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No more public likes and views: what does demetrication mean for marketers?

Recent reports suggest that Instagram is extending its test of hiding likes and video views from public view in Canada to Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Ireland, with other platforms potentially following suit. This would have far reaching consequences across the world of influencers, but what does this ‘demetrication’ mean for international digital marketing?


Metrics have been fundamental to the growth of digital media

The promise of real-time metrics available to marketers not only to evaluate, but also to optimise mid-campaign, has been a crucial element in the growth of digital spend, forecast soon to overcome traditional media spend.

For years, digital media owners have focused on increasing the range of metrics available to marketers. And marketers have responded by cheerfully making use of them to measure the ability of their advertising and organic efforts to reach their audiences.

Social media companies realised they could kill two birds with one stone. Enabling these interaction-counts on user interfaces would not only provide marketers with tools and proof points to spend more money but would also allow social media content to regulate itself. Whether an advertisement for a car, or a photo of avocado on toast, users could ‘vote’ how worthwhile they found the content appearing on their screens.


Fast forward to 2019…

…and it’s fair to say social media has surprised most of us with its ability to change the world, and not always in positive ways. Voters have been confronted with misleading content about election candidates and campaigns, threatening the foundations of our democratic system. Plenty of fake news stories have been uncovered, whilst many people have reported feeling anxious or depressed as a result of their social media use. Thousands of ‘influencers’ have emerged, with 60% in a recent UK survey owning up to paying for followers, comments or engagement. And we can probably all agree that social media has accelerated a self-centred culture which is often unedifying.

Social media companies now have reasons to believe that the innocent looking ‘like’ buttons have a lot to answer for. Hence, they are now testing ways of assessing the impact of losing them as part of their efforts to respond to criticism and safeguard our mental health.

It is safe to say that the implications for brands are massive, and will be felt in every accessible market, as social media usage is high and growing almost everywhere. Metrics will continue to be available to marketers but not the general public. Will consumers find other ways to feed the algorithms which sort content? Will they find new ways to game the system and regain the addictive dopamine hit delivered by likes and follows?


Influencers are of course concerned

They will have no immediate indication of how their latest posts have performed and brands will continue to delve beyond the vanity metrics to gain a more robust understanding of what delivers the best advertising effect and why.

Media planning and buying on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter will start resembling other forms of advertising, such as display with brands thinking about their particular marketing challenge, where their consumers sit in the purchase funnel and how they need to communicate with them as a consequence. No more celebrating Donuts Day (unless you sell donuts) and other vacuous social media content with no role beyond generating a vague notion of ‘engagement’.


This brings the focus back to marketing objectives, consumer insight and comms planning

We can keep thinking about smart ways to understand ad effectiveness such as the YouTube and Facebook efforts in brand uplift measurement.

Equally, brands will be forced to give more thought to influencer engagement, and only work with those who can guarantee a given level of reach or sales, or who can demonstrably provoke shifts in brand perception measured by traditional pre- and post-campaign research. In this fast-evolving world it might be time for ‘influencers’ who don’t really influence to consider a Plan B for their careers – perhaps over a turmeric latte?

Xabi IzaguirreXabier Izaguirre | Head of Planning, Oban International

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.   

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