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ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for May 17, 2021

Last week, I took a real vacation. Plus, Apple, Twitter, and Clubhouse made a few big announcements, and Google denied a rumor tied to paid ads and organic search rankings. 

ICYMI: Digital marketing news update for May 17, 2021 Blog Feature

Liz Moorehead

Editor-in-Chief, Speaker, Host of 'Content Lab' Podcast

May 17th, 2021 min read

Welcome to the start of another week that is full of potential and (in my case) aggressive amounts of coffee. ☕

However, while you were busy growing your business, creating moneymaking content, and absolutely slaying your digital sales and marketing goals last week, here are the big digital marketing news stories and expert tidbits you may have missed:

  1. Today alone, I've already listened to three different podcasts. That experience may change, as Apple announced it would be offering podcast creators the ability to offer paid subscription-only access podcast content through their industry-dominating podcasting platform ... while also taking a cut for themselves.
  2. With subreddits such as r/HailCorporate, Reddit has always been an utterly tempting, yet totally terrifying little hornets' nest for marketers looking to drive traffic, leads and sales with the global social platform. Now, Reddit is helping brands with their in-house creative agency, Karma Lab, to make a good lasting impression with their volatile user base.
  3. Is it just me or is Twitter making a lot of legitimate news recently? Anyway, late last week, more information has come to light about Twitter Blue, the social platform's new paid service.
  4. For industry thought leaders on Android devices suffering from Clubhouse FOMO to get your big ideas in front of your audience, they are launching an Android app for Clubhouse in about a week.
  5. Finally, although brands leveraging Google Ads report seeing organic rankings plummet – or skyrocket following ad placement purchases, e.g., "pay to play" – the powers that be at Google say those shifts are coincidental and not related.

As for me, for the first time in the history of, well, forever, I took a vacation from work. During that time, I did a whole lot of this:

liz-goes-on-vacation

Fig. 1: If the state of Maryland had an official state activity, it would be this.

... and did absolutely squat in terms of work, checking of Slack, or any content creation. In fact, I spent the vast majority of last week being a functionally illiterate napping champion, thoroughly dedicated to the art of layered sunburning.

Which means I also have a lot to catch up on. So, let's get into it.

1. Apple to give podcast creators ability to offer paid subscriptions, with a 30% cut (via Vox)

Podcasting, when done right, can be a lucrative way to establish yourself (or your brand as a whole) as the No. 1 teacher in your specific space. I mean, it makes sense; podcasting is simply content in a listen-only format, right?

And now, Apple – basically the Godfather of making podcasts mainstream, but without the mouthpiece and, you know, all the mafia stuff – has announced it will be empowering podcast creators (and themselves) to make money from it:

“Starting next month, Apple will let podcast publishers sell subscriptions to individual shows or groups of shows, and set their own pricing, starting at 49 cents a month in the U.S.

“Apple won’t require podcasters to create Apple-only exclusive shows, but it does want them to distinguish between stuff they’re already distributing via Apple and stuff going up on other platforms: That could mean ad-free shows or shows with extra content or brand-new shows that only exist on Apple."

But podcasters and publishers won't be the only potential winners here, as Apple plans to take a 30% cut of those subscription-based earnings.

🔎 Related: How to measure podcast success with very little data

2. Reddit launches in-house agency to help brands with their picky audience (via Reddit)

Every time someone mentions Reddit in a meeting, I can't help but chime in with a warning that while the platform can be lucrative and powerful for brands, it's grossly misunderstood and you can all too easily publicly turn your brand into a punchline.

Of course, as Reddit has continued to scale its advertising business to keep the revenue a-flowin', the community-based social giant has become incentivized to help would-be brand advertisers overcome this hurdle ... which brings us to last weeks announcement, the introduction of Karma Lab:

With an offering that includes social listening and trends reports, step-by-step community management, creative workshops, bespoke 360 campaign development and more, KarmaLab is a full-service creative strategy agency delivering campaigns that resonate with and add value to Reddit users, while driving meaningful results."

🔎 Related resources:

3. We're learning more about Twitter Blue, the social network's paid service (via Digital Trends)

Although it's not available yet, details about Twitter's paid subscription service – called Twitter Blue – are starting to trickle out:

  1. There will potentially be a tiered model of subscriptions, where the more you pay, the more features you'll have access to.
  2. Even though I am personally very, very against the idea of an edit or undo tweet function, that is one of the alleged perks of Twitter Blue.
  3. Another feature is a more "clutter-free news reading experience," following Twitter's acquisition of Scroll, which provides readers a way to experience content without ads or pop-ups found on most publishing sites. I'm so curious how publishers hosting those ads for their own revenue purposes feel about this particular move, unless I'm reading too much into it.

There really isn't much more information out there, nor is anyone clear on when these potential Twitter subscription models will be rolled out to the public.

🔎 Related resources:

4. This week, Android users will finally get their own Clubhouse app (via TechCrunch)

Following a U.S.-only beta test, the Clubhouse overlords have finally announced the Android app is going worldwide later this week.

And this where I want to remind you all of my very candid take about how Clubhouse, for most of you, is still more of a distraction rather than a lucrative opportunity for your digital marketing strategy:

“You are right in that there's something there with Clubhouse. What the future holds, who knows, but I'm on board with you of it being worthy of awareness and understanding.

“And, for a certain group of people, strategic attention.

“That being said, I am also right in that digital marketers and business leaders for SMBs should have awareness of it, and also not put energy or strategic focus toward it at this point in time." 

🔎 Related: Twitter tried to buy Clubhouse, but who really freaking cares?

5. Finally, Google weighs in on plummeting  –and/or skyrocketing – SERP placement with ad buys (via SEJ)

Whenever someone claims one of the following:

  1. “We bought Google Ads, and now the content we were organically ranking in the top 10 for has completely vanished from SERPs!"
  2. “We bought Google ads, and now we're seeing our content rank better organically than ever before, meaning pay-to-play is a thing with Google!"

Part of me has always wanted to reply with, "OK, I need you to potentially reschedule that tinfoil hat-making class of yours and back up your claims with some data." Another part of me, however, has always wondered if there was some truth nested snuggly within those claims.

Thankfully, Google's John Mueller has provided insight into this paid media mystery, when he recently addressed someone seeing their organic traffic crater around certain keywords after they bought Google Ads around them:

“So that’s something where these systems are completely separate on our side. The ranking within the ads, the ranking within search are completely separate systems and there’s essentially no real connection there ... the ranking change that you … saw there seems like something that would be totally unrelated to the ads.

🔎 Related resources:

Every Monday, you can expect this little weekly dose of digital marketing news. If you have any tips or stories you think we should know about, hit me up at lmoorehead@impactplus.com.

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