TikTok sues, Meta’s new ad AI, the next Myspace, and more…

May 10, 2024

Hello, My Digital Darlings,

Ready to dish? TikTok is taking the US government to court, and it’s gonna get spicy. Meanwhile, Google is shaking up SEO, and Meta is rolling out new AI advertising features like it’s Christmas morning. Grab your insulated mugs, because this week’s tech tea is piping hot. Let’s get into it.

TikTok is suing the US government

We all knew this was coming. But as of Tuesday, ByteDance is officially suing the government, claiming that the bill requiring them to sell their app violates the constitutional protections of free speech. ByteDance says selling TikTok in 9 months is impossible due to all the software code they would have to move, therefore the law will “force a shutdown” by January. The suit also alleges that the US government has failed to provide any evidence that China is misusing TikTok’s data, which is valid. It’s looking like Biden’s ‘ban’ will have about as much impact as Trump's attempt in 2020: none. 

Meanwhile, a new study revealed that 61% of TikTok users discover new brands and products on the app - that’s 1.5x more than other platforms. So TikTok remains a great place to spend your ad dollars, as long as you don’t mind giving them to China. In other social media news…

Meta launched new AI-powered creative tools for advertisers

The tool creates image variations based on your original ad creatives, enabling advertisers to test creative variations with no additional work. In coming months, we’ll even be able to input text prompts to help tailor the AI-generated creatives. You may be asking - is there any drama here? And yes, If your image features a product, AI could change the color, shape or size of that product, meaning the feature could be abused by shady advertisers who want to trick people into buying products that don’t actually exist. Sketchy!

Now back to your regularly scheduled Google drama…

Monopoly reveal!! DOJ broke down how Google harms search advertisers in court

In a slide deck, no less. You can review the deck here… but it’s 143 slides long. Search Engine Land highlighted 20 key slides that showcase quotes from Googlers discussing raising ad prices to increase revenue. God bless the good people at Search Engine Land. If Search Engine Land has 1,000 fans, I’m one of them. If Search Engine Land has 1 fan, it’s me. If Search Engine Land has 0 fans, I’m dead. But I digress… 

The slides prove that Google Spiked ad costs to increase revenue, even clarifying that Google has certain “pricing knobs or tunings that it can use to impact search ad pricing”. Google called this “tuning” in internal documents. But like… no. That’s called manipulating the market for personal gain!! Renaming it may help you sleep at night, but it won’t help you in court. In other Google news…

Google hid the search results count in the SERP

Instead of seeing the number of search results for a query right under the search bar, you now have to click the ‘Tools’ button to see the count. Google has long claimed that the results count is just an estimate and isn’t accurate, but it’s an important data point to many SEOers. And if this is the first step toward results count going away forever, that’s bad news for SEOers who rely on it. It seems like Google wants to get rid of SEOers, tbh. They don’t want people gaming their system or looking too closely at how the SERP works. It’s kind of like how they got rid of CPC bidding for SEM so that they could have full control over their markets… Sus. In other SEO news…

Google Started enforcing its new reputation abuse policy on Monday

The goal is to combat “parasite SEO” - AKA sites hosting bad content from other sites in order to piggyback off each other’s rankings. Google offered this example:

“a third party might publish payday loan reviews on a trusted educational website to gain ranking benefit from the site.”

Sites like CNN and USA Today have already seen the impact, with their coupon directories getting de-ranked. Here are some examples of what the coupon query SERPs looked like a week ago versus now. This could actually be great for SEOers who have long been negatively impacted by parasite SEO from big brands. Hopefully, it’ll help improve the quality of search results too. And lastly…

Gen Z are making their own MySpace

Have you heard of Nospace? Tiffany Zhong, creator of the up-and-coming social media platform, believes there is a loneliness epidemic on social media that her new app can solve. “What I see right now is all social media is just media — it’s not social anymore,” said Zhong. She’s certainly right about that! But is another social media platform really the answer?

Her app promises to deliver social media as it once was in the glory days of Myspace and early Facebook. She’s even bringing back the ‘Top 8’ with the option to list your closest friends on your profile. The platform will encourage sharing casual updates like what you ate for lunch, what show you’re watching right now, and that great new band you just discovered. There will be no algorithm to please, just a chronological feed of global content, and a separate ‘friends only’ feed. “There are no subjects and fans, just peers,” says Zhong, and I must say a social media app without influencers sounds blissful. I’m not sure if there will be any opportunities for advertisers. But considering the way Gen Z openly hates TikTok shop, and the fact that these new social media platforms seem to be designed in a way that doesn’t prioritize profit… if this is the future of social media, it could mean the end of paid social… dun dun dunnnnn.

The app is coming this summer and you can pre-download it here if you want to stay ahead of the curve. It already has 380,000 people on the waitlist, so it may be the next big thing. 

And that’s a wrap on this week’s digital drama. Until next week, stay sharp, keep your strategies savvy, and remember—when the tech titans tussle, I’ll be watching.

You know you love me.

Lauren Neels

Marin Software
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