Virtual Marketer's Monthly Mashup: October 2023


Learn about the untapped potential of Gen X for marketers, Meta and TikTok considering ad-free subscriptions, and the impact of Google's 'Helpful Content Update' on SEO-reliant sites. Meta's 'broadcast channels' aim to boost user engagement, and Google is testing generative AI image creation with safeguards. It's been a busy month!

Senior Marketing Manager
October 31, 2023
  (NZDT - GMT +12)

Welcome to the Virtual Marketers digital marketing mashup for October 2023. Once again we’ve mashed together five of the latest developments in digital marketing land. There’s some juicy stuff in here, so dig in, learn something new, and share it with others in the marketing community – because folks, we’re all in this together.

  1. The data is in: we need to stop forgetting about Gen X…
  2. Paid, ad-free subscriptions on the horizon for Meta and TikTok
  3. The impact of Google’s ‘Helpful Content Update’
  4. 'Broadcast Channels' to create more intimate connections on Facebook & Messenger
  5. Google starts trialling generative AI image creation

1. The data is in: we need to stop forgetting about Gen X…

According to recent research by Wavemaker we are missing a HUGE trick when it comes to this generation. Why? Because these folks, aged 45 to 60, are quietly on track to be the richest generation ever, set to inherit a whopping $70 trillion from the baby boomers. Yet, according to Wavemaker’s research, they often feel invisible when it comes to marketing, with only 13% feeling they're part of the advertising conversation.

It’s like a treasure trove of potential. They're actively engaging on social media, with 92% checking it daily and they make up a solid 28% of TikTok’s user base. Despite this, only 5% of influencer campaign budgets are directed their way, and they're scantily represented in ads, with just 24% of TV spots featuring anyone over 50.

To harness this overlooked treasure, we need to start tapping into Gen X's distinct preferences. They like content created by peers, prefer self-improvement pitches, and crave trust in brands. This generation's loyalty and engagement are an untapped resource for brands ready to focus on them.

In the busy, loud, and sometimes overwhelming world of digital marketing, it's a reminder that success often comes when you pay attention to the quieter voices, not just the loudest ones.

Source: Wavemaker

2. Paid, ad-free subscriptions on the horizon for Meta and TikTok

Word on the street is that change, in the shape of ad-free tiers,  is afoot for industry giants Meta and TikTok. Meta, in response to stricter EU data privacy rules, has proposed a monthly paid subscription for ad-free browsing on Facebook and Instagram. TikTok is also exploring a similar option. The repercussions for marketers remain uncertain, it all depends on consumer adoption.

The developments come as advertising spend within some of the key social channels is shifting: advertising revenue on X has decreased over 50% year-over-year in August, while ad revenue on TikTok increased over 70% during the same period. Meanwhile, Meta has managed to maintain positive revenue growth this year.

While the success of Meta and TikTok's ad-free tiers will depend on consumer buy-in, audience size isn't the sole factor for marketers when deciding to advertise on these platforms. The seamless integration of ads into content is such a crucial part of their acceptance, so it will be a huge hit to marketers worldwide. Watch this space!

Source: Marketing Dive

3. The impact of Google’s ‘Helpful Content Update’

The chat around the September 2023 Helpful Content Update has been going a bit bananas online, as many websites have seen significant declines in traffic. This update primarily affects sites that relied heavily on SEO tactics and lack real-world experience in their content.

Google's AI-based helpful content system, which classifies sites as unhelpful, generates signals that affect rankings. If your site's traffic from Google has seen a sharp decline during this update, it's a sign that your content is perceived as unhelpful. Sadly this classification is site-wide and not easy to reverse.

It’s most commonly recipe and lifestyle sites that have suffered, e.g. sites with health claims in recipes without solid support, excessive, unnecessary content, or intrusive ads. Sites known for their expertise in a topic and those featuring user-generated content have seen significant improvements in rankings and traffic.

Google's focus has shifted towards valuing real-world experience and unique, valuable content. So, if your site has been affected, time to look at how you can make it more helpful in the eyes of Google, which means assessing your content to make sure it genuinely helps and engages your target audience.

Source: Marie Haynes Consulting

4. 'Broadcast Channels' to create more intimate connections on Facebook & Messenger

Meta has introduced "broadcast channels" on Facebook and Messenger with the usual goal of higher user engagement. These channels are similar to group chats where creators share various content types with notifications sent to all members. The feature is being trialled for Facebook ‘Pages’ at the moment (which are usually celebrities, brands, or other entities). The idea is to blend mass communication with a more intimate chat-like experience.

This can be a pretty powerful tool for brands and influencers to interact with their audience, share content, conduct polls, and facilitate discussions, increasing brand visibility and engagement. However, the lack of cross-platform functionality (unlike other Meta features like direct messaging, these channels don't seamlessly integrate across both Facebook and Messenger) means we could quickly see users being quite selective in joining channels to prevent notification overload. 

Source: Insider Intelligence

5. Google starts trialling generative AI image creation

Another big move from Google! Currently only in the USA for those 18 years and older, the generative AI-powered Search experience (SGE) allows users to create images based on their descriptions. You simply search for what you’re after, e.g. a panda on a surfboard, and Search will provide up to four generated images for you to choose from, which you can further edit.

An important piece of the puzzle is ensuring the responsible use of this technology, and Google is said to be incorporating safeguards to prevent harmful or misleading content. Every AI-generated image will be labelled as such, and metadata watermarking will indicate its origin.

Let’s hope this update comes our way soon!

Source: The Keyword

And that’s it for October! From paid tiers on some of the social media giants, to Google’s Helpful Content Update being not so helpful for some, and a lot of fun to be had with AI generated content, we hope you enjoyed this packaged highlights reel. We’ll keep our eyes and ears peeled for more juicy tidbits, so see you back here next month! 

Stay tuned for more updates in the exciting world of digital marketing.

Marketing Teams