Cross Channel Marketing Roundup: September 18th, 2017

Each week our cross-channel marketing roundup recaps the biggest stories in mobile and beyond. This edition includes news from Apple's latest presentation, Facebook testing out Instant Videos, and how your business could benefit from having a mobile app.

Mobile News:

App Marketers Rank Retention as Biggest Challenge (Marketing Charts): A new survey of app marketers has found that user retention is still a major problem. In fact 55% of respondents ranked it as their top challenge this year. Additionally 50% said that app discovery is now harder than ever before and 41% had concerns about rising user acquisition costs. Interestingly 70% of app marketers included user acquisition as one of their main goals while only 35% put user retention on their list, which seems counterintuitive to their concerns.

Apple Shows Off iPhone 8, iPhone X (VentureBeat): On Tuesday Apple held their first presentation in their new Steve Jobs Theater. There they unveiled their new line of products including the Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular, the Apple TV with 4K, the iPhone 8, and the iPhone X (pronounced "ten" to mark the phone's 10th anniversary). While many of the announcements leaked ahead of time, Apple enthusiasts were still thrilled as the company showed off its $1,000 all screen, no home button iPhone X. That model will also introduce a new authentication system, Face ID. Meanwhile the presentation also put an emphasis on augmented reality, which will get a big boost in iOS 11 — available September 19th. The Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, and iPhone 8 will officially go on sale September 22nd while the iPhone X will begin preorders October 27th ahead of a November 3rd release.

Google Event Set for October (VentureBeat): Not to be outshone by Apple's event this week, Google announced its own hardware presentation for next month. The event, which marks the company's second "Made by Google" gathering, was first teased on a Boston billboard before being formally confirmed. Google is expected to unveil their sequel to the Pixel smartphone along with new Chromebook and Google Home. If there were any doubt about the former coming to fruition at this event, a landing page on the Made by Google site asks visitors "Thinking about changing phones?" before prompting them to stay tuned for more on October 4th.

Snapchat Debuts Bitmoji World Lenses (TechCrunch): Snapchat is furthering its Bitmoji integration, introducing new World Lenses featuring the personalized characters. This update allows users to view their animated avatars in the real world and send Snaps of their antics to their friends. For example a Disco-inspired World Lens adds colorful lights and a dancing Bitmoji to your screen while a skateboarding one allows you to record your character attempting tricks. Although Snapchat has been one of the main proponents of AR in recent months (at least among youth), the technology is expected to grow considerably with the release of Apple's iOS 11 and other ventures from Facebook and Google.

Mobile Bests Desktop for Audience Targeting (MarketingCharts): According to a new study mobile ads are more likely to reach their intended target than desktop ads. For Q2 2017 mobile bested desktop's in-target rates with an average of 53% to 49% respectively. Moreover some verticals saw larger discrepancies, such as telecoms (71% on-target for mobile, 61% for desktop), autos (61% mobile, 53% desktop), and CPGs (50% mobile, 42% desktop). However there was one vertical where mobile underperformed: health, where desktop won out 60% to 50%.

Biometric-Equipped Smartphones Become the Majority (eMarketer): As mentioned, the iPhone X will ditch Touch ID for the new Face ID. This (arguable) upgrade comes as the majority of smartphones now come equipped with biometric capabilities. New research suggests that 63.5% of smartphone shipped in 2017 will offer biometrics — up from 40% in 2016. Looking forward, it is expected that more than 80% will include biometrics in 2018 before reaching 100% in 2019. Additionally, while tablets and wearables lag a bit behind smartphones in this feature, 100% of both are expected to come equipped with biometrics by 2020.

Instant Articles No Longer Display in Messenger (Marketing Land): In what amounts to another blow to Facebook's Instant Articles, the company has announced that links shared in Messenger will no longer open the Instant Articles version. This move comes just over a year after Facebook first brought the Instant Article format to Messenger. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the change, saying "As we continue to refine and improve Instant Articles — and in order to have the greatest impact on people and publishers — we’re focusing our investment in Instant Articles in the Facebook core app and are no longer offering Instant Articles in Messenger. We believe that Messenger is an exciting channel for new and interesting news consumption experiences, including the opportunity to build unique messaging experiences in Messenger that many publishers have executed successfully via the Messenger Platform."

Facebook Testing Instant Videos (TechCrunch): While the door is seemingly beginning to close on Facebook's Instant Articles, the social network has a new plan: Instant Videos. Despite the similar name the two offerings are actually quite a bit different, although both revolve around mobile. With Instant Videos, users will be able to save clips they find while on Wi-Fi and play them back later without using data. This feature is reportedly being tested among a small group of Android users and comes soon after Facebook debuted its Watch tab to help take on YouTube.

Web Traffic Growth Attributed to Smartphones (Recode): When it comes to web traffic, smartphones are the only medium seeing gains. Since 2015 smartphone web traffic in the U.S. has increased 68% while tablets and desktop have seen declines of nearly 20% and 30% respectively. So who's benefiting from this trend? Two big winners are Google and Facebook, with the former accounting for a 61% of referral traffic on smartphones and the latter making up 16%. Despite the increase in mobile web use, app launches are trending downward for both smartphones and tablets. In fact app launches on smartphones are down 22% from 2016.

Opinions and Advice:

Why Your Business Needs a Mobile App (Forbes): There's no doubt that the app marketplace is growing considerably crowded. However that doesn't mean that your business can't still benefit from developing and offering a mobile app for your customers. In this piece Jia Wertz shares why your business needs a mobile app and how to go about creating one.

Google's Advice for the Mobile-First Index (Search Engine Land): Over the past few months there's been a lot of talking about Google's impending mobile-first index. Among with chatter have been discussions about how publishers and webmasters should be preparing for the big switch. Well now, as Barry Schwartz notes, Google themselves have offered advice on the matter, suggesting responsive design.

Campaign of the Week:

Disney's Next Generation of the Mickey Mouse Club is a Social Media Exclusive (Mobile Marketers): Back in the 1950s, The Mickey Mouse Club made stars out of many its Mouseketeers, including Annette Funicello and Cubby O'Brien. Decades later, a rebooted version of the program ended up turning out a slate of some of the biggest pop stars and actors on the planet such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell. This week Disney launched yet another iteration of their famed Mickey Mouse Club, only this time its dubbed Club Mickey Mouse and airs on Instagram and Facebook. The show is one of the first creations from the company's Disney Digital Network (which was built by way of Disney's acquisition of Maker Studios) and will include clips of the cast working behind the scenes along with their finished content. Discussing the new venture, Disney's Andrew Sugerman explained, "We see Club Mickey Mouse as always-on content versus a show or series. It's programmed specifically for social media audiences who want to follow the kids' journey just as they would follow their friends' stories." Club Mickey Mouse is now live on Facebook and Instagram.

Cross Channel Marketing Roundup: September 11th, 2017

Each week our cross-channel marketing roundup recaps the biggest stories in mobile and beyond. This edition includes Google's new Mobile Web Specialist certifications, Canvas ads coming to Instagram, and a look at some of the myths that surround playable mobile ads.

Mobile News:

Trending Searches Added to Google iOS App (Search Engine Land): This week Google debuted new trending results to their search app for iOS, similar to items found on Twitter and Facebook. Incidentally the same feature rolled out to Android devices last year and actually received some backlash from users. In fact Google later added an opt-out setting for the feature (which is included in the new iOS version as well). Also new in the app are faster Instant Answers that display while users are typing. For example, you won't need to get to the end of typing "how tall is the Eiffel Tower" before Google informs you 1,063 feet to the top. The latest update to the app is now available.

Google Offering Mobile Web Specialist Certifications (VentureBeat): Google has introduced a new certification program for mobile web developers, giving them something to add to their resumes. The company's Mobile Web Specialist certification can now be obtained by passing an exam and paying a $99 fee. Participants will be provided with a study guide once signing up for the program and will have as many as three attempts to pass the timed coding exam. Certification seekers will also need to complete an exit interview to help confirm the authenticity of the exam submission. In announcing the certification, Google's Sarah Clark noted, “Based on a thorough analysis of the market, this new certification highlights developers who have in-demand skills as mobile web developers."

Millennials Rank Their Most Essential Apps (Marketing Charts): According to comScore, the majority of Millennials say their most essential app isn't a social media tool but a shopping one. Yes, Amazon topped the list of apps those aged 18 to 34 rely on with 35% of respondents naming it as such. In second place was another minor surprise: Gmail. Facebook landed at a close number three with 29% while its Messenger was a distant fourth with 18%. Over all four Google-owned apps made the list along with four Facebook-owned ones, with just Amazon and the Apple App Store providing diversity.

Mobile Leads Desktop in Google Search Traffic (Retail Dive): A new report has found that 57% of Google search traffic now comes from mobile devices. Additionally the study compared search results on mobile and desktop devices, which showed the differences in indexes. In fact 79% of searches performed on mobile yielded different results than on desktop. Google has stated that it plans on unifying its indexes to create a mobile-first index beginning sometime before the end of the year.

Facebook's User Reach Questioned Against Census Data (Adweek): Over the past year Facebook has fessed up to a number of measuring error affecting both ad and organic post data. Now some are raising an eyebrow at a report from the company saying it reaches 41 million 18 to 24-year-olds and 60 million 25 to 34-year-olds. The problem? U.S. census data puts the total number of 18 to 24-year olds at 31 million and 25 to 34-year-olds at just 35 million. In a statement to Adweek, the company explained, "Reach estimations are based on a number of factors, including Facebook user behaviors, user demographics, location data from devices, and other factors. They are designed to estimate how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad a business might run. They are not designed to match population or census estimates. We are always working to improve our estimates.”

Instagram Tests Canvas Adds in Stories (Marketing Land): More than a year after initially announcing that Facebook's fast-loading rich-media Canvas ads would be coming to Instagram, the format is now finally testing within the app. Canvas is reportedly making its Instagram debut within users' Stories and is currently limited to select brands. In a statement, an Instagram spokesperson spoke to the test, saying, "We are beginning to test an integration of Canvas with ads in Instagram Stories. Since the launch of ads in stories, we’ve been focused on delivering business value to advertisers and Canvas offers a seamless extension of the full-screen immersive experience, helping marketers tell compelling brand and product stories."

Samsung Announces Bug Bounty Program (Engadget): Following in the footsteps of many other tech companies like Apple and Google, Samsung has announced a "bug bounty" program that enlists the help of users to find firmware vulnerabilities. Samsung's program will pay out up to $200,000 for finding flaws in a number of Samsung devices and services released since 2016. To qualify these weaknesses must exist without utilizing a physical connection or third-party app. Previously the company put a similar program in place for its smart TVs.

Opinions and Advice:

Playable Mobile Ad Myths (Mobile Marketer): As mobile technology continues to evolve, new mobile ad formats that are more interactive and less annoying are starting to gain traction. Among these entries are playable ads made popular by gaming apps. However, as Bryan Buskas point out, the idea that these spots are limited to the gaming vertical is just one of several myths surrounding playable mobile ads.

How Mobile is Changing Loyalty (The Economist): When it comes to loyalty programs, personalization seems to be a top trend. Thanks to mobile data and technology, providing that customization and personalization is now easier for brands to achieve. In this piece, take a look at how some top brands are utilizing mobile data to craft their loyalty programs.

Campaign of the Week:

T-Mobile Offers Users Free Netflix Subscriptions (Money@30): For the past several months, T-Mobile has been trying to distance itself from its competitors by embracing its use of bright pink, calling itself the "uncarrier," and teaming up with various brands and retailers to offer users free stuff. To that lattermost point, T-Mobile has just announced their new "Netflix on Us" program that will provide Netflix subscriptions to T-Mobile ONE family plan members. This promotion will officially go into effect September 12th and will offer users with two or more eligible T-Mobile ONE lines a free standard (up to $9.99) subscription to the popular streaming service Netflix. Additionally users can elect to upgrade their subscription to Netflix's 4K streaming option and have the $2 difference billed to their T-Mobile account. Previous T-Mobile promotions include giving users free pizza and other gifts as part of their T-Mobile Tuesdays.

Cross Channel Marketing Roundup: August 28th, 2017

Each week our cross-channel marketing roundup recaps the biggest stories in mobile and beyond. This edition includes Android's next release getting its official name, the effect your app's logo can have on churn, and how marketers should think about augmented reality.

Mobile News:

Google Updates Brings Video Previews to Mobile Search (TechCrunch): Given the amount of video content that's now consumed on mobile devices, it makes sense that Google would want to make finding such content even easier. That's what they've done with a new update for mobile search results that allows users to see a six-second silent preview of videos to ensure it's a clip they want to watch. Instead of displaying the first six seconds of a given video, Google's algorithm will actually assess each clip and present the moment it feels best represents the content. Not only will this feature work for videos on YouTube but will also work for the majority of clips on the web.

Android O Gets an Official Name, Release Date (TechCrunch): This week Google unveiled its next Android OS, which will officially be known as Oreo in following with the dessert theme of previous releases. The latest OS will first roll out to Pixel and Nexus 5X/6P devices followed by Pixel C and Nexus Player. Some of the highlights of the update include picture-in-picture, Android Instant Apps, and autofill for apps as well as some security upgrades and, of course, a set of new emojis. On the eve of Android Oreo's release, Android Marshmallow still ranks as the most-used OS, commanding just under one-third of the Android market. Its predecessor, Lollipop, is not far behind as it currently runs on 29% of Android devices.

AMP Ads Get Speed Enhancement (Search Engine Land): With phase one of Google's three phase plan for bringing ads to AMP now completed, the company has announced: "Fast Fetch" for improving ad render times. "With Fast Fetch, ads are requested much earlier in the lifecycle of the page, allowing page rendering and creative selection in the ad server to happen in parallel. Fast Fetch is 850ms faster at the 50th percentile and 2.7s faster at the 90th percentile as compared to Delayed Fetch," according to AMP Project. Although there is no announced date for this upgrade as of yet, the change will first affect eligible ads purchased on DoubleClick and AdSense, as those automatically convert to AMP ad format.

iOS 11 Will Make it Easier to Copy and Share AMP Links (TechCrunch): One downside of Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages is the link structure that places "google.com" before the publisher's URL. As a result, when links were shared, the receiver would not get a proper preview of the link. Now it appears that glitch will be fixed when Apple's iOS 11 is released this fall. According to reports, when users save, copy, or share an AMP link, iOS will automatically strip the AMP preamble and return pages to their original link structure. While this isn't a headline feature of the update by any means, the change does seem to be garnering support so far. In fact Google has requested that browsers handle AMP links in this manner moving forward.

App Install Ad Fraud Estimated at $300 Million Annually (Mobile Marketer): A new report indicates that mobile marketers are currently losing as much as $300 million a year on fraudulent app installs. The study found that 5% of app installs from non-premium ad networks were fake. Furthermore fraud was also found in active user campaigns, as 84% of fake installs still garnered in-app events after downloading. Despite the gloomy news, it appears that ad fraud is declining overall, falling approximately 10% globally in the last year.

The Design of an App Logo Could Make Millennials Delete It (AdAge): According to comScore, the look of your app's logo could actually be leading to churn among younger users. That assessment comes from a report that found that one-fifth of Millennials will delete an application off of their phone if they don't like how the icon looks on their screen. By comparison only 2% of Gen Xers had the same predilection. While this habit may seem strange, comScore analyst Adam Lella explains, "Millennials identify closely with their smartphones, and nearly every aspect of their lives is integrated with it. For that reason, the apps on their phone represent who they are. Even if an app serves a practical need or purpose, many Millennials don't want it on their phone if they don't like the way it looks and represents them."

Snapchat Opens Verified Account Status to Influencers (Digiday): Just as influencer marketing has proven effective for brands and top users, there are also financial reasons why social networks would want such influencers on their platform. That's why it comes as no surprise that Snapchat is wooing influencers by extending verified status beyond just celebrities. The program is known as Official Stories and gives select users greater visibility in search results as well as custom filters and other perks. According to Digiday, Snap plans to roll out the expanded Official Stories to their "top creators" in the coming months, although it's unclear what criteria is required to earn that label. This announcement comes as Snap continues to fend off competition from Instagram Stories, along with skepticism from investors following some disappointing earnings reports.

Five Apps Occupy Most Users' Time on Mobile (Marketing Land): Mobile users are continuing to spend more and more of their time in apps. Overall mobile apps now take up 50% of time users spend with digital media. Moreover the average user spends 90% of their mobile app time within just five apps. Of course which five apps those are depends on a number of factors including the age of the user. A new report finds that YouTube is the most-used app among 18 to 24 year olds while Facebook reigns for older age groups. Snapchat also ranks highly for younger users (placing third for 18 to 24 year olds and sixth for 25 to 34 year olds) while Gmail cracked the top eight for those over 35. Some other applications that ranked for each demographic include Facebook Messenger and Google Maps.

Opinions and Advice:

Preparing for the Impending AR Revolution (Adweek): Last year a little game called Pokemon GO! not only became a worldwide phenomenon but also introduced many layman to the concept of augmented reality. Since then Snapchat and others have continued to show the playful novelty side of the technology, while more useful applications have mostly alluded us. However that's about the change and Facebook and Apple are looking to make big plays in the world of AR. As Christopher Heine writes, these developments should have marketers thinking about how to take advantage.

The Potential Power of the Mobile Lock Screen (Marketing Tech): Are marketers taking the lock screen for granted? After all, the average smartphone user checks their device every 10 minutes, seeing their lock screen each time. This leads Krishan Patel to question whether they may be advertising and marketing potential in the mobile lock screen's future.

Campaign of the Week:

Discover Targeting Millennials on Tinder (Mobile Marketer): What's more attractive than good credit? That's likely the logic behind Discover's latest ad campaign that finds them teaming up with the popular dating app Tinder. This comes after a study by the duo found that only a quarter of respondents were comfortable with discussing their financial habits. Now Tinder's 25 million users will encounter three different ads from Discover featuring personal finance questions as well as a link where users can get their FICO credit score from the company. With the goal of reaching money-conscious Millennials, Discover's partnership with Tinder is a perfect match as more than two-thirds of the app's users are members of that generation.

Cross Channel Marketing Roundup: August 14th, 2017

Each week our cross-channel marketing roundup recaps the biggest stories in mobile and beyond. This edition includes Facebook introducing a new video Watch tab, Google's apparent plan to make news more like Snapchat, and a look at Apple's search ads six months later.

Mobile News:

YouTube's Sharing and Chat Function Goes Wide (VentureBeat): For many months it's been known that YouTube was testing a new function that would allow users to share videos and chat in real time. Now that feature has begun rolling out to the general popultion, reaching users on both the iOS and Android versions of the app. Speaking to VentureBeat a YouTube spokesperson shared what's changed with the feature since the company first began testing, explaining, "We’ve been improving the feature since our experiments began last year. For example, we’ve made changes to the chat visual; and we’ve made the video stick to the top of the chat when scrolling down, to allow replying and chatting while watching a video; and we’ll continue making improvements.” Users can reach the new feature via a "Shared" tab within YouTube's mobile app.

Facebook Debuts "Watch" Tab in Perceived Swipe at YouTube (TechCrunch): The fight between Facebook and YouTube in the battle for views heated up this week as the former introduced its new Watch tab. This tab now acts as Facebook's home for original programming and content, with a handful of shows even being directly funded by the social network. In essence, this development looks to shift Facebook's video views from "spontaneous" to "deliberate," as TechCrunch notes. In a post about the Watch section of the site, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, "We believe it’s possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community — including watching video. Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive . . . You’ll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.”

Instagram Testing Tag Team Live Streaming (VentureBeat): After months of being one of the least talked about live streaming platforms, Instagram is shaking things up with a new feature that enables broadcasters to share the screen with friends. This feature is currently being tested among selected users, allowing them to invite guests whose video will appear below them on the screen. A post by Instagram notes that, "You can remove your guest and add someone else at any time, or they can also choose to exit on their own.” While live streams featuring multiple video feeds aren't exactly new, popular apps like YouTube and Snapchat have yet to offer such functionality. Meanwhile Instagram's parent company Facebook introduced a similar capability in May.

Snapcodes Fade as Deep Linking Rules for Driving New Followers (Marketing Land): There was once a time when it seemed every major publisher was brandishing their Snapcodes on other social media networks in hopes of gaining new Snapchat followers. However it seems that, in the past year, deep links have come from way behind to make up the primary source of new followers. In fact, in Q1 2016, deep links only accounted for 7% of new followers compared to 78% for Snapcodes. Now the tables are turning as deep links make up 57% of new adds while Snapcodes have fallen to 26%. That equates to 1.10 million users finding brands via deep linking versus 205,707 for codes.

Google Reportedly Looking to Take a Page from Snapchat (Wall Street Journal): According to a new report, Google is considering an addition to their news section akin the Snapchat's Discover content. The web giant has apparently reached out to a number of publishers presenting an idea called Stamp — a word derived from combining both "stories" and AMP. Stamp features would be fast-loading but also utilize a swipeable format complete with photos, videos, and text. When asked about the possible new feature, a spokesperson for Google offered a vague statement, saying, “Ever since the beginning of AMP we’ve constantly collaborated with publishers, and are working on many new features."

Pricing Extensions Move to Card Format in Google Shopping Update (Search Engine Land): It seems that Google has updated its mobile shopping experience by changing the way price extensions display and by offering users filters. Previously, when a user searched for a given product, a list of prices and outlets appeared below. However this update takes those price listings and turns them into scrollable cards while also added a filtering function. These cards also offer additional information such as what model is available for the quoted price. At this time it's unclear how wide Google's test of this update is or when it will roll out to everyone.

Pinterest Opens Autoplay Video Ads to Everyone (Mobile Marketer): Following positive results for brands that participated in its test, Pinterest is now offering all advertisers the opportunity to utilize their promoted auto-play video spots. The format is notably similar to the one popularized by Facebook and has been a driving force of that company's ad revenue. While not all users may be thrilled about the addition of arguably intrusive auto-play ads, Pinterest says that participating advertisers have seen strong results including improved brand perception, saying of a recent Cheetos campaign, "The audience on our platform clearly liked what they saw, leading to a significant lift in brand favorability."

Opinions and Advice:

Checking In on Apple's Search Ads Six Months Later (Search Engine Land): Just a few short months ago, Apple rolled out their much-hyped search ads in the App Store. At the time it appeared as though the move would mark a big shift in how apps were discovered, ranked, and downloaded. So has that prediction come true? Anna Shirley takes a look back at the past six months of Apple search ads and notes what positive and negative changes she's observed as a result.

The Future of Mobile Attribution (Marketing Land): For a long time mobile attribution has been a challenge for marketers. Because of this more than two-thirds of mobile marketers report they do not or cannot properly calculate their mobile ROI. That's why Shani Rosenfelder reviews some current best-practices for mobile attribution and takes a look at what new technologies will affect attribution going forward.

Campaign of the Week:

Little Caesars Creates Heated Pizza Portals for Mobile Orders (Mobile Marketer): In recent months many fast food and fast casual chains have experimented with mobile ordering as a way to drive sales and offer an added convenience to customers. Now the discount pizza chain Little Caesars is looking to take that convenience to the next level by rolling out what they call their Pizza Portals. Essentially each portal is a like a heated locker that will keep customers' orders warm until they arrive for pick up. When users arrive to claim their order, they use a three-digit code or a QR code to open their Portal and grab their food. Little Caesars says it's currently employing this technology at select stores in the Tucson, Arizona area and plans to bring it to at least 100 more stores by the year's end. It's worth noting that online orders are a growing business with digital food order growing by 18% in March of this year. Additionally Starbucks recently announced that mobile orders now make up 9% of their total sales.

Cross Channel Marketing Roundup: August 7th, 2017

Each week our cross-channel marketing roundup recaps the biggest stories in mobile and beyond. This edition includes Facebook's own "Mobilegeddon" update, Google Play penalizing buggy apps in rankings, and how publishers can start designing their content for the mobile-first index.

Mobile News:

Facebook Stories Go Public (TechCrunch): When Facebook first brought Stories to Instagram, the Snapchat-cloned feature caught on like wildfire. However, when the company did the same in the flagship app, the results were much more tepid. Now Facebook is trying to boost usage a bit by allowing for public Stories to be shared instead of limiting viewers to those on your friends list. The hope is that celebrities and influencers will now embrace the feature for sharing content and, in turn, get their followers to partake as well. Meanwhile it's still unclear if and when Pages will be able to create and share their own Stories in Facebook.

Facebook's News Feed to Prioritize Fast-Loading Articles in Algorithm (VentureBeat): In what equates to Facebook's version of Google's famed "Mobilegeddon," the social network has announced that it will be updating its News Feed algorithm to consider mobile load speed. As Facebook explained in a blog post, "With this update, we’ll soon take into account the estimated load time of a webpage that someone clicks to from any link in News Feed on the mobile app. Factors such as the person’s current network connection and the general speed of the corresponding webpage will be considered. If signals indicate the webpage will load quickly, the link to that webpage might appear higher in your feed." While this does post a threat to particularly slow-loading pages, Facebook says it does not expect the majority of Pages to see a significant change in referral traffic. These changes to the mobile News Feed will roll out "gradually over the coming months.”

Users Under 25 Spend More than 30 Minutes a Day in Instagram (Recode): As referenced above, Instagram has seen tremendous growth since introducing their version of Stories one year ago. On the anniversary of that feature, the app has shared some "time spent" stats akin to those Snapchat's has been apt to offer. According to Instagram, users under 25 years old spend an average of 32 minutes per day using the app while those over 25 maintain a daily average of 24 minutes. That bests the 30 minutes and 20 minutes respectively that Snap cited for their own app back in February.

Tweet Promoting Subscription Being Tested (Mobile Marketing Magazine): Twitter is reportedly testing a new subscription service that will automatically promote tweets so that non-followers will see them in their feeds. The $99 subscription will apparently boost the first 10 tweets users send per day (excluding retweets, quoted tweets, and replies) but the extent to which each tweet is promoted will vary. Additionally users won't be able to override which tweets get boosted and which don't. This offering is aimed at small businesses looking to increase their following and is separate from Twitter ads. Currently this subscription model is conducting a trial among invited users and its unknown if the program will move forward.

Tablet Shipments Continue Their Decline, But Apple and Others Rebound (VentureBeat): For the 11th consecutive quarter, worldwide shipments of tablets declined in Q2 2017. This time around shipments fell 3.4% year over year to reach 37.9 million. That said there were some bright spots in the latest report, including increases for first-place Apple, third-place Huawei, and fourth-place Amazon. Apple not only increased its market share from 25.4% in Q2 2016 to 30.1% now but also saw shipments grow from 10 million to 11.4. Meanwhile Samsung's shipments were flat, Huawei's reached 3 million (up from 2.1 million), and Amazon hit 2.4 million (from 1.6 million).

Users Engage with Emails More on Mobile (Marketing Charts): So far this year approximately 55% of emails sent have been opened on mobile devices — a major jump from 2012 when that figure sat at 29%. Moreover a variety of stats show that users have greater engagement with emails when they're opened on mobile. For example 64% of email messages opened on mobile were read in their entirety compared to 61% on webmail and 45% on desktop. Mobile also saw the lowest percentage of emails abandoned in less than 2 seconds (15%) while desktop's abandoned rate was 30% and webmail's was 18%. Notably, weekends find mobile's email opening rate climb even higher, reaching 60% during the first third of this year.

Engaging with Rewards Ads Makes Gamers More Likely to Make In-App Purchases (VentureBeat): A new study has found that users who view in-app rewards ads are 4.5 times more likely to make purchases afterward. In recent years rewards ads — also known as "opt-in ads" — have proven popular with mobile gamers, offering them in-app perks such as extra lives, power-ups, etc.  in exchange for viewing advertisements. Interestingly this latest data goes directly against the fears of some developers that offering ways of obtaining free in-app currency would dissuade users from making purchases. As a result it seems likely that rewards ads will continue to grow as a monetization technique for apps.

Advertising Drives Majority of App Revenue (MediaPost): How do most app developers and publishers monetize their creations? According to a new survey the majority make their money off advertisements. The study found that 55% of app revenue now comes from ads, topping the 39% that comes from in-app purchases. When asked what types of ad spots work best, the top responses from publishers included rewarded video and interstitial video.

Play Store to Take App Crashes into Ranking Consideration (TechCrunch): Google has announced a change to their Play Store algorithms that will impact buggy apps that crash often or that drain users' batteries. As a result apps that are more stable and perform better will have an advantage in the store's rankings. The company says the change was inspired by the realization that nearly 50% of all one-star reviews referenced app stability as the reason for the poor review. While Google says it will take indicators such as crashes, battery usage, and uninstalls into consideration, it declined to give specifics about how those stars will be incorporated and considered for downranking. The updated algorithm is currently rolling out worldwide.

Google Play Services Becomes First Five Billion Download App* (Android Police): This week Google Play Services became the first Play Store app to surpass five billion downloads. However there's a big asterisk on that accomplishment as the Services app is pre-installed on Android device. In this case downloads are counted when users log into their Google account to activate the device.

Opinions and Advice:

Creating Content Built for a Mobile-First Index (Search Engine Land): Sometimes next year Google will switch to a mobile-first index for their legendary search engine. This continues a growing theme that finds marketers and publishers redesigning their content to look and load better on mobile devices. So what are the best ways to do that? In this piece Patrick Stox takes an in-depth look at creating content that will not only rank well in a mobile-first index but also make it easier for mobile users to read and consume.

How to Improve Your Mobile Site (Marketing Land): How's your site's mobile experience? That's a question that businesses, brands, and publishers should constantly be asking themselves these days as users continue to spend more time on their mobile devices. If it's time your site got a refresh and enhanced your mobile experience, Aaron Strout offers a few tips to do just that.

Campaign of the Week:

Smart NFC-Enabled Food Packaging Being Developed (CNET): When it comes to learning about the nutritional value of a food item, who wants to read a label? Well, should NFC Forum's plan catch on, you'll soon be able to read this info on your smartphone thanks to smart NFC-enabled packaging. The Forum announced that it's partnering with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association (AIPIA) to create labels that users can interact with on their mobile devices. While some companies have started including QR codes to arrive at a similar result, that option requires users to use an app to scan the code whereas NFC integration would allow them to simply accept an alert on their device. In a statement about this ambitious project, the AIPIA said the new technology and packaging would lead to "enhanced efficiency and security, reduced waste and better control in sales and marketing." Unfortunately neither NFC Forum nor the AIPIA offered a timetable on when this type of smart packaging might roll out.