Facebook tests videos as cover images
In case consumers still frequent brand pages, Facebook has confirmed it's testing the ability for pages to upload videos as cover images. The platform hopes the move will help businesses "create more engaging experiences and drive more rich experiences for their audiences." In other words, earn them stacks of cash. See just that on Narcos' Facebook page.

Vogue livestreams Met Gala in 360 degrees on Facebook
Finally, a reason to watch the Met Gala. If you've ever wanted to check out half-dressed celebrities from every angle you're not alone yesterday was your chance. Vogue livestreamed its New York Met Gala in 360 degrees on Facebook, complete with ads from champagne brand Moët & Chandon. According to Vogue, its “partnership with Facebook and Moët offers our audience direct, front-row access to experience all the action of the red carpet." Hey Victoria's Secret, isn't your fashion show coming up soon, too?

Digital overtakes TV in US ad spend battle 
For the first time ever, digital has officially dethroned TV of its crown for the highest yearly ad spend in the US. A report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows an increase in US digital advertising revenue of nearly 22% - from $59.6 billion in 2015 to $72.5 billion for 2016. And, according to eMarketer, TV captured around $71.3 billion in US domestic revenue in 2016. This is a giant first for digital in the US, and social media played a significant role with ad spend up 49% from the previous year.

Facebook helps airline industry better target travellers 

Facebook and Instagram are officially winning the #Wanderlust game with the recent launch of search retargeting and dynamic ads for flights. The move allows marketers to target a person across devices based on recent searches regarding route, schedule and price (for example, if a consumer searches for 'flights to Sydney for Vivid,' an airline could retarget the person with an ad for similar flights). Mobile is a key focus for the platform, as a staggering 85% of travel planning happened on handheld devices last year. Cathay Pacific was one of the few airlines lucky enough to test this addition in its beta form and reported booking volume is 16 times what it was with previous campaigns. Hey United Airlines, maybe you can hit your customers where it doesn't hurt - Facebook.

Instagram's growth leaves Snapchat in the shade
Last week, Instagram announced it now has 700 million monthly users, doubling its size in just two years. The platform's continued success comes on the heels of comparisons to rival platform, Snapchat, which now has 'just' 158 million daily users globally. Instagram credits its "new" features such as stories, live video and disappearing messages as reasons for its continued popularity growth, many of which are strikingly similar to Snapchat's original offerings. Will Instagram soon become Insta, Inc. and launch glasses that film from your face? Let the innovation battle begin.

Snapchat launches viewability score for video ads
After some controversy over Facebook's questionable video viewing metrics, Snapchat is swooping in to help advertisers get a better measure of their content's impact by rolling out a new viewability score. The score will be validated by measurement firm Moat, meeting the Media Rating Council's (MRC) guidelines for whether videos warrant chargeable impressions. These guidelines include a requirement that 50% (or more) of an ad’s pixels should be “on an in-focus tab on the viewable space of the browser page”' and that video ads should have at least two continuous seconds of viewability.

Snapchat opens API to help brands buy Geofilter Ads automatically
Kudos to Spiegel for making our jobs easier. Snapchat has opened up its API (Application Programming Interface) slightly more to allow brands to buy location-based promos automatically - namely, geofilters that layer fun text and graphics over users’ photos and videos. Until now, advertisers were forced to purchase branded geofilters through Snapchat’s self-service buying tool, which was admittedly painful (I learned the hard way).

The spikes and slumps of Twitter 
Good news first. The platform finally managed to shake up user growth, reporting that average monthly active users rose 6% from last year to 328 million, with daily users increasing at a faster pace each quarter for the past year. Slow user growth has proven Twitter's biggest challenge in recent years, so this is a big win. Is it just me, or does anyone else think @realDonaldTrump may have single-handedly spiked interest on the platform last year?

And here's the bad news - Twitter posted an 8% drop in revenue from the same quarter last year, which is its first quarterly revenue decline since going public in 2013. Ad revenue is also down by 11%, but where there are users, there are advertisers, so the platform may be able to make itself great again by boasting their growth numbers. I just hope they're real and not 'alternative facts.'

Twitter launches 'in-stream video ads'
In an effort to rectify these ad revenue woes, Twitter launched 'in-stream video ads'  to compete with Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram's increased focus on video. Here's Twitter's senior product manager, Mo Al Adham, to explain what it's all about.

"Twitter is home to brand-safe video from hundreds of the world’s top publishers. That means brands can now run in-stream video ads to align with videos—highlights, clips and livestreams—from Amplify partners including top TV networks, major sports leagues, major publishing houses and magazines and professional news outlets. This includes pre-roll and mid-roll ads.

In recent experiments, we’ve been automatically promoting videos with high engagement from select publishers. Not only does this drive more views for the publisher, it also allows advertisers to get their message in front of a larger target audience. We have seen early success in the U.S. and look forward to rolling this out more widely in the year ahead."

LinkedIn hits 500 million users and 10 million jobs
LinkedIn has been waving its latest figures this week and I can't say I blame them - the platform now has more than 500 million members in 200 countries, it represents more than 10 million active jobs, provides access to more than nine million companies and hosts more than 100,000 published articles each week. It's also shared its most connected countries, places, industries and job functions. Take a bow, HR.

LinkedIn introduces Matched Audiences for Advertising

With impressive numbers to boast, LinkedIn is upping their ad offering by giving brands the ability to use their 'Matched Audiences' functionality, which includes website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting.

"With Matched Audiences, you can use LinkedIn to retarget your website visitors, market to your contacts from your customer databases and marketing automation platforms, and reach decision makers at target companies for your account-based marketing programs. Matched Audiences helps increase your return on investment by enabling you to focus your efforts on the audiences and accounts that are most likely to drive revenue."
Based on LinkedIn's initial pilots, the updates are proving very effective so far. Website Retargeting yielded a 30% increase in click-through rates and a 14% drop in post click per cost conversion, Account Targeting resulted in a 32% increase in post click conversion rates and a 4.7% drop in post click per cost conversions. Additionally, contact targeting upped CTRs by 37%. But who's counting, really?

Youtube testing a new interface
Gamers and casual procrastinators, rejoice! YouTube has given itself a sleek makeover just in time for winter, and you can try it on by visiting www.youtube.com/new. The new look includes a more streamlined design that aims to highlight your favourite videos and creators. And it's not just sexier - it's safer! They've introduced a 'dark mode' theme that will minimise glare for your aching eyeballs.

Just as we suspected, social food frenzies are here to stay
America, you've officially ruined coffee. Despite dissatisfied baristas, Starbucks isn't stopping with its infamous ‘Unicorn Frappuccino,’ so brace yourself for this month's impending Mermaid frenzy.

And I have to wonder how Mexico feels about Taco Bell's first Fried Chicken Nacho Chip, which is also making its rounds on social. From Facebook walls to actual walls, I think it's safe to say the world isn't ready for this.

Ikea responds to Balenciaga's blatant catwalk copycatting

So when you're about to fork out $2,150 for a bag, you should probably consider the following - are there other brands that offer similar products? Are there cheaper alternatives? Could this be mistaken for an oversized tarp-turned-tote? If you've found yourself in possession of a new tote bag from Balenciaga you probably don't work in marketing there is a good chance you didn't do this research. Ikea took the opportunity to promote their world famous tote bags in an ingeniously simple piece labelling how to identify an original from a Balenciaga's Tote bag. Have a look for yourself:

But seriously, can you even tell the difference.

Sure enough, the internet went into a craze, and you can now also buy a $38 Ikea Hat (that is, as long as they haven't sold out).

This post courtesy of @jakegunstone