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Digital News to Watch: The first UK TikTok election

In this week’s digital news to watch, the UK’s first “TikTok election” sees Labour leveraging meme-centric content while the Conservatives rely on traditional videos, both heavily investing in Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Google has begun integrating ads within organic search results, raising transparency concerns, while addressing AI overview feature criticisms. Klarna has utilised AI to reduce marketing costs significantly, and leaked documents have revealed Google’s use of user data for search rankings. Meanwhile, Monzo’s substantial increase in marketing spend has resulted in notable customer growth and its first profit.

The first UK TikTok election

Despite heavy investments in digital media, going viral remains a challenge. Labour has been more active on TikTok, using memes and engaging content, whereas the Conservatives have relied on traditional videos of politicians speaking.

Both parties are focusing more on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, and using emails and texts to engage supporters. Labour has outspent the Conservatives significantly on digital ads, focusing on localised campaigns. TikTok does not allow paid political ads, so parties rely on organic content to engage users.

Experts believe Labour has had a better start on TikTok, mixing humour with key messages, while the Conservatives’ traditional approach may not resonate as well with younger audiences. Some creators argue that Labour’s use of meme culture may misjudge the tone needed for serious topics.

Overall, digital campaigning is crucial, but door-to-door engagement remains the most effective way to persuade voters. The article highlights the evolving landscape of political advertising and the importance of adapting strategies to new platforms and audience behaviours.

Google Ads mixed in with organic results

Google has officially started integrating ads within organic search results, a change that had been tested for almost a year. Ads can now appear within the top organic results or directly below featured snippets. This change aims to increase ad clicks by blending them with organic listings. Although this could desensitise users to ads, the impact on user experience is seen as neutral. This new placement strategy, while not yet widespread, signals a shift in how Google balances ad revenue with search result integrity.

Google addresses concerns about AI overviews

Google have addressed criticism over the accuracy and quality of the answers being provided in AI overviews. Whilst they have acknowledged the odd results being generated in some instances, due to misinterpreting queries or nuances in web content language and having limited high-quality information available for certain topics, the company continues to claim they lead to higher user satisfaction and more clicks overall. Updates are still being rolled out to the new AI Overviews feature constantly, including:

  • Better detection mechanisms for nonsensical queries
  • Limiting the inclusion of satire and humor content
  • Updating systems to limit the use of potentially misleading user-generated content
  • Adding triggering restrictions for queries where AI overviews were less helpful
  • Enhancing quality protections for sensitive topics like news and health

Klarna uses AI to save $10M on marketing annually

Klarna’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) was one of the ways the company was able to reduce its sales and marketing spend by 11% in Q1 2024, despite running more campaigns and creating more marketing materials. the fin-tech company has decreased spending on marketing suppliers by 25%. For image generation and editing, it saved $1.5 million in Q1 by using generative AI tools like Midjourney, DALL-E and Firefly, reducing the image development cycle from 6 weeks to 7 days.

Google validates leak, igniting questions around search transparency

Google has acknowledged and confirmed that leaked internal documents that began circulating last week are authentic, which has ignited questions around search transparency from the SEO and wider digital marketing community.  The documents reveal information that Google uses to decide where to rank web pages in their search results including the fact that they do use user data such as clicks and Chrome browsing activity for ranking purposes, which were previously denied. Google do urge caution in interpreting the data in the leaked documents though in case of “making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information.”

Monzo ups marketing spend by 167% as it posts first profit

Monzo more than doubled its marketing investment to £58.5m in the year to 31 March, a 167% increase on the £21.7m spent the previous year.

Overall operating expenses grew 51% as the brand “deliberately” invested to drive growth, explained group CEO TS Anil on the publication of the bank’s 2024 annual report today (3 June). The business “strategically expanded” its marketing investment to grow brand awareness and capture customer growth opportunities. Describing the 2024 financial year as a “hugely successful year for attracting new customers”, Monzo saw customer numbers rise 31% on 2023 to 9.7 million. The plan now is to attract 2 million more customers over the year ahead. 

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