The Future of Social Media Is Here, & No One Noticed

Do Noindexed pages impact your Core Web Vitals? Are you underestimating Google as an ad network? And two new shopping features come to Instagram.

Thanks for subscribing to Cache - a weekly summary of the most important stories, trends, & commentary in eCommerce marketing, curated by Rob Bettis

Last week’s issue had a 33% open rate. Share this issue with a snowman.


🔎 Search

Google: Noindexed Pages Can Impact Core Web Vitals

Google affirms that noindexed pages can still be used to evaluate a site’s Core Web Vitals, which will soon become search ranking factors.

Put another way, pages that are deliberately kept out of Google’s search index may soon be used to evaluate a set of metrics that impact search rankings.

We have not talked about Core Web Vitals much, but the concept will be well known next year. Google describes Core Web Vitals as:

Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are the subset of Web Vitals that apply to all web pages, should be measured by all site owners, and will be surfaced across all Google tools. Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.

The metrics that make up Core Web Vitals will evolve over time.

Think of it as the intersection of SEO and usability. 

Google Testing Taller Shopping Ads In Search

It looks like Google is testing taller shopping ad formats in Google Search.

These are about 55 pixels taller for some reason.

Like the organic search results in Google are not far down the page enough?

Amen. There is ‘new hotness’ and there is ‘what works’. 

🗣 Social

Federal Trade Commission calls for breakup of Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission sued to break up Facebook on Wednesday, asking a federal court to force the sell-off of assets such as Instagram and WhatsApp as independent businesses.

“Facebook has maintained its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals that Facebook does not or cannot acquire,” the commission said in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the “divestiture of assets, divestiture or reconstruction of businesses (including, but not limited to, Instagram and/or WhatsApp),” as well as other possible relief the court might want to add.

The announcement is a major step that has been years in the making, with Facebook and several other major U.S. technology companies having grown quickly in the past 10 years with little government oversight.

I’m no attorney, but years after the FTC approved the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, it seems disingenuous to return to the scene of the crime and ask for a do-over.

In 2012, when Facebook acquired Instagram, perhaps you could argue that this outcome could not have been predicted. But in 2014, when they made a second such acquisition - this time of WhatsApp - the FTC was just asleep at the wheel. 

That said, there is a separate and perhaps more threatening lawsuit coming from the state-level:

Attorneys general from 48 states and territories said they were filing their own lawsuit against Facebook, reflecting the broad and bipartisan concern about how much power Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have accumulated on the internet.

To me, the state lawsuit is the one to watch. 

As marketers, it is unlikely anything will happen soon - if at all. But regardless of this outcome, it is safe to say that the days of advertising to 80% of the web through just two networks is coming to an end. That segmentation will likely place more importance on strategy, lead to higher management fees, and force advertisers to deepen their understanding of consumers’ online habits.

Social Strikes Back

Until recently, it was commonly accepted that "social" was done. The market had been fully saturated, the thinking went, dominated by the holy trinity of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Turns out, rumors of social's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Not only are we seeing the rise of innovative new social networks—from the earshare of Clubhouse to the seamless interactivity of cloud gaming—but having a social component has become a powerful acquisition and retention tool for every consumer product, across education, shopping, fitness, food, entertainment, and more. In this series, we reveal what new social looks like, the forces that are driving it, and how to build it.

If you read this headline and thought about Facebook and Instagram, you have missed the point. There is a second wave coming, and it looks much different than the incumbents. 

Instagram launches shopping in Reels, its TikTok rival | TechCrunch

With today’s launch, both businesses and creators will be able to tag products when they create Reels — the short-form videos that now have their own tab in Instagram following last month’s redesign.

Instagram Launches New 'Shoppable' Christmas Catalog to Highlight its Evolving eCommerce Tools | Social Media Today

Instagram has taken another small step towards boosting its eCommerce presence with the creation of its first-ever shoppable catalog for Christmas, in collaboration with a range of influencers from the UK.

As such, it works on two fronts - promoting the influencers themselves, by shining a spotlight on them and their selections, while also boosting small businesses, who've faced challenging conditions throughout 2020.

📧 Email

💃 Influencers

This Lingerie Startup Invites Fans to Become Influencers with a 'Creators' Platform

Fans who want to join DTC lingerie brand Adore Me‘s Creators program can submit their social media profile links and contact information through the form on the site. Once selected to participate, influencers can choose which campaigns to they'd like to join. From there, Adore Me sends them the relevant products and provide them with some overarching themes to include in their posts. Even with these guidelines, participants are encouraged to make the posts their own.

In exchange for their participation in the Creators campaigns, influencers will receive $150-$300 of Adore Me merchandise, and depending on the performance of their posts, may have a chance to earn paid contracts. In addition, the program promises to boost influencers' social media followings by sharing their posts with Adore Me's international fanbase through the brand's accounts.

🎄 Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday Is Now Every Day for Deal-Hungry Shoppers - Bloomberg

Cyber Monday accounted for $10.8 billion in online spending this year, according to Adobe Analytics, once again making the day the annual climax for online shopping during a busy stretch that begins on Thanksgiving. However, that figure, a 15% increase from last year, wasn’t as big as Adobe’s initial projection of $12.7 billion. It was a similar picture on Black Friday: Online spending soared 22% from a year ago to $9 billion, but sales were shy of an earlier estimate. Adobe forecasts online sales will surge 30% over the holidays, meaning these marquee deal days — though still crucial for retailers — won’t notch the same degree of growth as the season overall.

🛍 Marketplace

5 Trends for the Future of Ecommerce in 2021

We interviewed 25+ industry leaders, investors, and commerce experts, and we discovered five global trends shaping retail and ecommerce. This in-depth report gives you an overview of each trend and practical steps you can take right now to future-proof your business.

Great observations. 

Across fashion sites, the marketplace model is catching on – Glossy

Over the summer, there was a big shift in the way DTC brands sold online, with a number of prominent names like Madewell and Something Navy transitioning to a marketplace model where other brands could sell their products through the main brand’s site. It was a novel idea at the time and one that was perfectly suited for the combination of factors like a shift to DTC and the death of large wholesalers. Now, six months, later, it’s clear that marketplace shift was a smart idea.

The brands that made the shift are reporting rapid adoption by consumers, quick sellouts and lots of interest from brand partners. The platforms that make these marketplaces run, including the French company Mirakl, are also reporting big boosts in interest in their model. Since the summer, new brands like Nisolo and Verishop have also launched their own marketplaces. Altogether, the shift to marketplaces is coming along even quicker than some who made the leap anticipated.

Wish IPO: Share price up to $22 to $24 per share at $14 billion valuation

E-commerce marketplace Wish is aiming to raise as much as $1.1 billion in its initial public offering, giving it a valuation of up to $14.07 billion, the company revealed in a new filing Monday. It was last valued by private investors at $11.2 billion.

Wish, founded in 2010 by former Google engineer Peter Szulczewski, is an online marketplace that features a variety of discounted goods, ranging from cheap home wares and apparel to electronics and toys. The app offers a slew of products for just a few dollars as a way to target low- to middle-income consumers with more affordable options than they can find on other sites, including Amazon.

📦 Distribution

With 3 Billion Packages to Go, Online Shopping Faces Tough Holiday Test - The New York Times

By one accounting, 7.2 million more packages need to be shipped each day this holiday season than the system has the capacity to handle.

🔒 Security

WordPress Easy WP SMTP Plugin Vulnerability

Popular WordPress plugin Easy WP SMTP plugin, with over 500,000 active installations, just patched a vulnerability that allows an attacker to take control of a site. The flaw in the WordPress plugin allows hackers to reset the admin password and take complete control of a website.

CMS market share: November 2020 analysis • Joost de Valk

This is my fourth biannual analysis of the CMS market share numbers provided by W3Techs. A lot has changed this year, in large part attributable to COVID-19. As I said in June, this has lasting effects, with WordPress, WooCommerce and Shopify’s market shares steadily on the rise.

I remember when I first discovered WordPress. It seemed like magic. That was 12ish years ago. Today, it feels like a clunky old relic of the Web 2.0 era. But its market share remains dominant. And that is a shame. 

🛠 Tips & Tools

Recent Google Update Analysis via Search Console Data w/ Google Data Studio Report

The report is configured and pre-segmented/filtered to easily show Google Search Console’s rankings evolution -at a site level as well as per query, pages and countries level- in the last 4 days (comparing it vs. the previous week), which allows to easily see if the site has been affected positively or negatively by an update, and which have been the top queries, pages and countries affected.

Cloudflare and Apple design a new privacy-friendly internet protocol | TechCrunch

Here’s how it works: ODoH wraps a layer of encryption around the DNS query and passes it through a proxy server, which acts as a go-between the internet user and the website they want to visit. Because the DNS query is encrypted, the proxy can’t see what’s inside, but acts as a shield to prevent the DNS resolver from seeing who sent the query to begin with.

“What ODoH is meant to do is separate the information about who is making the query and what the query is,” said Nick Sullivan, Cloudflare’s head of research.

Chrome is Bad

Google Chrome installs something called Keystone on your computer, which nefariously hides itself from Activity Monitor and makes your whole computer slow even when Chrome isn't running. Deleting Chrome and Keystone makes your computer way, way faster, all the time. Click here for instructions.

I think I’ll try Brave for a while and see how it goes. 

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun

Gift Wrap Field Guide | MacSparky Field Guides

Want to wrap your gifts like a nerd? Here you go. This free Field Guide walks you through how to wrap your holiday gifts with panache. Impress your friends. Learn to wrap!

👋 Holla!

Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email newsletter@robbettis.com.