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Greetings, reader! Welcome to another edition of Digital Marketing Week in Review by Four Dots, a column where we discuss the most relevant and interesting topics, events and developments that took place in the world of digital marketing during the past week. 

In our “November 2019: Week 4” installment, we have prepared some rather interesting stories from the digital marketing industry.

Here’s a hint of what to expect: 

  • The Non-Profit Dot Org Registry Has Been Sold to an Investment Firm
  • Instagram Sheds Some Light on How Posts are Chosen for the Explore Page
  • Twitter Now Allows Brands to Hide Replies to Tweets
  • A New Study Shows How Users Navigate Search Features and What It Means for SEO
  • and more…

Let’s get started!


The Non-Profit Dot Org Registry Has Been Sold to an Investment Firm

The non-profit organization that manages the dot ORG domain registry has been sold to a for-profit investment firm.

After these unexpected events, some people are worried that the cost of dot ORG domains will rise. This is expected to happen because ICANN, the non-profit organization that manages the entire domain name system, recently changed the rules, allowing the owners of the dot ORG registry to raise the dot ORG domain name registrations.

This came as an unpleasant surprise because the dot ORG domain name registry has always been a part of a non-profit organization dedicated to helping other non-profit organizations.

ICANN stated that the cost of .org domains will no longer be capped. Naturally, this opened the door to raising the price of dot ORG domain registrations and an investment firm took this opportunity and purchased the registry.

The non-profit Public Interest Registry (PIR) that manages the dot ORG domain registry was then sold to a for-profit private investment firm called Ethos Capital.

Will The Dot Org Registration Price Increase?

As expected, Ethos Capital has the power to raise the cost of dot ORG domain names. However, it is not yet clear whether the cost of dot org domains will increase or not.

Given the fact that the transaction will become final in the first quarter of 2020, we won’t be certain until then.

So, if you want to register your dot ORG domain for up to ten years and take advantage of current low prices, you have time to do so until the first quarter of 2020.


Instagram Sheds Some Light on How Posts are Chosen for the Explore Page

Instagram has revealed some new and interesting details regarding the factors they consider when selecting posts and stories for the Explore page.

This is especially interesting to marketers because getting a post to appear in Instagram’s Explore feed will likely expand their audience by promoting their content to the people who aren’t their followers.

Explore feed offers a lot of benefits to marketers, but is there a way to optimize your content for this?

The answer is yes. Well, sort of.

Let us explain how this works.

Content has to go through two stages before it ends up in the Explore recommendation systems: 

  • the candidate generation stage (also known as sourcing stage) 
  • the ranking stage

Candidate Generation Stage

When discovering content for the Explore page Instagram uses “seed” accounts, which are accounts people have interacted with before. By looking into the seed accounts, Instagram identifies other accounts a person might find interesting.

In the last part of this stage, Instagram uses the seed accounts and similar-to-seed accounts to find media these accounts have posted or interacted in the past.

At the end of this stage, Instagram selects tens of thousands of eligible pieces of content or “candidates” for a certain user. Then, it takes a sample of 500 of the most relevant candidates and sends them to the next stage.

Ranking Stage

The final stage of selecting content for Instagram Explore has three stages of ranking. These stages narrow down the candidates from 500 to 150, to 50, to finally 25 of the best, most relevant, and engaging candidates.

Those final 25 candidates are what is shown in the first page of a person’s Explore feed.

Instagram uses a certain arithmetic formula to combine the predictions of actions people will take on a post. These predicted actions determine whether the content is relevant or not to someone.

For instance, if the action of saving a post is more probable than the action of liking a post, then a post with more saves would be considered more relevant to a certain user.

Bottom line, you can optimize your content for the Explore page, but there are a lot of factors in play.

Considering that Instagram sources content for the Explore feed from seed accounts, being identified as a seed account might be crucial for your content to appear in Explore.

Naturally, being identified as a seed account is not simple. You have to send signals to Instagram every day, so they can determine what you like and who you’re similar to. This means you have to use the same hashtags, keep your posts topical, and interact with other accounts in your niche.


A New Study Shows How Users Navigate Search Features and What It Means for SEO

Things like knowledge panels, featured snippets, images, local packs and similar features have influenced SEO strategies in the past. Now, a new study is aiming to show how much these and similar features are changing the behavior of users while browsing.

For example, when search engine results page (SERP) features, like a sponsored product carousel or a featured snippet were present on a search results page, they were looked at by the user in 74% of cases, according to the study by the Nielsen Norman Group.

By analyzing this study, experts realized that visual SERP features influence the path of the user’s gaze and their attention. However, considering that the number of features are different in each query, the gaze pattern is nonlinear.

Probably the biggest difference in the way searchers behaved in 2006 and the way they behave today is definitely the number of clicks on the first result on the page. Back in 2006, the first result got 51% of clicks.  In 2019, however, the first result gets 28% of clicks.

What’s also interesting is the fact that users only go past the first results page for only 2% of queries.

This data clearly shows that the general public navigates search results rather differently than before. Therefore, organizations and businesses should find a way to optimize better for search features in order to have more organic traffic.


Google Ads to Provide More Insight into Performance of Smart Bidding Data

Google Ads is about to make sure the advertisers are getting more transparency and insight into the data regarding the performance of their smart bidding strategies. Smart biddings will now be showing the advertisers exactly which signals are directly influencing smart bidding performance so they would be able to better optimize bids for the audience that is more likely to convert.

Through the bid strategy report, you can now see which top bidding signals are boosting your ad campaign performance. Some of these top bidding signals are as follows: 

  • Device type
  • Location
  • Day of week
  • Time of day
  • Keywords

“The bid strategy report may also include combinations of the above signals,” say folks over at Search Engine Journal. “For example, the report may show that people are more likely to convert when searching for the keyword business in Los Angeles on a Saturday.”


Bing Started Using BERT More than Google

Microsoft recently announced that their search engine is utilizing BERT in search results more than their direct competitor, AND that they have started using it even before Google has. According to previous reports, Google’s utilization of BERT is affecting only 10% of US-based search results, while Bing is now supposedly utilizing BERT across the entire globe

Even though implementing BERT as a deep learning model is staggeringly expensive when applying it to web searches worldwide scale, their powerful public cloud Azure made this possible.  

“With these GPU optimizations, we were able to use 2000+ Azure GPU Virtual Machines across four regions to serve over 1 million BERT inferences per second worldwide,” says the Microsoft team. “Azure N-series GPU VMs are critical in enabling transformative AI workloads and product quality improvements for Bing with high availability, agility, and significant cost savings, especially as deep learning models continue to grow in complexity.”


WordPress Creates a New Way for Bloggers to Make Money 

WordPress has always been a good friend of blogging. They are among the leading providers of hosting and infrastructure necessary for one of the Internet’s oldest niche – blogging. The team behind this platform is making efforts to bring back sustainability to this calling by allowing websites to easily accept recurring payments. 

Perhaps subscriptions would be the most suitable word here, as website owners will now be able to collect contributions from supporters who will likely be getting exclusive content or monthly memberships in return. 

According to WordPress, you can now: “let your followers support you with periodic, scheduled payments. Charge for your weekly newsletter, accept monthly donations, sell yearly access to exclusive content — and do it all with an automated payment system.”

The new tool will be available to WordPress users who have a paid account, as well as to websites that utilize WordPress’ Jetpack toolkit. More on this here! 


Twitter Now Allows Brands to Hide Replies to Tweets

It appears that Twitter has decided to provide brands additional control over their social media strategies, or narratives if you will, by giving these types of profiles an option to hide Tweet replies. After months of detailed testing (which took place in several countries, including Canada and the U.S), the social media behemoth is now rolling out this interesting feature.  

Namely, brands that use Twitter can now decide to hide the replies people make to their tweets, but this is merely at-first-glance hiding of replies as users do still have the option to access and engage with the replies that have been hidden simply by selecting the “View hidden replies” option. 

“Currently, repliers can shift the topic or tone of a discussion and derail what you and your audience want to talk about,” said the company representative. “We learned that the feature is a useful new way to manage your conversations.”

We’ll see how this pans out. Honestly, we don’t think this will stop Twitter user from derailing conversations taking place on this social media network. 

What do you think? 


That’s all for this week’s edition of Digital Marketing Week in Review by Four Dots. Be sure to come back next week. Until then, you can check out the previous edition

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