Sourdough, Tigers, and Chess, Oh My! The 2020 Trends We didn’t Expect

Read Time: 3 Minutes 30 Seconds

We can all agree that 2020 has been a year like none other before. Much like in the Wizard of Oz, we’ve been swept up into an unforeseen tornado, and have found ourselves housebound for the majority of the year. It’s definitely one for the history books, and the yearly search trend data undoubtedly echoes this. With Google releasing their report on top Consumer Trends for 2020, we couldn’t help but pick out some of our favourites from this year. Here’s a round-up of the top unpredictable and wacky trends we saw throughout the year.

Joe Exotic wasn’t the only one with a bad haircut in 2020…

In April 2020, Netflix released “Tiger King”, a documentary series following the notorious and eccentric character, Joe Exotic, and his family of tigers. The world went mad with Tiger King being one of Netflix’s biggest hits of all time. The show reached its peak, with over 34 million viewers, on March 29th – just two weeks after the UK was put into a nation-wide lockdown. 

Around this time, Google also saw a 1000% uplift in Google searches on “how to cut your hair at home”, though one would hope this was just for a trim and not to emulate the infamous bleach blonde mullet…

Sourdough & Banana Bread Craze leads to flour shortage 

As a nation, our love for a biscuit, scone or slice of Victoria sponge is unparalleled, and in April, a serious flour shortage in the UK showed us that there really is no place like homemade’. 

The National Association of British & Irish Millers (NABIM) put this national shortage down to a sudden increase in baking, with Google trends showing cinematic parallels between the flour shortage and user searches for Sourdough and “banana bread”. The NABIM claimed the industry was ‘working round the clock’, milling flour 24 hours a day, seven days a week to double their flour production – and still they struggled to meet demand. 

This was however short-lived, and as production stabilised over time, vigorous home baking ensued. Did you really do lockdown if you didn’t make a crusty sourdough loaf? Whilst Instagram may have seen the last of banana bread, baking has remained a popular activity for the Incubeta family throughout 2020, with many fabulous creations making our mouths water.

Zoom quizzes are cool, but playing Chess is cooler. 

Just when we thought Netflix was done with producing viral content this year, the Queen’s Gambit arrived, with statistics leaving Tiger King’s popularity status crushed like the flour in our sourdough. 

The Queen’s Gambit has been named as the ‘biggest limited scripted Netflix production to datewith 62 million households streaming the series in its first 28 days. The show was a global phenomenon and is currently ranked at No. 1 in over 60 countries. 

With a year that has championed technological advances, sometimes it’s good to get back to basics. The series’ ability to make chess, a 1500-year-old game, feel dramatic has led to a 9 year peak on the search term ‘how to play chess’ (Google Trends). eBay has also revealed that the website saw a 273% surge in searches for chess sets over the first 10 days of the show being released on Netflix. Who knew chess could be sexy?

A Spotlight on 2021.

It goes without saying that 2020 was a year rife with uncertainty – a feat which will only burgeon as we enter the new year. 2021 is poised to be somewhat of a ‘wild card’, as trends borne directly out of 2020 will cause major waves throughout the marketing industry in the coming months. Whilst we’ve undoubtedly enjoyed the weirder of the trends – blonde mullets, banana bread and home waxing – they merely caused ripples in comparison to the big players, and the obsession with Tiger King and home-baking are hardly disruptive to the marketing industry. 

2021 will be the year of digital acceleration, and digital trends that support that acceleration. Whilst ‘how much is a pet tiger’ may have dominated the Google search box last year, developments in Big Tech, Privacy, Cookies, Performance Metrics, Event Transformation and Social Entertainment will be taking the top spot in 2021. And advertisers need to be keeping these on their radar as we enter another uncertain and potentially ground-breaking year. 

The Future of Facebook: What the (possible) Loss of Instagram could mean for the Social Media Giant.

Read Time: 5 Minutes

On Wednesday 9th December, Facebook became the second tech giant this year to face a major legal challenge after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed two lawsuits against the social media company, saying it used a “buy or bury” strategy to obtain rivals, whilst keeping smaller competitors at bay. These legal challenges follow the well-publicised events in October, when the DOJ sued Alphabet Inc’s Google – accusing the tech giant of using its market power to fend off rivals.

The complaints focused specifically on Facebook’s previous acquisition of Instagram (for $1 billion) in 2012 and WhatsApp (for $19 billion) in 2014, and is the most significant legal action the US government has ever taken against the firm. Alongside accusing Facebook of abusing its dominance in the digital marketplace, the lawsuits are seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that could require the company to divest their assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp. So what will this mean for Facebook? Will they be knocked off their previously impenetrable pedestal? 

What Will Happen if Facebook Sells Instagram.

Whilst Facebook’s dominance in the social media space is unparalleled, the loss of Instagram and WhatsApp will undoubtedly render Facebook at a disadvantage, and we’ll likely see the once ‘go-to’ platform become a much less appealing channel to advertise on. Being forced to sell the platforms (and subsequently losing the valuable insights they provide) means Facebook will no longer have access to crucial reporting data on user journeys and ad performance, which – alongside not having access to Instagram’s user activity – means they’ll have lower quality data to build out their audience. 

With Facebook possessing a traditionally ‘older’ user demographic, a lot of younger users have moved away from Facebook towards Instagram, a feat that could end up being detrimental to Facebook if they lose that share of audience. Young users are among the most valuable new customers for many businesses, and Facebook currently has an excellent infrastructure in the Business Manager that pulls across this ‘younger’ user data from Instagram – a structure they would struggle to replace if they do end up having to sell Instagram. 

We’ve highlighted some of the main issues Facebook might face if they end up divesting their assets, and losing their current Business Manager Structure. These issues are centred around; Data, Reporting, Time, Demographics, First Party Data, Online Conversions and User Journey.

Data.

As it stands, one way Facebook gathers data is through user interactions with content on site, ultimately speaking, the less they control, the less data points they have. With the loss of Instagram, Facebook will no longer be able to see specific user activity around specific topics, limiting their ability to put consumers in market categories. Facebook won’t be the only ones to struggle with data retention. If the social media giant is forced to divest their assets, then Instagram and WhatsApp will lose their access to Facebook pixel, meaning they’ll lose visibility of what their users are doing outside of their Social Media platform.

Reporting.

Facebook tracks on a user basis, rather than a cookie strategy, which gives them an unparalleled view on cross-device platform performance. The success of this is down to most users being logged into Facebook or Instagram across various devices. If Facebook no longer owns Instagram – and consequently loses insight into all users that are only logged into Instagram – their attribution and audience building becomes much more complex.

Time.

Ultimately speaking, having different social media platforms running on one Business Manager account adds a lot of value to one’s strategy. Selling Instagram would mean Facebook also loses their current Business Manager Structure, and advertisers would have to start operating separate set up processes – that add a barrier to entry – whilst implementing everything twice on two platforms, costing advertisers valuable time. There are various platforms out there that advertisers might want to target, as they have strong audiences, however, setting up accounts legally and getting pixels set up on site can be a big blocker for advertisers.  Ultimately, some may feel it’s not worth the time and effort and stop with Instagram altogether. 

Demographics.

Facebook has a declining and ageing user base, whereas Instagram has a considerably younger and ‘more active’ audience who are engaging and interacting with content, whilst looking for new things, trends and inspiration. If they are forced to sell Instagram, Facebook’s attractability as an advertising space will plummet due to their diminished access to Instagram’s user data. 

First Party Data & Offline Conversions.

A benefit of Facebook’s maturity is it’s successful integration with third party companies. First party data lists and offline sales data can easily be uploaded into the platform, converted and then matched to existing datasets – this is particularly effective with identifiers such as email addresses and phone numbers.  However, with a substantial proportion of the younger demographic deleting social media platforms such as Facebook (due to reports and documentaries), losing access to Instagram/WhatsApp’s first party data lists could be detrimental to Facebook’s targeting and attribution methods. Only having access to data from one platform means that they are likely to have a lower match rate, and the customer can’t be targeted or attributed.

Should We Be Worried?

Overall Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will struggle if Facebook is broken up, as they’ll lose all their cross-platform synergies. Whilst they’re the ones facing the charges, Facebook would ultimately be in the strongest position post break-up as they have Business Manager, which is an invaluable offering for any Social Media platform.

That being said, if Facebook’s previous lawsuit regarding the Cambridge Analytica Scandal is anything to go by, it is unlikely that we’ll see loss of Facebook’s assets. Back in 2018 Facebook was sued for failing to protect users’ personal information as 87 million people’s data was used for advertising during the elections. Despite the severity of the allegations Facebook was let off with an apology and a £500,000 fine. Whilst the lawsuit will likely span across a number of years, with the authority and budget Facebook currently has, the industry is anticipating that we’ll only see a hefty fine and settlement agreement for the social media giant.

Incubeta invites you to Seamless Search; Ask Us Anything

Read Time: 1 Minute

Despite being arguably one of the most challenging years to launch a new product, our proprietary technology, Seamless Search has got off to a flying start in 2020. Our brand new software, is the first search management platform of its kind, enabling marketers to manage their paid and organic search holistically.  With 2 award wins and a jam-packed waiting list, we’re excited to show you what’s next for Seamless Search in 2021. 

Following our launch event, we’ve had a range of questions and queries about the capabilities of our software, and are therefore thrilled to invite you to Seamless Search; Ask Us Anything” as we aim to answer those burning questions. Join us on Tuesday 19th January 2021 16.30pm GMT.

We’ll be running through the FAQ’s about our new proprietary technology, and expanding on the methods by which brands can use Seamless Search to achieve the best results possible for their business. Register today to secure your spot.

To learn more about our Seamless Search Software, check out our website, seamlesspro.io.

Incubeta Ignite – The Next Steps in Search

Read Time: 5 Minutes 30 Seconds

November started with somewhat of an SEO shakeup, as Google announced that, as of May 2021, Page Experience Signals would be included within the Search ranking process. If a site performs poorly or doesn’t comply with the new algorithm, then you can almost certainly expect to see some sort of downturn in Organic Google performance. The question that needs asking is, what does that mean for your Google Ranking and SEO strategy? 

We asked just that to Incubeta’s UK Director of Search Experience, Joe Comotto, & ZA SEO Analyst, Bridget Hoepner, who were joined by Binary Bear’s Founder & CEO Joe Doveton to discuss all things search.

As explored within our piece last month (Google’s New Search Criteria), Google’s new algorithm update will focus specifically on the amalgamation of numerous metrics and pre-existing search signals – such as mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security & page load speed – with Google Core Web Vitals. This amalgamation will be rolled out in May 2021, under the title of Page Experience signals and will measure how a user will perceive the experience of a specific web page. Have a read of the full blog here.

During their discussion Joe, Bridget and Joe focused on six key topics: SEO & UX, Core Web Vitals, Building and Adapting Sites, Third Party Platforms & Affiliates, Cross Sector Impact and Further Google Updates.

SEO and UX

As Joe Doveton highlights – historically speaking, SEO and UX often operate in silos – with both seen as separate disciplines in their own right. Whilst many digital marketers might not implement cross team collaborations across both channels at this time, Google’s new update will undoubtedly encourage advertisers to change this somewhat dated approach – breaking down barriers to combine SEO and UX in a harmonious manner within their marketing strategy. 

Google’s algorithm update adds weight to the age-old argument of customer centricity, and will encourage advertisers to put users at the centre of their strategy. Advertisers will likely push organic optimisation as high priority through the holistic implementation of SEO and UX in a seamless approach. 

Core Web Vitals

Despite Core Web Vitals sounding fairly complicated, it ultimately means the metrics by which businesses can measure the quality of their site’s user experience using three specific core vitals; load time, interactivity and visual stability. 

Joe Comotto went on to detail these specific core vitals. Load time, or Largest Contentful Paint is the measurement of perceived load speed – marking the specific point in the page load timeline when the main content of the page has downloaded and is ready to interact with. Interactivity, or First Input Delay is the measurement of responsiveness or interactivity of the user. This measurement is only triggered by clicks or taps – not scrolls or zooms. Visual Stability, or Cumulative Layout Shift measures stability, quantifying the amount of unexpected layout shifts in page content visible to the user.

Bridget furthered the discussion, highlighting how advertisers can use a number of different tools to help measure their performance within these metrics. Such as; Lighthouse, Page Speed Insights, Core Vital Report within Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

Building & Adapting

Whilst certain previous Google algorithm updates have targeted certain sectors of search, the page experience update isn’t focusing on a specific sector per say – it’s targeting all websites with a definitive focus on usability. Bridget expanded on this topic, discussing how there are certain types of websites that will have to pay close attention to the new update; such as publishers who rely on top news stories as a primary drive of traffic. 

For existing brands, it’s important to remember that, whilst metrics are helpful in the management and monitoring of performance, they need to be considering users at the heart of their strategy – what exactly are they trying to achieve on your website, and how can you streamline that experience?  For new brands, we could potentially say they have the upper hand when it comes to this specific ranking signal – fixing what already exists is often more challenging than starting afresh.

Whether old or new, brands who are using seamless platforms should be inquiring about upcoming releases and improvements, specifically identifying if they are focusing on Core Web Vitals. And , if so, how are the platforms you’re using actually responding to these metrics and page experience signals.

Third Party Platforms

As Joe Doveton mentioned, the most important thing to consider, whether building or adapting your website, is that the developer brought in to assist is both up to date and aware of these upcoming algorithm updates. You should be asking questions such as; who’s doing the hosting, what CDN is being implemented and how can my site be optimised to respond to Core Web Vitals. 

Bridget expanded on this, discussing how, in the run up to May, brands should be identifying what their main core objectives are for their users – translating this to their third party platforms (be it plugins or widgets) to optimise the functionality and interactivity of their site.

Cross Sector Impact

It is highly likely that we’ll see varying degrees of impact across the industry, with certain sectors reacting more to the algorithm update than others. This variation will be heavily influenced by the competitive set in which brands sit. Joe Comotto elaborated on this, explaining that – if your sector has invested heavily in site performance and UX, then you’ll see less impact of the update, compared to sectors that haven’t invested in page and site experience. It will also be dependent on one’s competitors and how one’s peer set is performing in that space. If your direct competitors haven’t invested in site performance and page experience then there’s a real opportunity to succeed. 

Over the next six months, benchmarking against competitors will be a huge asset to brands, helping to contextualise their situation and optimise their SEO and UX strategy.

Further Google Updates

The question that many are asking is whether Google’s Page Experience updates will have an impact on further updates launched by the search engine – such as the recent core algorithm update Google announced last week. Primarily speaking, we’re unlikely to see a change in ‘impact’ for these further Google updates. Aside from Google’s Page Experience update, the majority of new/further core algorithm updates aren’t major updates – more an optimisation or ‘cleaning’ of the existing algorithm. 

Unanimously so, Joe, Bridget and Joe all emphasised that Google’s Page Experience update and Core Algorithm update are two separate ‘sides of the coin’ so to speak. Each valid in their own right – neither necessarily impacting the other.

Analysing your site user experience is more important now than ever before, and for the remainder of the holiday season we are offering a free personalised Core Web Vitals Dashboard to our readers. Get in touch with Sophie Dixon today to claim your free audit ([email protected]).

For more information on what page experience signals will mean for your business have a read of our blog on Google’s New Search Criteria, or watch the full discussion on The Next Steps in Search.

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

Selling Love at Christmas – INCUBETA X Lovehoney

Read Time: 2 Minutes 45 Seconds

The festive season is undoubtedly synonymous with love,  joy and togetherness – themes that irrefutably recur every year within Christmas campaigns across the marketing industry.

Whilst it’s a staple of many retailers to ‘sell love’ within their Christmas campaigns, how do you sell love at Christmas, when your brand bestseller might not necessarily be at the top of a typical stocking filler list? We asked just this to Christina Weaver, Senior Affiliate Marketing Executive at online adult retailer Lovehoney

Lovehoney is an online Global retailer that specialises in selling sex toys, lingerie and erotic gifts. The brand was first  launched in 2002 by colleagues and friends Neal Slateford and Richard Longhurst, who wanted to challenge societies view on sex toys as pornographic – setting out to create a more accessible, inclusive and approachable way to buy lingerie and erotic products on the internet.  Their tagline is ‘the sexual happiness people’ and they are the UK’s biggest online adult retailer. Lovehoney has been a client of NMPi by Incubeta since July 2019 providing services in CSS, Display and Creative.

Overcoming Sexual Stigma.

One of the main challenges Lovehoney faces is striking the right balance in order to make their vast range of consumers happy.  Sexuality covers a huge spectrum, and as a brand they have to  navigate topics such as sexual stigma whilst making their products accessible to a spectrum of sexualities and genders. One of the main ways Lovehoney approaches this is via a ‘tactful strategy’. The brand avoids using gender specific terms – choosing to describe their products relating to body parts rather than gender pronouns. They also strive to be inclusive, and are the proud retail leaders in ‘Bedroom Plus-Size Lingerie’ – creating designs specifically for plus sized people, rather than upsizing the smaller designs. Lovehoney also works with a number of sexperts and influencers to overcome sexual stigmatisation and share the sexual happiness message across a wide range of audiences and to connect with consumers.

Navigating Restrictions.

As a brand that specialises in selling sex toys and erotic gifts it can be difficult to navigate the restrictions associated with the advertisement of such products on the internet. The primary step that Lovehoney takes – to safeguard internet users – is by age-gating every piece of external marketing collateral; such as display ads and social media content, at 18 years. Secondly, the brand avoids using certain more realistic ‘adult products’ in their mainstream media, to ensure they’re not re-targeting consumers with ads displaying potentially inappropriate or phallic content. Instead, Lovehoney chooses to focus on lingerie, branding or key event themes in their mainstream content. Using interactive ads such as gift guides, and top buys to incorporate the more x-rated products, such as vibrators and dildos within their advertising. 

Selling Love.

So how exactly does Lovehoney sell love at Christmas, when vibrators aren’t necessarily at the top of a ‘typical’ stocking filler list? Primarily through strong education and PR across the sector. The brand utilises content, such as their podcasts and YouTube channel to promote their branding and ‘sexual happiness’ messaging throughout the market. Whilst they see a natural influx of couples purchasing gifts in the lead up to Christmas, Lovehoney ensures their content is relatable to both individuals in partnerships and singletons, using catch phrases such as ‘self-gifting’ and ‘everyone deserves sexual happiness’. 

For more information on how NMPi by Incubeta has partnered with Lovehoney, have a read of our latest case study ‘Promoting Self-Love for Lovehoney’ or click here to watch the full interview. 

This blog was originally posted on Incubeta.

Bubbles and Baubles – The Reality of a Covid Christmas

Read Time: 4 Minutes 30 Seconds

The nights are drawing in, Michael Bublé is on the radio and the Red Cups are back in Starbucks – it can only mean one thing – Christmas is upon us. Around the country people are putting up their trees, baking gingerbread and watching Love Actually on repeat – but whilst some habits die hard, others might have to take a back seat this festive season.

The term Covid Christmas has been circulating throughout the media this Golden Quarter, but few are sure of what it really means. With Covid restrictions still in place, will it still be the most wonderful time of the year for the UK’s merry-goers? We spoke to our team over at Incubeta UK to see how atmospheres in the office have changed in the lead up to Christmas, and what the company has done to ensure that employee spirits are lifted and mental wellbeing is at the heart of the company this December. 

Creating a Culture of Wellbeing – Callum & Leo, Mental Health & Wellbeing Committee

2020 has been a year of challenges, and as members of the Mental Wellbeing Committee we understand that the topic of mental health comes with a stigma. The role we play is to break that stigma down, opening up conversations that get people talking and thinking about their own mental wellbeing. One of our main goals is to be as approachable as possible to every member of staff at Incubeta, which has been a real challenge whilst working from home. To create and maintain a culture of wellbeing throughout the pandemic we put a number of initiatives in place to support and open up topics surrounding mental health.

From weekly drop-in sessions with Mental Health First Aid trained team members, to internal webinars with experts in the field of wellbeing, this year has been about both educating and,  more importantly, about being there for each and every staff member at Incubeta. To combat the negative connotations associated with a ‘Covid Christmas’ we started the process of putting together a ‘Self-reflection Checklist’: encouraging people to check in with themselves and to  empower staff to reach out if they do need support.

Moving forward, it’s vital for us as a committee to know that we’re being supported by senior stakeholders here at Incubeta. Our UK CEO, Luke Judge and the leadership team have been prominent ambassadors for us, as well as a number of other members within our organisation. As we get closer to Christmas, we’ll be revealing how mental wellbeing is being adopted in both Incubeta’s corporate policy, and in the support that is available to us.

Looking towards next year we know that there is always more we can do as a committee and as people in general. We aim to become even more approachable as we step into 2021 and hope to keep raising awareness for Mental Health and breaking down the stigma that comes with it.

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly’ – Daniel, Social Committee

The festive season is usually the busiest time of year for the Social Committee and that’s no different this year even though the celebrations are going to have a very different feel to what we’re all used to! Although the traditional Christmas party will have to be put on ice for this year, we are still hard at work planning a virtual celebration with the usual speeches, awards and entertainment and ensuring that all employees will receive some delicious Christmas goodies delivered to their door. Throw in this year’s postal-only version of Secret Santa and Incubeta advent calendars and we can safely say that we’ve done our best to keep the season of good cheer intact in spite of the Covid gloom! 

Conjuring the Christmas Spirit – Catriona, People & Culture Committee 

It’s definitely strange not to be in the office during our busiest time of the year – how do you sustain employee morale and conjure the Christmas spirit when everyone is working from home? As a member of the People and Culture committee we were keen to capture that warm and fuzzy Christmas feel, despite living in a new and somewhat strange virtual world. To ensure employee spirits weren’t dampened by the prospect of a Covid Christmas (and to achieve that end of the year feeling) we ‘conjured the Christmas spirit’ via food, music and competition!

Snacks are a big part of the festive season, especially on Black Friday – food that feeds the body and nourishes the soul. Despite the national lockdown, we didn’t want this year to be any different, so we sent delicious ‘Nummy’ donuts and a free lunch to everyone’s door! We also hijacked the Incubeta Spotify playlist to make it full of merriment. Just because we aren’t physically together doesn’t mean we rejoice in song together!

To channel team togetherness, we went global on our first company-wide competition – a journey to Lapland. We challenged all team members to collectively walk or run the 2623 km distance between the North Pole and Santa’s Lapland getaway in order to raise money for Unicef. Getting away from one’s desk and breathing in some fresh air is so important for mental and physical health. The team has been encouraged to post photos of their outings, with a prize to be won for the ‘best festive outfit worn while on your walk or run’. 

ASO Optimisation

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds

According to Apple, 65% of all App downloads are generated through app store searches by users searching for a specific keyword. Research provided by AppTweak shows that 38% of these downloads came from a generic keyword and that the division between brand and generic keywords varied drastically between brands.

A famous brand such as Uber would receive as much as 80% of its downloads through its brand term. Whereas a less well known brand could receive almost 75% of its downloads from generic keywords.

So how do I optimise for the App Store?

App Store Optimisation (ASO) is similar to traditional SEO, where certain techniques are used to get your website to the top of the Search Engine

Whilst there are similarities to traditional SEO, ASO is a completely separate discipline with its own unique set of algorithms

Much like the Search Engine algorithms, the true algorithm for ranking in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store are not actually known, and can change regularly.

However, there are certain criteria that we do know that will help influence the ranking of your App:

Primary

  • Title, Keywords & Description
  • Total number of downloads & velocity
  • Conversion Rate

Secondary

  • Quality Reviews
  • App Retention (Uninstalls)
  • Backlinks (Google Only)
  • Quality Imagery/Screenshots
  • Including an App Preview Video
  • Category Selection
  • Icon Design
  • Periodic testing

Google Play Vs Apple IOS App Store

The mobile app store market is dominated by two major players: Apple and Google.

Similar to SEO, Google Play Store works more like a real search engine, with  its algorithm often providing more precise results, whereas, the Apple iOS App Store is driven more by phrases.

Various factors are taken into account by both these algorithms with a number of similarities and differences:

App Name

The App title is a strong ranking signal in both Apple and Google stores therefore brands should always include the most important keywords in their app title.

However the actual app title serves a very different purpose within each store. In Google Play search results, only the app icon and app title show, therefore the title needs to explain to users what the app is actually about. However in the Apple App store this is less important, as advertisers are also allowed a subtitle, screenshots or video in the search results which help convey to the user what the app is about. 

In terms of character limit, the Apple App Store has a standard limit of 30 characters, and a limit of 50 characters for Android apps. The character limit for a Google Play description is 4000 characters. Unlike the App Store, Google stores use keywords in the app description as a ranking factor.

Subtitle (iOS) Short Description (Android)

Similar to the title, the subtitle and short description play a significant role in app ranking visibility. Both Apple and Google use keywords in the subtitle to index the app – repeating a keyword in the app title and short description might improve one’s chances of ranking  in the Google Play Store as keyword density is an important ranking factor. In the Apple App Store, repeating keywords is a waste of valuable space, as it will not help one rank higher.

The subtitle for Apple and the short description for Google are displayed in very different locations. iOS the subtitle appears under the app title in the search results, below the screenshots on the app page. Whereas, in Android, the short description doesn’t normally appear in the search results, but is featured in the app listing – below the screenshot above the long description. The subtitle ultimately serves a different purpose in the conversion optimisation

iOS Keyword  Field

Apple has a similar attribute to the  Meta Keywords used in old SEO strategies,  – 100 character limit, invisible to the user but offers an option to add relevant keywords that describe one’s app. Google Play does not provide this attribute, using keywords solely from the subtitle and long description

Long Description

The long description is used to convey the Apps main features and benefits. The long description is not a ranking factor in the App Store, and for the Google Play store, the recommendation is to maintain a keyword density of 2-3% for the most important keywords.

Screenshots

The Apple Store can feature up to 10 screenshots whereas Google Play is limited to 8. In the Apple App Store the first 3 screenshots are normally displayed , however on the Google play store, screenshots are hidden in the app listing

In comparison to Google Play, screenshots have a much more important role in the Apple App Store in terms of Conversion Rate.

App Previews (iOS) vs Promo Videos (Android)

You can add up to a maximum of 3 App Preview videos in either portrait or landscape mode for Apple with the first video appearing in the search results alongside the first 2 screenshots. The remaining two videos will show on the app page page before the screenshots.

Apple guidelines stipulate that the videos should be short and to the point, showing the user’s journey through the app. App previews play a significant role in conversion optimisation for the Apple Store and testing different creatives is a great way to improve downloads.

In comparison, Google leverages its relationship with YouTube here with all videos required to be in the landscape format, YouTube’s default. Google refers to the videos as ‘Promo Videos’ and allows just one video per App. However, Google allows for a lot more freedom and creativity here, allowing users to showcase their Apps more freely than you can on the App Store.

Backlinks

Unsurprisingly, Google takes into consideration the number of backlinks to your app webpage. This helps Google determine the authority of your app, much in the same way it does for traditional SEO. More backlinks will indicate more authority, which will in turn mean Google trusts and rates your app.

Digital PR promotion can help improve the number of backlinks to your webpage.

Apple does not factor Backlinks into its Algorithm.

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

The Kings of Christmas Advertising

Read Time: 5 Minutes

‘Tis the season to be jolly’, and by that we mean the season to spend copious amounts of time (and tears) on YouTube, watching the best UK Christmas Ads the industry has to offer. 

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the barrage of Oscar-worthy advertisements, and whilst every year we see huge anticipation ahead of the festive campaign season, the pressure was definitely increased this year as retailers scrambled to release a video that would hit just the right tone amid the global pandemic.

Whilst some adverts resulted in backlash, others reduced viewers to tears. And to separate the sheep from the goats we thought we’d catch up with the Incubeta UK team to rank this year’s top 10 Christmas Ads. 

Here are our favourite ads, ranked from best to worst (in our professional opinion).

1) Amazon: The Show Must Go On

Amazon definitely pulled at the heartstrings with this one as the campaign follows the story of a young ballet dancer whose performance was cancelled due to Covid-19. Starring ballet dancer Tais Vinolo, Amazon’s ad was favourite across the board as it channelled messages of family, community and personal identity (with a classic hint at young love). 93/100 

2) Nimbus: John Lewis 2020 Christmas Advert Alternative by NimbusBeds

Somewhat of a dark horse in the 2020 haul of Christmas ads but a winner nonetheless. Nimbus, the rather unknown mattress company, gave us all the festive feels with their heart-warming story of an old man who finds companionship in the form of a dog. Nimbus said the advert was made to highlight the plight of loneliness felt by the elderly at Christmas, and was inspired by previous John Lewis Christmas Adverts to promote the message of love and togetherness. 

Whilst the content alone is enough to make one reach for the tissues, the marketing department deserves a round of applause for their ingenious SEO efforts – choosing to include ‘John Lewis 2020 Christmas Advert’ in the title. With the John Lewis ad averaging around 10 million views last year, Nimbus used this simple trick to propel themselves to the top of the results page, generating 263 thousand views – not bad for a brand with only 194 subscribers. 84/100

3) Disney: From Our Family to Yours

Disney’s ‘From our Family to Yours’ ad, is another one that’ll have you reaching for the tissues. The three minute animation tells the heartwarming story of a grandmother, her granddaughter and the family traditions that connect them through the years. Inspired by themes of nostalgia, cultural traditions and family, Disney’s Christmas ad is both touching and sentimental and marks their 40-year partnership with Make-A-Wish. 83/100

4) John Lewis: Give A Little Love

John Lewis did not disappoint this year, with their wonderfully appropriate ‘Give a Little Love’ Christmas campaign. Partnering with Waitrose, John Lewis’s 2020 advert demonstrated themes of kindness and charity throughout, comprising nine different vignettes and styles of animation, that were accompanied with a drive to raise £4 million for Fareshare and Homestart. Not only does the campaign pull at heartstrings , but it also supported the UK’s creative industries, through the various art forms that were used within the advert. 81/100

5) Sainsbury: The Gravy Song

Up there as one of the most wholesome and heart-warming ads, Sainsbury’s ‘The Gravy Song’ does more than pull on one’s heartstrings. Centred around a phone call between a father and daughter who are discussing plans for Christmas, the ad acknowledges the fact that so many families will be separated due to the coronavirus crisis, in a sensitive and heartfelt manner. The ‘Gravy Boat’ song has definitely been added to our 2020 Christmas Spotify playlist! 81/100

6) Coca-Cola: The Letter.

Despite Coca-Cola fans across the country expressing their sorrow that the 2020 Coca?Cola Christmas Truck Tour was cancelled, the brand more than made up for it with this year’s Christmas advert. Coca-Cola’s campaign ‘The Letter’ follows the mission of a devoted dad to deliver his daughter’s letter to Father Christmas, and make her Christmas wish come true. The ad highlights that the magic of Christmas lies in personal connections and family – showing that time is the most precious gift of all. No dry eyes in the house. 77/100

7) McDonalds: Inner Child #reindeerready

The McDonald’s Christmas advert is an animated modern-day tale that reignites the magic of the festive season. Following the story of a mother and her young son (who is facing an internal struggle), the 90 second ad tells an emotional story of a mother desperately trying to encourage her teenage son to take part in valued Christmas family traditions and release his ‘inner child’. As always McDonalds – in the form of Reindeer Carrots – saved the day. 76/100

8) Tesco: No Naughty List

Switching things up with their ‘No Naughty List’ campaign, Tesco chose to navigate away from the norm of Christmas adverts, opting for a fun, playful and relatable campaign (that also encourages viewers to purchase Tesco’s Christmas merchandise). The ‘No Naughty List’ encourages viewers to disregard their previous misendeavours, and not think twice about treating themselves – after such a difficult year we all deserve a  Christmas pick-me-up. Be gone with the Naughty List, bring on the (Tesco own-brand) Christmas Cake. 75/100

9) Papa Johns: Giving More this Christmas

Although somewhat inspiring, Papa John’s Christmas ad was a tad on the simple side this year. Partnering with Crisis and The Trussell Trust, Papa Johns ‘Giving More This Christmas’ campaign took a ‘DIY’ in-house approach, using pizza boxes and cardboard for props – giving all the money they saved from creatives and production costs directly to both charities. Although the campaign did raise substantial funds for Crisis and The Trussell Trust, and provided work for internal staff, (who designed and created the campaign assets) it didn’t quite tickle the fancy of the Incubeta team. Despite being the best use of a pizza box we’ve ever seen. 68/100

 

10) Aldi: Kevin The Carrot

Returning for a fifth festive ad, Aldi’s infamous carrot Kevin is back battling distance, a snowstorm and a failed parachute to return home in time for Christmas. It may not be up there with the top players, but it does offer viewers a much needed break from the emotional overload that is festive advertising. Whilst people may have formed a connection with this lovable little root vegetable, the polls show that maybe it’s time Aldi shook it up a bit. Steven the Sprout for 2021? 62/100

Post-Black Friday Analysis: What the UK Retail Industry Saw

Read Time: 4 Minutes

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to a seasonal shopping event, but to a financial crisis: more specifically the 1869 crash of the U.S. gold market. Two Wall-Street financiers attempted to rig the system, which, upon being discovered on Friday 24th September, sent the stock-market into freefall, rendering the whole of Wall-Street bankrupt, and the expression Black Friday was first coined.

150 years later we’ve gone from financial flop to shopping mania, with Black Friday now recognised as a post-Thanksgiving shopping tradition, celebrated across the world and wider digital space. The renovation of Black Friday – from a crisis commemoration to a festive retail bonanza  – started in the late 1980’s.  As the story goes, the first version of the ‘retail focused’ Black Friday was known as the ‘red to black’ concept, as after several months of operating at a loss (“in the red”) retailers would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, as holiday shoppers rush to spend money on discounted merchandise. 

Fast forward to 2020 and both the financial and cultural history of the US Black Friday tradition is eerily similar to what the UK industry is experiencing now during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Retailers are fighting for every eyeball, click and conversion in a rapidly shifting economy – ramping up their eCommerce efforts in bid to out-compete their competitors.

With so much speculation raised ahead of this year’s Black Friday, due to high-street closures and lockdown restrictions, what exactly did the retail industry see over the four day event?

Trends Across the Industry:

With thousands of retailers slashing their prices over the Black Friday weekend (in a bid to attract customers) the industry was awash with discounts throughout the four day event. And leading the charge was the fast fashion industry offering hard discounts between 70-90% off RRP. The introduction of the national lockdown in March was accompanied by a drastic shift in consumer behaviour, with certain fashion interests, and search terms – such as “Heel Shoes” and “Men’s Suits” – plummeting in popularity. The result? Sales dropped and fashion retailers across the UK were sitting on a growing pile of unsold inventory, which led to many leaning on Black Friday promotions as a means by which to clear out their warehouses. Whilst it may be shocking to see such a high figure, it’s hardly unsurprising, especially when shifting excess stock is a high priority for certain retailers. 

Accompanying these hard ‘in-house’ discounts, we also saw an increase in affiliate marketing, with coupon and cashback sites dominating the digital space – especially with the brands who didn’t run a competitive discount. In terms of general discount promotion we saw a substantial increase in Email and SMS, with both massively ramping up in the week before, and four days of Black Friday.

Irrespective of Black Friday, November was a strong month for sales this year as consumer behaviours shifted to support the current economic climate. Due to the vast proportion of individuals working from home, November saw substantial increases in both digital and social media consumption, with consumers spending increasingly more time ‘browsing’ online – factoring in recognition for potential disruptions such as distribution delays and warehouse closures. 

A closer look at Black Friday, Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday as a whole showed consumers were purchasing their deals earlier than normal this year due to the second lockdown. We saw a large Black Friday online revenue spike of 143% Year-on-Year (YoY), however the overall YoY growth was lower than in previous weeks. This trend was also seen during Cyber Monday – it was the second highest revenue generating day of November 2020 but YoY growth was the lowest of the entire month. 

Data from Barclaycard Payments (which processes £1 in every £3 spent in the UK), showed that overall sales declined 16.7% YoY on Black Friday, and 9.9% on Cyber Monday, as shoppers were forced to buy online during a lockdown Sales event. This is likely an impact from sales starting earlier and the transition from in-store to online purchases.

Overall this year’s online revenue and spend was up YoY, primarily due to your usual offline shoppers taking to the internet. However, the industry certainly saw noticeable pullbacks as the peak hit; due to factors such as delivery capacity restrictions and sheer order volume. In the run up to Black Friday retailers maximised their online presence, offering discounts earlier than normal in a bid to try and regain the revenue lost through store closures and high street restrictions.

A Spotlight on Amazon: Incubeta Analyses Black Friday

Read time: 4 Minutes 30 Seconds

Speculation was in the air ahead of this year’s Black Friday, and Cyber Weekend, with many retailers suggesting that this season would be unlike any other, as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the retail industry and consumer shopping habits. 

That being said, with 45% of retailers starting their online customer journey on Amazon, the online giant had nothing to worry about as millions of festive shoppers flocked to their site, snapping up bargains left, right and centre – throughout the weekend. The question that bodes asking, is how did the market shift throughout Black Friday, Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday to support the influx of bargain hunters – in short, how did advertisers change their pricing strategy throughout the four day event to maximise exposure and ROI?Amazon Market Analysis

Over the past year, Incubeta has developed a Market Monitor Tool which allows us to analyse the Amazon marketplace providing valuable performance insights across the platform. Similar to the analysis we did for Prime Day, we used our tool to analyse the subsequent impact that Black Friday, Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday had in comparison to one another. Based on our Black Friday Weekend Report, we were able to gain the following insights on Product Price, Share of Voice and Advertising .

Product Price:

Product price tells you the individual cost of each product, which over 96% of Amazon consumers say is the most important factor in their purchasing decisions. Product price allows advertisers to directly compare themselves to competitors, tailoring their strategy accordingly. 

Using the Market Monitor tool, Incubeta was able to determine that on average product price was higher on Sofa Sunday in comparison to both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Prices increased on average by 8% from Black Friday to Sofa Sunday, with prices dropping by 8% on Cyber Monday, displaying a similar price to that offered on Black Friday. This trend suggests that Cyber Monday is the day where consumers will get the best deals.

  1. The average product price on Black Friday was 8% lower than Sofa Sunday (£56.62 on Black Friday compared to £61.32 on Sofa Sunday)
  2. The average product price on Black Friday was 0.4% higher than Cyber Monday (£56.62 on Black Friday compared to £56.38 on Cyber Monday)

The exception to this trend is with Fitness Equipment, which saw a 13% decrease in price on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday. Overall price was highest on Sofa Sunday (£78.14) compared to £65.32 on Black Friday and £67.08 on Cyber Monday .

Share of Voice:

When looking at Share of Voice, we are determining the amount of  space within the Amazon search results your brand owns compared to your competitors.

Looking at brand Share of Voice (SOV), the Market Monitor established that overall SOV was higher on Sofa Sunday than either Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The category which showed the greatest competition on Black Friday (in terms of brand SOV and number of products ranking) was Kitchen – where the overall SOV was 24.64%. Fitness Clothing displayed the lowest share of voice of only 20.67% on Cyber Monday – down 8% from Sofa Sunday

  1. Overall the average SOV on Black Friday was 2% lower than Sofa Sunday (23.88% on Black Friday compared to 24.36% on Sofa Sunday)
  2. Overall the average SOV on Black Friday was 0.4% lower than Cyber Monday (23.88% on Black Friday compared to 23.98% on Cyber Monday

This trend in SOV indicates that it’s more competitive on Sofa Sunday than either Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Advertising:

Incubeta was also able to determine which sellers were optimising paid advertising, finding that, on average, the use of paid ads was highest on Cyber Monday – being 8% higher than on Black Friday – suggesting an increase in sellers relying on paid advertising later on in the weekend.

  1. Overall the number of sellers using Paid Advertising on Black Friday was 5% lower than Sofa Sunday
  2. Overall the number of sellers using Paid Advertising on Black Friday was 11% lower/higher than Cyber Monday

Amazon Sold Products:

Amazon Sold Products (ASP) are products sold specifically on Amazon, by Amazon – not by third party sellers. They are products within Amazon’s private label brands, and are a benchmark for alternate sellers to compare themselves too. 

Looking specifically at ASP, we saw an increase in price on Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday. This suggests that Amazon raises their prices after Black Friday, whereas third party sellers continue their discounts.

  1. Overall the average ASP price on Black Friday was 18% lower than Sofa Sunday (£61.55 on Black Friday compared to £72.67 on Sofa Sunday)
  2. Overall the average ASP price on Black Friday was 41% lower than on Cyber Monday (£61.55 on Black Friday compared to £86.77 on Cyber Monday)

With 75% of users starting their shopping journey on Amazon, having an optimised Amazon campaign is the key to success going into 2021 – and now is the perfect time to refine your strategy.

Incubeta’s Market Monitor tool can help you achieve full visibility on your product performance, gaining insights into direct competitors, SOV, keyword gaps and position, and for the rest of the holiday season we are offering free personalised audits of your Amazon Activity. 

If you’re interested in directly comparing your performance with competitors and identifying your true Amazon potential, fill in the form today and request your free audit.

This post was originally published on Incubeta.