Time spent on content is what matters to TikTok: Friday’s Daily Brief
MarTech’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s digital marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.
Good morning, Marketers, and are you ready for embracing change as the new constant?
The most recent example of this principle is the way live events are changing. I don’t mean the neat interactive displays that technology can bring to augment your experience as you hop from booth to booth. I mean the viability of live events as the pandemic drags on.
Take the Tokyo Olympics, for example. They are kicking off their opening ceremony today and we still don’t know how they will look, or even which athletes will be competing in them as more and more drop out due to health protocols.
Some daredevil planners might have found it worth the risk to plan a live event this year, but so many marketers have now pivoted and evolved the virtual event experience that waiting and seeing now appears to be the safe bet.
Get your business goals in order first before selecting a tech vendor
Choosing the right vendor and technology for your marketing initiatives is one of the most critical decisions you can make in the early stages. The wrong choice won’t necessarily doom a project, but it can make success much more difficult to achieve.
In the end, selecting technology better means selecting better-fitting technology.
You’re going somewhere with this new marketing technology. Where? You’d be surprised how many times an enterprise can’t answer that question. Instead, project leaders tend to articulate goals like, “We need to replace our outdated marketing automation platform.”
Okay — that’s probably true. But what are you actually trying to accomplish from a business perspective? Do you want to empower more people internally to send messages to speed your processes and broaden your reach? Integrate omnichannel analytics to create better engagement with your existing customer base? Save money by escaping from an overly expensive solution? Those are different goals that could take you to different vendors.
Every selection process will confront you with potentially difficult trade-offs. Clearly articulated business goals provide a consistent touchstone throughout so you can make the right decisions along the way. Business goals as selection criteria also protect you when big martech vendors start bullying your executives.
Some pandemic-driven changes aren’t going away
In his recent appearance on Ryan Alford’s The Radcast, MarTech Editorial Director Kim Davis was asked to identify some pandemic-driven changes in the industry that are here to stay. Certainly the digital consumer, now shopping for fresh groceries as well as non-perishables, will be with us going forwards, he said, and the massive digital transformation in traditional B2B spaces like manufacturing and construction is unlikely to be reversed.
What about virtual events? Because of their comparatively low cost and huge reach, they will stick around — even though many people value the in-person experience. But when is that coming back? Truthfully, based on current data, the spring season of conferences may soon be in doubt.
Let us know how you feel about the prospect of in-person events by completing our 3 minute Event Participation survey.
WordPress 5.8 “Tatum” released
WordPress released the new 5.8 version of its CMS, affectionately naming it “Tatum” after a favorite jazz pianist, Art Tatum.
The biggest design breakthrough available on this version is probably “block Widgets,” the capability to insert widgets into your content like any other element in WordPress’s block-based scheme. Accessed within blocks, there is now a Block Widgets Editor to manage widgets, as well as a Customizer. The CMS is getting more open to collaboration and improvisation, important elements in both jazz and digital content alike. Note that if Widgets are your thing but you don’t want them getting blocky, you can opt out of the block-based editor.
Additional editing features. With the new Query Loop Block, content makers can display posts from a specific category, in the way that they have been able to use Latest Post blocks in previous versions.
Version 5.8 also makes it possible to edit templates by activating a block theme. There are currently more than 20 new blocks available within these compatible themes.
Improved workflow. In order to have easy command of complex page and content layouts, the List View now provides an overview of all blocks and allows users to jump between layers of content and nested blocks.
Debuting in this new version is the Pattern Transformation tool. When you’re working with a block, the new tool will suggest a pattern of other blocks that align with a certain style to give layout more direction. Users can also add color to image and cover blocks, as well as videos within a cover block, with a new duotone filter. It’s similar to a black and white duotone effect but colorized.
APIs. Control the editor settings and customizable tools and style blocks with Global Styles and Global Settings APIs. There’s a theme.json file in the active theme, and this allows developers to enable or disable features for both the website and blocks. Here’s the developers note on that.
Why we care. This WordPress update attempts to balance complexity of design with better navigation and customization, thanks to the List View function, and the configuration file for developers.
Yet, with WordPress dominating the CMS space with 65% market share, companies are going back to the drawing board and searching out new headless and hybrid CMSs. So much of a brand’s identity and customer engagement centers around its digital presence and content creation. It’s worth the time for marketers to take a hard look at if their specific content needs are being served with their current vendor. This, in part, explains why WordPress is getting more open in this version by collaborating with developers.
Answer our survey on attending or exhibiting at in-person events
Pre-pandemic life is starting to return. Travel is up. Masks are coming off. And indoor dining is an option once more. At least, that’s how it seemed a few weeks ago. Recent news about the spread of variants and the slowing vaccination rate has some medical authorities and local governments thinking again.
Nevertheless, we’re seeing conferences and trade shows schedule in-person events for this summer and fall, and of course for next spring. Indeed, the last edition of our Events Participation Index showed that many marketers were ready to hit the conference hall floor as early as the third quarter of 2021.
But a sizable number of marketers still seemed luke-warm to the idea of business travel, which is why we are once again asking marketers to share their sentiments on returning to in-person events.
We will publish the results in the coming weeks on MarTech.
TikTok’s algorithm: Great for advertisers but weird if you zoom out
“A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you.”
That’s the summary of this 13-minute video on WSJ that digs into just how TikTok’s algorithm figures out its users’ interests and then takes them down very niche rabbit holes of content. The publisher created over 100x bot accounts and assigned them specific interests and then had them watch over 100k videos on the social media app.
TikTok says “shares, likes, follows, and what you watch all play a role in what TikTok shows you.” But the WSJ found that TikTok actually only needs one metric to target users so specifically: how long you linger over a piece of content. “Through this one powerful signal, TikTok learns your most hidden interests and emotions.”
This video highlights the debate we’ve been seeing play out on multiple channels. When search marketers have access or targeting based on this very specific data, it also means we can customize our advertising to those very niche audiences. If you love pets and TikTok figures out that you love French bulldogs in particular, advertisers can use that to make distinct ads to serve that particular audience.
But audiences may not realize that lingering on specific types of TikTok videos gives both the social media company and potentially advertisers that information — which as the video proves, can be very personal.
It’s the classic paid advertising conundrum: audiences want targeted advertising, but they’re afraid of giving up their personal data to get it.
Quote of the day
“You don’t create your personal brand, you are your personal brand.” Gabriela Cardoza, corporate and personal brand consultant
About The Author
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.