ban. 

And while I can't independently confirm this, it's possible Facebook may have also kicked his dog.

And finally...

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See you Tuesday

It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada on Monday, so have a restful weekend and I’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday!