The Revolution Will Be Vertical

PLUS: Google's "new" ad format might hide your ad behind a scroll — but it's not as bad as you think.

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Google is testing taking your ad — you know, the one that runs at the top of search results — and dumping it into a carousel slider with a whole bunch of other ads.

Marketer Alexander Hatala spotted this in the wild and posted about it on social media. The screenshot shows sponsored listings in a slider, which appear to be for review/discussion type sites.

Before you dust the pitchforks and torches off, a few things for context.

First, this isn’t actually a new use of a sponsored carousel. Google has displayed shopping ads in carousels before, and tested others.

Plus, nobody will lose money if this launches. Our Google ads correspondent Jyll Saskin Gales¹, who spent six years working in the Google Ads division, reminded me:

Remember that you don't pay unless people click, and you don't even get an impression unless you actually get eyeballs.

This "carousel" looks to be [ads for] reviews sites, so it's possible that this is some kind of new Discovery placement for forum-type content — perhaps a new placement for Demand Gen, or more likely, from PMax.

No official reply from Google about it. I’ll bet I know what they’ll say, though:

  • Something about they’re always testing things, many of which never make it live (which is true)

  • And something about how their AI will put the most relevant ads at the front of the carousel for each person (which probably will be true some of the time)

We’ll update this story if we learn more.

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LINKEDIN • Adds Connected TV to Ads Manager

Speaking of new ad formats, LinkedIn today staked its flag into the Connected TV space.

Advertisers can now add CTV to their LinkedIn campaigns. The ads will be delivered through LinkedIn’s partners like Paramount, Roku and Samsung.

This is going to be found inside the self-service Campaign Manager but if you prefer to go with a more bespoke setup, they will set you up with a managed offering run by NBCUniversal.

Image: LinkedIn.

[Connected TV] is a growing channel for many marketers, including B2B businesses.

As part of the rationale for introducing CTV, LinkedIn cited a study from Demandbase that found 90% of B2B marketers who used it in 2023 believed it helped reach customers.

A LinkedIn representative told MarTech: “Since only 5% of buyers are in market for a new purchase at any given time, it’s important for B2B marketers to consistently engage with their audiences to ensure their brand is memorable when it’s time to buy. We launched LinkedIn CTV to help our customers continue to reach and engage new audiences across streaming television content.”

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VIDEO • All Facebook Videos Will Be Vertical Now

Facebook is getting a big makeover for its video player, taking a page out of TikTok's playbook, of course.

All videos on Facebook will soon sport a vertical, full-screen look. Yes, all videos — including Stories to traditional longform videos to livestreams.

It will roll out first in the US and Canada on both iOS and Android platforms in the coming weeks, with a global launch planned in the months ahead.

This marks a significant shift from the past, where Facebook juggled multiple video formats, including traditional horizontal videos and those playing in the app’s feed. With the update, videos will automatically present in vertical format, though there's an option to watch horizontal videos in full screen by flipping your phone.

For many marketers, this could mean putting vertical video production on a higher priority, especially considering even your landscape videos will come out vertical on Facebook.

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THREADS • Content Rewards Plan Launches

Threads might soon start to see more content, and maybe better content — Meta is launching a content reward program which, like we’ve seen on other apps, will pay creators for their content, based on view-count.

TikTok has had a couple variations of these programs, as have LinkedIn and Instagram and others.

For now, creators are being invited to the program individually, and can earn money on any video that gets more than 2,500 views — which seems to be an awfully low bar to me. And Meta says details of the bonus program “may vary by participant,” which sounds like they’re cutting different payout deals with different creators.

Also, that invitation will actually show up in your attached Instagram account in the Professional Dashboard. That’s because Threads used Instagram’s codebase to get off the ground quickly.

Tight now, Threads probably does need a boost.

While the app has seen rapid growth, rising to 130 million users after its launch last July, that momentum has slowed… Threads hasn’t really made a dent in the real-time social market, despite early interest.

Indeed, while Threads is up to 130 million monthly actives, it reached 100 million in October, just three months after launch. We’re now 9 months in, and within that time, Threads has become available in more regions, most notably Europe, where my estimates suggest that Threads should have added an extra 25 million users.

So while there are people using the app, it’s not exactly seeing rapid expansion, while piggybacking off of IG has also given Threads a significant leg-up on other new platforms, which dilutes its comparative performance.

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M&A • Google Thinking of Buying Hubspot?

And finally, reports are circulating today that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is thinking about buying HubSpot, the large CRM platform.

HubSpot is public, and has a market valuation of around $32 billion.

Alphabet execs have apparently met with bankers to flesh out what a deal would look like. Nobody is talking on the record, of course, and analysts are skeptical.

If Alphabet moves ahead with a bid, it would be a rare example of a major technology company attempting a mega deal amid heightened regulatory scrutiny of the sector…

The potential acquisition would be Alphabet's largest ever and allow it to put some of its cash pile, which reached $110.9 billion at the end of December, to work….

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai is looking for avenues to boost growth after the company disclosed in January that fourth-quarter advertising sales came in below expectations.

We’ll keep you updated if there’s a development there.

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