The Outage Heard Around the World

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other major sites crashed in the most terrifying way possible this morning.

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The Outage Heard Around the World

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other major sites crashed in the most terrifying way possible this morning.

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Meta • FB and IG Back Online After Global Crash

The big news, at least this morning, was the widespread outage of some major social media platforms.

About 10am Eastern, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger all went down. And in the most terrifying way — rather than just not working, it logged people out, then when they went to log back in, it told them their password was wrong. This is pretty much what would happen if your account got hacked. So, needless to say, many marketers this morning had a bit of a scare.

Twenty minutes later, the DownDetector web site had logged more than a half million reports.

Meta’s other services — Threads and WhatsApp — were also affected, though not quite to the same level.

The hiccup comes at a critical time, just before a major regulatory deadline set by the European Union's Digital Markets Act, aimed at fostering competition in the digital sector. This legislation requires tech giants like Meta to make their platforms more accessible to smaller competitors.

It’s quite possible this was something deeper than just Meta’s systems, as YouTube and Discord also both had issues for a brief time this morning. As of the time of this recording, things seem to be back in order.

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Facebook's last big outage was in October 2021. What caused it?

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TikTok • Engagement Rates Plummet for Brands has analyzed several reports on TikTok engagement and found that engagement there is down for all brands.

One study, from Rival IQ, found TikTok’s average engagement rate on brand content is now 2.6%. A year ago, that was at 5.6%.

Also, data from Emplifi found that TikTok post interactions are down 26% from its highest numbers at the start of 2022.

And SocialInsider found the average engagement rate for TikTok videos dropped by 35% over the past year.

It could be a reflection of platform maturity and brand adoption (i.e. as more brands come to the app, competition gets tougher, and engagement necessarily declines), or it could be that brands are producing less engaging content over time.

Either way, it’s interesting to note that TikTok, which had once been the shining light for brand engagement, is losing some of its sheen.

Which could also factor into your planning. If you’ve seen a decline in your TikTok engagement numbers of late, it may not be you…

Report links:

  • Rival IQ’s full report here

  • Emplifi’s latest data here

  • SocialInsider’s 2024 benchmarks report here

How has your brand's TikTok engagement changed in the last year?

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Pricing • Sell More By Making the Math Easier

Slashing prices on multipack products might not be the golden ticket to boosting sales after all.

Some new research reveals a curious consumer behavior: shoppers are more inclined to purchase multipacks with prices that are easily divisible by the number of items included, even if it means paying a bit more.

This insight comes from a collaboration between Michigan State University, Baylor University, and Virginia Tech, where researchers conducted 15 experiments to understand the nuances of consumer purchasing decisions.

Their findings? When the price per pack divides neatly—like $18 for a 6-pack—customers are 45% more likely to make a purchase compared to a slightly lower but harder-to-divide price, such as $17.

This phenomenon, dubbed the "price divisibility effect," suggests that when consumers can easily calculate the cost per item, they're more likely to see the value in buying in bulk. Interestingly, this effect diminishes when unit prices are displayed or when products include information on how long they are expected to last, which is often the case in the European Union due to regulations.

The research primarily focused on fast-moving consumer goods like body wash and facial tissues, so this pricing strategy might not apply to durable goods, such as socks, which consumers prefer to last longer.

Plus, the study highlighted that the price divisibility effect is less potent when multipacks consist of diverse products, like a set of hand creams with different scents.

Retailers typically opt for precise pricing, often ending in $.99 to appear more affordable, but this study suggests a shift towards divisible pricing could lead to higher sales for products consumed quickly.

Google • Is This Finally, Mercifully, an End to Spam?

I’m sure everyone’s had this conversation before: “Holy crap, Google’s gotten bad lately.”

Like, Google pretty much anything, and you’ll get ten pages of results that are either cheaply written listicles or AI-generated garbage.

Google apparently noticed too, and this morning announced some changes to its ranking algorithm — most notably, a penalty on content that exists only to summarize other content. This has always been a cheap SEO tactic, but it’s also something the AI bots have caught onto.

For Google to announce the changes it’s making signals two things.

First, that these are big changes that could meaningfully change your search experience — [a Google executive] says that Google’s measurements show a reduction in “unhelpful content” by up to 40 percent.

And second, that Google is sending a message to the web: your spammy, sketchy behavior ends now.

So what exactly are they knocking back?

  1. Sites that create hundreds or thousands of low-quality articles every day, whether that’s through overseas contractors or AI. One example a Google executive mentioned was obituary spam.

  2. Something Google calls “site reputation abuse.” These are normally reputable web sites — big brands that you’d know — which also carve a part of their site out for spammy content, affiliate marketing, and the likes. Google says those sites have 60 days to knock it off before they start penalizing them.

  3. Expired domain abuse — this is when someone someone buys a domain name that’s been abandoned, and uses its existing Google ranking to stuff it with cheap content. [Example 1 | Example 2]

The job is not done, of course.

The reckoning over AI-generated content — what it means, who wants it, how it should rank — is only just beginning and will cause Google plenty of internal headaches as it both tries to bring AI to everyone and tries to save the web from being overrun by it.

(Even Google’s own search engine is increasingly an AI machine.)

And there will always be new, sneakier ways to game your way to the top of search results.

This is a headache of Google’s own making: most of the chum on the web exists entirely to game Google, and so Google will always be one step behind.

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