Today we look back at some of the key changes and innovations across all aspects of digital in January. We give you a snapshot of what the update is, why it is important and what action should you take. Social and content take centre stage in this months updates ... 

Facebook Changes their Attribution Settings 

What is it?: It was announced in October 2020 that Facebook would be changing their attribution rules in Facebook 28 days to 7 days. This came into effect from January 2021, with all new campaign setup by default with this setting. 
Why is it important?: For advertisers who use Facebook data for reporting and optimisation purposes, this will affect the number of conversions tracked (you will see a drop in the number). This will seem a strange move for advertisers, as you would expect that Facebook would want to take as much credit as possible for a conversion. 
What action should you take?: We would always recommend that you use your analytics platform data rather than Facebook data for optimisation and reporting purposes, as Facebook would typically over report. We would continue to advise to do this. 

Taboola aligns with social, with the launch of branded stories 

What is it?: On Wednesday 20th January, Taboola announced the launch of the stories format, to enrich a customers experience whilst browsing content on their network of publishers, help publishers monetise more inventory, along with providing a new ad format for advertisers to take advantage of. The format has been popular across social platforms such as Instagram, which is no doubt the key driver of this launch. 
Why is it important?: A study by Adyoulike points to the benefits of native advertising options like Taboola. In the UK, spend in native advertising solutions like Taboola are expected to grow exponentially, from $5.81bn in 2020 to $27.42bn by 2025. 4 out of 5 consumers state that they would accept native content, with 32% stating that it would increase brand trust and 25% stating that it would increase brand sentiment. 
What action should you take?: We would recommend that native advertising should be considered as part of your 2021 digital strategy. Taboola is one of many options to consider in the native market. If you would like more information on how you should get started with native advertising, contact Customer First Digital. 

John Mueller rates Digital PR as critical to SEO growth 

What is it?: On Saturday 23rd January, discussion broke out about the value of digital PR and content marketing. John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analysts at Google and much respected figure within the SEO industry gave his opinion on Digital PR, stating it being as critical, if not more critical than Technical SEO. 
Why is it important?: SEO often is the channel that gets the least attention by business’, with focus heavily on paid for acquisition channels. At best, brands focus on the technical side, making the site accessible and easy to understand for Google. Although this lays the foundation for success, having more people talk about and link back to your site is key to improving performance. John Mueller’s statement reinforces this, as long as your activity is carried out in a natural way, avoiding ‘spammy’ approaches. 
What action should you take?: As part of your 2021 strategy, we would recommend investing in expertise in content marketing, not only to improve SEO results but also to increase brand awareness and engagement. Either developing an in-house team, outsourcing or a hybrid approach should be considered. 

Facebook to introduce brand safety controls for advertisers 

What is it?: On the 29th January, Facebook announced that they are planning to test the use of topic exclusions, to ensure that advertisers have the choice of whether they advertise alongside posts related to ‘Crime’, ‘tragedy’, ‘news’ and ‘political’. 
Why is it important?: This is a significant step for Facebook to give more control to advertisers. Reading between the lines, this action seems to have been triggered by brands boycotting in July 2020 and the challenging content on US Social Media, during the presidential election. Brand safety is an important consideration in display and Social Media and this is the first time that Facebook has given such controls to the user. 
What action should you take?: As this feature is still in testing, it will not be available for all advertisers. Watch out for this over the coming months within the interface, as you appraise existing and launch new campaigns. 

Google announce the testing of an alternative to 3rd party cookies 

What is it?: On the 29th January, Google announced the testing of Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoc), as an alternative to third party cookies. The basis behind FLoc is to group similar users together based on their internet usage behaviour, to protect the privacy of the individual and allows advertisers to still serve relevant ads. 
Why is it important?: In 2022, Google Chromes removal of cookie data will have a significant impact on both the measurement of online activity and the development of audiences. This is due to the significant Market Share which the Chrome browser has. It’s not surprising to see Google move quickly to solve the problem that they are creating, which in turn will positively impact their market share across paid for products. 
What action should you take?: As the testing is planned for Q2, we would recommend getting in touch with your Google contact about when this is coming to the UK and the opportunity to be involved with testing. We would also highly recommend that you stay abreast of this update and speak to you partners who are reliant on cookies for tracking and audience management, about their product roadmap. 

Our final thoughts ... 

As acquisition costs continue rise across paid channels, long term investment in initiatives which will support growth in your organic search is essential. Whilst technical initiatives, such as improving site speed is a must do 
for year, we also recommend developing out your content marketing capability to full take advantage of the opportunity 
If you would like further information on any of the above updates or your like to access your free no obligation consultation, please get in touch to understand how we can help you. 
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