The Digital Download: New algorithms, ad formats and appointments

BuzzFeed announced a plan to further monetize its social traffic, JWT saw a scandalous resignation, and Google and Instagram upped their algorithmic capabilities.

South By Southwest (SXSW) is still in full swing, with many presentations doubling as launching pads for new products, tools and formats. One significant announcement that came out of Austin was BuzzFeed’s plan to make more money off its significant social traffic with a new ad format.

Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, Facebook updated its measurement capabilities, while Google, Twitter and Instagram all announced algorithmic updates. And then in New York, JWT’s chief executive (CEO) left the agency following some controversial remarks.

BuzzFeed tests a new ad format

During a SXSW keynote, BuzzFeed unveiled a plan to further monetize its social reach. The publisher is beta testing a new ad format – Swarm – that would allow advertisers to simultaneously run campaigns on BuzzFeed’s website and app, as well as its profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat Discover, YouTube and Vine.

Swarm does pose one potential problem. Because a lot of BuzzFeed readers get content on social, the company’s website traffic isn’t indicative of its true audience, making measurement difficult. Still, BuzzFeed is such a powerhouse on social that many brands may not care.


Tech giants add to their algorithms

Like its parent company, Facebook, Instagram rolled out a new algorithm-driven feed that prioritizes the posts you’d seem to like, based on past activity. Instagram isn’t the only one; Twitter and Google amended their algorithms, as well.

Twitter was planning to make its timelines algorithmic and comparable to Facebook, though Jack Dorsey said otherwise in response to the public’s unhappiness. However, The Next Web reported that Twitter started rolling out its new timelines earlier this week, but it’s not yet universal. (Mine is still chronological.)

For Google’s part, the search giant announced an update to Mobilegeddon, as last April’s mobile-prioritizing update is known. In May, mobile-friendliness will become an even stronger ranking signal, though it’s still not the be-all and end-all, Google software engineer Klemen Kloboves wrote in a blog post Wednesday. High-quality content takes precedence over mobile-friendliness, as a ranking signal.

JWT CEO resigns amid racist remarks

Controversy has surrounded JWT for the last week, when Erin Johnson, the agency’s chief communications officer, filed a 28-page lawsuit detailing the racist, sexist and anti-semitic remarks made by CEO Gustavo Martinez. In addition, the suit described an incident in which Martinez told Johnson, in front of other colleagues, that he was going to rape her in the bathroom.

Even though Martinez denied these allegations, he resigned yesterday. Tamara Ingram, who was the chief client team officer at WPP, of which JWT is a subsidiary, has taken his place as CEO. Ironically, this incident happened on the heels  of a SXSW panel, in which senior marketers lamented the lack of diversity within agencies.


Facebook expands on Lift API

It wouldn’t be a Digital Download without some Facebook news. On Wednesday, the social media giant made two announcements, including the launch of Lift API. Building on last year’s Lift measurement tool, Lift API gives advertisers better insights into the impact of their campaigns, allowing them to create their own lift studies for conversion rates, sales and app installs.

In addition, Facebook is testing new ad reporting fields so advertisers can see which ads people are engaging with. Because people use so many devices before making purchases both on and offline, measurement is complicated. This tool, rather than relying on clicks and cookies, lets advertisers know exactly which ads people engaged with before a bottom-funnel conversion.

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