Are Podcasts the New TV?

Once considered a fringe media buy, podcasts are attracting the attention of advertisers looking for big reach at cheap prices.

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META • Outage Affecting All Meta Apps/Sites

If you were having trouble getting into your Meta ads account today, you weren’t alone — many of Meta’s services were reported down.

It started around 2:00 p.m. Eastern when WhatsApp users started reporting the app was just stuck on a message saying “Connecting” and wasn’t actually connecting. The outage seemed to be worldwide.

Then, reports started coming in saying Facebook, Instagram, and Threads were also having problems — both in seeing content, and in trying to create posts.

Some marketers reported their ads manager was also down.

This comes just weeks after another big Meta outage, where users were kicked from Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Threads. Engineers fixed the issue after a couple of hours, and WhatsApp wasn’t affected for that one.

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EMAIL • Outlook Emails Hitting Gmail Spam Walls

Heads up if you use an Outlook email address for work — a bug, or some kind of glitch, might be preventing your emails from reaching people who use Gmail.

Microsoft has acknowledged this issue, where senders receive a blunt notification from Google that their email has been blocked, citing a "very low reputation of the sending domain."

This appears to only happen when you’re using country-specific domains, like Outlook.ca or Outlook.co.uk 

As a makeshift fix, Microsoft suggests you create an Outlook.com alias specifically for emailing Gmail contacts. This workaround isn’t perfect, but should be enough to bypass Google's spam detection.

Google has tightened its email guidelines recently, becoming stricter last month. Google's criteria for blocking include spammy content or a history of unsolicited messages from the sender's IP.

This isn't Microsoft's first email delivery problem. Just last month, Exchange Online users faced similar problems with AOL and Yahoo, attributed to anti-spam measures.

Other than the workaround, Microsoft remains tight-lipped about the root cause of the current problem and when it might be resolved.

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What was the primary function of Microsoft Outlook when it was first introduced?

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ADS • Walmart’s Ads Platform Gets Bigger

Walmart keeps beefing up its retail ad business — this week, opening up to brands that don’t usually sell products in its stores, like cars or financial services.

The company’s ad platform, which it calls Walmart Connect, has a number of placements, from in-store screens to email to sponsored products on its web site.

Also part of their updates:

  • They’ll now let advertisers use brand terms in search ads, including competitor brands.

  • There is expanded measurement of in-store sales from online ads.

  • They’re letting more brands participate in their shoppable ad pilots with Roku and TikTok.

  • They’re introducing some self-service support tools for overseas suppliers

Last year, Walmart’s ad division saw revenue spike 28% year over year; it now sits as $3.4 billion annually. Not enough to seriously threaten Amazon, but almost assuredly enough to get on their radar.

PODCASTS • Consumption is Now On Par with TV

Edison Research says it no longer considers podcasts to be a niche media.

Its most recent Infinite Dial study found that among people aged 18 to 34, as many people listen to podcasts as watch TV. That is a huge jump.

Podcasting, Edison says, deserves a larger role in media plans as opposed to “test and learn” experimental buys.

47% of Americans above the age of 12 listen to a podcast once per month or more. And when you carve out the more marketing friendly 18-54 demographic, monthly reach is in the low 60% range.

This is Edison’s 26th Infinite Dial report. Their first, back in 1998, found only a tiny number of people had ever tried audio streaming over a dial-up connection.

In particular, the report noticed that female audience growth of podcast listenership has been explosive — monthly podcast reach in women had the biggest surge since 2020, and monthly reach is up by more than 15% since last year alone.

This means the female group is only 3% smaller than the male listening group.

More than 70% of women listen at least weekly.

For the first time, the number of Americans who have ever listened to a podcast grew past 2/3rds of the whole population.

Edison’s report polled more than 1,000 people in the U.S. aged 12 and older.

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X/TWITTER • Users Continue to Abandon the App

While that Edison study might have brought good news to podcasts, it brought bad news to Elon Musk.

The Infinite Dial report found that the number of people using X (formerly Twitter) has dropped like a rock in the last year. Edison says its survey estimated 77 million people used Twitter last year. When this year closes out, they expect that number to be just 55 million — a 30% drop.

This aligns with other third party reports:

Apptopia reported in October last year that X has seen a 13% decline in daily active users since Musk took over at the app…

SimilarWeb has reported that X has seen a 14% decline in mobile and web visits since September 2022.

Last month, Sensor Tower reported that X usage has declined 18% year-over-year. X refuted this, but offered no data to clarify.

ADS • Microsoft’s New MCV & Conversion Tracking

Microsoft has a bunch of updates to its ads manager.

Maximize Conversion Value

Maximize Conversion Value, which was previously only available for smart shopping campaigns, is now available for all search and shopping search campaigns as well.

If you have specific ROI goals, you can add a Target ROAS (return on ad spend).

Choose Maximize Conversion Value in the bid strategy section.

URL Conversion Tracking

They’re also adding some new URL tracking, in the form of what they call the Microsoft Click ID — this ID is added to landing page URLs that help advertisers track conversions from their site.

Auto-tagging is enabled by default for new accounts, and where the Microsoft cookie can’t be returned due to browser settings (e.g., third-party cookie blocking). In those cases, if you don’t have the Microsoft Click ID auto-tagging enabled, your conversions won’t be tracked.

AI Creative

They’re also putting smarter image cropping for Audience ads and image extensions. This is similar to other platforms that try to automatically crop your uploaded images to focus on what it thinks is the most important part of the image. As always, approach this with caution — very often, these systems get it very wrong. You can still manually crop if you don’t like what it does.

More Languages

They’ve also added five more languages to their ad platform. The new languages are Thai, Malay, Indonesian, Filipino, and Hindi.

Hotel Center Sunset

Finally, next week they’ll stop letting you create subaccounts in Hotel Center, and the only way to manage and showcase your lodging will be through their new special Lodging campaigns. After April 8, your subaccounts in Hotel Center will no longer run but you’ll still be able to use Hotel Center to manage your feeds, such as uploading and editing your property feed or verifying your transaction messages.

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